Rewarded Video is On Fire: Why It’s Hot and How It’s Changing the In-App Conversation
Rewarded video drives engagement and conversions. Verve's Ari Brandt explains how.
Mobile consumers demand a two-way conversation with brands: opt-in is important to them, transparency is crucial. Every time their screen presents an ad unit — especially among younger shoppers, as our recent research tells us — they want to know what they’re getting from the creative experience and they want to understand what they’re giving in return.
For the consumer, rewarded video centralizes these elements of opt-in and control, while at the same time opening massive new fronts for engagement, conversions, and retention. The format has been gaining popularity over the past few years — major brands are now turning to it in ways they might not have before — and it’s recently become a hot topic. App Annie has pegged rewarded video as one of the fastest-growing digital advertising formats out there.
As this next step in the evolution of mobile unfolds, let’s look at the key factors driving what Mobile Marketing predicts to be a further groundswell of advertiser interest and investment.
From Games to Everywhere: In-App Rewarded Videos Drive Consumer Response
Rewarded video drives engagement and conversions. The mobile (or casual) gaming industry got the message right away. Their approach is straightforward and spot-on: consumers watch an in-game rewarded video at a moment of need or achievement; in return, they receive content such as coins or lives or points. As a result, as eMarketer reports, 74 percent of gamers say they watch rewarded video specifically because this exchange improves their in-app experience.
The approach is now shifting to an even wider market. We should all want to be involved with this conversation — rewarded video should be part of any end-to-end mobile marketing platform; the following four items help show why.
- The Pandora model: engaging consumers and highlighting audiences. Music listeners love uninterrupted content; brands want access to the consumer categories that music-preference data help unlock. Pandora has cracked the code to making both sides of this equation happy. By watching a 15-second rewarded video, consumers earn a premium — i.e., uninterrupted — experience on the streaming music player. The tactic dovetails perfectly with one of the key rewarded-video approaches — start with a free experience that segues into a freemium (and/or premium) experience. The approach is driving completion for Pandora’s 15-second spots, MediaPost reports. Even more importantly, it’s helping brands identify consumers with an affinity for even deeper in-app creative: 59 percent of listeners who continue on past the first 15 seconds of a video will watch a full 30-second video as well. That’s a consumer segment that marketers crave, and rewarded video is giving it the spotlight.
- Consumers watch more and come back often. Completion is a huge component of rewarded video’s value (in addition to brand recall and positive perception). The stats are staggering: in a recent report, The Drum tells us that rewarded video units drove “a 91 percent video completion rate, a 2-8 percent post-view engagement rate, and were favored by viewers three times more than non-skippable pre-roll ads.” Take note, CMOs and CROs, because, as eMarketer reports, recent Moat analytics show overall mobile video ad-completion rates to be clocking in at only 50.7 percent. In other words, rewarded video represents a massive upward shift in consumer engagement. And, when you’ve got sticky content to boot, these are not only “completers” … they’re repeaters. Mobile creative gets viewed multiple times by rewarded-video consumers who opt-in and experience the brand’s message in exchange for accessing desired content over and over again.
- Multiply consumer interest; boost calls to action. The in-app consumer is driving click-through rates in the rewarded video space that’s 3.4-times higher than that of any other mobile video format. Yes, that’s driving CPMs as well — $10–$16 in the United States, depending on vendor and operating system — but it’s worth the price of admission when you consider the outcomes. Consumers tell us that rewarded experiences are positive experiences nearly 90 percent of the time. For publishers, the benefits are also clear: users are more than twice as likely to purchase premium app content and features that they find in tandem with rewarded video ads. That’s how the format drives success for freemium and premium models.
- Rewarded video is brand-safe advertising. Finally, and this is a big deal, in-app rewarded video experiences are brand-safe moments. Whether it’s a game, or it’s Pandora, or a fitness app (and so on), the rewarded-video environment is a premium advertiser environment, free of the user-generated and potentially toxic content that infects many major open-ecosystem digital spaces. The Unilevers and the P&Gs of the world don’t need to doubt the content that comes with rewarded video, and neither do the SMBs and enterprise players that take the leap into this space.
Mobile creative is changing, and it’s changing for the better. In the very short term, brands can do no wrong by putting their budgets into opt-in rewarded video spend — even Adweek is telling us to do it — and the horizon doesn’t stop with gaming. Vertical by vertical, we’re watching rewarded video bring powerful advertising outcomes to new environments and new industries.
What’s the right move? Be part of the future of the two-way rewarded-video conversation that smart brands are building. Rewarded video is a value exchange — time and attention is the currency in highly engaged mobile environments. As such, brands must respect the user experience and reward consumers for their time. In return, they can count on boosts to brand recall, brand perception, and lift across all the completion and activation rates that come with this consumer-forward approach.
*Ari Brandt is EVP of Strategic Development at Verve. Brandt leads corporate partnerships at Verve and as well as supply strategies that propel the leading mobile marketing company to meet the rising demand for programmatic and managed-service mobile solutions. Brandt co-founded Receptiv, an in-app mobile video platform serving Ad Age’s top brands and the world’s most trusted publishers, where he served as the company’s CEO. Receptiv was founded in 2011 with a focus on premium in-app gaming experiences and award-winning mobile in-app ad experiences. Verve acquired Receptiv in June 2018. Prior to co-founding Receptiv, he helped lead the advertising technology industry as CEO of Linkstorm and via key senior roles at Conde Nast Business Media Group, Yahoo!, and DoubleClick.