A new report from mobile ad network Chartboost suggests that while the iPad is the best platform in terms of getting return on advertising spend for mobile game developers, the iPhone is still seen as the marquee iOS platform for mobile games, since it commands an impressive 61 percent of all gaming time spent on iOS devices. So despite lower acquisition costs on iPad (and iPod touch), advertisers are still willing to pay more to gain access to the much broader audience of iPhone gamers.
iPad owners are more than twice as likely (113 percent more likely, to be precise) as people playing games on iPhone to respond to interstitial ads and purchase new gaming titles based on that marketing channel, Chartboost finds, and iPod touch owners are more than 85 percent more likely to do the same. Why the gulf? It’s hard to know for sure, but it’s possible that users spend a much greater percentage of their time on iPads and iPod touches playing games than they do on their phones, since those devices come in Wi-Fi-only flavors that are often used more exclusively for entertainment purposes compared to a smartphone.
Still, the iPhone wins by session volume, grabbing the most eyeballs overall, and it leads by a wide margin, too. It has 5 times the gaming sessions of iPod touch, for instance. The iPad has more than double the gaming sessions of the iPod touch, but still less than half those on the iPhone. So even though the cost-per-install advertisers have to spend on iPhone is around 12 cents more on average on iPhone than it is on iPad, it’s likely seen as a fair trade in order to potentially get much greater download volume.
Charboost thinks that there’s an opportunity here to make smart investments on iPad-specific marketing campaigns, especially for teams with a smaller budget that might face a lot of competition with other similar titles on the iPhone. Pushing for iPad customers might mean grabbing a bigger chunk of users early on for less than you’d pay to get the same number on iPhone, and there’s also higher average revenue per user on iPad to keep in mind. That means that free-to-play titles could actually stand to gain more revenue overall with less initial investment by targeting a smaller audience on iPad, vs. the larger pool of potential users on iPhone.
It’s definitely an interesting look at the nitty-gritty behind iOS advertising, but building a sustainable business on mobile platform gaming isn’t just about making something people will enjoy; correct positioning is key when there are a million titles all vying for the same limited attention span of mostly casual gamers. And with only a small percentage of mobile developers earning the bulk of revenue, taking a long hard look at ad placement is even more important.