How game-based ads are improving ROI

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Kristina: A new study from Carnegie Mellon indicates that targeted ads are only increasing revenue by about 4% – why aren’t targeted display ads working better?
Jessica Rovello, Arkadium: The problem is the format, not necessarily the targeting. In 2019, the average display ad CTR across all ad formats is just 0.05% — or 5 clicks per every 10,000 impressions. These “performance” units are not performing. After being bombarded with them for years, consumers simply don’t like display ads. So, more are tuning them out or blocking them outright. And while making them more targeted increases their effectiveness, it does so only marginally.
To truly drive brand lift and performance online, marketers and publishers need to consider new types of ad formats that consumers will actually want to engage with. The formats that combine interactivity, personalization and design will ultimately win the day. The interactivity piece is especially important as it’s the key to drawing in and retaining users.
Kristina: What are some better options to this problem?
Jessica: We are seeing more publishers diversify their revenue mix by embracing branded content. More native articles, video, games, podcasts, etc. These types of campaigns are simply more interesting to readers. Branded content allows for more high-impact ad formats that can deliver the monetization publishers crave while driving improved consumer engagement for marketers.
Kristina: How do game-based ads improve the customer (reader) experience for publishers?
Jessica: Arkadium’s interactive AI product InHabit delivers relevant interactive content to any article instantly, which has proven to significantly boost user-interaction, retention and session duration for publishers. For example, someone might be reading about the Toronto Raptors on USA Today and get a gamified interactive unit in the article, asking them to guess Kawhi Leonard’s field goal percentage or rebounds per game. Ads within those units are incredibly powerful.
When ads are positioned alongside a piece of interactive content that is specific to the individual (the reader chose to read about the Raptors and was delivered a game about a Raptors player), the experience feels more unique to them and unlocks new levels of performance for buyers and sellers.
Kristina: How is game-based advertising faring in the digital space?
Jessica: Gamified advertising is fairing incredibly well. We’re seeing rates that far outpace the industry including engagement north of 8%, along with significant lifts in consideration and activation-based metrics. 
Kristina: What do brands need to know about game-based advertising before buying in?
Jessica: From content to technology, gamified experiences are challenging to scale. If an advertiser believes in the power of branded content, they need to push publishing partners to adopt technology platforms or work with third-party providers that can build the infrastructure needed for this type of gamified campaign. Publishers simply don’t have the in-house tools and resources required to build full-fledged interactive content in a scalable way. Advertisers can ask questions about a publisher’s ability to scale during the RFP process, ensuring alignment between expectations and reality.



Kristina Knight-1
Kristina Knight, Journalist , BA
Content Writer & Editor
Kristina Knight is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience writing on varied topics. Kristina’s focus for the past 10 years has been the small business, online marketing, and banking sectors, however, she keeps things interesting by writing about her experiences as an adoptive mom, parenting, and education issues. Kristina’s work has appeared with, NBC News,, DisasterNewsNetwork, and many more publications.