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Why In-App, not MFA, is the advertising solution made for advertisers

Mintegral GM for the Americas Jeff Sue discusses the issue of made for advertising websites
Why In-App, not MFA, is the advertising solution made for advertisers
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Advertising is a crucial component of user acquisition. Game makers throughout the industry invest billions of dollars into the space every year hoping to attract new players and help their companies grow.

However, advertising itself is no guarantee of success. Game makers need to consider how they’re spending their money, and where they’re directing their efforts.

In this guest post, Mintegral general manager for the Americas Jeff Sue discusses the rise of Made For Advertising (MFA) websites, and why developers should instead focus on in-game advertising in their user acquisition strategies.

Stop me if this has happened to you. You were browsing one of your favorite sites and clicked on a related link, only to be bombarded with a poorly constructed website that launched multiple autoplay videos or otherwise had a barely literate copy about the topic you were exploring. You immediately closed the website before it produced more of a nuisance to your phone or computer and resumed scrolling.

You encountered a “made for advertising” website (as big a misnomer as possible) in the murky underworld of programmatic advertising exploitation. The modern Internet is teeming with poorly constructed websites geared solely towards siphoning off the hard- earned dollars of advertisers that effectively disappear into a vacuum.

To the human eye, these are often garish-looking websites that serve little-to-no editorial purpose (they’re called made-for-advertising and not made-for-reading for a reason). Nearly anyone who clicks on them will immediately click off, without noticing or regarding the multitude of display ads and autoplay video.

Advances in brand safety and invalid traffic controls have lulled advertisers into a sort of complacency that their programmatic spend is going to desirable locations. The rise of made-for-advertising (MFA) websites is challenging that notion. But as long as there is advertising froth, there will be bad actors looking to opportunistically game the system. They’re made for “publishers” looking to do as little work as possible to dupe advertisers.

The worst part of these pernicious sites is they are made to inflate the success metrics of many campaigns. If your advertising campaign prioritizes viewability stats like views and CPMs, you may not realize that what you deem a success (plenty of eyeballs) is actually wasted spend - demonstrating the limitations of that and other web 2.0 metrics.

Even if someone visited an MFA site and actually tried to parse the content, they would be encountering too many ads at the same time, making it increasingly unlikely they absorbed any brand message.

Just how widespread is MFA fraud? An ANA study found that MFAs accounted for 21% of the audited 35 billion impressions. Can you afford to waste 21% of your advertising spend?

There’s a simple antidote to your programmatic spend going to MFA: in-app advertising.

Unlike MFA, in-app advertising, which is expected to reach $314B in 2023, is actually
made for advertisers. Here’s why:

1. A small amount of friction: This is a good thing! A common misnomer is that friction is bad for the advertising industry. Here’s the reality: friction in the service of intent is actually pretty powerful. People need to download an app before using it, which requires them to search for it in a store, wait for it to download,
and, finally, open it up. Every step of the way, they are demonstrating they are interested in the content on that app and, therefore, are likely to consume the ads that accompanies it. The small increase in friction to an app means they’re much more likely to stay within the app when they launch it. In short, they download an app because it has utility for them. MFA sites have no utility.

2. In-app has higher viewability rates for video: On many metrics, in-app display and video outperform mobile- and web-based advertising. DoubleVerify’s 2022 report found that in-app display and video ads have a viewability rate of 72.5% and 77.4% compared to 63.6% and 71.4% for mobile web display and video. In
addition, mobile app brand unsuitability was only 4.4% compared to 9.7% for the mobile web.

3. True brand safety: Unlike the loopholes that keep questionable MFA traffic booming, in-app advertising has several policies and guardrails to save advertisers from fraud or questionable views. One such example: Google’s ads txt framework for in-app protects advertisers and publishers alike by dictating that
ads can only run on approved publishers.

4. Near-zero fraud: While there are definitely fraudulent apps, you can easily avoid that by using the ad txt framework or only advertising with popular and well- documented real applications. They will have much better fraud protection than running ads on hundreds of unverified apps.

5. The power of interactivity: This benefit holds true for all web-based advertising, not just MFA. In-app ads can provide some attention-garner interactivity, ensuring your target audience spends more time with your messaging and driving an increase in retention or brand awareness.

At some point in time, the industry will find a solution for MFA. But stopping one questionable audience for advertising is quite similar to whack-a-mole - another one will pop up. While it’s understandable that advertisers are disinclined to eliminate all web- based advertising because some of it will end up on MFA sites, knowledge about this waste is a good opportunity to rethink your marketing mix. Are you currently allocating any spend to in-app advertising? If not, now is the time to invest a significant portion of
your budget in this valuable medium.

In-app ads should be an integral part of a brand’s overall marketing mix. Whether you’re looking to drive awareness, purchase, or customer loyalty, you’ll find a healthy audience interested in learning more about your brand.

In-app is definitely your best choice today and will still be even if over 20% of your impressions are no longer going up in smoke.