IVT has affected digital business in varying proportions and the gaming industry is no different. Platforms creating and providing online games are facing a tough time dealing with fake traffic. This brought in a huge amount of confusion and a stream of questions to Mr Curious, one of our new employees to whom IVT and gaming seemed to be a new vertical to understand. We had a dialogue with him sometime back and we answered all his questions. Let’s take you through this discussion
1. Do online gaming platforms still exist? I thought my childhood was the last time I played Candy Crush Saga online
Online gaming platforms were the go-to sources of entertainment during the pandemic era. As such, the industry clocked a revenue of $23.56 billion in 2022. With the advent of PlayStation and other console gaming companies, the industry has shifted to a great extent. However, these platforms provide gaming apps to their users as well as host online games on their websites.
Amidst building a loyal community of passionate gamers, these platforms usually monetize through programmatic ad networks like Google Ad Sense by displaying ads in varying formats.
2. Oh, that’s interesting! What kind of advertisements do they publish on their platforms and on what basis are they paid?
The ads served by these platforms can be in multiple formats. Some of the most prominent ones are as follows:
1. Display ads
These are the banner ads that you see on the left or right-hand side at specified spaces as soon as you load a website of a gaming platform. These are usually served to the users based on their browsing behaviour, location, and demographic attributes like gender, income, etc. In the case of display ads, the platforms monetize using the CPM model where they are paid per thousand impressions on the ads served.
2. In-play advertisements
While you played candy crush saga during your childhood online, remember the ads that suddenly used to pop up in front of the screen while the next level of the game was loading? These are in-play advertisements. These are displayed by the gaming platforms while the game is being played. These could be a video ad or a banner ad that also provides in-game rewards to the users for watching the whole ad. Usually, these can be monetized based on CPM or Cost Per View (CPV) basis.
3. Video ads
These ads can be pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll ads. As previously mentioned, these can be displayed before the user begins the game, during the game or after the game is done to earn additional rewards. Any video ad on the gaming platform shall be monetized on a CPV basis. However, the reach has to be large to earn a profit.
Let’s take an example of an online football game that has jerseys in Nike and Puma displayed in-game. If you are efficient enough, you could partner with Nike and Puma to display their latest brand categories or products through a banner ad. Moreover, these platforms also advertise gaming tournaments that happen frequently or those with exciting prizes on their platforms to obtain more registrations for the organizers of such tournaments.
3. That’s quite a business they can build. But you spoke about the platform’s exposure to IVT. How is it relevant in this case?
The moment we mention digital advertising, the presence of IVT is inevitable. The online gaming platforms rely on the above-mentioned sources of revenue to improvise their offering and provide a better experience to their website visitors. However, the problem arises when the ads displayed by them in multiple formats start receiving spam clicks.
Bots originating from a single source (in case of click farms) or multiple sources (in case of duplication of servers) can inflate the clicks on these ads. The moment such action comes under the radar of ad networks, especially popular ones like Google Ad Sense or Google Double Click or Programmatically, these platforms are at a huge risk of suffering from harsh consequences. Moreover, irrelevant clicks may result in a loss of revenue for these platforms.
4. Sounds scary. But how do we measure their risk of exposure to IVT? Isn’t the ad network supposed to take care of that?
Ad networks alert these gaming companies i.e., the publishers about the presence of IVT but do not provide a detailed outlook on the nature of such traffic. There are quite a lot of ad networks in the market, the most popular being Google Ad Sense. Its credibility is one of the highest in the market which is why a majority of gaming platforms use it as a potentially safer option to earn better revenues.
However, Ad Sense is extremely strict when it comes to tackling IVT. Repeated exposure of the publisher’s asset to fake traffic can result in account termination or suspension of the publisher’s account for a temporary period. If not, such publishers shall be served ads with multiple restrictions. This, in turn, results in damage to their reputation while they continue losing revenue due to inflated invalid clicks.
5. It’s shocking! How does ClearTrust make a difference to such gaming platforms?
We take pre-emptive steps to ensure that the gaming platforms are alerted in advance about the presence of IVT on their website. We provide monitoring and monitoring & blocking option to our clients along with a detailed description of the source of invalid traffic, keywords driving such traffic and similar other crucial information. Based on this information, our clients can take the necessary steps to ensure that their assets are well protected against any form of spam clicks or other forms of IVT and that their Ad Sense account remains in good standing.
We have built a solution that provides the above-mentioned services for IVT protection. Mind you, we are claiming and promising what we have already delivered to our clients over the past 2 years. Since onboarding them, they have never experienced a single setback arising out of IVT on their platforms.
At this stage, Mr. Curious left the room feeling satisfied as most of his questions were answered. Despite that, if there are still any doubts that you have, connect with us as we look forward to safeguarding your system against IVT.