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Haymakers in the Office!: Increasing ATT Opt-In for Mobile Games with Rewarded Ads
TIKI builds a fun way for mobile games to optimize their ads in their games
Here’s a brief history of ‘em: in 1958 some physicist in New York made a game that was sorta like tennis (not Pong, yet) as part of his research. It was as basic as basic gets. Spacewar! followed in 1962, and spread among computer programmers in universities. This was created and played on an old PDP-1 computer, so video games were still not breaking into the mainstream.
That all changed with Pong in 1972, which started in the arcade, was so successful that its cashbox jammed from overflowing with quarters. Atari lifted the idea and partnered with Sears Company to bring it to households. They got sued, but, whatever. They had Sears money.
Obviously a bunch of stuff happened between then and now, but hey, I said brief history. And I just wanted to get to the part where Sears came into play. Because back in 1972, Sears meant money. In 2023, video games are a multi-billion dollar industry. Sears saw it back when an arcade game got jammed up with quarters, and now everyone and their grandmothers (literally) are gaming.
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Well, not everyone. But pretty close to 40% of everyone. A big reason why? Mobile phones and tablets. You can game for free! Sort of! You can do it while you poop! You can do it on the train! You can do it pretty much everywhere! Can I get a WOO-HOO?!!
Why did Candy Crush and Angry Birds become so huge? Well, they were addictive, social media spreads ideas like a contagion, but more importantly, they were free. Anyone who had the technological capabilities to play Angry Birds could play Angry Birds. The opportunities to monetize happen after the download. Games became stores themselves, and anyone could enter. Mobile games became incredibly accessible. Accessibility is huge, which is why mobile games netted over $40 billion more in revenue than console games.
Obviously, when there’s millions or billions of eyeballs glued to a screen playing a game, that’s a tantalizing opportunity to hit ‘em with some ads.
Especially considering the average device has 8 mobile games downloaded on it! Or that $110 billion was spent in the app store on mobile games in 2022. But the ad market really takes the cake. Mobile ad spend in 2022 registered a a ridiculous $336 billion, a 14% YoY increase. That’s enough to be the 44th largest nation by GDP. Sheesh.
However, only 19% of mobile games claim to be profitable on their own. Which means that 81% of ‘em are reliant on revenue from advertisements to keep the birds angry and the folks happy. But here’s the thing, all these tech companies and governments are responding to the will of the people and/or making power-based decisions (don’t ask me, ask them!), by implementing privacy features.
With Little Debbie’s ad attribution adventure, we dove into the realm of cookie banners. In this edition, we’re talking App Tracking Transparency (ATT)! Can I get another woo-hoo! Shoot me an email at email@example.com with a WOO-HOO!(for morale and camaraderie).
81% of mobile games are reliant on revenue from advertisements to maintain profitability. However, only 30% of mobile gamers in the US opt in to ATT on iOS, and iOS requires ATT opt-in to run AdMob (and other mobile ad solutions).
A Brief History of AdMob
AdMob is a Google product. Over 1 million apps use AdMob to monetize their content. When it comes to mobile gaming, AdMob is a big deal. Or maybe vice versa. Or both. Roughly half of AdMob impressions come from the mobile gaming industry. The mobile gaming industry itself is worth over $100 billion, with projections for $200 billion by 2026. Phew.
But ATT is making a major impact on AdMob use, and therefore mobile games’ ability to bring in revenue. In fact, when ATT dropped, 86% of surveyed mobile app developers believed it would have significant impact on their mobile ad revenues. Why? Well by using AdMob, developers are better able to measure and optimize their campaigns. They can figure out which ads are working, which one’s aren’t, and who to target. Especially those folks who have spent money on the app before via in-game purchases.
Without AdMob, there’s more reliance on zero- and first-party data, contextual advertising, lookalike targeting, flat out getting more creative with their advertisements, and internally measuring interaction between different types of ads—be they rewarded ads, banner ads, interstitial ads, interactive ads, or other various types. But it’s a heck of a lot easier when using a technology like AdMob.
A Brief History of App Tracking Transparency (ATT)
Now, this whole thing started back in 2017 when Apple first introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in their Safari browser. Basically, ITP blocked third-party cookies, which are tiny bits of code that allow advertisers to track your activity across different websites. Advertisers were not at all stoked about this.
But Apple wasn't done yet. In 2019, they upped the ante with Sign in with Apple, a privacy-focused login system that allowed users to log in to apps and websites without sharing their personal information. And then, in 2020, Apple dropped the bombshell announcement: App Tracking Transparency (ATT).
With ATT apps are required to ask for your permission before they can track your activity across other apps and websites. And if you don't want to be tracked, you can say no. Simple enough. Businesses? Not so stoked.
Some advertisers and app developers claimed that ATT would hurt their business, and that it was unfair for Apple to have so much control over what they could do with their apps. But Apple continued on doing very Apple-like things, and in April 2021, ATT became mandatory for all apps in the App Store. For the sake of statistics, that means 100%.
Bring on Dingus Games
This brings us to Dingus Games. Dingus, a totally real and not made up indie company, runs a popular mobile game called MMA Cubicle. Think Mortal Kombat, but with less ninjas, there’s a bunch of Dwight Schrutes and Jim Halperts duking it out in thrilling levels such as “Conference Room” and “Staff Lot.” Kinda like a more gimmicky, campy Fight Club.
Anyway, MMA Cubicle is a freemium game with in-app purchases, so anyone can access the basic characters, levels, weapons, and such. But you can also purchase extra digital goods. Pretty standard stuff. But Dingus is not one of those 19% of companies that are sustainable on their own. They rely on ads. But only 30% of iOS users are opting into ATT, so, no AdMob, and therefore…worse performing ads. No bueno.
Dingus came to us after running out of ideas for getting ATT opt-ins. They tried contextual advertising, lookalike campaigns, collecting more first-party data, and hiring some super-creatives that sat them down and had them look through some tarot cards to find their true brand voice and appropriate advertising personas. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t but they still see a huge opportunity in increasing ATT opt-ins. Specifically, when it comes to rewarded ads. On iOS, Dingus many users immediately opt out of tracking before they ever see an ad. They can run rewarded ads, but they’re much more difficult to measure and improve. But rewarded ads are huge. Dingus knows it, and TIKI knows it too. So we built a way for users to opt-in to a very special section of MMA Cubicle prior to the ATT notice even hits their screen. Neat-o. Let’s get the scoop on what rewarded ads are.
No trickery here. Rewarded ads are ads that offer rewards, such as in-game currency, bonus lives, items, and more. Typically, these are opt-in ads (convenient!), meaning they aren’t interfering with the flow of the game. Users watch the ads voluntarily, users get rewarded for doing so. They’re quite effective, create a more positive user experience because they aren’t nearly as annoying, and since this is voluntary, users are more likely to engage with the ad.
71% of gamers prefer rewarded ads over in-app and premium purchases
86% of devs said in-app purchases rose or maintained after introducing rewarded ads
Rewarded ads outperform regular video ads by 45%
62% of gamers choose to regularly, voluntarily engage with them
62% of devs said retention increased or was maintained after introducing them
54% of gamers specifically prefer rewarded ads to pay for mobile games
46% prefer rewarded ads over other ads offerings (banner, full-screen, interstitial)
58% of devs recommend integrating rewarded ads to other studios
80% of gamers are willing to engage with ads for rewards
You get the gist. Rewarded ads are popular with gamers and developers. It’s a no brainer.
All-Hands Marketing Meeting Mode!!!!
CAN I GET ANOTHER MOTHERFUZZING WOO-HOO? HIT ME! I’M SO STOKED! I JUST WANNA SMASH SOME FACES IN! VIRTUALLY! OF COURSE! I’VE NEVER BEEN IN A REAL FIGHT!
TIKI took a look at the situation Dingus had found themselves in, their experiences with various types of in-game advertising, their insistence on getting the most out of rewarded ads, and their inability to get more users to opt in to ATT so they can run AdMob on their rewarded ads.
We also took a look at their game. An arcade style fighter centered around unleashing all that pent up rage from the day to day grind of the 9-5? A set and setting specific to office life? You don’t have to tell us twice.
All Hands Marketing Meeting mode is an exclusive level hidden behind, well, the conference room door! So thrilling. When a user clicks the door, they are presented with TIKI’s offer screen, powered by none other than consumer data licensing. To enter the room, gamers need to agree to trade their phone’s ad identifier to Dingus Games so that they can deliver better personalized ads. Groovy.
If a gamer clicks “I’m in,” they get a real, legal, digitally signed contract right away. This outlines what the gamer receives, what the data is used for, how long, which data, etcetera. As simple and easy to follow as possible. Opt in or opt out at any time. This then segues into the actual iOS ATT pop up. It’s built right into the flow.
And behind the door, if a user agrees, all of the wonders of the All Hands Marketing Meeting. The special meeting is analyzing the strategies of different types of advertisements, courtesy of AdMob, which the user has just allowed for Dingus to utilize. While they play non-stop, the user’s rage meter grows, and incrementally they will receive rewards, such as in-game currency, new weapons (like tie-knife! It’s a tie, but also it’s a knife!), different characters, and more. It’s really up to Dingus. But we insist on the tie-knife. It’s a hit and everyone knows it.
It's stupid, silly, tongue-in-cheek, but it gets the job done. Rewarded ads are opt-in ads. Gamers are doing this willingly. So why not have some fun with it? All those AdMob ads flying at you, you sitting at the conference table with all your other co-workers, watching the time tick away, awaiting inevitable combat. Palpable tension! The gamers know what they’re getting themselves into, and the concept of getting in-game stuff is more than enough for a lot more than 30% of users to opt in to ATT.
Another win-win. Better ads tracking, attribution, retargeting analytics for Dingus, and more cool stuff for gamers. Once again, rewarded ads work. Simple.
Thanks for reading! As always, please share if you found this informative or know someone who could benefit. We rely on content to drive our inbound sales, so if you’ve got any feedback in terms of what we can do better, what we’re doing well, what you’d like to see, or any other type of feedback or criticism, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org :)