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Ads in Mobile Games Get an Eye-popping 10% CTR

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There’s a lot of VC money going into web-based, advertising-driven casual games, so here’s a wake-up call to investors: They may get better ROI with mobile phone-based gaming.

In 2006, mobile game platform Greystripe launched, a distribution site for free, ad-supported cellphone games; since then, consumers have downloaded over 65 million copies of Greystripe’s hundreds of titles. The company will publish an extended report of their user data later this week, but were nice enough to give me an advance peek. I’m looking at a lot of surprising numbers, but the most striking one to me is how gamers interact with the ads that appear before and after gameplay.

According to Greystripe, 10.1 percent of them click on the ads, a CTR that far outstrips web ads, which average some 1 percent to 2 percent. I strongly suspect at least some of these are accidental, fumble-thumb click-throughs, but even then, from the advertisers’ perspective, that’s not a bug, but a feature. And while mobile games are almost by definition casual, the demographic breakdown is markedly different from the web-based casual space, which is dominated by older women.

By contrast, 69 percent of the site’s U.S. users are aged 18-34, and 60 percent are male — roughly the same percent that own a PS3/360/Wii game console. So unsurprisingly, the top 20 titles are not just puzzle games, but arcade-flavored titles like Rollercoaster Rush and Bikini Pool Summer, from a studio called, appropriately enough, Guy Games. With data like this, I think we’re going to see a lot more money moving to mobile.

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7 Responses to “Ads in Mobile Games Get an Eye-popping 10% CTR”

  1. It will be interesting to see Greystripe’s full report, but the stats you’ve cited are a long way from presenting the complete picture.

    65 million file downloads over entire period (3+ years) their service has been available sounds impressive, but doesn’t clarify how many of those downloads are reaching unique users, being installed on handsets and run, let alone being served any ads. Gamejump is just spewing out files, they’re not paying any heed to the user experience beyond that, and in the context of mobile this is a serious shortcoming.

    Users are drastically less likely to see through a transaction where they aren’t invested – and the kind of games they want to play on quality grounds cost money.

    The 10.1% figure (incidentally down on the >15% that Greystripe reported in 2006) will be based on a much smaller total and skewed to some extent by people responding out of curiousity rather than interest in the ad content (although I concede this makes no odds to the advertiser in the short term, at least).

    There may be a place for this model, but it’s likely going to remain a graveyard for mobile games at the end of their commercial life, as borne out by the GameJump catalogue. Unlike web-based casual games, the returns are too meagre and the upfront cost of development too great to make advertising a sustainable model on it’s own.

    I’ve talked more about this model here:

  2. Hi,
    I am quite amazed at the CTR shown here. But I must admit, that as a business model I am not sure it is going to work. How much revenue have they generated on their 65 million downloads and 10,1 % CTR? It is a great idea, but Gamejumps business model needs tweaking.

  3. India will soon have more mobile phone users than the entire population of United States, however computer / internet usage is quite low in comparison. So not only you get high CTR you might be reaching out to people who you cannot reach otherwise. I am from Veda Informatics and we provide Online marketing strategy and solutions, more and more of our customers are asking for mobile ads. Our technology team is currently working on a project that enables people to pay any individual or make payments using mobile phones. Huge activity is happening in this domain.