How Chartboost empowered me and shut down my account


EDIT : Chartboost just reached back to me and unsuspended my account. I’ll have more information in a few days and will update this article accordingly, hang tight!

EDIT2 : After a call with someone from the Chartboost team, I got an apology, 300$ in advertising credit and — most importantly — some context on why my account got suspended in the first place. 
Apparently my email was flagged in their system for some reason. As it uses machine learning for fraud detection, the user behaviour variation in combination with my flagged email triggered a false positive.
They understand that automating the account suspension isn’t the best developer-friendly approach and are apparently working on improving this. Let’s hope they do!

For transparency, I decided to keep the following article as is so you can form your own opinion.


Some background

A few months ago, I decided to entertain myself on a tiny side-project. With the Pokemon GO craze at the time, the idea was an obvious — and not very original — one : a buddy app for Pokemon GO.

A few days and cups of coffee later, MapVision was born : a simple map with pokemons popping in and out.

MapVision icon

Despite a (still) spotty API, the app got immediately some traction.

This encouraging curve brought with it the possibility to test some monetization techniques and compare how Video Ads fared compared to IAP.

I threw a few more days in the project for the killer feature. A “radar” that would notify the user of nearby pokemons from a list of “wanted” ones. 
Monetization-wise : one video view unlocks 1 more pokemon to get notified about. The IAP unlocks them all. Simple enough.

Chartboost comes in

I decided to go with Chartboost for Video Ads mostly by laziness. I knew that is was used on some iOS games, and their SDK seemed simple enough to implement. Plus they had a “rewarded video” ad type which was exactly what I was looking for : watch one, get one. Perfect.

Despite a slow start, the video ads started to pick up a little after a few day. Something around 1$ per 250–300 views. Still, it seemed very low for the hassle it put the user through, but I had something working so I decided to let it as-is and let it go its course.

Then 2 weeks later, out of the blue :

I was fucking pissed. No warning, no real contact to call and on top of that, no access to the Chartboost dashboard to review what went wrong.

Fortunately, I had put a custom event on Fabric to monitor successful Rewarded Video views.

After reviewing the small dent in the graph, it appeared that one or 2 users had gone rogue and decided to view loads of videos instead of actually getting the IAP. Well, those people exists, and isn’t that precisely why we use ads in apps?
Moreover, I had put a limit on videos watchable from the Chartboost dashboard itself, the very one I had no longer access to.

Prompting my disbelief in response did not phase them, and I received a few hours later a very formal, very polite mail closing the issue — unilaterally — for good.

Epilogue?

My last attempt at contacting Chartboost Support afterwards stayed unanswered, and I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Not because I won’t see a dime of those 14 days of ads, or the hours I put into implementing this feature.

No, I’m sick to my gut to see how a company that profess being “on a mission to empower developers” can care so little that it won’t engage in a real chat or even provide any data to help remediate the issue…

One thing for sure, being empowered never left me feeling that powerless.


I am actually curious if anyone have had similar experiences with advertisers, Web or Mobile. I you did, don’t hesitate to share your experience too!