At first glance, the report saying that advertising is alive and well and growing fastest across Asia is good news. Prices are rising, demand is swelling and now the place for advertising is in-app.
All seems well.
The problem is that the secret in-app places which seem like the next gold mine are going to be subject to the same scrutiny that social media and, well, the whole online world is being subjected to.
At the forefront of the scrutinising team are people worried about young people’s mental health. As video game producers employ ever greater efforts to make their offerings more and more compelling, the problem becomes greater. However many reports we see about young people being basically fine and balancing their online and offline worlds, these statistics are averages.
Those that are being sucked into the online and particularly gaming world are the ones to worry about. Recently, regulators in Europe said that ‘skins’ and ‘loot’ should be treated in a similar way to gambling. Their line of thought is that these make gamers addicted to earning points and bonuses and other entitlements and are therefore addictive and dangerous.
The other element is the direction of travel for social media. The time of the big platform is waning and – particularly younger – people are finding places to share real stuff with real people, in places that are not plagued by groomers, extremists and people who like to hate you in public.
This, too, goes to mental health, the world’s new focus. Smaller groups of people where trust means more than number of friends and a shared photo means something to everyone is now the trend. JWT’s Innovation Group agrees and has a lot to say on the subject. For instance, Instagram, the platform that scored worst for mental health is trialling a new platform (or platform within a platform) called Threads, where you can have a circle of ‘closest friends’.
The point is that just when advertising is finding the new gold mine, the gold mine itself is changing shape as people shy away from the public platforms to become more private. In-app advertising will not be easy in that world.