Not too long ago, the standard way that people encountered ads was on television interspersed between segments of their favorite television show. However, that world is fast disappearing as fewer people watch live television. At the same time, the vast majority of adults play games on mobile devices, where, as part of this mobile gaming experience, they are exposed to ads. But, is mobile gaming a suitable platform for ads, in particular brand building ads? This is the question that our client, Telaria, needed to answer.
The challenge was that we could not simply rely on gamers’ stated claims of ad effectiveness. This is because consumers are largely not attuned to how they are influenced by ads, have poor recall of their ad experiences, and/or are simply biased towards thinking unfavorably about ads. We needed to uncover gamers’ less conscious and emotional reactions to ads near the actual time of exposure.
We theorized that gaming leads to a highly energized state, a state that may enhance ad receptivity and impact. Drawing heavily on tools, techniques and thinking from our Pragmatic Brain Science Institute, we developed an approach that assessed implicit and explicit responses to the ad. Specifically, our solution was to gauge respondents’ emotional and motivational states immediately after playing a mobile game during which they had been exposed to an ad.
Additionally, we measured less conscious perceptions of the ad using both a reaction-time based task and linguistic analysis of a pitch for the advertised product. To ensure we had an appropriate comparison, a separate group of respondents watched a television program, during which they were exposed to the same television ad, and answered the same questions.
Results largely supported the hypotheses. First, and not surprisingly, gaming and television watching led to very different motivational and emotional states. Gamers were more likely to be energized whereas television watchers were more relaxed. These differences in mood states were key to differences in the impact of the ad. At an explicit level, gamers said they were more annoyed by the ad. And yet, at a less conscious level, gamers’ perceptions of the ad were more positive than television watchers. Furthermore, linguistic analysis of gamers’ product pitch revealed that gamers took away more information about the product from the ad.
This study provided clear evidence that mobile apps were a suitable platform for brand building ads. Being in an energized and engaged state, the dominant state when consumers are playing mobile game may lead consumers to more actively process the information in ads and thus greater ad impact.
In the new world where many consumers are turning away from viewing television in standard ways, this study provided clear evidence that mobile gaming was a suitable alternative for ad placement.
Visit Lieberman Research Worldwide (LRW) at www.LRWonline.com.