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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Opt out of the bad ads that ruin in-app gaming

July 27, 2021 | By Tobias Silber, CBO – GeoEdge @tobiassilber

Since the inception of smartphones, mobile games have been one of the most popular app categories. However, there is one major downside to mobile gaming: the influx of bad ads.

Anyone who’s developed a minor addiction to a mobile game – be it a classic title like Candy Crush, Words with Friends, or a modern sensation, such as Roblox or Among Us – is all too familiar with the frustration of an intrusive ad. User expectations around in-app advertising differ for gaming vs. non-gaming apps. That said, all users draw the line at malicious advertising.

Striking the balance

For app publishers, trying to strike the right balance between monetizing your app effectively and not inundating users with ads is always a delicate process. However, that’s especially true for gaming apps. The success of mobile games is entirely dependent on the user experience. Therefore, a malicious, interruptive, or offensive ad can entirely derail the entire user experience. Ultimately, when it comes to advertising in-app, it’s about serving safe, relevant, and brand-suitable ads for your users.

The good news for app publishers is that gamers are receptive to advertising so long as it adds to the experience. When that happens, ads can enhance rather than detract from the gamer’s experience. Moreover, gamers are more than willing to view ads in exchange for in-game goods, such as extra lives, power-ups, new levels, and in-game currency. These ads help game makers monetize their titles. But they also make the game itself stickier, inducing users to play longer and more often.

Caution: Hazards ahead

Aside from an offensive ad creative, users are exposed to a myriad of threats after clicking on an ad. Because gaming apps appeal to consumers of all ages and all levels, apart from strict ad content parameters, app publishers must recognize the hazards of malicious advertising.

Recently, malvertisers have shifted their gaze from the ad itself to the landing page the ad leads to. And gaming users are often the target of malicious or deceptive attacks, both of which come at the expense of the user experience. Threats include cloaked landing pages leading to scams to father sensitive personal or financial data. Here, the challenge is sifting out the bad actors and ads with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that only high-quality ads make their way onto your app.

A virtuous circle

When it comes to in-app advertising, bad ads have an immediate impact on monetization and the ability to work with valued monetization partners. For instance, the top five in-app platforms avoid apps with a low rating. Additionally, low-quality ads lead to bad reviews, low ratings, user churn.

Unhappy users will to switch to competitors’ apps, and at the very worst, apps may be kicked out of the App Store/Google Play. Additionally, app developers may be banned from the digital ecosystem due to ads that violate Apple’s new ATT policy. To safeguard users and ensure high ad quality, app publishers can follow the three ad quality guidelines: Ads must not contain malware, disrupt the user experience, or feature off-brand or offensive content.

Closing the loop on bad ads

Here’s what tools in-app publishers can implement to maintain high ad quality:

  1. Adopt a real-time bad ad-blocking solution to thwart all malicious attempts.
  2. Use proactive low-quality ad filtering to eliminate user experience killing ads.
  3. Leverage automated and manual content management tools to define and enforce ad content parameters.

Identifying bad actors is difficult. But, luckily for publishers, they can use ad monitoring tools to conduct automated, round-the-clock surveillance of their ad networks and root out bad ads before they ever have a chance to show up in their games.

The best philosophy is to block in real-time. This eliminates any lag in response time and saving energy while preventing bad users experiences from appearing. These days, it’s critical to be certain you are part of the proactive new world vs. a reactive, old world.

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