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The most brand-safe app category is not what you'd expect

Last updated: 06-10-2019

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The most brand-safe app category is not what you'd expect

Earlier this year, more than 250 advertisers pulled their non-search ad spend from Google following reports that some ads on YouTube and the Google display ad network were being served alongside extremist content. Analysts projected Google to take a $750 million hit, or 7.5 percent of ad revenues.

While that’s a drop in the bucket for the tech giant, the news resurfaced the critical issue of brand safety, where advertisers must be able to trust their publisher and network partners to properly vet the environments in which their ads are running. We as an industry must address it fully and correct it, because it affects everyone and is not going away unless we actively fix it.

Fortunately, there is one advertising medium that is extremely brand-safe, and instead of putting energy into where not to be, we can focus on it as an example of a premium, high-quality environment where advertising is not just safe, it’s effective. We’re talking about mobile games.

Why are games so great for brands?

Before a game is accessible and ready to be played, it must go through a strict review and approval process. If the content or experience is deemed unacceptable, then the game will never be released on the App Store or Google’s Play store.

Additionally, game developers have adopted an open-source mentality, supporting brand safety and viewability measurement from vendors like Moat and Integral Ad Science.

Finally, games are generally free of any user-generated content (UGC), which provides an environment without any trolling, hate speech or offensive content. One could say that games are a brand safety oasis among the digital advertising industry led by social media giants where UGC is the only content.

A mobile user’s brain is also focused. Activate reports that 58 percent of users playing games “never” multitask, compared to 38 percent who never multitask while reading, 20 percent while messaging, and just 18 percent who never multitask while watching a video. That’s a level of immersion that is ideal for advertising — a user’s eyes riveted to the screen, paying full attention to what’s in front of them.

Since mobile gamers are already in an “interactive” state, playing the game, they are more likely to interact with your ad. In our recent campaign for a premium cable TV show premiere, mobile gamers spent an average of 12 seconds on the dynamic end card after viewing the video ad. Why? Because there were activities and actions they could take.

So if you’re looking for light-fingered users who will quickly share, replay a video, download a coupon or fill out a form, gaming is the best place to be.

Thankfully, brands have moved past the myth of the “gamer” and can see that people who play mobile games span all demographics, with clear diversity in age and income.

And the reach is tremendous: Over 190 million people play games on their phones each month — that’s more than the entire US labor force, and 60 percent higher than the number of viewers of Super Bowl 50. The number of people who play Words with Friends monthly (over 13 million) is comparable to the audience of popular TV shows like “The Walking Dead” and “This Is Us.”

People are playing mobile games around 33 minutes a day, and each session lasts about seven minutes. Games, then, serve as snackable entertainment that users return to in the little spurts of free time that they have throughout the day. And during those moments, the kinds of ad experiences they can have are fun and immersive, thanks to the quality of the creative (e.g., high-res, HD video) that can run during that session.

Ultimately, the goal of every advertiser should be to pursue quality, at scale — quality audience, quality environments. Don’t aim for brand safety — that’s just code for  “good enough.” Do you want a product that’s just good enough, or do you want one that is excellent, the best available? That’s what mobile games are: brand “optimal,” not just brand-safe.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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