Brands, publishers tap gaming ads to hook users

Companies that develop advertising technologies are tempting them back with ads that mimic computer games


Bengaluru: Collect badams on your screen to put in a Horlicks drink for the little sultan.

Break a brick to reveal the new features of a Samsung phone.

Or smash a mountain to get tickets to the latest movie.

With Web users becoming conditioned to ignore the avalanche of ads, companies that develop advertising technologies are tempting them back with ads that mimic computer games.

Companies such as Seventynine (a subsidiary of SVG Media Pvt. Ltd), Vserv (Vserv Digital Services Pvt. Ltd) and InMobi (InMobi Technologies Pvt. Ltd) are of the view that customer engagement in so-called gamified ads is up to 80% higher than that for static ads such as banners.

As Internet browsing speeds rise, brands and publishers are expected to make greater use of gamified ads on mobile devices.

Gamified ads have interactive elements, or even mini-games on the page. These are created either by an ad agency or a creative team within an ad-tech company.

“To have an ad that responds to touch, sounds, tilting, or even the current weather creates a personal relevance for the user that’s unmatched by much more expensive media,” Arun Kumar Pattabhiraman, vice-president, global segment marketing at InMobi, said.

Rich media ads also cost more than banner or static ads, according to Roshan Kumar, general manager, media alliances at Seventynine, a digital media platform. “Custom product-based games generally cost anything between Rs.20,000 and Rs.80,000 if done at a professional studio, depending on the length and complexity of the elements used. As an ad-tech firm, sometimes we offer gamified creatives as part of a large media plan, too, without additional costs,” he added.

Rich media ads are heavier, resulting in higher ad serving costs, compared with static banners. Since inventory supply is less and the space occupied is more, it costs more to buy rich media ads, Kumar said.

Companies such as InMobi said rich media ads are faster to create than television or video ads and have interactivity.

“Gamified ads are a great technique to deliver the brand message in a pre-conditioned and appealing format, making the message inseparably linked to the medium and experiential,” Prashant Pandey, executive vice-president-marketing at GSK Consumer Healthcare India, maker of Horlicks and Boost food drinks, said.

The company designed “Chote Sultan Hunt”, an augmented reality-based game to create better brand recall. “We saw the highest ever click-through rate of 2.5%+ compared with an industry standard of 0.5%,” Pandey said.

Vserv said gamification in itself is not a new concept. “One of the first examples of our work...was in adapting the popular game—‘Break the Brick’ (for the launch of Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy phone). This ad engaged 90% of audience it reached,” Dippak Khurana, chief executive officer at Vserv, said.

About 10% of all Vserv campaigns are based on gamification, Khurana added.

The push towards native ad solutions has seen gamified ads gain more traction. Seventynine created an ad for Manjhi: The Mountain Man, a biopic on Dashrath Manjhi who carved a path through a mountain with just a hammer and a chisel in 20 years.

Much of the same thought on making ad on mobiles interactive, useful, and less intrusive, went into making Miip, the in-app product discovery platform which InMobi, one of India’s biggest ad-tech start-ups, is betting heavily on, said Pattabhiraman.

It’s not just India. Gamified ads achieve similar engagement levels across mature and emerging markets, too, said several executives at ad tech firms.

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