Facebook Inc. has introduced three new ad solutions to its platforms aimed at helping marketers reach a little-discussed but potentially lucrative audience: video gamers.

The solutions, which the company announced Thursday, are playable ads, which are exactly what they sound like; retention optimization, which allows app developers to deliver their ads to the consumers most likely to use them; and minimum return on ad spend (ROAS) bidding, which helps video game advertisers reach the players most likely to make in-app purchases.

The primary goal with playable ads, Facebook wrote in an Aug. 2 blog post, is to give gamers the chance to test a game before they install it.

“Playable ads can also help advertisers drive higher-intent installs from people who have experimented with the game and are therefore more likely to play after installing,” the company wrote. “And game developers such as Bagelcode and Rovio are already seeing results using this new format. Bagelcode tested playable ads and saw a 3.2X improvement in return on ad spend on Android and a 1.4X improvement in return on ad spend on iOS. And Rovio saw a 40 per cent lower cost per paying user and a 70 per cent lift in day seven return on ad spend.”

As of Thursday, the playable ads feature is available to all advertisers using the app install objective on Facebook News Feed.

Retention optimization, meanwhile, is a new feature currently being tested that targets users who repeatedly play a game, rather than users who simply install a game and rarely open it again.

“Retention optimization allows gaming marketers to deliver their ads to the people most likely to play their game, helping gaming developers monetize their apps better,” Facebook wrote in its Aug. 2 post. “Gaming developers such as Bitmango and Beijing Fotoable have been testing retention optimization and are already seeing results. Beijing Fotoable saw a 30 per cent higher return on ad spend using retention optimization, compared to optimizing for installs.”

The feature is expected to roll out “later this year” on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network.

Finally, ROAS bidding is an expansion of the value optimization service Facebook launched last year to help advertisers identify the players most likely to make in-app purchases.

ROAS bidding, Facebook wrote in the Aug. 2 post, makes value optimization even more effective by allowing advertisers to set a minimum amount that players must spend in order to see their ads, thus targeting players who are even more likely to make in-app purchases and avoiding those (such as the author) who are less likely to engage.

While fewer than two per cent of mobile gamers make in-app purchases, those who do are a gold mine for developers: One recent study by AppsFlyer and Facebook found that paying gamers in the U.S. spend an average of $20 USD on in-app within seven days of installing a game, and as much as $49.33 by day 90.

There’s a wide audience for mobile gaming too: by one estimate, there are more than 2 billion mobile gamers worldwide, and that number is expected to grow to more than 2.6 billion by 2021.

Facebook said it plans to release value optimization with minimum ROAS bidding in September for Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network.

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