Mobile Advertising: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Dec 8, 2011 11:44 AM –
As a writer for AndroidTapp, I obviously get to test a lot of apps and games. For me, they are typically split into paid apps, and free ones. It struck me some time ago that there is such a variety of advertising models contained within apps these days, some good, some incredibly bad. I just wanted to share a few of my experiences here- what I feel works and what doesn’t. It could perhaps be argued that advertising can make or break an app. Get it wrong and people will quickly uninstall. The onus is for developers to put users first, not advertisers. This is quite an interesting talking point, certainly between developers, so feel free to add your own comments and experiences as we’d be interested to know what you think!
Just plain ugly!
For me, the very worse kind of ads are the most intrusive ones which spring up in my notification bar. So, I finish playing a game only for a few minutes later to be asked if I am interested in finding “Hot Singles” in my area. On my home screen. With a little star next to it. Others deliver these kind of spammy messages mid-app. It’s often pretty inappropriate and outright tacky.
Potentially inappropriate advertising
Now, advertisers, marketers, developers- what on earth makes you think that’s a good idea?? It’s spam of that nature that would go straight in my spam folder on email- the last thing I want to do is see it on my phone. It’s insidious, creepy and very often attached to simple little games that children might use. The major bugbear for me is when these host apps are given an ‘Everyone’ suitability rating in the Market. This is absolutely the sure-fire way to get your app deleted from my phone.
Putting the ‘bad’ in ‘bad’vertising!
Next in line, and not much better, are the banner ads that have been stuck into a game without any thought whatsoever. I remember there was a free Angry Birds title which placed an ad right over a place you needed one of the blue birds to split into three. Great design. Not! 😛 A similar crime (yes, ‘crime’!) is to stick an advert right near one of the primary on screen controls. So, mid way through a tense level, you get suddenly sent to a spammy URL; losing your place in the game and being presented with something that has no immediate interest to you. Immensely annoying and another sure fire way to get me to delete your application.
Also, if advertisers catch wind of this practice, it is along the same lines as ‘click fraud‘ which was rampant in the early days of Internet advertising; as it’s attempting to gain more clicks, but these are mistaken- and uninterested clicks… which do not serve the purpose the advertiser is paying for.
Perfect way to irritate your users, place an ad link right above your games on-screen controls
Adverts start to get better when they are placed somewhere suitable on the screen, which both gets your attention, but doesn’t interfere with app usage or gameplay. There’s quite a few apps that advertise the possibility of winning a “Free iPad 2” at the moment. While a bit on the spammy side, it doesn’t often intrude too much and I can ignore it if I want to. If one of these ads are relevant to me, I will probably click on it. In the UK, the Guardian Newspaper app has a small ad at the bottom which recently was for a news-related newsletter. I was wholeheartedly glad to sign up for that, it was interesting and relevant to me. At other times it advertises Android devices. It’s suitable, appropriate and interests me.
Adverts that stand a chance of being relevant to the user
Interesting, targeted advertising
Ads get even better, as far as I am concerned, when they are incredibly relevant to the app I’m using. Two superb examples spring to mind here, so feel free to check them out if you want to. With the social wine-sharing app Corkbin, you are often presented, when you first open the app, with a splash screen advert for wine-tasting events. This is a simple way of showing an advert that is likely to be relevant to the user. Further, if you check out the SanDisk app- which is a rather smart file-management app which integrates with cloud sharing services such as Dropbox and Box, essentially provides direct links to places to buy either SanDisks own memory cards or other related products. It’s simple, but clearly a good means to promote their other products, and still produce a free app.
SanDisk often advertise their own products; SD cards or here, software
Another form of advertising is that done by the likes of Tapjoy. I spent some time talking with one of their representatives at the recent AppsWorld London event and discussed what they do at some length. This is the model which provides you with the option to try out other apps in order to earn in-app currency for the app you are playing. It works on the basis that you, the user, might be interested in discovering often similar apps and games. You download those apps and automatically get the in-app benefits. There are usually different levels of engagement and the more intrusive the greater the reward; simply downloading another app will get you so much currency, signing up for another service, or purchasing something will get you far more. The Tapjoy system can work well because it presents the end-user with a means to gain added benefits from the game they are playing, it introduces them to other apps they might like and doesn’t have to interrupt their gameplay too much. Perhaps one downside is that it might distract you from the app you’re using- especially if you have to sign up to something, but I certainly find it preferable to the highly irrelevant and intrusive advertising models I’ve mentioned previously.
Tapjoy solutions; earn in-app currency by trying other games
Developers spend a very many hours creating, testing and trying to perfect the apps they release into the Android Market, but the conundrum comes when they fund future apps and updates. Some advertising models work really well, with well positioned, non-intrusive and targeted ads that actually have a chance of being interesting to the end-user. Others are just set to annoy and aggravate, often seemingly without any thought for the user whatsoever.
I think advertising in applications is something not discussed enough, especially outside developer conferences and among end-users. So, tell us what YOU think! Perhaps if you have found any other equally nauseous examples of ‘bad’-vertising, or maybe you have identified some genuinely interesting and smart adverts that actually prompted you to buy something- let us know!