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OneYearwithCOVID blog

3 ‘Forever’ Trends From Covid-19 and 2020 – Our New Normal

Posted Apr 6, 2021

Forget 24 hours – the pandemic news cycle is now never-ending. Even within trade media, headlines abound around the new normal and how the past year has changed us forever and what the future might bring for brands and advertisers. 

Recently we penned our own perspective on this for Ad Age, highlighting the ways that consumer behavior has shifted in the past year and how the advertising industry must shift, too. We encourage the return to contextual targeting as well as identifying your audience within app categories. 

We also noted the pressing need to acknowledge the new standard for brand safety and creative execution: In this brand new world, brands must show, not just say, that they are putting their customers first. And tailor their content and placement to capture attention, but also provide what their audience needs now – whether it be light entertainment or deep utility – in order to stand out from the competition. 

Below is a deeper dive into some of the trends we noted and best practices for brands, as they shift their approach to the consumers of 2021 and beyond. *For the full summary infographic with statistics sourced from multiple surveys and research groups, see our One Year With COVID report.

Consumers Are Forever Glued To Their (Phone) Screens

  • In 2020, consumers spent more time at home, but this didn’t translate to time spent on fixed-place screens. Rather, time spent on mobile devices increased 20% year over year. 
  • Once consumers integrate a habit, like playing mobile games, into their daily routine, it is hard to break! So even as the world begins to open back up again and less time is spent at home, consumers will still continue to play mobile games while they are watching TV, in a rideshare, waiting for a train, in the elevator, or any other space that allows for it. 
  • Mobile use had already surpassed time spent with TV, but now it’s official: Mobile gaming now outranks time spent watching TV – people spent 8% more time on mobile devices than on TV.
  • And even when they are watching TV, they’re still gaming. Research showed that 4 in 10 mobile users and half of mobile gamers are playing mobile games while watching TV. 
  • Gaming on phones is more preferred over gaming through a console or laptop.  
  • Another fun fact: The highest growth rate for consumers spending time in mobile games was not from Gen Z, but rather is spurred by Gen X and Millennials.

It’s Time To Take Economics of Mobile Gaming Seriously

  • Consumers are not just spending time, they are spending money. Some 14% of gamers made an in-app purchase in 2020. And in 2021, consumers are expected to spend $120 billion on mobile gaming.
  • The sheer volume of this audience is incredible: In North America, there were 238.7 million people playing mobile games in 2020, resulting in a 12% YoY growth. If you are an advertiser in today’s market, you can’t ignore the mobile gaming audience.
  • Additionally, advertising works in this environment! We were pleased to see that 21% of users made a product discovery from an ad seen in a mobile or tablet app, and 27% of users use mobile apps to do brand or product research. 
  • Mobile games have become a powerful way to reach consumers and encourage conversion. So while showing an ad on TV may bring awareness to your brand or product, showing an ad in a mobile game will increase brand discovery and conversion. 
    • A major fast food chain was able to receive a 93% video completion rate and 97% viewability by advertising in mobile games.
    • Similarly, a major food QSR was able to reach an 18% conversion rate with installs of their app. This CVR was 300% higher than the benchmark for QSR apps. 

What Brands Can Do Now

  • Let’s start with a question: If consumers are spending 20% more time on mobile devices, are brands spending 20% more on in-app advertising? We don’t believe so – at least not yet.
  • But they should be! Advertising in mobile games delivers a wide range of benefits:
    • First, you can reach pretty much anyone. Mobile gamers represent the full gamut of ages and demographics.
    • What’s more, they are in a good mood when you do reach them. Studies show that people are happy and relaxed while playing mobile games.
  • Hone in on popular app categories, specifically casual games. This genre saw a growth of 75% in engagement and a 117.61% increase in installs from March 2020-January 2021. 
    • So if you are trying to reach U.S. consumers, focus on casual apps such as Among Us!, Join Clash 3D, Tangle Master 3D, Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles, and Woodturning, as they had the top downloads from 2020. 
    • Top apps for consumer spend in 2020 were ROBLOX, Coin Master, Call of Duty: Mobile, State of Survivor, and Gardenscapes-New Acres. 
  • By increasing ad spend in mobile, optimizing creative campaigns, and focusing mobile advertising to casual games, brands have the opportunity to reach millions of consumers in a comfortable space where they are receptive to product discovery and purchasing.

Join the Conversation
Have other questions about consumer behavior changes and how to reach them in mobile games? Tweet us at @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.


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