Mobile and video drive digital advertising in 2017

Joe Phelan of Generation Media talks about the latest trends in games advertising – where video and mobile increasingly rule the roost.

The digital media market is still in its relative infancy and advertisers must stay ahead of the curve rather than chase the pack when it comes to reaching consumers. Reaching a traditional gaming audience (the male 16-34 demographic) in recent years we’ve seen a digital focus – with TV as a secondary medium. 

Last year saw a 48 per cent decline in TV delivery across gaming verticals (Kantar Media, 2017) establishing digital as the primary advertising channel. In this article we take a look at the continued growth within this market, and how advertisers can successfully invest to reach consumers in 2017.

2016 saw digital ad spend growth in two main areas: mobile and video. The IAB Adspend UK report for 2016 highlighted that for the first time mobile ad spend overtook PC and tablet spend, equating to £802m compared to £762m for PC. This reflects increasing mobile usage and makes up over a third of all digital ad spend. 

Within the display market, mobile now accounts for more than half of ad spend. With 86 per cent of smartphone users, aged 18-34, checking their smartphone within half an hour of waking up (YouGov, 2016); it is safe to say mobile now rules the roost. 

With mobile being the driving force behind ad spend growth, video percentage share also grew significantly. As the graph shows (see above), video across all formats grew by 67 per cent year-on-year, with mobile video growing by an astonishing 129 per cent. As video is increasingly watched on mobile devices, advertisers need to invest not only in video, but also develop a separate strategy for mobile video. While pre-roll still accounts for 34 per cent, its video percentage share is being eaten into by other video formats, driven from outstream and in-read ads (video ads appearing anywhere across a page not before video content) which saw 440 per cent growth year-on-year.

Within the video games market, mobile ad spend rise can be clearly attributed to the increase in mobile gaming, with these campaigns requiring a more direct call-to-action in driving downloads. So while we are seeing growth in mobile ad spend this is increasingly focused on mobile games looking for direct acquisitions. 

Out of the current top seven grossing App Store mobile app games (Pokémon Go, 8 Ball Pool, Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans, Mobile Strike, Clash Royale and Candy Crush Soda Saga) only Pokémon Go succeeded without heavy investment in direct response display activity (App Annie, 2017). It is worth observing that these mobile titles are more likely to deploy TV campaigns than console games to drive high frequency of messaging.

While we’re seeing clear patterns emerge for mobile gaming looking at achieving downloads, console gaming advertising continues to focus on branding with video content across social, broadcaster and non-broadcaster VOD to build awareness and excitement around a new launch. 

We’re also seeing a larger allocation of budget into influencer content. While this isn’t a new strategy, the level of investment is growing year-on-year. With a growth of 29 per cent across all sectors, and with platforms such as Twitch, we expect this to be significantly higher across console gaming verticals. 

Snapchat advertising solutions have also developed, however poor view through rates may dissuade advertisers from using this format. There are also limited targeted options, which Snapchat is looking to address.

With mobile and video leading digital media growth, advertisers are using more creative solutions to reach consumers as their habits change. Mobile now dominates the market, and games advertisers must think about mobile as one of the key drivers of their communications strategy.

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