• Advertising
  • Trust and Brand Safety

Why Casual Mobile Games are Perfect for Brand Safe Advertising

Team InMobi
7 min read
Posted on March 31, 2020

Brand safe advertising has always been a top-of-the-mind issue for marketers, especially the ones that have a large loyal base that transcends generations and geographies. This is especially important given the multiple nuances that both performance and brand marketers must cater to. Even a single misstep can have a cascading impact.

This is a problem even in benign times, as advertisers find it difficult to find fully brand safe opportunities to reach their audiences (at least at scale anyway) without hitting some sensitive content that may put off a small but vocal set of consumers. Think an advertisement for room fresheners next to a breaking news story on a drive-by shooting or a story around a tragedy involving a controversial topic.

Naturally, this has become even more pertinent in today’s pandemic-induced, anxiety-filled times, where the content being consumed in various corners of the internet is leaning strongly downbeat. Brands, therefore, need to be very cautious and should accordingly ask for accountability from their supply-side partners on how and where their ads appear in a brand safe environment.

Seen from the other side too, recent research from Integral Ad Science found that consumers have very strong and particular preferences about which brands they are comfortable seeing ads for when consuming coronavirus-related content.

So, what can digital advertisers do to avoid brand safety pitfalls, especially when using programmatic advertising to reach mobile audiences? In the in-app world, the most obvious answer is to target their consumers within casual mobile games as much as possible.

Here are four reasons why we believe including mobile games in brand safety strategies is a smart move:

1) Casual Mobile Gaming Apps Have No Inappropriate Content

One of the problems with some types of content, like a news story or a social media feed, is that, as an advertiser, you don’t always know precisely what’s one very page. This is true especially as publishers are increasingly deploying dynamic page recommendation engines.

Technology to identify these kinds of nuances is still lacking precision and scale. As a result, real-time decision making is next to impossible. This is particularly scary for advertisers, as they could inadvertently end up having their ads appear next to offensive content, fake news, an objectionable/controversial news story, a violent post, etc.

But this is not a concern with casual and hyper casual mobile games. Here, all ads are within a gaming session. Plus, developers don’t allow user-generated or third-party content.

2) Allows for Better and Surer Scale than via Blacklists and Whitelists

Brands and agencies rely heavily or exclusively on blacklists and whitelists in an attempt to use premium publishers as a proxy for safe (or at least safer) content. Under this strategy, advertisers ask that their ads only appear under very select circumstances (i.e., whitelists). Further, brands can ask that their ads cannot appear next to certain words or phrases or, by extension, in apps likely to contain them (i.e., blacklists).

This approach, however, is overly restrictive. After all, not all web pages that contain the word “shooter” are talking about guns — they could just as easily be talking about popular games or, worse, about basketball (!) — which is why they’re an unrealistic digital marketing tactic.

Luckily, this is not a concern with casual mobile games. Not only are they often inherently brand safe, but they also have wide reach. Some food for thought:

  • Close to a third of the world’s population plays mobile games, including 60% of the U.S. population.
  • Among all mobile gamers worldwide, over half play 10 times a week or more.
  • Who are these mobile gamers? They’re likely your target audience. According to InMobi’s own mobile data, people across all ages, genders, locations, income levels, etc. play hyper casual mobile games – we’re not just talking about young men here!

3) Meets Industry Benchmarks and Safeguards for Brand Safe Content

We agree fully with our clients that they, above anyone else, should define what is or is not brand safe content for their ads. This can be subjective though, even as some categories like pornography and hate speech remain obviously off-limits.

An in-app environment has another gating mechanism which helps remove all such objectionable space from being exposed to the brands: This mechanism is the app review process by Apple, Google and even other third-party ecosystems like of Samsung.

The review and approval process is strict, standardized and not open for negotiations after the app is live. As such, they are not open to dynamic feeds that websites allow to increase user engagement.

In addition, companies like us operate another level of checks in our app onboarding process, where manual reviews added to app store ratings and feedback from the industry is constantly incorporated.

Measures like these ensure that the benchmarks for brand safety strategies are well defined, executed at various journey touchpoints and not open for interpretation.

4) Device-Native Ad Formats Add Additional Layer of Brand Safety

For further protection, brands should seek ad formats that inherently provide an additional layer of security by virtue of their share of the screen. In particular, fullscreen static and video ads ensure that nothing else appears alongside the ad.

On top of that, most casual games have natural pauses in the gaming experience that further enhance the engagement of the user while removing any possibility of mixing the messaging of the advertisement with that of the underlying game.

Interested in learning more about InMobi’s commitment to proactively resolving brand safety issues? Want to scale with InMobi Exchange today? Reach out today for more information.

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