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Industry Trends

Rewarded Video Ads: Beyond Gaming Apps

5 Minute Read | November 25th, 2019

Katharina Fiegen

Katharina Fiegen
Marketing Associate

Rewarded video ads have repeatedly shown strong growth year-over-year on the Smaato platform, and the trend is catching on outside gaming apps. This ad format allows the advertisers and app publishers to give something back, making it a favorite among users who receive a reward for their attention. On the buy-side, demand for rewarded video inventory grows as more performance and brand marketers learn of the effectiveness of this popular ad format.

What Are Rewarded Video Ads?

Rewarded video ads offer users the opportunity to opt-in to watching a full-screen, non-skippable video ad in exchange for an in-app reward. For gaming apps, the reward usually comes in the form of an item that gives the player a boost in the game (e.g., additional coins, extra lives, new levels, special tools, or objects). For non-gaming apps, incentives could vary from access to premium content, a free trial, or any other types of free top-level feature for a limited period of time.

Here’s a quick breakdown of why rewarded video is such a popular ad format:

For the User

Rewarded video lets the users have control over their experience within the app, due to the ability to choose when to watch a video ad. In return, they can enjoy premium in-app content in exchange for their engagement. One survey showed that 80% of users think rewarded video provides a positive user experience.

For the Publisher

Since rewarded video ads offer some of the highest eCPMs out of all video ad formats, apps leveraging this format can generate some serious revenue. The average eCPM for rewarded video is around 2.5X higher when compared with other video ad formats on the Smaato platform.

For the Advertiser

Rewarded video ads are highly viewable and non-skippable, so they’re a great way to get a message in front of an audience. They draw more attention and interest from the users compared to other ad formats, due to their opt-in nature and the reward that inevitably comes after engaging with it.

rewarded video ads game

Integrating Rewarded Video Ads Into Non-Gaming Apps

It’s clear that this ad format is embraced by gaming publishers for its seamless integration within that environment. When thinking about implementing rewarded video in a non-gaming app, app developers have to identify specific moments where the user would want to gain a boost or reward, as well as figure out what a suitable reward would be. The right reward is one that delivers value to your users and at the same time encourages them to spend more time in the app. Put yourself in your users’ shoes and understand what they want or what they need more of. We’ve put together four examples below to get you started with some ideas.


1. Offer Your Premium Product

If you have paid features included in your app, let users unlock the premium version in return for watching a rewarded video. Using the example of a music streaming app, you could offer users a rewarded video ad in exchange for a period of ad-free listening or playing.

rewarded video ads music

2. Earn Virtual Currency to Unlock Paid Features

Did you know that less than 5% of app users make in-app purchases every month? By offering users an option to experience paid features, you are providing the user with a positive experience which in return increases user retention and session time. The reward, in this case, could be a virtual currency that can be used to unlock certain features. For example, within a photo editing app, users could collect credits to unlock a filter or editing tool. For a fitness app, users could unlock new exercises or additional tracking functionalities.

rewarded video ads photo editor

3. Help Users Retain Their User-Level

If your app does not have premium features built-in, you can still identify an existing or new feature that you can offer to your users in exchange for viewing a rewarded video ad. For example, in a cooking app, users can start building their user level from beginner to chef by logging into the app. Each consecutive day they log in counts towards their points, and if they miss a day, they have to start over again. This would be an opportunity to implement rewarded video ads to let your users get back their previous user level.

rewarded video ads food

4. Create a Rewarded Video Wall

If your app is also available in a premium version, you could still award the user with a limited selection of features from the premium version. Choose a premium feature you want to offer and limit the amount of rewarded videos your users can watch within a specific period of time to ensure that the reward doesn’t lose its appeal. For example, within a newspaper app based on a subscription model, the reward for the user could be receiving three additional free articles for watching a video.

rewarded video ads news

Regardless of which category your app belongs to, you are likely to find a way to implement rewarded video in your app monetization strategy. As a non-gaming app, you might find yourself struggling to find the right value for the incentives you want to offer your users. Calculate the right balance between the user’s interest and your own. The reward just needs to be attractive enough for the user to opt-in and just unique enough to have the user continuously come back for more — all without affecting your premium app sales. If you’re not sure what works for your app, test out different rewards and strategies to identify which is best.

Further Reading

In case you are just getting started with your app monetization strategy, our 2019 App Monetization Guide has all you need to know.

For more insights into the latest mobile and in-app advertising trends, download our Q3 2019 Global In-App Advertising Trends report.


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