Actionable Insights for Gaming Marketers during COVID-19

Posted by Elizabeth Garlick on Aug 10, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Across the world marketers have had to adjust to the uncertainty associated with COVID, but for gaming advertisers there seems to be a silver lining. As consumers spend more time at home, their gaming activity increases. While gaming activity usually drops as the weather changes in the spring, this year there was a 41% increase in daily active users compared to 2019. Along with this increase in game time for consumers, there was also a 23% increase in conversion rates after a consumer has seen an ad, and a 24% increase in In-App Purchases.

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With the opportunity to reach a growing and highly engaged segment of consumers, the question remains; how can gaming advertisers ensure that, after setting up their media, attaining higher performance is not blocked by poor creative?

Data-informed creative presents a unique opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of the ever-changing landscape. With VidMob’s Creative Intelligence, marketers no longer have to struggle over endless questions such as what characters to use, when to introduce the branding, or what color would register most with the audience. Instead, they can turn to the data.

Using VidMob’s Creative Intelligence platform to analyze 3,884 ads that delivered 1.7 billion impressions across 18 different mobile gaming brands, we uncovered insights to help the gaming industry understand the changing creative performance trends amidst the shifting global landscape. For the analysis, we focused on five creative elements and compared results from the early COVID period (January 13th through February 11th) with results from the lockdown period (March 14th through April 4th). Here’s what we found.*

Calm overtook sad as the top performing emotion

Before the lockdown, the sentiment of sadness performed best at 2x the industry average. After the world went into lockdown, creative with a calm sentiment performed 142% better in App Install Rates than the dataset average. This suggests that matching the sentiment of talent in creative to that of consumers works well.

Indoor visuals became more effective in driving App Installs

As people have had to stay indoors, indoor imagery has overtaken outdoor visuals in their ability to drive positive lift in the average App Install Rate. During early COVID, the outdoors in creative resulted in a 222% lift, and during lockdown, indoors creative drove a 158% lift.

Action and adventure themes favored over puzzles and brain teasers

While during early COVID, puzzle and brain teasers centered creative had a 288% lift in App Installs, during the lockdown, creative focused on action and adventure games had a 158% increase in App Install above other genres. This suggests that games showcasing a longer lasting ability to entertain consumers have more appeal when they have to stay inside.

Talent looking directly into the camera outperformed indirect gazes

Before the lockdown, models looking away from the camera resulted in a 267% lift in App Install Rate, but during lockdown, models gazing straight at the camera performed the best.

Game demos remained consistent and effective

From early COVID through the lockdowns, demos remained highly successful with a lift of 142% in App Installs. Demonstrating the value prop of the game should be continually used.


Despite the global uncertainty, one thing is sure: gaming advertisers have an immense opportunity. While these insights offer a window into the creative trends we’ve seen so far, it remains important to use these insights to inform creative testing and learning for your brand so that creative insights become a natural part of the creative process.

If you want to watch the full discussion about navigating the current state of gaming amidst COVID-19, check out our webinar, Get in the Game: Creative Insights that Drive App Ad Performance for Gaming Marketers during COVID-19 that we hosted with Google.

*Results of specific creative elements are compared to the average App Install Rate in the data set.

Topics: covid19