Hyper-Casual Games: Earning a High Score for Advertisers

From the end of 2019, around 44.5% of the US population (147 million) is expected to play mobile games on their devices. This figure has been rising year over year because the first gaming apps were downloaded from the app shop in 2008. Mobile games are now the most popular app category and accounts for 35% of all downloads. Growth isn’t anticipated to slow down any time soon either, with 158.9 million US consumers (46.8% of the population) expected to enjoy games on their mobile devices by 2023.

The array of gaming apps is extensive, with categories like casual, mid-core, and hardcore available to players. Another genre called hyper-casual games has grown to take the spotlight throughout the marketplace. With an estimated annual revenue of $2-2.5 billion and substantial investment in hyper-casual app developers, this market area is continuing to level up.

In this blog article, we explore the ascendance of hyper-casual games and how they can be leveraged for highly successful in-app advertising campaigns.

Hyper-casual games are lightweight mobile games that allow users to take part in an easy, easy-to-understand gaming experience that gives an immediate emotional response and immediate satisfaction for the player. They’ve global mass appeal and surpass audiences of different ages, genders, and cultures. Simplicity is key for hyper-casual games; intuitive UI and basic game mechanics allow users to start the game and play almost instantaneously, often without a tutorial.

Hyper-casual games are specifically designed and built for the contemporary in-app advertising ecosystem and monetization strategies. Compared to other mid-core or casual gaming apps, which generally operate on an in-app purchase version, hyper-casual games mainly rely on advertising to generate revenue, through a Combination of banners, interstitials, and rewarded videos

Hyper-casual format games are by no means a new concept. But a combination of factors has allowed this genre to control the app stores’ top downloaded charts in recent years.

The worldwide expansion of smartphones and internet-connected mobile devices has been crucial in attaining user groups of all demographics across the world. The casual nature of hyper-casual games has found a gap in this marketplace, supplying users with a platform to dip in and out of gameplay with minimal commitment, when waiting for an appointment, traveling, or just relaxing at home.

Since the mobile gaming market has grown, so has its monetization model and this has been key in facilitating the success of hyper-casual. Mobile games originally relied on superior, up-front payments for the user to download the app. The in-app advertising ecosystem has developed, coinciding with users getting more accustomed to obtaining free apps and games. This technique of monetization has turned out to be the most lucrative way for publishers to generate revenue. The sheer scale of downloads and mass appeal of hyper-casual games ensures they have become among the best platforms for in-app advertising.

Why Advertise in Hyper-Casual Games?

With media usage progressively changing to apps, mobile games are big winners with customers, and offer advertisers with varied audiences and high engagement rates. Let’s take a look at a number of the key benefits for advertisers investing in hyper-casual games.

Audience Scale and Market Growth
Approximately 660 million4 users played hyper-casual games across the planet in 2018 with the genre generating around 22 million app installs each day, so the possible reach for advertising campaigns is enormous. Not only is that the audience already massive, hyper-casual games are among the fastest-growing media verticals out there.

Gambling is now a mainstream activity, with 86% of all internet users confirming they’ve played games on at least one apparatus.5 Mobile is the most popular channel for gambling across all ages, genders, and income groups, with 66% of both male and female consumers playing games in their telephones.6 The stereotypical image of the teenage male gamer is now a thing of the past.

Just like other types of mobile games, hyper-casual provides a wide variety of display and video ad placements:

One of the very best monetization strategies used for hyper-casual games is rewarded video ads. Playable for at least three seconds and up to 30 seconds, these highly engaging ad formats are preferred by users over other kinds of ads. Smaato data shows that click-through rates are 18X higher for rewarded videos versus standard banner placements in hyper-casual games, yet their eCPM is simply 8X higher. Not only do they deliver higher conversions for advertising campaigns, rewarded videos also help gambling apps hold on to their audience. If a player reaches a tricky stage in the game and is trying hard to continue, voluntarily watching a rewarded video ad can help them out with a bonus item or hint.

Interstitial Video and Display
Usually placed during natural breaks in gameplay, interstitial ads are highly observable and can be delivered in both video or display formats. They give brands an opportunity to take advantage of a highly engaged audience during breaks in their amusement. Interstitial video ads can generate click-through rates 24X that of banners, with an eCPM just 3X higher.

Banner
Traditional in-app banners are also an effective ad format for hyper-casual games. Easily implemented into a game’s interface, banner placements can be exhibited on-screen and during gameplay. They could cost-effectively reach a great number of users with limited risk to brands testing out hyper-casual game advertising.

Brand Safety
Exactly as with other genres of gaming apps, hyper-casual games offer a brand-safe environment for advertisers to reach consumers with their campaigns. Advertising on a website can often put a brand’s messaging at risk of appearing next to inappropriate, user-generated content. Mobile gaming apps will need to be approved before they are available to consumers, so this risk is minimized, providing a safe platform for brand integrity.

What’s Next for Hyper-Casual Games?

More and more hyper-casual titles are launched each week, making sure that the landscape is fiercely competitive and ever-changing. With so many apps on the market, programmers and publishers may have to add new features to stand out from the crowd. One thing for sure is that hyper-casual games have gained a high score in the marketplace, providing consumers with apps they regularly enjoy and advertisers a platform to deliver successful campaigns.

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