10 Years of the App Store: How Advertising Turned Mobile

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Last month marked the 10-year anniversary of the App Store, the online shop for apps that Steve Jobs called “A grand slam” in the story of Apple’s success. Since its introduction a decade ago, the App Store has grown to become a $42.5 billion marketplace—changing the face of mobile technology forever.

It didn’t take long for brands and businesses to jump on the App Store’s unique offering, which placed content in the hands of consumers around the clock, accessible within seconds. The App Store – and later alongside the Google Play Store – has changed the foundations of how we consume media, and subsequently advertising. As content has shifted to a more mobile environment, advertising has undergone its own transformation—with advertisers all over the world creating big ideas for smaller screens.

A shift from tradition

Back in the day, the holy grails of advertising were TV and cinema. With the rise of the App Store came the adjustment to mobile advertising and the different opportunities it presents. Today, we’re used to seeing branded messages served to us via banner ads, pop-ups, programmatic ads and even interactive ads. We used to sit and passively watch an advert, now they are interactive, playable, and even benefit our entertainment.

One such opportunity is in-game advertising for mobile games. When it was first introduced, there were only 500 apps to choose from—6 of those being Gameloft games. Today, the App Store is the most popular marketplace for games and therefore provides brands with a platform to tap into a huge, entertainment-seeking audience through relevant content in the context of a mobile game. Essentially, brands can make advertising part of the fun.

That might sound rich, but take a branded mini-game as an example. Players receive incentives and rewards through engaging with ads, creating a positive affiliation with the brand in question—so much so that players end up looking forward to the ad. It’s a far stretch from the adverts on television that many of us choose to ignore—ironically by picking up our phones.

The small screen: smashing the competition 

In 2018 the games market will reach $137.9 billion, with mobile gaming contributing more than half of all revenues. Gameloft’s Minion Rush, which is one of the top 10 most-downloaded games of all-time, has received over 800 million downloads alone. These are pretty staggering figures when you think about where we were a mere ten years ago. It highlights this huge area of entertainment the App Store has created and the opportunity that now exists for advertisers.

Looking to the future of mobile advertising, we can only expect it to become a more dominant player. We will still afford the likes of TV and cinema respect and a line on the media plan, but ten years from now all the power could well be in that little device that fits in your pocket.

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