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Insight: Incentivised Advertising and Consumer Sentiment in the Age of Mobile-First Initiatives

Words by Tom Simpson, VP, Brand & Exchange, APAC at AdColony 

Mobile in-app advertising is one of the fastest growing forms of digital advertising across the globe, with mobile advertising forecasted to exceed USD200 billion, and only projected to grow at an exponential rate through 2022. In addition to this, traditional banner and other pop-ups are being greeted with increasing distaste from users and thereby becoming less effective. Marketers now increasingly look to alternative formats and medium to better reach and engage their audiences in innovative ways.  

A rising favourite among these is incentivised advertising, a model where users choose to watch and engage with an ad in exchange for an incentive, virtual or otherwise. With mobile gaming experiencing steady growth and expecting to reach up to 250 million people in Southeast Asia alone3, it comes as no surprise that publishers have seen great success with the model. It offers a clear value exchange that is beneficial to both parties and transparent. This combined with the ability to choose whether to engage with the presented ad or not, is what makes this method such an effective and respectable tool for marketers and their audience.


A Win-Win(-Win) Situation

One of the main reasons why incentivised advertising is getting more and more popular is because there’s something in it for everyone. Be it a user, publisher or marketer, there is an value exchange for all involved, leaving parties more satisfied with such a format as compared to the traditional one-sided approach.


In contrast to the current industry standard where users are forced to watch pre-rolls before getting to their desired content, this incentivised model offers a far more respectful approach in garnering user’s attention. In particular, in a highly personal environment such as a mobile phones, a recent study done by Adcolony has shown that 50.4 per cent of users find such pre-roll formats unacceptable, whereas Rewarded video stands at nearly half that with 28.4 percent. This supports the notion that there is an additional layer of resistance to ads that interrupt or intrude during usage. 

This holds true for mobile gaming apps as well. Nothing can be more off-putting to a user than seeing an unwanted advertisement disrupt gameplay and this negativity may even hold repercussions for whichever brand is responsible for it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, should there be a clear incentive paired with an engaging format that is more than passive consumption, users become more inclined to not only view and participate with the ad, but also perceive the brand more favourably. 

Publishers and Developers

When users are less inconvenienced by such advertisements, they are much more likely to download, retain and regularly open the app – be it for gaming, streaming or social networking. Incentivised advertisements can also be customised accordingly, giving greater incentives to drive loyalty to users who use the app very often, or offering benefits to users who return after a longer period of time to encourage high retention rates. 

Financially, with users being more likely to choose to watch advertisements, publishers receive higher ad earnings from brands, allowing them to funnel more resources to develop features and content for their app. If it is a paid app, funding can also be channelled into lowering the price of app, enticing more users to download the app and expanding their user base as well. 


There’s no reason why marketers should not benefit from incentivised ads and associate themselves with an enjoyable user experience. In aother study done by AdColony, users are the happiest when playing a mobile game, with 77 per cent reporting that they were in a good mood. Associating with this state makes consumers more likely to further engage and interact with a brand, providing that extra edge within the market. This is a stark contrast to social media app, with respondents being 3.2 times more likely to be in a negative mood than the average making it a less than ideal time to approach consumers2. 

With consumers opting in to view the ad, it further boosts viewability as compared to traditional banners or popups that are quickly dismissed with a single swipe, without a second thought. Brands should put out ads that synergise with the type of app to further increase the likelihood of converting users into buyers. Take a mobile racing game as an example, users are more likely to be interested in automotive-related content and marketers can leverage this to target a more receptive audience. It also gives users the impression that brands understand them as they look more favourably towards the advertiser. 

At a time where we see data being often misused and the increasingly strict data privacy regulations being enacted like the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in Singapore, the transparency of the transaction allows users to feel that their privacy is being respected by both the brand and the publisher. This sometimes comes across as a nice and rare gesture, especially when they are being constantly being bombarded with advertisements throughout their screen time. 

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

No doubt incentivised advertising is a powerful tool in any brand’s arsenal. However, like any tool, it requires skill and judgment to extract its true value. Marketers must always keep in mind the user experience when designing their advertisements, keeping it tasteful and respectful. Ignoring this will lead to falling into the same patterns that plague traditional banners and popups. 

They should serve as a light seasoning to the meat of the app – complementing core content and functionalities to benefit all involved with this transaction – be it users, publishers or marketers. It should draw users deeper into the experience, not take them out of their enjoyment. Such advertisements may be effective in grabbing users attention, but from then on what you do to keep it is an entirely different ballgame. To do this, marketers must think out-of-the-box, leverage innovative methods while tapping into all the features and functions mobile devices offer. The key to crafting a successful mobile advertising campaign now – quite literally – lies in the palm of your hand. 



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