Games have emerged as one of the world’s biggest forms of entertainment according to time spent, dollars generated, and audience size. While stereotypes and misperceptions have kept marketers from going all-in on in-game inventory in the past, advertisers are beginning to discover that mobile gaming is a lucrative supply source for high quality users that convert. To better understand the general perception of in-app mobile advertising, ironSource partnered with Digiday to survey mobile game players and advertisers

On the player side, the survey set out to better understand what today’s “mobile gamer” looks like and how they feel about in-game ads. On the advertiser side, we were interested in learning about how they leverage mobile gaming as a supply channel to fit their needs. For both segments, our curiosity lay in understanding how well advertisers are addressing diversity for their audiences. 

With gaming on the rise and 2.6 billion gamers worldwide as of 2020, there’s no better time to learn everything you can about advertising in mobile games, and about gamers in today’s ecosystem. Let’s dive into the three of the most surprising findings from our survey. 

65% of mobile game players don’t consider themselves “gamers” 

In the past, the general perception has been that mobile gaming was just for men. However, the introduction of new game genres, such as casual games or puzzle games, has penetrated the market even deeper, attracting a high female representation in recent years. In fact, 46% of “gamers” today identify as female. With a wide range of games available attracting users from different demographics, people are playing mobile games more than ever before. 

Among those we talked to, 62% play games at least once a day and 44% exclusively play games on mobile. Yet, despite how often survey respondents play games, 65% of those who play mobile games don’t consider themselves “gamers” - this suggests that the term “gamer” does not typically encompass people who play mobile games, but rather just PC or console. 

This may be because many of the respondents surveyed say they play games to relax or get their minds off serious issues. For these users, the term “gamer” may give a connotation that a love of games is what motivates them to play, while in fact, it’s not the case. 

With a wide range of people playing mobile games, we also found that advertisers are starting to increase their budgets for in-game spend. 

69% of advertisers say they expect to increase their spend in-game in 2021

With so many users playing mobile games today, advertisers are embracing t mobile games to connect their brand messages with their target audiences. In fact, 75% of brand respondents say they’ve already allocated digital marketing budgets to in-game advertising in the past and the remaining 25% said they haven’t yet, but will allocate budget to the space in the year to come. In other words, 100% of advertisers have a plan to invest in mobile games. On top of that, 69% of advertisers will increase in-game mobile spend. 

In the last few years, mobile game developers have been incredibly successful at not only finding organic ways to incorporate advertising into the user experience, but also at implementing ad formats the user wants to see. These capabilities have translated into success for advertisers - with users more engaged,  advertisers see higher performance results, and therefore plan to increase their spend. 

In particular, advertisers are investing in mobile game advertising with the goal of building more inclusive marketing and advertising campaigns.

76% of advertisers use games to reach ethnically and racially diverse audiences 

Brands are seeking to build more inclusive advertising and marketing strategies that target people across all genders, ages, income, races and ethnicity and even ability. As the survey showed, advertising in mobile games doesn’t mean advertisers are only reaching the stereotypical “gamer,” with advertisers beginning to realize that games can reach a truly broad base of game players across various demographics. In fact, 76% of advertisers said they’ve used games to reach ethnically and racially diverse audiences, with age and income diversity following behind. 


For more insights, download the full research report here.

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