Incentivised ads and the catch 22 situation

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Updated: January 20, 2020 7:25:55 AM

According to a Kantar-IMRB report, 60% of mobile gamers watch rewarded video ads and only one in 10 gamers close the ad

Despite the promise of quality engagement, experts say that unless used at the right stage of marketing the product to the right audience, incentivised advertising is a rather weak ad format.Despite the promise of quality engagement, experts say that unless used at the right stage of marketing the product to the right audience, incentivised advertising is a rather weak ad format.

Time is money, and for every second that a consumer spends watching and engaging with an ad, he or she could even earn a share of the advertising monies. That’s the premise of incentivised or rewarded advertising, which companies like Google as well as a few start-up advertising technology firms are toying with lately.

The challenge with such things, though, is making sure that the engagement is beneficial for the brand, and not exploitative.

Quid pro quo
Batooni, a dialler app, which is now active in Uttar Pradesh, compensates viewers who watch an ad on the app while they wait for the call to be connected. According to Jitendra Chaturvedi, director and co-founder, Batooni, users could earn `45-50 every month by watching ads on the app at the rate of 25 paise per ad.

The app displays around five to seven incentivised ads per day to ensure that the system is not being misused. Advertisers choose the frequency at which they would like to target a consumer with an ad, giving them complete control over how much they would like to incentivise one user.

OneOneDay, another incentivised advertising start-up, lets advertisers bid for the consumer’s attention, and caps the number of incentivised ads watched per day at 10. Rick Tsing, founder and CEO of OneOneDay, argues that when an advertiser gets the viewer’s consent to watch an ad, the quality of attention is much better than when unsuspecting viewers are bombarded with ads. Unlike Batooni, OneOneDay’s app, Oodies, only runs incentivised ads, and does not have any other utility.

Spotify has a rewarded ad format that offers listeners 30 minutes of ad-free listening if they watch an ad. Despite offering a reward, this format is seen as intrusive by users and, therefore, the impact of the ad could be diluted.

Rewards from Google Pay, Oodies and Batooni are either in the form of real money that users can spend to recharge mobile plans, or coupons and discounts from brands that have promotional tie-ups with the apps.

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Despite the promise of quality engagement, experts say that unless used at the right stage of marketing the product to the right audience, incentivised advertising is a rather weak ad format. As per data available with Batooni, 70% of the app’s users own mobile handsets in the range of `12,000-15,000 and also possibly own a two-wheeler. Tsing says that people who may use incentivised advertising are expected to be price and discount conscious. Therefore, it begs the question: is the audience of high quality?

How to reward
Rewarded advertising is most common in the mobile gaming ecosystem where users can recover a lost life or proceed to the next level of the game if they view an ad. According to a Kantar-IMRB report, 60% of mobile gamers watch rewarded video ads and only one in 10 gamers close the ad. Interestingly, playable interactive ads are the least preferred incentivised ad format; gamers would much rather click on a rewarded video ad. Rohit Sharma, founder and CEO, Pokkt, a mobile video advertising platform, says that non-gaming incentivised advertising generally makes use of low-end inventory, and consequently results in low-end performance.

Very often incentivised ads are used for consumer acquisition by app brands. The incentive is unlocked only once the user downloads the app. “The hope is that once an app is able to reach a certain number of downloads through inorganic growth, organic growth will follow,” says Rubeena Singh, CEO, iProspect.

A major concern here is that app download campaigns are susceptible to ad fraud. Further, this strategy is unhealthy and only delivers vanity metrics. “A user could uninstall the app soon after receiving the incentive, thereby defeating the purpose of the download campaign,” she says. Therefore, Singh suggests that the attention of the user is better utilised if the brand instead seeks to learn more about the consumer through a survey, or goes beyond the downstream advertising objectives.

Advertisers have typically run regular ads that can sustain a campaign on Batooni. “Only a couple of entertainment channels have run launch campaigns on our platform,” Chaturvedi adds.

Advertisers could also drive cross promotions through incentivised campaigns. As of now, telecom operators are the only ones striking cross-promotion deals with incentivised platforms.

Sonali Malaviya, VP and client partner, Essence, suggests going beyond the typical rewards like mobile recharge. “What if a food delivery platform ran an incentivised ad and those who watch the ad could get a discount at a restaurant for the cuisine they were searching for?”

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