In the world of gaming, business models have moved away from pay-for-play and towards in-game advertising. This means that players can engage with games, especially those on smartphones, for less money. But it also means that players are bombarded with ads – sometimes those that are annoying or intrusive. How important is maintaining ad quality for in-game advertising – and what can developers do to ensure this happens?
Many consider ads to be intrusive in this in-game environment. We can see it with ads that can’t be skipped on platforms like YouTube or pop-ups and interstitials that detract from the content we are engaging with. To ensure that gaming isn’t diminished by aggressive ads, there are several core tenets that must be adhered to. These include ensuring ad integrity and preserving the experience for players.
One of the most effective tools to mitigate against bad quality ads is ensuring that ad quality is strong. As GeoEdge shows, there are solutions for both publishers and platforms to ensure that ads remain relevant and appropriate. Publishers use such tools to help ensure their customers aren’t delivered low-quality or intrusive ads – especially those which could be seen as scams or could be wholly inappropriate for audiences. Platforms also use the tools to take control of their platforms and the ads that are reflected in this space. This two-pronged approach aims to improve ad integrity.
While in-game ads are becoming standardized – which can definitely aid in how they are monitored and evaluated – some argue there is a lack of this standardization at the verification and analytics side. This is especially important given there are 2.7 billion potential ad viewers engaging with the banners and animations that comprise in-game advertising. The worst thing that an in-game ad can do is to take players out of the game. Disrupting gameplay will leave players with negative feelings towards the game and even the developer, which could result in lost ad revenue down the line if these feelings persist.
The topic of in-game advertising, in general, is met with scorn and derision from many fans. For instance, EA had to renege on a claim that it had partnered with a company that would place ads in free-to-play games. The statement came after reports that EA were to do so. The vehement denial shows that ads in games are a touchy subject. EA reiterated that their main focus was to ensure players had the best possible experience. It does seem that an ad model of gaming makes sense going forwards, especially as some games require little hardware or even software to play.
In-game advertising seems inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be the death knell for free-to-play gaming or the gaming experience. If players can experience positive ads that are relevant in the game’s context and aren’t too intrusive then everyone could win. Perhaps advertisers should change their tack to ensure that their ads make sense within the game. This could present a new challenge, but one that players and publishers will be happy with.