Is the Automatic Opening of “In-Game App-Store Dialogue” a Legit Ad Experience?

Last week I had a call with a customer and a friend whose opinion I highly appreciate. We were talking about the new SDK-less AdQuality feature from SOOMLA. I’m still super psyched about this one and believe it has the potential to change the industry so I’m talking about this with as many people as I can. Anyway, we were talking about the section labeled Auto-click that highlights specific ads that trigger clicks without the user touching the screen.

My friend made the comment that these are probably iOS StoreKit triggers rather than a full redirect into the app store. I honestly don’t know the answer but my assumption is that he is correct. We will be adding the functionality to distinguish StoreKit clicks vs. App store clicks into AdIntel soon. Triggering a full redirect feels so aggressive that publishers may remove the SDK of the ad network all together while triggering the StoreKit seems like a user experience that is not more aggressive than other experiences we are seeing these days.

Well, yeah, StoreKit auto-clicks might not be so bad if that’s the only thing the ad is doing but if we are talking about a 30-second non-skip video followed by a playable experience with an x button that refuses to close the ad and instead opens the StoreKit or a StoreKit auto-click the accumulated experience is quite negative and so my friend asked for more tools to understand the overall experience. Some of these are already implemented and some will be coming in the next weeks.

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What about Android?

In android there is similar mechanism that triggers a dialogue for app install from within the app and some ad-networks are auto-triggering it as well. The article may refer to StoreKit at times but the conclusions are similar for Android.

The topic of this blog post is not only about user experience but in general how the auto-triggering of these dialogues impact the industry. There are 2 ways in which the ads has a negative impact on the publisher and bad UX is just one of them so in this post we will discuss how even the mild auto-click StoreKit experience is negatively impacting the publisher and will also give other examples of such ad interactions.

Mapping Negative Ad Experiences on 2 Axis

There are quite a few tricks used by ads where the user experience is different than the expected one but not all of them impact the publisher in the same way. In fact there are 2 main impacts we noticed:

  • Negative user experience that may lead to aggravation and even user churn
  • Ad experience that create an attribution bias by ‘stealing’ the last click

Some of the ad experiences have impact on both axis.

All Ad Tricks Explained

  • In-game app-store dialogue auto-clicks – These are ads that trigger a StoreKit end card without the user touching the screen of the phone. The in-app dialog for the download of the app appears as soon as the video or the playable ends without prompting the user to know if he is even interested in downloading the app.
  • Playables triggering the in-game app-store dialogue – Playable ads are small programs and as such they have a lot of flexibility in what they can do. The behavior we are referring to here is a playable experience where the playable ad will require the user to tap on the screen to engage with the playable but then count that click as if it was an intention to download and will open the in-app install dialog.
  • Probelmeatic X button – In this type of ads the X button will not behave as expected. It may appear late, be transparent, move from one side to another or have a trigger area that is so small no user can hit it. The outcome is that users who try to hit it often trigger a click action.
  • Redirect Auto-clicks – These ads trigger a full redirect to the app store app or to a website automatically without any user touch.
  • Ads resembling in-app messages – these are ads that disguise as part of the publisher app and trick the user to click on them. They may even have a “no” button that will not lead to the ad being closed but instead trigger the action of the ad.
  • Non skippable and multipart ads – ads may not have the x button appear until later into the ad experience and take longer to close then the user expected. When this pattern is also combined with ads that have multiple parts and require a few clicks to close the combined ad experience is quite negative and users may be trapped in the ad for over a minute.
  • High bounce rate – ads where the users came back right away after the click and indicated that they regret the click by doing so. Typically ads with a high bounce rate will indicate a negative user experience

Attribution Bias and The Publisher Angle

So from the 2 axis above, it’s easy to understand why aggravating users is bad for the publisher. Attribution bias, however, is not a typical concern for publishers at least not in their ad monetization hat. Before we begin, it’s important to understand that attribution is based mostly on the last click. In high volume campaigns where a user may see an ad several times before installing the attribution company will determine who generated the install by giving the credit to the last click. Ad-networks make money mostly for campaigns that are generating installs and so their ability to bid high for the publisher traffic is tied directly to their ability to claim attribution. This means that ads with inflated CTR are likely to climb to the top of the waterfall on the expense of ads that may generate fewer clicks. The short term gains, however, however are not sustainable if the installs are a bad fit for the advertiser and may lead to your publisher sub ID getting excluded from campaigns or the algorithms decreasing bids once downstream metrics kick in.

So What About StoreKit Auto-Clicks?

So while the StoreKit auto-clicks are not as bad as the redirect auto-clicks they do add a negative contribution to the overall ad experience. For example, when combined with an ad that already has 2 parts it can be quite aggravating from a UX standpoint. Imagine a video that is followed by a playable that automatically opens a StoreKit end card.

In addition, they also create attribution bias that may create a long term negative impact on the publisher.

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Raised in the Kibbutz and reborn in the city, Yaniv is a certified entre-parent-neur. When he’s not busy doing SEO, content marketing, administration, QA, fund raising, customer support… [stop to breathe], you can find Yaniv snowboarding down the slopes of France and hiking with his kids. Yaniv holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Management from Tel Aviv University. He is also an avid blogger and a speaker at industry events. Before SOOMLA, Yaniv co-founded EyeView

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