Ads vs Reality: Why Misleads Could Ruin Your Advertising Campaign

Why Misleads Could Ruin Your Ad Campaign

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Misleads

Over the past year, we have seen a significant increase in competition in the mobile field: the number of market players (individual arbitrage specialists; arbitrage agencies, partner networks) continues to grow, in-house media-buying developer’s departments enhance their expertise and volumes, and the market in general is becoming more accessible and transparent. In fact, the situation of the past where the demand for mobile installs exceeded the supply has changed dramatically: now the supply outstrips the demand greatly.  
Unfortunately, as a result, a number of negative trends are developing now, one of them being misleads. The traditional definition of “mislead” in the performance marketing is deliberate confusion/deception of the user.
It is not that simple in the gaming mobile-vertical, that is why we prefer to use a broader definition.
Mislead means demonstration, in texts or creatives, of elements, characters, graphics or numbers that are absent from the actual gameplay or game cycle.
In fact, the situation is much more complicated when it comes to mobile games, for usually the gameplay and characters alone are not enough to create multiple-approach long-term advertising campaigns. Direct «head-on» approaches turn out to be less effective for they bum out quickly and perform worse. At ZENNA, we divide misleads into 2 groups:

  • Soft misleads
  • Hard misleads

Soft misleads imply embellishing creatives using quality artistic objects of the game itself or the objects that are very close to the game’s real art, settings or genre.

Using soft misleads is quite acceptable and should not be considered “pure evil” or a way to deceive customers. This is a classic marketing trick. The same is used for film promotion when the best and most breath-taking stunts and moments of a blockbuster are compiled into a single trailer, or, for example, when they replace milk with white paint in a McDonalds commercial just to get a better picture, or when retailers offer sales up to -50% not even bothering to mention the price has only been reduced for one item and not the whole collection.
 
Not all advertisers view misleads in the same way: some of them use these very actively while others impose strict requirements for the creatives and do not accept any deviations from the original gameplay or character images.
 
Here are some of the most popular and effective tricks of using soft misleads in mobile games:

1) using colorful, «cinematically» detailed characters


2) using popular celebrity images (not related to the image of a celebrity in some particular game)

3) mixing the real art of the game with some non-existent objects or characters


4) using splash-screens with beautiful graphics of military technology.

5) providing various types of teasers that use game elements


6) using various themed creatives associated with major newsworthy events (Super Bowl, European Championship finals, EURO-2016, anticipated film releases etc.)

Misleads
Misleads

7) using images that are similar to the original game’s art and settings but which are not presented in the game itself

Misleads

The line between using soft misleads and not using misleads at all is very thin. Any judgment here would be subjective for there is no single classification. That is why it is extremely important to take into consideration the particular advertiser’s promotion strategy.

Hard misleads.

We think that hard misleads are textbook definition of deceiving the customer. When it comes to hard misleads, both the customer and the advertiser end up cheated. Companies and arbitrage specialists should decide for themselves whether using such “dirty” tricks fits in with their business goals and values. Unfortunately, many arbitrage specialists and agencies are guided by the principle of “making money now and here and letting things happen as they will”.

By using hard misleads they seek to achieve higher CTR and CR and consequently cut their costs for CPI. However, in 90% of such cases, the quality of traffic is extremely low.

Here are a few video examples of hard misleads along with some screenshots of the actual gameplay:

1) using frames from popular films or TV series

Creative:
Misleads

Game:
Misleads

2) using screenshots from other games (one of the most popular malpractices!)

Creative:
Misleads

Game:
Misleads

Creative:
Misleads

Game:
Misleads

3) using objects that are very different from the original game’s settings, art or gameplay

Creative:
Misleads

Game:
Misleads

On average, there can be up to 30% of hard-mislead creatives on the market. The good news is, these numbers have recently started to decline, following the introduction of KPIs on the quality of traffic and rejects. In this case, traffic suppliers are directly bound by the specific quality parameters.

Monitoring services help identify hard misleads. Due to the comprehensive ad monitoring options that these services provide, a partner network or a direct advertiser can easily analyze all the creatives by their applications for a specific time period and find a mislead if there is any. Our friends and partners from AdMobiSpy kindly agreed to provide us with an example of such a mislead used in an advertising campaign:

 

One should keep in mind that by using methods like that to attract users quickly, it is impossible to get a high-quality target audience your game needs. ZENNA recommends that one should be honest and truthful throughout their advertising campaigns and provide clear quality criteria for agencies.

Then of course, your partner’s reputation and credibility is of huge importance.