Mobile Gaming is a Big Opportunity, But for Whom?

By Victoria Beyer, Vice President of Digital Turbine’s West Coast Brand Business in the US

The advertising opportunity in mobile games has made headlines as a key trend for 2024. But what kind of brands benefit most from this market – and how do they strategically leverage this channel?

Mobile games occupy 10.6% of mobile phone usage time, yet only 3.9% of total ad spending is directed towards them. With 70% of U.S. consumers engaging in mobile gaming – and a significant portion of these gamers staying off social media (21%) – there’s a notable opportunity for brands to connect with key parts of their target audience in the gaming environment that are otherwise hard to reach.

In the past, brands have quickly dismissed mobile gaming, suggesting the channel is incompatible with their audience. However, new research reveals the interests and purchasing behavior of gamers across the four main genres: word, puzzle, card, and action games – uncovering the major brands currently missing out on connecting with their ideal consumers in the less saturated mobile gaming environment. So, who are today’s mobile gamers? And what brands stand to benefit the most?

Today’s Mobile Gamers are Diverse and Hard to Reach Elsewhere

Mobile games defy the myth of appealing to only one demographic. They cater to a diverse range of people, including parents, foodies, students, avid shoppers, and more. Data indicates that gamers are even more inclined to engage with brands than the general population, showcasing their broad appeal across various interests and demographics.

Simply put, gamers are just like everyone else, except this specific demographic proves challenging to reach through traditional social ads – highlighting the untapped potential for brands.

For instance, word gamers show a penchant for fitness, news, and adventure. They’re 31% more inclined towards fitness apps and 29% towards news apps than the average user. Moreover, they exhibit a 23% higher interest in sports and a 22% higher interest in adventure and extreme sports. Their preferred brands include Corona, Urban Outfitters, Delta, and Panera Bread.

Puzzle gamers have a strong interest in beauty and adventure brands. They favor Estée Lauder, Lululemon, BBC World News, Nordstrom, and Travelocity.

Card gamers exhibit a 32% greater likelihood of using sports apps and a 28% higher interest in beauty content. Opportunities arise for brands like Tarte Cosmetics, Patrón, Coca-Cola, Rite Aid, and Papa John’s.

Action gamers prioritize health and fitness apps by 94%, showing a 71% greater interest in sports and 36% greater interest in outdoor activities than the average consumer. These players demonstrate higher engagement with brands such as YouTube Premium, Jordan, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Red Bull.

Each gaming demographic reveals connections to larger audiences for brands to target. While Corona and Urban Outfitters can target audiences in word games, Lululemon and Nordstrom can target puzzle games.

Reach BIG Brand Goals by Engaging Immersed Audiences

With advertisers dedicating under 4% of their ad spending to this rapidly expanding platform, mobile gaming offers brands a chance to differentiate themselves and capture up to nine times more attention than other video platforms such as TikTok, Meta, or YouTube.

Attention is the first step. The industry is moving beyond mere visibility and venturing into immersion – where brands can simultaneously engage multiple senses. Mobile games are the perfect platform for this immersive experience, capturing attention and active participation.

For example, consider the goal of reaching potential customers and fostering repeat usage. Storytelling is rich, and interaction is constant in mobile gaming so that brands can embed themselves deeply into the user experience. Take Corona, for instance. Dominating leaderboards across various game genres, Corona can ensure their presence is not just noticed but integrated into the fabric of the gaming community.

Brands also have the opportunity to influence competitors’ customers within mobile gaming environments. Brands like Chipotle, positioned in the middle pack, can leverage this by strategically targeting their competitors’ customer bases. They can sway consumer preferences and carve out a larger market share by ensuring their message is seen and heard.

Lastly, protecting market share transcends traditional advertising methods in mobile gaming. Even industry giants like McDonald’s recognize the importance of this immersive platform. While they may not top every leaderboard, their strategic presence ensures they remain connected with their audience on a deeper level. They can solidify their emotive bond with consumers by incorporating interactive elements like games, promotions, and swipe activities, safeguarding their market dominance.

The future of brand marketing lies in immersive experiences, where sight, sound, and touch converge to create lasting impressions. Through mobile gaming, brands can transcend mere visibility and forge genuine connections with consumers, ultimately securing their position in a mobile gaming marketplace.

About the Author

Victoria Beyer has well over 23+ years of Adtech experience in mobile, programmatic, data, and complex technology covering Brand and DR strategies. She is a seasoned leader in sales and operations who builds teams that outperform peer sets in growth, efficiency, culture, and loyalty. Victoria has sold as both a market challenger and market leader, adjusting to the range of resources and challenges to gain maximum impact. She brings her experiences from working at the following companies: Conversant, Vivendi Universal Music, IAC Interactive, Millennial Media, and Quantcast.