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Consensual healing? How user permission became a competitive advantage

With stricter regulations on user privacy in play Usercentrics Valerio Sudrio shares how allowing users to grant consent is good for everyone
Consensual healing? How user permission became a competitive advantage
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The rules regarding user privacy is something that is becoming more critical as it has been found that around 90% of top iOS titles are not compliant with regulation. Developers and publishers can find themselves in violation of these regulations, which can lead to problems in the future.

So how do developers tackle approach these rules and adapt to the changes in regulations? In this exclusive article, global director of apps solutions at Usercentrics, Valerio Sudrio, discusses giving users “the power of permission”, which proves to be not only good for the player but good for business too.

Most developers still believe consent boxes kill UA numbers and are wrong. In fact, a good consent experience can improve user loyalty and boost ARPU.

What do you need to make a great mobile game? A relatable character is a good start. A unique aesthetic helps. You should have solid social elements and a carefully considered reward system too. And obviously, a good IAP structure.

What else? Well, how about a well-designed consent box?

A consent box? Doesn't that kill your user numbers? If you think so, it's time to get wise. The truth is that norms around privacy and trust have changed in the last three years. Today, consent matters - to the mobile platforms, to the regulators and most importantly, to your consumers.

In this new normal, giving users the power of permission is not just good ethics, it's good business.

The data bears this out. According to a Deloitte study, 40 percent of players said they would uninstall a game if they had concerns regarding data privacy. A small number of forward-looking developers know it too. In our new report Data Privacy in Mobile Games: Why Consenting Users Monetize Better, mobile game developers told us that ‘good’ permissions can lift average ad revenue per daily active user by 1.5 percent.

They are in the minority. Despite the risk of huge fines and the inability to target users effectively, 90 percent of games are non-compliant with consent requirements.

So the big question for publishers and developers is how to create a sticky consent 'experience'. Before we explore that, let's roll back a little and provide some context on how we got here.

No more ‘anything goes’: a new normal for user privacy

Many readers might recall the 'good old days' when no one gave a thought to user consent. Mobile gaming was flying. The addressable market grew to billions as smartphone ownership soared. Then came the freemium model – meaning those billions didn't even have to pay to install a game, and advertisers would fund it all.

But in return, advertisers wanted data on their new customers. In those ‘anything goes’ days developers simply gathered the required info and passed it over. Then everything changed. First, a series of cyber hacks spooked the public. In response, the regulators passed new laws on data gathering and storage.

And then came the industry earthquake. In 2021, Apple made its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) opt-in only. This meant any app developer (and adtech partner) wanting to track its users must receive active consent - no more sneaky data gathering in the background.

Today, we are seeing the results of that change of strategy. According to a report by AppsFlyer, total spend on in-app advertising on Android has gone up by 55 percent. On iOS? It's down by two percent. Meanwhile, Android installs are up 22 percent, while iOS installs have slipped by six percent.

But Android developers shouldn't get too smug. Google is inching towards a similar strategy on targeting: it is already beta testing its Privacy Sandbox.

Time to get proactive on permissions

So if the IDFA crackdown has badly impacted iOS numbers, why are we so confident that consent can be positive? Well, it comes down to the way you execute and how this can differentiate you from the competition.

First, let's imagine you do nothing at all and don't even try to get consent from users. Here are four consequences.

  • You have no permission to run re-marketing or re-engagement campaigns
  • Your user acquisition costs go up
  • You cannot attribute your installs to any particular campaign
  • You don't have permission to use helpful tools/SDKs for analytics, attribution, advertising and marketing

Now, let's assume you gather user consent smartly and frictionlessly. You will avoid all the negative effects listed above. But more than that, your transparency will earn the trust of your players, who will reward you with loyalty and maybe even more permissions.

Just as important, you will get the attention of brands and ad specialists. These stakeholders really understand the need for privacy compliance. Indeed many Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) are starting to insist on consented data from their publisher partners.

This raises the question: what does good user consent look like? There are some simple 'rules' to observe such as:

  • Make your request clear, unambiguous and explicit
  • Tell your users exactly what data you are requesting
  • Tell them why you need this data
  • Tell users how you will use their data – who it will be shared with, and how it will be stored
  • Ask for consent at the point where the value of your game is most compelling
  • Explain to users that their consent applies only within your game

Out of the box and into the game

Specialist SDKs make it easy to embed a good consent experience. These tools are ready to go out of the box, and allow for customization and regional compliance needs. Once installed, they will present the privacy banner at the best possible moment in the user flow and then track your opt-in rates.

We know from working with many developers how well this process works. Homa Games is one example. After integrating a consent SDK in its hit game Kaiju Run, it could finally unlock ad networks inventory in regulated regions like Europe and California. This delivered a 1.5 percent uplift in ad revenue.

Homa Games is, frankly, an exception. Most developers are still ignoring consent, and they are missing out. It’s common knowledge that iOS users are more affluent than their Android counterparts (analysts says iOS accounts for 65 percent of total app store outlay). Any developer that can capture a large and compliant base of iOS players is way ahead of the competition.

Thanks to SDKs it’s easy to do. So give yourself permission and tick the box.

Edited by Paige Cook