The evolving relationship between game publishers and brand advertisers. 

Apr 19, 2024

Our Publishing Director, Lewis Horgan was at the inaugural Gamesforum Cyprus last week and shares his takeaways from this vibrant games community.

Cyprus has it all. Sun, sea, mountains. It has also firmly established itself as a hub for mobile game development and publishing, with a vibrant and growing community. Prominent publishers including Outfit7, Azur Games, SayGames, Nexters and Wargaming all have headquarters or significant presence on the Mediterranean island, making it a fantastic location for the latest Gamesforum.  

Much of the panel discussion and conference chat centred on new monetization methods, moving beyond the typical rewarded + interstitial videos model and exploring how best to foster brand and game integrations.

There are lots of opportunities for creative brand integration and activation in mobile games. Dheeraj Matta from Outfit7stated that their recent brand activations created value for players, advertisers and publisher alike; with a 27% increase in retention for players exposed to brand activations.

He also highlighted how the brand world is still learning about gaming, and market education requires significant resources, even for a publisher the size of Outfit7, who have an in-house brand sales team. This is only possible for the largest of publishers and is where solutions like AdInMo’s InGamePlay platform create an opportunity for all developers and publishers to participate in the brand advertising world, without requiring the investment of a specialist commercial team. 

Another critical topic was player trust, especially regarding low-quality ads.

Everyone has experienced misleading ads that depict a game experience that simply does not match the actual game when downloaded. Despite the open admission that many of the UA teams in the room have used such ads and that they do drive installs, there was no agreement on what exactly makes an ad “bad.”

Alexander Lubchenko of Kosmos Games offered an interesting perspective, suggesting that the problem of misleading ads isn’t unique to gaming, and is probably more of a spectrum of “badness”. His quotable quote: “Games didn’t do this first; brands invented misleading ads”, noting that buying a pair of Nike shoes doesn’t automatically turn you into the next Michael Jordan.

Fair point, but it was clear that ad quality and experience will need to be defined and resolved by the games publishing industry, if developers hope to attract global brand advertisers that rightly demand a trusted, verified and brand-safe environment to showcase their brands. 

The overall feel at the event was a genuine excitement for the future of mobile games monetization, and a push towards diversification, experimentation and analysis, in particular around hybrid monetization and the importance of player trust. All the participants we spoke to agreed that the game monetization world is very much on a journey as opposed to nearing an endpoint of total optimization.

Lots of ideas and plenty to do. Bring it on!

Lewis Horgan

Publishing Director, AdInMo


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