Everything You Need to Know About Native Ads in Mobile Games
Learn how native ads in mobile games enhance user experience and boost revenue. Discover the benefits and challenges of in-game ads in our blog.
Jovan Ristic

Ads in mobile games serve a dual purpose: they enable developers to generate revenue and reinvest in their games while allowing players to enjoy these games for free in return for viewing ads. However, with the overwhelming number of digital advertisements today, the high prevalence of formats such as interstitials has led to users becoming desensitized to ads, often resulting in their messages needing to come across more effectively. 

Native in-game ads address this issue by blending seamlessly with the game's content, appearing as natural elements within the gaming environment. This alignment with the user experience makes them far less intrusive than traditional ads, enhancing the gaming experience.

But are native game ads as effective as rewarded video ads or interstitials, and what challenges do developers using them face? In our latest article, we take a deep dive into native ads and break down why they may or may not be a good fit for your game.

What Are Native In-Game Ads?

Native game ads are a non-intrusive ad format that seamlessly blends into the game without interrupting gameplay. Unlike interstitial or display ads, in-game native ads don't look like traditional ads, so they don't disrupt the user's immersion within the game. This is key to their appeal: in-game native ads expose players to promotional content without sticking out like a sore thumb.

These ads feel natural to the player experience, enabling advertisers to reach their audience by sharing the gaming ecosystem. This approach aims to make players more receptive and interested in the ad's content because it feels relevant and less like a traditional, disruptive advertisement. This method helps avoid interrupting the gaming experience, making users more likely to engage with the ad content.

Which Types of Mobile Games are Most Suitable for Native Ads

In-game native ads can be highly effective, but their success largely depends on the type of game. While theoretically native ads can work in any mobile game, some genres are naturally more well-suited for them. These include:

Sports and Racing Games 

Sports and racing games are naturally conducive to native ads. Just like in real-world sports, where advertising is a common sight, these games can incorporate ads on uniforms, stadium billboards, and vehicles. This seamless integration helps maintain the game's immersive experience while providing high visibility for advertisers​ 

Casual and Hyper-Casual Games

Casual and hyper-casual games are particularly well-suited for native ads due to their broad, diverse player base and frequent, short play sessions. The simplicity and repetitive nature of these games make them ideal for subtle ad placements that don't disrupt gameplay​ 

Simulation and Strategy Games

Simulation and strategy games provide ample opportunities for native ad placements due to their complex and immersive environments. Ads can be integrated into various game elements, such as branded buildings, vehicles, or resources. This  enhances the realism of the game and ensures that ads are seen frequently by players who spend a lot of time managing and interacting with in-game assets​ 

Role-playing games (RPGs)

Role-playing games offer extensive worlds and narratives where native ads can be subtly woven into the environment. Branded quests, sponsored characters, or in-game items are effective ways to incorporate ads without breaking immersion. The key is to ensure that these ads fit organically within the game's story and setting​.

Benefits of In-Game Native Ads for Developers

In-game native ads offer several significant benefits, making them an attractive option for developers looking to monetize their games effectively. These benefits include enhanced user experience, early adoption opportunities, positive brand perception, and cost-effectiveness.

Enhanced User Experience

Native ads enhance the gamer's experience by adding a sense of realism to the game. By placing ads in the virtual environment in a way that mimics real-life encounters with ads and brands, these ads seamlessly blend into the game's world. This realistic integration ensures that native ads receive higher attention and more screen time, leading to increased brand retention for users.

According to a study by IPG and Nielsen, consumers look at native ads 52% more frequently than banner ads. These ads also show a 9% higher lift in brand affinity and an 18% increase in purchase intent. This heightened attention and engagement make native ads a powerful tool for developers looking to create an immersive and monetizable gaming experience.

Be an Early Adopter

Previously, in-game native ads were mainly available in tier-1 regions, primarily English-speaking markets, and the revenue potential was limited due to insufficient demand. However, the landscape is changing significantly with Google's entry into this space. Google has launched a product currently in closed beta, with strict requirements on who can participate in the beta program.

With Google's scale and demand, the biggest concern of limited demand is resolved, providing a substantial opportunity for developers to tap into a broader market. Early adopters of this ad format can gain an edge over their competitors by accessing this untapped market early on.

Challenges of Using Native In-Game Ads

While native in-game ads offer numerous benefits, developers face several challenges when implementing them effectively. These challenges include complex metrics, integrating ads seamlessly into the game, and selling ad space.

Building Native Ads into the Game

Incorporating native ads into a game poses unique challenges. Designing and developing a native ad strategy that feels seamless within the game is complicated. Developers need to ensure that ads promote the brand or product without interrupting the game's flow or detracting from the overall user experience.

This requires careful planning and creative design to integrate ads naturally, maintaining the game's immersive environment while effectively conveying the advertiser's message.

Brand fit

Some games might have difficulty filling their inventory because they might be perceived as environments that are not safe for brands. Think of shooter games or other games that contain depictions of firearms or any kind of violence. Brands might put some limitations in place that prevent their ads from being shown in such games.

Insufficient demand

While the industry is waiting for Google to make its native ads (immersive ads) product available to everyone, publishers may have difficulty filling their inventory. This especially holds for the non-tier 1 markets where it is more challenging for the current native ads providers to provide enough demand to meet the supply publishers have.

Are Native Ads a Good Fit For Your Game?

Native in-game ads offer a unique blend of benefits and challenges for mobile game developers. They enhance the user experience, provide opportunities for early adopters, and are cost-effective compared to other ad formats. However, the complexities of tracking metrics, integrating ads seamlessly into games, and selling ad space present significant hurdles.

Are native ads a good fit for your game? GameBiz Consulting can help you determine just that. Our team of experts can audit your game and identify potential gaps in your ad monetization strategy, ensuring you leverage the full potential of native in-game ads to maximize both user satisfaction and revenue. Contact us today to explore how we can help optimize your ad strategy.

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