After seeing interest in mobile games spike during the pandemic, game developers and marketers have focused on targeting gamers with ads based on their levels of engagement. To this end, Google introduced today new ways to target gamers who actually engage with brand content.
During its annual Google for Games Developer Summit, the tech giant announced new ways game developers can get their apps to players who are more likely to engage with ads, simultaneously allowing developers to better maximize their ad spend and marketers the ability to better reach more gamers.
Within Google, the Ads and AdMob teams have partnered, the latter works with game developers to monetize their gaming apps with in-app advertising, to introduce a new feature called tROAS, or target return on ad spend. The new capability allows developers to find users through machine learning who are more likely to engage with in-app ads and then bid more or less depending on that likelihood. The option is an additional component to Google’s standard tROAS bidding program tCPA, or target cost for action, which previously only focused on users who are more likely to make in-app purchases. Without such a feature, Google says understanding and optimizing for in-app ads engagement can be difficult because the data can be fragmented and difficult to measure. The feature is in a closed beta for now and only open to developers using the AdMob platform.
The new targeting ability speaks to the desire for marketers to reach more gamers regardless of where they are on their path to purchase, something that has gained even more prominence over the past year as players’ interest in new games spiked due to the pandemic. And consumer interest in gaming does not seem to be waning. The latest report from mobile data and analytics firm App Annie and market researcher IDC found that consumers spent $1.7 billion per week in mobile games in the first quarter of 2021, up 40% from pre-pandemic; and mobile game downloads grew by 30% with players downloading more than a billion games per week on iOS and Google Play.
Google positions the new capability as a better return on investment. David Mitby, director, product management at App Ads at Google, and Chris Luhur, marketing lead at Google for Games and AdMob at Google, point to how South Korea-based puzzle game studio BitMango, one of the first beta testers of tROAS, used it to promote its Block! Triangle Puzzle. When the studio set up an A/B test with two sets of campaigns, one using tCPA and the other to tROAS for ads revenue, it found that the tROAS campaign saw a 44% higher return on ad spend and a 21% increase in user retention.