In this three-part series focused on the gaming industry, we’ve provided a broad overview of ad fraud in online gaming and the threats that span across this industry. We have also explored what game companies must do to succeed and the challenges they face to make sure cheaters don’t win.
Ad Fraud in Online Games
Ad fraud has always been a critical problem in the digital space for advertisers and marketers. Companies that advertise in digital channels are often at risk of wasting a quarter of their budget on ad fraud. Games provide audiences with a large potential reach for advertisers, so it's important that companies know how to protect themselves from risks when using them as an advertising channel.
In this blog post, we'll reveal the golden opportunity that online gaming presents and discuss ways advertisers can reduce the chance of falling victim to fraudulent schemes. With a better understanding of the opportunities and risks associated with game-based ads, you'll be poised to succeed without having to worry about the damage caused by those bad actors.
Online Gaming Is a Valuable but Underutilized Platform
The stereotype of who comprises the online gaming audience is now extinct. A majority of people now engage in video games on various platforms, with two out of three Americans participating. According to Newzoo, gaming ranks as high as third place in how audiences spend their time (11.8 hours per week), barely being displaced from the top spots held by TV (13.9 hours per week) and social media (12.1 hours per week).
With the rise in gaming audiences and the amount of time they spend playing, advertisers would be wise to take advantage of it. It's clear that gamers are passionate and engaged, yet they remain largely overlooked by traditional marketing channels.
Gaming captures less than 5% of advertiser budgets. In 2023, ad spend in US mobile gaming is projected to grow 10.0% to $6.28 billion and remain steady between 8% and 10% over the next few years. While gaming ad spend grows, it is at a slower rate than other channels. Video game ad revenue grew by only 7% in 2022 from the previous year, while in that same period connected TV (CTV) revenue grew by 32% and social media revenue grew by 16%, according to data from eMarketer.
Ads That Are Valuable to Players Are Valuable to Advertisers
Looking at historical data, for more than a decade social and mobile gaming ads have outperformed traditional online ads by a shocking amount. While average click-through rates (CTR) may vary by product and industry, social and mobile gaming video ads have long proven to generate a CTR roughly 30 times higher than the CTR of banner ads.
In addition, social and mobile gaming “value exchange” ads (in which players receive a reward for viewing the full ad) generate an average CTR of 11%, which is more than 100 times higher than traditional online ads.
Clearly, ads can be more than just an intrusive presence. They can actually be used to create engaging, positive user experiences. By providing personalized experiences tailored to gamers, advertisers create a feeling of relevance and connection.
This encourages customers to explore content more deeply and for longer periods of time. An ad that is helpful, relevant, and easy to use can lead to satisfied customers who are motivated to return again and again.
In-game advertising today is more seamless than ever before. It creates an environment where both the ad creator and viewer benefit. In-game advertising can take many forms, including but not limited to: pop-ups, interstitials during gameplay; rewarded ads offering in-game rewards; native ads that blend seamlessly into the game environment; custom integrations such as product placements, virtual items, or even branded worlds.
Today, research by the IAB and eMarketer shows that 79% of consumers prefer opt-in advertising, while 71% of US mobile app users say that value exchange ads capture their attention more than any other form of advertising. Consumers are drawn to value exchange ads because they provide relevant rewards and also because the user has chosen to view the ad.
In order to build meaningful connections with consumers, it's critical to meet them on their terms. Through the process of exchanging value for views in videos, you can foster a strong relationship with your potential customers—in fact, 76% of US mobile app users report that value exchange video ads make them like a brand more, and 73% say they want to buy a product because of it.
Changing Perceptions and Measurements
The Interactive Advertising Bureau® (IAB) looks to dispel five of the most common myths plaguing online game advertising. Their recent in-depth report, “Finding Success with In-Game Advertising: Perceptions of Buyers and Sellers,” explores these misconceptions and makes the case why this valuable market deserves more investment.
While advertising campaigns frequently provide an easy way to measure ROI, online gaming offers unique opportunities for companies to grow their audience, brand awareness, and trust; and that requires new measurement guidelines for ads that appear within gameplay. By leveraging ads effectively, not only will you build meaningful connections with customers but also drive successful outcomes for all involved.
Advertising can be an invaluable asset for businesses, allowing them to form meaningful customer relationships. By strategically using ads and providing benefits, customers feel valued while businesses gain successful outcomes. With the help of advertising, both parties can reap the rewards—meaning everyone wins!
Strategies to Mitigate the Risk of Ad Fraud on Your Campaigns
While ad fraud has sky-rocketed in recent years, game developers are taking multiple steps to prevent it by implementing tools such as dynamic anti-fraud measures and analytics systems. This ensures that users have fair, fun, and safe gaming experiences every time they log into the platform.
Spotting potential fraudulent activities in online advertising can be tricky, but with a few key indicators, you can begin to identify risk factors. One of the first signs is an unusually high amount of online traffic with a low conversion rate and high bounce rate—this indicates that something is not quite right.
Furthermore, if you're seeing strange sources of online traffic that appear unrelated to your online presence, it may be a cause for further investigation. By taking note of these warning signs, you have the ability to protect yourself online and minimize online fraud.
Ad fraud can be costly and damaging for advertisers, so it is important to protect against it with anti-fraud solutions. Relying on a combination of trustworthy anti-fraud vendors, transparent publishers, and ongoing campaign performance monitoring are key best practices. Working in tandem with anti-fraud vendors allows you to take a proactive approach, as they can identify suspicious trends early on that may otherwise stunt your campaigns.
Transparent publishers give you the ability to understand where your ads are running and who might be trying to bypass anti-fraud protection. And lastly, regularly monitoring the performance of your ads will help you maintain control over any changes and identify problems before they become significant losses.
A great way to get up to speed is to work with a trusted advertising partner, such as Anura. As an industry leader providing safe, secure, and sophisticated ad fraud solutions, Anura helps protect your business from fraud with an easy user experience. To see all the benefits Anura can offer you, we invite you to request a free 15-day trial today.