Power of Incentives and Rewards in Mobile Advertising

Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is a growing industry, with over $288 billion spent globally in 2024 alone.

People are sick and tired of intrusive ads. But what about incentives, loyalty points, or virtual gifts? 

Offering incentives and rewards is the perfect way to advertise your brand without being spammy or invasive. After all, who doesn’t love a free gift?

For example, you can offer a $10 gift card for downloading your app. Even better, you can decide on the minimum level of engagement required to receive the reward. 

The majority of Millennials admit to searching the internet for discounts or coupons before making a purchase online. 

In this post, we’ll explore why incentives for mobile advertising are so effective. 

Let’s get started. 

What is an incentive?

Incentives are the motivating factors that encourage a user to take a specific action. 

Take Coinbase, for example. They are offering new users the opportunity for a chance to receive $200 after they successfully create a new account and buy their first cryptocurrency.

The possibility of receiving “free” money is the motivating factor to get users to sign up and download the Coinbase app. The $200 reward value outweighs the time it takes to download the app and exchange their personal information. 

What is a reward? 

A reward is something of value that a person gets in return for completing an action. 

Rewards can be tangible (like giving someone a gift) or intangible (like the feeling of making progress). 

There are a few different delivery options:  

  • Fixed: Users immediately receive a benefit for completing an action (e.g., sharing on social media).
  • Variable: Users receive a benefit based on whether they complete an action (e.g., share) within a certain period or after reaching a certain activity threshold.

Back to the Coinbase example, the $200 reward is received immediately after the first purchase of cryptocurrency (fixed). 

The psychology of rewards

Rewards work because they make us feel good. And people are motivated by a desire to feel satisfied, and it never hurts to receive something positive in return for our actions.

In the case of rewards, consumers want to do more of the thing that made them happy and get more stuff in return. This phenomenon is called operant conditioning—a term coined by Burrhus Frederic Skinner at the beginning of the twentieth century.  

His theory states that rewards, not punishment, modify behavior. So if you want your users to do something, reward them for doing it. 

So how does this apply to mobile advertising? If you can make an eye-catching ad with a design suite like Canva that users want to click on or engage with—and then reward them for doing so—they will likely keep connecting and engaging to earn more rewards. 

This repetition is called the Law of Effect: when an action produces a desirable result, later on, the subject will tend to repeat that action to get more rewards.

Capture your audience’s attention

An incentive must be relevant and timely. It needs to help solve a problem or offer an opportunity that matches your users’ interests. An incentive is useless if it doesn’t motivate your user to take action. 

So how do you determine which incentives will work best? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What problem does my target audience care about solving?
  • What opportunity might they want more information on?
  • What does my target audience deem as valuable? 

In many cases, consumers will opt for getting something for nothing rather than paying for it outright without any discount or deal at all.

So what kind of reward can you offer? Rewards can come in the form of a discount or a free trial, or they can be in the form of monetary value. You could even offer multiple types of rewards at once.

A good incentive will get your audience’s attention and make them want more—which means you should be careful not to overload your content with rewards, or you might end up with users who don’t stick around for very long.

Incentives can also help create a sense of urgency by asking users why they need something now. If there’s a limited supply of something (like concert tickets), this creates an opportunity for you to promote it until those slots are full—and then move on from there.

In some cases, this may mean creating multiple versions of an incentive: one for those who act quickly enough before each batch goes out; another version for everyone else after their first opportunity expires.

Increase engagement

Never underestimate the importance of incentives for mobile advertising. They’re one of the most effective ways to encourage users to engage with promotional content. 

Rewards serve as positive reinforcement for user behavior. They create positive associations between your brand and the incentives offered, driving more engagement from users who aren’t already loyal customers.

Recent studies show that 69% of users are more likely to try a brand if rewards are involved. 

Rewards are standard in the mobile gaming industry, where users are required to win points or levels before accessing certain PC games features. However, there are plenty of other uses for these types of incentives that don’t involve gaming:

  • Encouraging users to complete a task (e.g., earn 50 points by watching this video)
  • Signing up for your product/service (e.g., get a free t-shirt if you sign up now)

In general, incentives and rewards programs well when combined with other forms of advertising such as push notifications or ad campaigns, they have even proven to be effective within large companies increasing employee engagement.

Wrapping up

Incentives and rewards can make all the difference in mobile advertising by capturing the attention of leads and increasing engagement. 


After all, people don’t just want to be sold to—they want something in return. Incentives for mobile advertising show a brand’s appreciation for its customers without compromising on any core values or product features.

Incentives and rewards can significantly improve your campaign’s chances of success. To boost conversion rates in your mobile campaign, try out a few different incentives to see what works best. 

The best part is that it doesn’t have to cost much either- it just requires some creativity and thought. So what are you waiting for?