NativeX’s VP of Marketing, Diana LaGattuta recently sat down with VentureBeat to discuss the state of advertising in mobile games. In the interview, she explains why the industry needs to explore better ways of integrating ads into the gaming experience. She also believes the industry needs to expand the definition of native advertising; making it is less about the ad format or whether a character from the game is pulled into the ad frame, and more about the player’s real time experience.
Watch the interview or read the transcript below.
VentureBeat Interviews NativeX’s VP of Marketing, Diana LaGattuta at GamesBeat 2014
Have mobile game developers taken a liking to native ads?
Mobile game developers were actually the first of all mobile app developers to embrace native ads. I would claim that the offer wall was the first truly native ad format on mobile and the number of formats available continues to expand because of game developers.
Game developers tend to be artists, so for them protecting the user experience is very important. We’ve had a really positive reaction from game developers on how they can work with us to create immersive ad experiences.
What are the best kinds of native ads?
The best native ads in terms of performance are less about the ad format or whether or not we’ve pulled the character from the game into the ad frame. They’re more about what is happening at that part in the game: are they winning, are they failing, have they levelled up, have they lost all of their lives? And then also, what the user’s emotions are at the time. The most successful native ads are the ads that take those factors into account.
What mobile ad format (video, banner, etc.) is the most popular?
Offer walls, or app discovery walls have been incredibly popular with game developers. A lot of it is because you have the quid pro quo often times if it is a rewarded ad. Let’s say I’ve just lost my lives or my coins and need more, that’s a great time to reward someone for engaging with an ad.
Who do you compete with and who do you complement?
We compete with a lot of the ad technology companies. We recently replaced eight of our competitors by having a lot of different ad formats available in one SDK. We compete with the guys that do banners, we compete with companies that create interstitials, the rewarded ad formats, and the video only ad formats.
We are complementary to analytics companies, for sure. Where I think this is going as we look at monetization holistically, is that you have to treat someone who is a spender (someone who spends on IAP) differently from someone who is a clicker (someone clicks on ads), and they both have to be treated differently than, for lack of a better term, someone who is a freeloader (someone who doesn’t click on ads and doesn’t spend money).
The way we treat each of those players is going to be very, very different. We partner with analytics companies who help provide that kind of segmentation. At the same time, we’re providing a lot of understanding about ad behavior back to the game developer because they know a lot about what people do in the game and we know a lot about how people engage with advertising across our network.
What are some good examples of native ads?
I think we need to expand the definition of native advertising beyond design and think more about how the ad becomes part of the gaming experience. NativeX is working with different ad formats that are playable gaming experiences so you can go in and try a game before you download it. We’re also working with things like puzzles that are very, very engaging.
We recently launched our video product but I actually think video is the least interesting of all of the different types of mobile ad formats in the industry today. Video was created a century ago for television, for a very passive consumer; somebody who is sitting on the couch consuming media. It was then reformatted for web and then for mobile.
Our audience in mobile is very much engaged, especially in a gaming environment. I think the ads we’re working on that are coming soon really take advantage of that rich media but also with more user engagement.