For an in-depth look at the in-app advertising experience, especially in ever-popular mobile gaming space, and how it may change as a result of Apple's AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework, we recently sat down with Amnon Siev, the CEO and Co-Founder of GeoEdge, the premier provider of ad verification and transparency solutions for the online and mobile advertising ecosystem.
What do consumers expect from the ads they see in app?
The answer to this question differs from one app to another. In general, ads that appear in apps appear on a smaller screen and are more prominent. Therefore, they have to be beneficial to the viewer. It would depend on the type of app or game. Each have different levels of tolerance. E-commerce or classified apps that have an ad that prevents efficient usage of the app, or negatively interrupts the users overall experience, is not good. If the ad is part of the experience and helps gain goods and points, that’s would be a different story.
It’s also about relevance, as the ad should be displayed to the right audience. Users in hyper causal games expect ads, however with games that have in-app purchases and where the user makes purchases, there is less tolerance. The relations between app developers and ads can be challenging, as naturally they prefer not having competitor apps showing up.
How do consumer expectations around in-app advertising differ for gaming vs. non-gaming apps?
Gaming apps are all about the experience, so an auto-redirect can derail the user’s experience. There is a delicate balance between the need to create a positive user experience, and the willingness to engage with apps in order to gain goods. In gaming, there is a tolerance for ads that help gain points.
The same rule applies for other social apps, where you need to gain an immediate advantage that is related to the app experience. The advertising approach is tied to the ad experience itself.
Outside the realm of gaming apps, it’s primarily about having relevant and contextual ad content for the users. For example, users that subscribe to a news app will have less of a tolerance for ads. An ad that interrupts a user reading an article will have a bigger impact than one that appears when browsing between articles.
Knowing your users is key and will lead to the right strategy for app design and flow. Namely, how the user will react to the ads? All in all, the ads should never be interfering with the users’ experience.
How does a bad ad experience impact how end users think about an app?
First and foremost, there are a few criteria an ad needs to have: it has to be relevant to the content it's being displayed with, the users experience can’t be interrupted, it can’t be offensive, and it should always be high quality. You want to always prevent a negative ad experience. A worst-case scenario would involve an ad that disturbs the app from a technical perspective, which sometimes can lead to the app crashing. An instance like this could lead to bad reviews, and sometimes, a ban from the application store.
What can gaming publishers do to ensure that bad ads don't appear in their apps?
Gaming publishers need to create a strategy that outlines expectations with their security partners. The partner must understand who the users are and what their sensitivity level is. As well, the advertiser must manage their expectations as well. The old-world philosophy is do nothing, or there's the time-consuming process of notifying the supply-side platform (SSP). Our philosophy is to block in real time, shortening the response time and saving energy while preventing bad users experience from appearing. It’s a reactive (old world) vs. proactive (our approach).
How, if at all, will Apple's ATT framework impact how publishers keep bad ads off their iOS apps?
With Apple's ATT, ads themselves can interfere with this policy. Therefore, app developers may be banned from the digital ecosystem due to ads that are in violation of the new policy.
Another impact is that IDFA isn’t shared, and as a result the targeting and user acquisition strategy changes, which is relevant to the monetization strategy.
How can IAB Tech Lab initiatives like sellers.json help to remove fraud?
GeoEdge’s focus is providing a clean and safe user experience, not traffic fraud. Having that in mind, any initiative that promotes a clean and more transparent ecosystem is beneficial to everyone. We want to be part of an ecosystem where all players are at the highest quality level.
How is in-app malvertising is evolving, and what can publishers do to keep bad ads off their apps in the future?
In the in-app environment, we see that malvertising evolves beyond the ad itself and involves the landing page which the ad leads to.
Another big problem is the ad quality. Publishers need to have clarity around the end users in order to define strategy to make sure only the right ads are presented.
What is the negative impact of bad ads on app developers?
The biggest impact? Losing your customer base and the ability to monetize. Apps can be kicked out of the App Store/Google Play, users churn, people leave bad reviews, apps get lower app ratings and ideal users move on to competitors apps.
It has an immediate impact on monetization and the ability to work with monetization partners – top five in-app platforms won’t work with apps that have a low rating.
About the Interviewer
Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices.