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Why The Best Mobile Games Reward Their Players

I’ve spoke to many developers about how they measure success and what seems to matter most is creating something fun. Yet sometimes when evaluating the fun-factor, developers will separate the ad experience from the gaming experience. However, to players, they are one of the same. This means you must approach ads within your games in the same way as game development itself, by making them fun!

Moving on from the invasive and sometimes irritating days of display ads, in-game mobile advertising can now add value to the user experience. IAB research has shown that 75% of gamers are willing to accept advertising in free apps or online games if it means gaining access to exclusive and interesting content.

The key to successful monetisation through ads is simple: create an enjoyable experience for your players by displaying ads that are both seamless and useful. To do this, you need to understand player behaviour and add relevant value.

Player Behaviour

Player behaviour changes on a moment-to-moment basis. Moments are emotionally charged actions based on the context of an app experience. They exist across all app vertices and there are millions of them happening everyday. By understanding what users are doing in these moments, and how they are feeling, you can effectively create a strategy to target those emotions and add relevant value. To do this, take an inventory of your in-app events and assign emotions to each. For example, new high score = happiness, lost battle = frustration.

Relevant Value

The easiest way to provide relevant value is through rewards, which is why rewarded video is the hottest ad format on the market right now. But did you know that you could also incorporate Reward Interstitials and still monetise your apps in a delightful and respectful way? Like Rewarded Video, Rewarded Interstitials provide value based on player behaviour to create a positive ad experience.
There are however some key differences in both the player behavior and value provided when it comes to Reward Interstitials and Rewarded Video. Here is a comparison:

Rewarded Video

Type of moment: need
Player emotion: frustration/desperation
Reward type: incentivised
Value added: virtual goods
Ad content: mostly gaming



Rewarded Video ads typically occur in Moments of Need as players react to their in app circumstances. In these moments players are feeling frustrated and desperate. They are willing to watch an ad in order to receive virtual goods to continue playing, or increase their chances of winning. It’s an incentivised value exchange— complete action, get rewards. And it works for both developers and players! Yet because of their incentivised nature brands tend to shy away from this type of ad. This means that developers end up showing content for competing apps and could be contributing to their own churn.

Reward Interstitial

Type of moment: achievement
Player emotion: excitement
Reward Type: non-incent
Value added: real world value
Ad content: mostly brand



Reward Interstitials are displayed after Achievement Moments in games— when someone has accomplished something and feels a sense of success. Players feel +40% more excitement during achievement moments than during regular gameplay. To match this player behavior, developers can add value in the form of a Reward Interstitial.

Reward Interstitials hold tangible real world value. They are deep discounts, free product samples and exclusive offers from brands your players know and trust. They are like surprise high fives to reinforce engagement, and unlike rewarded video, they are 100% serendipitous.

A study by IMPG found that 84% of users prefer rewards over traditional ads. The same study found that when rewards appeared, excitement increased another 31%. This means that apps have the ability to make users even happier via rewards. Apps with rewards don’t just satisfy a need or provide entertainment – they bring users joy.

So what’s the takeaway?

The best mobile apps have rewards. Delivering an ad to a player that adds to the gaming experience – through branded Reward Interstitials or Rewarded Video advertising – builds an emotional connection that positions the app in a positive light. This builds the foundation for a healthy ad revenue stream that maintains an enjoyable experience and keeps your users coming back for more. Everyone wins, and everyone has fun!

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