“Americans are spending inordinate amounts of time flinging angry birds, crushing candy, and finding numerical patterns on their mobile phones,” begins a commentary by Mike Shields. “In other words, mobile gaming is exploding. So are mobile games destined to become the next great ad medium?”
Shields’ essay at the Wall Street Journal blog discusses the burgeoning interest in melding mobile games with mobile advertising.
“Talk to executives from both the online ad industry and the mobile gaming sector and you’ll find opinions are sharply divided on this issue,” Shields notes. “You’ll hear sentiments ranging from ‘this is the future of advertising’ to ‘this is never going to happen.’”
Anyone who has watched ads recently knows that Google is pushing mobile games big time. Shields has seen them, too.
“Google, at least, seems to believe there is potential in mobile game advertising,” he says. “The company is building out a technical infrastructure aimed at establishing a standard ad product for the burgeoning medium, hoping to attract big advertisers, say people familiar with the matter.”
Shields thinks he knows why.
“Why would Google bother? Consider this data: comScore says that over half of the total time spent with digital media is being spent with apps,” Shields writes. “And 32 percent of time spent with apps is spent on gaming, according to an April report from the mobile analytics firm Flurry, which Yahoo recently agreed to acquire. What is more, both of those numbers are headed upward. And advertisers follow eyeballs (or thumbswipes in this case), right?”
What about those mutually exclusive takes on the future of the mobile games venue as a medium for marketers? Shields notes that Greg March (CEO of digital agency Ikon3) believes the games arena could “offer advertisers a chance to reboot the online ad model,” while Chris DeWolfe (CEO of SGN, a social gaming company and a former MySpace executive) “takes a diametrically opposing viewpoint.”
“I’m not bullish on ads in mobile games,” DeWolfe says. “Game developers make so much money on virtual goods, that they fiercely protect the user experience. I think you’re seeing the same attitudes with other top grossing game developers.”
Shields admits that “gaming industry veterans note that the vast majority of mobile game players decline to spend any money in these games, meaning that most games make money from a small percentage of their audiences.”
Marketing manna in the mobile games marketplace?
“You have to figure out how to monetize the other 90 percent of your audience,” says Lisa Marino, CEO of the mobile gaming company RockYou.
The essay has more valuable information and debate, including conversation about the dearth of big brands using mobile game apps.
It’s a must-read. Click here to check it out for yourself.