Marketers don’t need to be told to invest in mobile advertising any more. After all, according to eMarketer, the industry looks like it will be bigger than $100bn in 2016. On the one hand, that’s great as it means brands are already making the right moves by getting on board and running their campaigns through the medium. But then, on the other hand, the growth of the mobile advertising space means it’s become such a vast area to invest in, that it’s difficult for them to know exactly where to invest. With so many different types of applications being developed and launched every day, a marketer has a job not only to understand which applications are best to advertise through to reach their target audience, but which ones will actually result in engagement from the customer.

How are they supposed to decide? Well, naturally, the purpose of the application will go a long way to determining the audience’s engagement rate, as some mobile apps are specifically there for when users are looking to be driven to distraction, while others are jumped into as a reference point – to get an answer or an update. The mobile user is in to the app and then out again as soon as they’ve found what they’re looking for, with no room for being waylaid.

So which kind of application offers the best advertising opportunity for brands looking to get the most out of their investment? Obviously, if you want someone to actually interact and engage with your advert, then you’ll be targeting them when they are in a state of mind to be distracted. And the best examples of these applications are…Gaming applications. Gaming applications are built to entertain when the user is looking for something to do. In games, users are usually in a time-wasting mode, as opposed to when they are in content-based apps which, as mentioned above, the user will actually only go to for a specific task/piece of information. For this reason, games actually have far higher ad engagement rates than other popular apps.

Take a recent study by MediaBrix for example. When looking at consumer attitudes to ads across different types of apps, they found that mobile games have engagement rates 543 times higher than one of the most popular mobile apps out there – Facebook. And if you think about how games work, it makes even more sense that they offer engagement for advertisers. Whether playing a platform game or a simple arcade game, most scenarios include in-between stages, or ‘Game Over’ situations where the consumer can be targeted before they get engrossed in another round or start a new level – so give them a well-placed ad to interact with at this point in the game.

It sounds simple, but it doesn’t mean that advertisers should rest on their laurels and be lazy with the campaigns they are running for gaming apps. Remember there’s a high level of sophistication around most mobile games, which means that the audience, if they are looking to be distracted, will want advertising that is going to impress, or wow them, just as much as the game they are playing, rather than just being a banner ad, or something static and not interactive. Along these lines, the advertiser needs to make sure they are serving something that is relevant – and for the content involved to actually resonate with each individual user, rather than assuming the gaming audience should all be targeted in the same way. As much as they are looking for distraction, the advert has to be something that will still lure a gamer away from their game, rather than something untargeted, outdated and irrelevant to them.

It’s an old adage that ‘the Devil makes work for idle thumbs’, but learning where to take advantage of that as a marketer can make the difference between whether or not your ad resonates, or if you’re quite simply serving it to an audience who really isn’t interested in being distracted. Gamers are looking for something to do – and a well-placed ad with your message at the right time is a great way to get them on board with your brand.