Boosting in-game advertising

Receptive (formerly MediaBrix)

August 21, 2019

Are in-games ads a nuisance?

When you play free mobile games, you often encounter breaks where you can either voluntarily see an ad to get some "game coins", or the ads automatically appear. But what is the best type of delivery of these ads? In a study commissioned by MediaBrix, Neurons was commissioned to study the effect of different ad delivery types, and how they manifested in terms of receptivity, attention, and action.

"We believe mobile is the most powerful advertising medium of our day, but the industry as a whole lacks research and real innovation to capitalize on it."
- Ari Brandt, CEO and co-founder of MediaBrix, to PRNewsWire

To study this, we tested 62 participants (men and women aged 21-45), who interacted with mobile ads while their eye-tracking and brain responses were recorded. We tested 30-second mobile video ads with the same creative for Smith and Forge Hard Cider, a Miller Coors brand, and another 30-second mobile video ad for a major confectionery brand. The ads were shown as two different formats: full-screen interstitial ad vs. embedded opt-in ad.

  • The full-page interstitial popped up and took over the entire screen.
  • The embedded opt-in ad came up at a moment of need during gameplay, contained contextual elements of the game and offered a reward to help the user keep playing.

Additionally, participants were given a post-test interview survey to further understand their mental and emotional responses to the test app and advertisements.

More engagement to opt-in ads

The results showed a compelling difference between the two ad types:

  • The full-screen interstitials sent people immediately to look for ways to x-out and remove the ads
  • Interstitial video ad format was twice as likely to evoke a negative emotional response when compared with embedded opt-in ad
  • Fullscreen video ad aroused the brain’s “flight or fight” response, along with pupil dilation, and an increase in heart rate
  • In comparing viewing for the two formats, the embedded opt-in ad garnered a 90% view rate, versus the interstitial ad that was viewed 25%
  • The embedded opt-in ad viewers were 8 times more cognitively engaged and spent triple the amount of times fixating on the brand creative message
  • Viewers of the embedded opt-in format were more engaged, had better recall, and a better understanding of the brand offer. More specifically, 70% remembered the product and 73% understood the brand offer, versus viewers who experienced the interstitial ad (40% and 49% respectively)
Two mobile phones with heatmaps on the screens.

At the core, these findings clearly demonstrate that "marketers must respect the user experience and better integrate ads in non-intrusive ways. Yet an ad that is too well-integrated and non-intrusive may not be noticed, or may not be sufficiently identified as an ad for regulatory purposes."

“This research allows marketers to understand the opportunities that lie in mobile and the implications of how we approach consumers there. We’re excited to expand upon these findings and analyze more formats in our mission to build meaningful, coveted one-to-one connections between brands and consumers.”Ari Brandt, CEO and co-founder of MediaBrix, to BusinessOfApps

Further reading