It’s pretty common to see mobile game ads when browsing facebook, reddit and twitter. It’s also pretty common to click on those ads in order to download the game and see that there’s no resemblance between the ad and game. Why do mobile games have fake ads and how can they get away with it?
Why do mobile games have Ads?
The mobile gaming market is extremely crowded nowadays. Hundreds of games are launching every day on both iOS and Android and it’s hard to stand out, so game developers and publishers turned to using advertisement in order to gather users in the early phases of the game’s release. This is why you see so many ads for mobile games.
It’s not uncommon for games to advertise other games. We explained why this is happening in our “How do free mobile games make money” article but the short version is:
Mobile games serve advertisements for other games because they earn a money for it. With the average US CPI revolving around $3.6, developers need to show as many ads as they can get away with in order to recoup their own cost to acquire users.Best Smartphone Games
Why do mobile games have fake Ads?
We understand why mobile games are using advertisements in order to reach more users and bring them into the game. But why are mobile games using fake ads that don’t accurately represent the game? It comes down to the CPI.
What is CPI?
CPI stands for Cost Per Install, or how much it costs to acquire a user in your game. In simpler terms – if you see an ad for a mobile game, click it and download the game, the CPI is how much the game developer paid the advertising website for you. According to Iron Source, the average CPI cost for a user in the US in 2021 is around $3.6.
Game Developers try their best to “optimize” the CPI. In other words, they want to lower it as much as possible so they don’t have to pay that much. Games that appeal to a wider audience tend to have a lower CPI. If a lot of people like the ad and click on it, the CPI goes down. Normally the Cost Per Install increases the harder it is to get people to want to click on the advertisement.
Mobile Games use Fake Ads to lower their Cost Per Install and attract more users to their game
The competition is fierce in the mobile gaming industry and everyone is competing for user attention. A developer could have spent years making their game only to notice that there isn’t much of an audience interested in their game. At least not interested in their ads. And if the ads don’t appeal to the users, they won’t click on it and install the game. The developer has the option to drop the game and move onto another one but what if they don’t/can’t afford to make a new game?
Some of them turn to shady or “different” advertising method. It’s much easier to “fake” a new mechanic in a video than to re-tool and re-implement key parts of a game. They do this in order to try and attract enough of an audience to make their initial investment back. Not all of them do this out of malice though.
Some Mobile Games use Fake Ads in order to gauge interest in a new game or mechanic
Some games use Fake Advertisements to gauge interest in a potential mechanic. Let’s say you are a game developer and are planning out their next game. The budget for the game’s development is estimated at $400.000. Instead of jumping head in and spending that much money to develop the game, they spend $10.000 to make a series of “Ads” similar to the game they are thinking of making. They make the ads available online and gauge user’s interest.
If the fake advertisement has a low Cost Per Install and a lot of clicks it means that people are interested in their future game.Best Smartphone Games
Why are fake mobile game ads allowed?
Mobile games and mobile game developers have gotten into serious trouble over the past few years for shady advertisement tactics. A good example is the whole Gardenscapes debacle. There’s a good coverage article from BBC on this matter here.
The laws regarding false advertisment vary from country to country (and in the US from state to state) so you need to consult a bigger authority than us on this matter. Jacoby and Meyers law firm and blog has this to say about false advertisment:
State and federal laws are in place to protect consumers from false or misleading advertising. These laws make deceptive claims illegal. No business may make false, misleading, or deceptive claims about a product regarding its price, quality and purpose!jacobymeyers.com
Do people love fake mobile game ads?
If you’re reading this article, it’s because you asked yourself this question. Or you wanted to find out why mobile games have fake ads. It’s safe to say that you are pretty uncomfortable about it or that it bothers you, and many others feel the same as you. There is a very vocal negative trend targeting mobile games with fake ads (and we think this is how it should be).
In some cases fake mobile game ads have a reason to exist but they should be marked as such, and the public must be informed that it does not actually represent a product.
Congrats, you made it to the end of the article and learned why mobile games have fake ads. I hope it was beneficial to you. It’s also beneficial to us to have you stick around the blog more. We have more articles that could be of use, such as this one, that explains how free mobile games make money.
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