Last week, I blogged about the importance of in-app advertising, offering best practices to help advertisers optimize for the metrics that matter most to their business. Today I want to take a closer look at a particular product that has been delivering remarkable results for many of our clients: the Interactive End Card (IEC).
IECs are just what they sound like — interactive and playable end cards that are presented at the end of a video ad, enabling consumers to engage with a brand beyond the video completion. They are generally based on the value exchange model, which offers consumers some type of in-app reward or access to premium content in exchange for their attention and engagement. 2017 was a landmark year for value exchange advertising: not only did Mary Meeker’s annual report confirm it was by far the preferred digital video ad format among consumers, but we saw companies like Pandora scrap their subscription-only model in favor of an ad-supported, value exchange approach.
Tapjoy has been preaching the importance of value exchange ads for more than a decade, so naturally we’re glad to see that the industry is now beginning to galvanize this approach. Many brand marketers have a preconceived notion about what it means to reward a consumer for their engagement. But in reality, the only difference between value exchange ads and pre-roll ads is that the former actually ask for consumer’s permission to serve them an ad, whereas pre-roll is forced on the consumer, making them more annoying and disruptive.
But back to IECs. Although they are based on the value exchange model, consumers are not rewarded for engaging with the end cards themselves — only for watching the video. The lack of a rewarded element makes these ads even more valuable for advertisers, as consumers will interact with them purely for fun. They work particularly well in mobile games because they allow the ad to act as an extension of the overall experience, tapping into the fact that users are already in a “gaming mindset” by using gamified ad templates — such as interactive hotspots, puzzles, mazes and character sliders.
Tapjoy launched Interactive End Cards last fall, with 20th Century Fox and its agency Vizeum as our launch partners. The results were immediate and impactful. Tapjoy’s campaign for the film War for the Planet of the Apes resulted in an 88 percent video completion rate and a 4 percent click-through rate (CTR) to purchase tickets — a rate 3.5 times higher than the industry standard CTR for traditional pre-roll video. Vizeum’s EVP Izzy Hedges explained at the time that, “Tapjoy’s new Interactive Ends Cards enabled us to present a trailer first, followed by a branded experience that really brought the movie’s characters to life. The format is new, exciting and premium, and it complements our studio-quality advertising.”
More recently, Tapjoy ran a campaign leveraging IECs for Fox’s hit movie Ferdinand, and this time the results were even more impressive, with video completion rates of 97% and an additional 30 seconds of engagement time after the user viewed the 30 second trailer, equaling about a minute of total in-ad engagement time. We were fortunate to host Vizeum’s Izzy Hedges at the Brand Innovators Digital Summit at SXSW, where she chatted with our CEO, Steve Wadsworth about the metrics that matter most for brand advertisers.
During their chat, Izzy spoke about the importance of rewarded video & interactive creative to drive what she has coined as the “Cost Per Perfect View.” Izzy went on to discuss that the most valuable element she sees in achieving this metric is the post-reward user engagement. “Creative interaction is so important and it is how we judge how impactful our storytelling is. I am only paying for the video view and then I am given the opportunity to entice users to further engage with additional content. This results in phenomenal engagement rates, all of which are added-value and a true reflection that the target audience enjoyed our creative, which is our ultimate goal.”
Her secret? Custom-branded IECs designed by Tapjoy’s newly-launched Interplay™ Studio. In total, the Interplay Studio designed 220 different creatives for the campaign, localized for 16 different countries. Our goal was to create ads that would complement the mobile gaming experience and drive user engagement, so we implemented a number of custom IECs which featured interactive mini-games such as a “Mix & Match” memory card game, a “Bull in a China Shop” fall-and-catch game, and an “Escape” maze game.
The interactive end cards really helped us bring the the movie’s characters and message to life through an experience that couldn’t be found anywhere else. Audiences loved one of the end cards so much that the average in-ad engagement time was over a minute in total. By presenting a gamified ad in a gaming environment, we were able to catch consumers at the right time, in the right mindset, when they were at their most relaxed, focused and engaged and more likely to opt-in to ads.
As Izzy Hedges put it during our Mobile Champions interview last fall: “Gaming is great for us because we are selling an entertainment product, and what better way for us to reach our audience than when they are looking to be entertained? Because the format is opt-in, we know that people who choose to watch are doing so of their own volition.”
Interactive End Cards take traditional video ads to the next level, turning them from a passive experience into a fun, exciting and active adventure. They enable advertisers to extend their engagement with consumers beyond the initial video view and maximize the total amount of time that consumers spend thinking about their brand message. It all makes regular video ads seem kind of boring, doesn’t it?