AudioMob’s massive partnership with Socialpoint Echos in the mobile games advertising industry
Video and image-based ads have long dominated as the preferred choice for in-game ads. However, the rise of audio as a medium has made in-game audio ads a viable alternative.
AudioMob, an in-game audio ad delivery platform, bridges the gap between brands and game developers by enabling the latter to host and run in-game audio advertisements developed by the former. The London, UK-based startup recently entered into a partnership with socialpoint, a game development studio (acquired by Take Two, which owns the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise and also bought Zynga for 12.7 billion of dollars). Christian Facey and Wilfrid OBeng detail the impact of this collaboration for AudioMob and the in-game advertising space as a whole.
Frederick Daso: Before this revival of audio ads in games, there must have been great skepticism about the effectiveness of audio as an alternative format to video or image-based ads in games. Aside from AudioMob’s innovations in the field, what other recent technology or business trends have developed to entice more game publishers and advertisers to experiment with audio ads?
Christian Facey and Wilfrid Obeng: There was skepticism around audio levels and whether users got the volume when playing mobile games. AudioMob’s technology to analyze the true audio state of a mobile phone, not just the game, allowed us to test several things and discover patterns of user behavior.
We are seeing a significant increase in ad recall, purchase intent, and brand consideration. As discussed in our white paper on mobile engagement in in-game audio ads, we find that users in any case prefer that their game is not blocked when they receive an ad. This has been incredibly appealing to brands looking to capitalize on the mobile gaming industry.
There are now three billion mobile gamers, and that audience is growing by double digits every year. More users in each major demographic segment playing most often; this includes those 65 and over. This is also attractive to brands looking to enter mobile gaming profitably. Mobile game ads are typically very expensive performance ads with a CPM of $40-80. This price range is too high for brand advertisers. In-game audio ads are considered a great entry point. The music industry, which is generally more sensitive to CPM price, was an early adopter of our format. Now, brands in all major advertising industries use us, from Pampers and Microsoft Xbox to Intel, Jeep and even health clinics!
The developers have also aggressively researched new forms of monetization that enhance the player experience and don’t hurt player retention. Branded advertisements, which do not promote the installation of other games, are becoming increasingly attractive to game studios. This is especially evident due to changes to Apple’s IDFA last year and general gamer concerns about data privacy. This has encouraged developers to implement privacy-compliant networks such as AudioMob, which uses contextual data to target users. Combined with AudioMob’s non-intrusive delivery method, this makes a very compelling case for developers.
Daso: Now that in-game audio ads have their moment in the sun, Socialpoint has found the right time to partner with Audiomob to pursue its own goals of creating “a seamless experience between gameplay and advertising”. How did AudioMob curate a diverse advertiser base that gives a studio-like Socialpoint the ability to show their “user brand campaigns rather than ads from other games?”
Facey and Obeng: AudioMob is the first company to integrate non-intrusive audio ads into mobile games. To achieve this, we had to figure out how to connect the programmatic audio advertising ecosystem to the mobile gaming ecosystem by talking to many brands and technology partners over many years. What’s important for developers to realize is that audio advertisers are brands, not user acquisition advertisers. An audio advertiser cares about listenership rather than installs. The key for AudioMob was how to make sure the advertiser knows positively that their ad has really been heard.
AudioMob is the first company to create a method of purchasing in-game audio ads and the only company in the world to verify that an audio ad can be heard. This creates a compelling case for advertisers to use our platform. Moreover, the game is now a large-scale mass marketing channel, and a variety of major global brands such as Pampers, Disney, Samsung, etc. have quickly adopted the platform. Another extremely important element for advertisers is the quality of the games offered by our network. AudioMob manually selects premium gaming inventory for our advertisers, and we’ve also designed an algorithm that helps us select the best inventory. Brands typically see a 1000% increase in click engagement on our platform. For the developer, advertiser quality is a common question for game developers looking to adopt our platform, and this was very important to SocialPoints parent company TakeTwo. These are some of the reasons why AudioMob has been able to scale as quickly as we have since launching in January 2020.
Daso: How much have game developers increased their revenue after adopting in-game audio ads? Do these new types of ads have an impact on user retention?
Facey and Obeng: Game developers see a 600% increase in banner CPM when audio ads are used. Suppose the developer does not use banners and metrics by general ARPDAU rather than segmented ARPDAU (by ad format). If so, they can expect a 5% increase when using our technology, incorporating our carefully researched best practices. When AudioMob’s best practices are used, we see no change in retention or a slight increase of up to 0.45%. Retention results correlate with our initial whitepaper research and numerous groundbreaking case studies.
Daso: In our discussion, you mentioned that a brand like Curry’s was able to “achieve a relative average 3650% increase in CTR in a campaign designed to drive Xbox Series S purchases.” Is this a typical or outlier result for brands that advertise via in-game audio ads?
Facey and Obeng: This is typical of brands that advertise on our platform. While the percentages seem incredible, we have enough studies conducted and campaigns executed to be confident that in-game audio will be the next major advertising medium. This is one of the main reasons our Series A has been so successful. AudioMob has designed an audio intent algorithm that targets users based on how they listen to an advertisement while playing a game. For example, if you as a player were to click on a mobile game you were hired to find out about an ad you just heard, it must be a genuine sign of intent. Why? Because you would have continued playing the game instead and ignored, closed or disabled the ad! Based on the many audio signals we analyze, this type of intent has allowed us to identify truly engaged users across thousands of games through our advertising platform.
Daso: How skeptical brands should reassess their current view of audio as a viable advertising medium, given the strong track record that AudioMob and other industry innovators have seen in increasing customer and user reach potential?
Facey and Obeng: In-game audio advertising is a mass marketing channel within the gaming space that enables brands to reach gamers and mass audiences across all demographics. Conceptually, this is compared to radio advertising. However, the amount of contextual data you can use to target the right person is exceptional. Rather than viewing AudioMob as an audio channel, brands need to think of in-game audio as a method to reach mass audiences. To deliver the right ad to the right audience at the right time, in the right game! The mechanism happens to be audio to allow you to do this in a non-intrusive way. Big brand advertisers see audio ads as a less influential medium because you can’t see the offer like a video ad.
However, this is not the case at all! For example, I’m sure you can remember the sound identity of some commercials, like the McDonald’s theme song. It’s about how and where you place the ad. It’s the execution that counts. What is essential is that the delivery of general ads, such as video ads, be intrusive, the negative pre-event to viewing the ad; being blocked by a video disrupting the gameplay. Brands can now advertise at key times. Thanks to AudioMob, brands can now deliver their messages without intruding on their audience’s gameplay and can even deliver their messages to gamers when needed. For example, when the player needs a power-up or in-game help via a reward for listening to an advertisement. This is a powerful method used to deliver the best advertising experiences to their users.
Daso: Beyond increasing revenue, what other goals does AudioMob hope to achieve or prove by enabling in-game audio ads in Socialpoint’s Word Life game?
Facey and Obeng: If I asked readers if they could think of a single person in their network who likes video ads, most people would say no! It’s a common problem. AudioMob figured out how to make a player’s ad experience non-intrusive while still being significantly profitable for the developer, providing additional revenue, and not damaging the developer’s other monetization methods. Advertisers also have a profitable entry point into the mobile gaming ecosystem. Now that we have enough research and evidence that all parties benefit from AudioMob’s technology, we aim to grow our portfolio of top 100 interested mobile game publishers. We believe this partnership will be a landmark partnership that will define the in-game audio advertising industry for years to come.