6 tips to ensure mobile advertising compliance | Chartboost Academy
Insights & Best Practices
August 16, 2023
It's never been easier to monetize mobile game content.
Digital advertising allows developers and publishers to connect with other companies, sell ad space on their respective platforms, and drive new revenue — all of which was impossible (or, at the very least, extremely expensive and difficult to manage) a few decades ago.
But digital advertising is a double-edged sword. It has the potential to increase company profits but can also damage the customer experience, resulting in churn and low lifetime value metrics.
The easy solution to this problem is to limit the number of ads you show users. But is this really enough? Actually, no. You need to proactively earn the trust of your users, too. One of the best ways to do this is to protect their data, which requires a commitment to compliance.
In this article, we explain what ad monetization compliance is and why it's important for mobile game developers like yourself. We'll share best practices you can use to ensure advertising compliance, which will help your game(s) earn the trust and loyalty of your users.
Understanding ad monetization compliance
The world is full of rules and regulations. Some of them, such as GDPR and CCPA, pertain to digital advertising and ensure companies treat user data with the respect it deserves.
With that in mind, "ad monetization compliance" is what happens when developers and publishers adhere to applicable laws and serve ads in compliant ways.
Advertising compliance is extremely important — especially in the mobile gaming industry. Fail to follow the rules and regulations in place and you'll lose user trust. This lack of trust will eventually lead to a poor reputation, low star ratings, churn, and decreased revenues.
Failure to comply with ad monetization laws can also result in legal issues, hefty fines, and even the complete removal of a game from the Apple App and Google Play stores.
To help make sure these thing don't happen to your game, let's look at the most common app store rules, regulatory laws, and governing bodies that help keep everyone on track:
- ATT: Apple Tracking Transparency (ATT) is Apple's privacy framework. It requires iOS apps to ask for user permission before they share user data. Users can grant or deny permission through a pop-up form inside the iOS apps they use.
- IDFA: The Identifier for Advertisers, often abbreviated to IDFA, allows mobile publishers and advertisers to track the user data points they need to accurately measure marketing campaigns, while protecting the privacy of all iOS users.
- GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation, usually referred to as GDPR, is a strict data privacy law that's existed in the EU since 2018. It governs the way all companies (including mobile game developers) collect, use, and store personal data.
- CCPA: The California Consumer Privacy Act, better known as CCPA, is a newer regulation that gives Californians the right to know how companies collect, use, share, and sell their personal information, as well as the right to prohibit these activities.
- FTC: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a "bipartisan federal agency that champions the interests of American consumers." Put simply, the FTC enforces antitrust and consumer protection laws that affect all facets of commerce in the US.
Best practices for ad monetization compliance
Evidently, advertising compliance is extremely important. The question is, how do you comply with these laws and regulations while still delivering profitable ad campaigns?
The best practices below will help you follow the rules and drive revenue, leading to greater success for your mobile games. Let's have a look.
1. Transparency and user consent
First, always opt for complete transparency where user data is concerned (transparency is a pretty big deal here at Chartboost).
To do this, keep your game's users in the know regarding your advertising and data usage policies. Do this by providing them with clear and concise privacy policies and terms of service agreements, which they have to read and consent to before they play your mobile game.
Companies like Termly and Formswift can generate these kinds of documents for you. A legal professional can do the same, though, we recommend working with one who has experience in the mobile games industry. That way you can rest assured that your company is protected.
2. Ad placement and user experience
Next, focus on strategic ad placement that elevates the user experience.
Your users want to play your game. They do not want to watch ads. They're willing to sit through ads, however, because they realize that by doing so, they're able to play your game for free or at minimal cost. It's a tradeoff that, in the end, works for everyone involved.
Be careful — too many ads will throw off this delicate balance. The result? A poor user experience that leads to fewer players, lower engagement levels, and less revenue for your game(s).
How does this all pertain to advertising compliance? Some game developers try to "beat the system" by designing misleading and/or intrusive ads. But doing so almost always backfires, as it lowers user trust and potentially violates compliance regulations. Avoid it at all costs.
3. Ad content and appropriate messaging
As a developer and/or publisher, you probably don't create the ads that appear in your game. That doesn't absolve you from responsibility for the content of said ads.
That's why you need to monitor your game's ad content. Does it adhere to legal regulations and community guidelines? Does it align with your game's ethical standards? It should.
Fortunately, there are ways to streamline the ad content review process. You can, for example, invest in content filtering software to ensure every ad on your platform meets company standards. You can then pair your software with a human review process to make sure nothing falls through the cracks or gets blocked that shouldn't have.
These safeguards will help ensure your games never feature inappropriate or offensive ads.
4. Data privacy and security
Finally, make sure your game's data handling processes are on point.
What does this look like in a real-world scenario? You need to prioritize data anonymization and consent management. In greater detail:
- Data anonymization: If you want to properly handle user data, you need to anonymize it, which can be done by either removing or encrypting sensitive details, such as personally identifiable information (PII). Doing so will protect user privacy. Popular anonymization techniques include data masking, data pseudonymization, data generalization, data perturbation, data swapping, and using synthetic data.
- Consent management: To be clear, consent management refers to a process by which customers, i.e. your game's users, can determine the personal data points they share with your company. The easiest way to accomplish consent management is to use a third-party tool such as OneTrust, Kochava, TrustArc, or Osano.
Monitoring and enforcement
The only way to ensure advertising compliance is to continually monitor your games' ads and enforce compliance-related policies. Here are two tips to help you accomplish this:
5. Continuous monitoring and ad review
As mentioned earlier, you must monitor your games' ads on a regular basis. This is the only way to ensure the ads you publish adhere to compliance regulations and company standards.
You can use automated tools to accomplish this task, but we recommend going a step further. Read reviews — or if possible, directly ask your users for their opinions — to glean insights regarding ad placement and content. Firsthand anecdotes are priceless in this situation.
You should also have a person on your team, or a group of people if your company publishes multiple games, performing manual reviews from time to time. Technology has come a long way and will make your compliance processes more efficient, but a piece of software won't be able to evaluate ads with the same nuance as a human, which is why manual reviews are needed.
6. Compliance tracking and reporting
Finally, track and report on your advertising compliance initiatives.
Is your strategy working? Are you able to abide by regulations and provide positive user experiences? If not, what can you do to remedy the situation?
At the very least, make sure you maintain proper documentation, then store it in a secure way that provides data privacy to your game's users. On a related note, track user complaints and resolutions, too, so you can learn from past mistakes and better serve customers in the future.
Mobile ad monetization compliance is key to your game's success in 2023.
If you don't prioritize this issue, you'll lose the trust of your user base, which will result in a poor reputation, fewer players, and less revenue. You might also have to pay large fines, or suffer the removal of your game from app stores. None of these outcomes is ideal.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure advertising compliance. Be transparent about the way you handle user data, put the user experience above profits, monitor ad content to make sure it complies with regulations, and always handle user data responsibly.
All of this will help your development and/or publishing company connect with more users and achieve more long-term success, while avoiding stressful legal issues. Commit to them!