Rewarded Video Is Ready for Prime Time

Numbers from comScore show that mobile apps have eclipsed all other platforms, including TV, to shift the digital-media landscape in favor of mobile. More people are spending more time on their apps, and ad spend is catching up. It’s a dynamic that sets the stage for a new phase of innovation. At one end of the spectrum, brand marketers must double down on efforts to grow their audiences. At the other end, app publishers must find new ways to cash in. In both cases, mobile video presents a possible solution.

Mobile video already accounts for the lion’s share of views and shares across social media networks and an increasing percentage of ad spend. However, mobile video isn’t just luring consumers away from PCs and TVs. It’s evolving to deliver audiences a riveting and relevant viewing experience that drives engagement metrics. An increasing number of companies are exploring new ways to combine mobile video, ads, and critical calls to action to monetize audience interaction with apps.

The new buzzword is rewarded video, a format that got its start in mobile gaming apps. In a nutshell, rewarded video incentivizes players with perks (lives, levels, virtual currency—the works) when they agree to watch a video ad. Players get to play for free. Publishers benefit from audience engagement.

Mobile video ad networks and platforms are bracing themselves for a wave of interest from app companies in search of a way to grow their app audience and revenues without employing intrusive advertising. Unity Ads, a video ad network, highlights the positive outcomes in a recent report, “In-Game Advertising the Right Way: Monetize, Engage, Retain.” It reveals that most players (80%) accept and engage with rewarded video ads. More importantly, players stay loyal to the game. Little wonder Unity has crowned rewarded video ads as the industry’s “hottest revenue generator.”

So why limit the use of rewarded video and gamification to mobile gaming apps? Such impressive numbers provide a good reason for media companies to get more creative about the ways they can use mobile video perks. Until now, the main obstacle has been presentation. Unlike gaming apps, media is not consumed in levels, so there are fewer points where ad placement can enhance—not interrupt—the flow. Tapjoy is working to fill this gap with in-app ad formats designed to trigger audience interest and action in all apps, not just games. A prime example is Tapjoy’s Interactive End Cards, a format that blends with the content, building on the many ways consumers already interact with their devices to deliver a relevant call to action.

A pioneer proving the concept is 20th Century Fox. In 2017, it leveraged end cards timed to the release of War for the Planet of the Apes to drive both awareness of the film and affinity for the brand. According to a press release from 20th Century Fox, the award-winning campaign achieved a host of impressive conversion metrics, including a video completion rate of 88% “(which is 3.5x higher than industry benchmarks) and a 4% click-through rate to purchase tickets.”

Clearly, mobile video is where the action is—and where content companies need to up their game. Research by professor Karen Nelson-Field, commissioned by research firm ThinkTV, confirms that mobile video ads generate a positive impact for the companies that produce them. YouAppi, which provides a growth marketing platform for premium mobile brands, reports a 400% revenue growth in its brand video business—a growth trajectory it chalks up to the increasing appeal of mobile video.

Granted, it’s not a stretch for an entertainment company (like 20th Century Fox) to drive great results with popular content that already has cult appeal, but smaller media companies can also boost their results if they find the right match. Using mobile video perks and gamification to acquire audiences and inspire deeper interaction works regardless of company size. Fortunately, the tools, tech, and formats are there to stitch together rewarding experiences. Now it’s up to media companies to get creative.   

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