Gaming is Great for Brand Safety, But Brand Safety is No Game

By Erik Wright, Programmatic Business Development Manager

If you’re an advertiser concerned about the safety of your brand, you’re not alone. Given today’s highly politicized climate and uncertain cultural environment, it’s important to know where your ads are running.

Hate speech and terrorism-related digital content is on the rise; the keyword targeting platform Grapeshot reported that it has seen the amount of terrorism-related content double over the past three months alone. For brands that have come to rely on programmatic advertising and digital ad exchanges, that presents a difficult challenge. While programmatic advertising enables brands to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and optimize targeting, it also makes it practically impossible to exactly know where their ads are running at all times.

Just recently, hundreds of brands including Verizon, AT&T and Johnson & Johnson have pulled their ad spend from YouTube and Google’s ad exchange after revelations surfaced that their ads were running alongside extremist videos. Developments such as these are forcing many brands to rethink their programmatic strategies.

“The timing of the YouTube debacle is definitely unfortunate, with upfronts right around the corner and advertisers deciding where to allocate budget — to digital, where audiences are continuing to move, or TV, where you have more precise control over the content surrounding your ad,” Marika Roque, VP of digital media activation, Nexstar Digital, told MediaPost. “It shines a spotlight on the potential risks that come with automation, regardless of industry.”

What’s a brand to do?

Mobile Gaming Holds the Solution

At the very least, brands want their ads to run next to content that consumers won’t find offensive. But ideally, they want their ads to run in places that actually complement and support their brand values. That’s what makes mobile gaming apps an ideal placement for many leading brands and advertisers.

As detailed in our recent report on “The Changing Face of Mobile Gamers: What Marketers Need To Know,” mobile games put consumers in a state of mind that is often receptive to advertising messages. According to the report, consumers are twice as likely to say they feel relaxed when playing mobile games than they are when using social apps. They also say they feel more focused (35% vs 11%), happier (34% vs 21%), and more engaged (35% vs 20%) on gaming apps than social networking apps.

Apps > Mobile Web

In-app ad exchanges make sense for brands for so many reasons. But perhaps none more than the fact that consumers now spend more time engaging with mobile apps than any other medium.

A new eMarketer report points out that the average US adult spends 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using mobile apps, an increase of 10.3% over last year. Other estimates put the number at closer to 5 hours per day. Either way, it is clear that mobile apps are overtaking our media consumption habits, which means that for advertisers looking to connect with today’s hyper-connected consumer, apps offer a scalable opportunity.

Direct App Integrations

The problem with most programmatic ad exchanges is that advertisers know very little about the network of publishers running their ads. For that matter, the exchanges themselves might not even know much about them — or have little ability to control them. The Tapjoy Private Exchange, on the other hand, is made up entirely of app publishers who have been vetted and approved by Tapjoy, meaning we have the ability to exclude any games or apps that don’t meet our standards for high quality content.

All publishers belonging to the Tapjoy Private Exchange network have directly integrated our SDK, which gives us a much higher level of control over our network than typical ad exchanges. We can easily filter for quality content, and we give advertisers complete control to easily blacklist any content based on age, gender, or questionable content that might involve things like tobacco or alcohol.

What’s more, all apps in our network have had to pass the rather stringent content policies of Google and Apple in order to make it onto Google Play and the App Store in the first place. In other words, this isn’t the web and its anything-goes, no-holds-barred environment. These are mobile apps that have gone through two levels of approval — first Apple’s or Google’s, which strictly prohibit content that is defamatory or mean-spirited, overtly sexual or pornographic, inflammatory, and more, and then our own.

Value Exchange = Better Viewability, Attention & More

Then there’s the fact that the value exchange advertising model — also known as rewarded or opt-in advertising — has been steadily growing because brands have come to realize that it delivers better performance for many of the metrics they care about most. Take viewability for instance. Fed up with being charged for ads that aren’t actually seen, or are only partially seen, brands are fighting back against publishers by demanding new standards for ad viewability and measurement. But with value exchange ads, brands only pay for ads that are 100% viewable by real people.

Similarly, the value exchange model delivers better performance for audibility, completion rates, and other key attention metrics. Tapjoy recently partnered with Moat, a SaaS analytics and measurement company focused on delivering products for marketers and publishers, to measure and verify the performance of all video ads on our network. In the first quarter of 2017, Moat reported that our in-app video ads delivered 98 percent viewability, 81 percent completion rates, and high rates of Audibility and Viewability On Completion (AVOC), ensuring advertisers feel confident about their investment. Mobile norms for completion rates are barely above 50%, so our 81% completion rate beats industry benchmarks by a wide margin.

Brand safety has never been more important than it is right now.

Fortunately, the Tapjoy Private Exchange offers brands the control and confidence they need to promote their brands safely and effectively — all within the click of a game.