Mobile Gaming Grows Up: Is It the Next Big Ad Space?

PLUS: An old-school tracking method gets new life as cookies are put to rest

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In Today's Issue

Mobile Gaming Grows Up: Is It the Next Big Ad Space?

If it seems like a lot of the ad platforms feel tired — no new ad products, no new audiences — there is one which some analysts believe will finally break out this year.

Mobile gaming advertising is gaining traction. Last year, mobile gaming ad revenues saw significant growth. AppLovin, a mobile marketing platform, reported a record-breaking Q4 2023 for mobile gaming advertisers.

Traditionally, the in-game digital advertising world has consisted of two places:

  1. Bottom-of-the-barrel audience network type placements. The kind you end up with when you let the ad platform use its “recommended” or “automatic” placements option. These placements are usually high reach and low CPM, but terrible for conversion and really not good for much more than general brand awareness.

  2. Ads in big-budget console games from developers like Nintendo and Electronic Arts. Think product placements in movies, except they’re in games.

Recent trends, though, show a shift.

In Q4 last year, mobile gaming apps, particularly casual games, made more money. AppLovin noted a 10% year-over-year spending increase from Q4 2022 to Q4 2023. And mobile gamers engaged more with ads, as average ad impressions per user rose by 7%.

Also, tech giants like Microsoft, having acquired Activision Blizzard, are making significant strides in mobile gaming advertising. Activision Blizzard's in-game advertising division contributes substantially to their revenues.

TRIVIA: Which mobile game was the most downloaded in 2022?

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Yes, Google’s Getting Worse. No, It’s Not Just You.

If it feels like Google results are getting worse, you’re not alone.

A new study [PDF] by Leipzig University and the Center for Scalable Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, revealed that Google is struggling against low-quality, junk sites that dominate search results due to affiliate marketing strategies.

Affiliate marketing sites, of course, use unique links in product reviews and roundups. When a purchase is made through these links, the referring site earns a commission. This practice is widespread, even among reputable journalistic sites, but it's often exploited by less ethical sites, leading to a proliferation of subpar content.

The study, which analyzed almost 7,400 product-review search terms across Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo, found that top-ranking pages on Google often featured more affiliate links and lower-quality text. And that sites with poor content but effective search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are more likely to appear first in search results.

While Google's results showed some improvement during the study and performed better than Bing and DuckDuckGo, the general trend suggests a decline in the overall quality of Google searches.

Google says it’s always working to improve its algorithms and filter out low-quality content. But the effectiveness of these efforts remains in question.

How have Google search results been for you for the last three months?

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Google’s Gesture Search and Multisearch Update

While Google tries to weed out the crap, they are also adding a bit of bling.

The company this week announcing two updates to its search engine:

The first update, "Circle to Search," lets Android users select images, text, or videos on their screen through various gestures such as circling, highlighting, or tapping. That highlighted region will then be searched.

This could end up being a pretty powerful product marketing tool — someone finds a photo of Usher, circles his shoes, and up pops a list of places they can be bought.

Initially, Circle to Search will be available on select premium Android smartphones, including the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and the new Samsung Galaxy S24 series, starting January 31.

Google Lens

The second enhances the multisearch feature in Google Lens, which was first introduced in 2022.

Multisearch lets users combine image and text searches. People can point the camera at something, upload a photo, add a question about it, and get overviews that amalgamate relevant information from across the web.


Bing’s Big Bet Doesn’t Appear to Have Paid Off

Google competitor Bing, owned by Microsoft, bet the house on AI — integrating their chatbot directly into the search engine. They recently rebranded it CoPilot, but it is essentially a fork of OpenAI’s ChatGPT4.

The idea was that it could provide a wedge into that enormous pie chunk that Google holds in the search market.

So it’s been about a year since Bing did that — have they grown their market share any in the search wars?

The answer: Not really.

Bing's market share has only grown less than 1% according to StatCounter.

Most of you may not be surprised, since our poll shared shortly after Bing Chat launched had most of you thinking Bing won't gain that much market share from this feature.

Bloomberg reported on the StatCounter data, saying, "But Microsoft’s search engine ended 2023 with just 3.4% of the global search market, according to data analytics firm StatCounter, up less than 1 percentage point since the ChatGPT announcement."

So, as of December 31, according to StatCounter — here are the numbers:

What search engine do you use the most?

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IP Targeting Makes a Comeback as Cookies Die

Our industry, as you know, is facing a big shift as Google Chrome plans to phase out third-party cookies by the end of 2024.

A longread today in AdWeek does a great job of walking through one of the old-school methods that some marketers are falling back on: Tracking consumer behaviour through their IP address.

Those addresses, while fundamental to internet communication, aren’t considered privacy-safe and offer less tracking accuracy compared to cookies.

But they are re-emerging as an alternative to third-party cookies for advertisers.

For instance, IP addresses are becoming crucial in areas like streaming television and cross-device targeting. An executive from Raptive quoted in the piece highlights that IP addresses are often combined with first-party data or hashed emails.

They do, though, have gaps. They don’t, on their own, carry any information about the interests someone has or their demographics. And IP tracking doesn’t really work if a user is behind a VPN or a corporate network.

Plus, privacy looms larger, as IP addresses cannot be reset like cookies.

The piece is worth a read if this interests you — you can find it at, look for the article called “Marketers Shift to IP Address Band-Aids Amid Cookie Deprecation.”


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YouTube Promises A/B Thumbnails Coming

You don’t have to make YouTube videos for long before you realize that one of the most critical pieces is the thumbnail — get that right, you get views; get it wrong, you don’t.

Some big creators, like Mr. Beast, have people on their teams who just do thumbnail testing and optimization full-time. That’s how important it is.

Which makes it all the weirder that YouTube itself still doesn’t have an A/B testing tool for one of the most important parts of a video.

Back in June, the company previewed the thumbnail testing tool it was working on — the tool would let you test three variations for up to two weeks. But they didn’t have a release date, other than some time in 2024.

Today, the company’s liaison to the creator community shared an update on where they are:

Thumbnail testing is still in testing. As of late last year, the testing ramped up to 50K channels of various types, sizes, and regions across YouTube (which is still a tiny number given how many channels are on YouTube). That’ll continue until team feels like the product is delivering what it needs to for creators, and then it’ll start moving into launch mode. No timeline yet, because it’s hard to predict how fast or slow tests of this size will go, but as soon as it’s ready to launch, YouTube will absolutely let everyone know.

YouTube spokesperson

Do you A/B test your brand's YouTube videos?

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Meta Upgrades Its Creator Management Tool

Meta has unveiled its new Creator Management Tools within the Business Suite, and it’s a nice update for agencies and content creators on Facebook.

Clearly, the overall goal with this update was to improve the process of connecting with creators, which can reduce the time spent on tasks such as onboarding and offboarding them. Creators can now more easily grant agencies the necessary permissions for managing their pages through a one-click approval process.

The new tools also enhance the payout process. Agencies can direct earnings to their own payout accounts — definitely helpful for agencies looking to consolidate payments from various products like Video ads, Live video stars, Fan Subscriptions, and Ads on Facebook Reels.

Some other additions:

  • you can import existing connections from Business Manager

  • it’s easier to terminate an ongoing relationships with a creator

  • there are some new insights into a creator's page earnings

For creators, there's an Agency Management Tool to review and manage agency requests and relationships.


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