Category Archives: Channels

AdColony And Anzu.io Join Forces To Bring Blended In-Game Ads To APAC

AdColony, the in-app advertising marketplace for brands, with a focus on gaming, has signed an exclusive partnership with global in-game advertising platform, Anzu. AdColony will now offer Anzu’s market-leading blended in-game advertising solutions across both display and video to brands and agencies in Asia Pacific.

In-game advertising platform Anzu seamlessly blends real-world brand ads into gameplay across PC, console, and mobile games, while offering advertisers comprehensive ad viewability and programmatic capabilities. A brand’s ads can now appear literally within the game – on the virtual perimeter boards around the football stadium, on a billboard in the street of an open world classic, or on custom-painted Formula One racing cars.

Screenshot of an in-game ad from 7-Eleven mobile campaign on Gravity Rider Zero
Screenshot of an in-game ad from 7-Eleven mobile campaign on Gravity Rider Zero

The AdColony and Anzu partnership also brings a suite of trusted industry tools, including campaign effectiveness measurement, fraud prevention and ad verification for the first time to blended in-game advertising across APAC – inventory is also available programmatically via the AdColony SSP. Put together, this opens up new ways for brands to reach gamers globally by making gaming and esports advertising opportunities more accessible, locally.

The launch of Anzu via AdColony means brands across the Asia Pacific region will be able to generate deeper levels of engagement with audiences via advertising within games. More than 1.5 billion consumers in Asia Pacific are gamers, and 70 per cent play games daily on their mobiles. Furthermore, 40 per cent claim to play more games since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Anzu’s CEO and Co-Founder, Itamar Benedy commented, “APAC is really the epicenter of worldwide gaming, and Anzu is thrilled to bring the combination of our programmatic in-game advertising experience with AdColony’s offerings to the region. This partnership represents a major opportunity for advertisers who are ready and eager to reach these ultra-engaged audiences.”

Tom Simpson, AdColony’s SVP for APAC said, “We passionately believe that gaming is the new and improved social media for marketers in terms of connecting with consumers at scale. This opportunity has been accelerated in recent months with the pandemic, and 2020 has seen an enormous uplift in the demand for new solutions for brands to reach gaming audiences. This partnership allows AdColony’s expertise in APAC markets to combine with Anzu’s global-leading blended in-game ad technology to offer a unique solution for brands to connect with consumers seamlessly in and around their favourite games. We look forward to pioneering new marketing offerings for our clients and delivering great work across APAC.”

The New Digital-First Myanmar Consumer

COVID19 has had a huge impact on the digital consumption habits of people in Myanmar.

Consumers have broadened their adoption of new technology to support their requirements from increasing digital entertainment including mobile games and online video, to online shopping and food delivery.

A recent report from Myanmar advertising platform Humology took a deep-dive into the detail:

  • There are now 35 million total online consumers in Myanmar, with only 22 million on Facebook
  • 56% of consumers now go online multiple times every day –
    an increase of 75% since COVID19
  • 80% of consumers have added a new app on their smartphone since COVID19
  • 71% of consumers now watch online video every day – an increase from 42% since COVID19
  • 69% have increased video streaming on online video platforms such as OTT and CTV
  • 65% are playing more games on their smartphones and tablets – interestingly 52% of the mobile gaming audience are female
  • 72% play mobile games every day with a 37% increase in consumers playing multiple times per day
  • Social platforms are trusted by only 46% of consumers whereas local websites are trusted by 75% of consumers

Evolving consumer behaviour will result in changes in how marketers choose to execute in Myanmar, with more of a focus on online video, mobile gaming and ecommerce.

Full report below.

Ad Fraud, OTT and CTV: An Emerging Threat

CTV is a fast growing digital media channel and, not surprisingly, a high growth environment for fraud. At its peak, a single fraud scheme accounted for more than 28% of total global programmatic CTV traffic. Incredible. We caught up with Ryan Murray, Director, Asia Pacific, White Ops to get the latest update on OTT, CTV and Ad Fraud.

What’s the history of CTV and ad fraud? Is there anything specific to Asia Pacific?

Connected TV (CTV) has had quite the rise in popularity over the past few years. Households replaced their traditional cable TVs for TVs capable of supporting streaming services all by connecting to the internet. Given this rise, advertisers have started folding CTV advertising into their plans as a new way to reach their audience. And as we know, fraud follows the money. As advertisers pour more budget into the CTV landscape, fraudsters are finding new ways to game the system to take a piece of the pie. Ad fraud on CTVs is lucrative for a fraudster given the high CPMs. 

This year we uncovered the largest CTV ad fraud operation to date called ICEBUCKET. The ICEBUCKET operation relied on a part of programmatic advertising where the supply chain is less transparent, sellers are not reported in sellers.json files, and buyers and sellers typically don’t have a direct relationship. The operation counterfeited over 300 different publishers, stealing advertising spend by tricking advertisers into thinking there were real people on the other side of the screen, when in reality, these were bots pretending to be real people watching TV. The operation hid its sophisticated bots within the limited signal and transparency of server side ad insertion (SSAI) backed video ad impressions.

At its peak, ICEBUCKET accounted for more than 28% of the programmatic CTV traffic we see, which demonstrates the capacity of fraudsters to make a dramatic impact on this new market. SSAI spoofing at this magnitude is highly sophisticated and without proper bot mitigation, it can be very difficult to spot.

Are CTV cyberattacks as easy to detect as they are to commit?

Ad fraud as a whole is a significant concern for the industry, stealing billions of dollars every year. While we are collectively getting better at fighting this battle, particularly in programmatic, the battle is far from over. 

As the marketing industry expands into new technologies and tactics, fraudsters expand and adapt their tactics in kind, presenting a number of new threats to marketing campaigns. A new trend we’ve monitored this year suggests fraudsters are suppressing less sophisticated ad verification technology in order to remain undetected. As a result brands, platforms and consumers continue to be abused and lose revenue, experience infected value chains, damaged reputation and tedious remediation discussions. 

The lack of consistent standards and the surge in ad spending, driven by the rise of streaming content services and a proliferation of new connected devices, is leaving CTV as an especially ripe target for fraud. Today’s bots are increasingly more sophisticated and delivering a host of malicious activities in CTV.  Equally as damaging are fraudsters’ ability to perform fakery toward the entire digital marketing system to siphon legitimate opportunities and revenue. Even the most secure platform is susceptible to buyers purchasing spoofed inventory.

Are certain types of CTV or OTT apps more likely to get targeted by fraudsters?

Similar to other device types, something that looks more premium will be a target of spoofing. So if we think about some of the most popular ad-supported streaming services, that’s where fraudsters see the most money. Those premium placements are desirable and thus, the most costly to advertisers. 

We also see spoofing in the form of physical CTV devices. There are a lot of different CTV devices out in the market and they fluctuate. A CTV provider can rebrand to a new name or implement a software update; it’s hard for the average advertiser to keep up with all the movement in the space. 

The CTV ecosystem is a complex world that includes a large number of stakeholders – what tactics can marketers and advertisers put in place to protect themselves? 

The CTV ecosystem is a complex and fragmented one which makes it ripe for intrusion from fraudsters. Advertisers and marketers need to work together with the rest of the industry to protect CTV to make it cost-prohibitive to monetize their schemes. To do this, standards need to be adopted to make it easier for valid impressions to be identified. 

If organizations fight fraud in a silo, depleting their own time and resources, adversaries simply move on to employing the same tactics at a different target — nothing lost, much still left to gain for them. If the industry can rapidly apply knowledge gained from a particular attack for everyone’s benefit, then that tactic will not work when adversaries move on to the next target.

The Rise of Mobile Gaming in Vietnam: Taking it to the Next Level

by Jade Hoang Business Development Manager, Vietnam, Nativex

The COVID-19 pandemic may have negatively impacted some industries, but others have experienced remarkable upticks in growth. In particular, mobile gaming has seen a notable surge, as extended stay-home restrictions have increasingly opened up pockets of time for consumers to play online games. This is especially significant in regions such as Southeast Asia – where 90% of individuals use their mobile devices to access the Internet, and spend over four hours a day on mobile applications. In Southeast Asia, strong growth in mobile gaming is still anticipated, with a forecasted 250 million mobile gamers in the region by 2021, led by Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam, in particular, has shown unique characteristics and untapped potential for developers and advertisers alike to reach in-market gamers and consumers. 

Vietnam’s mobile gaming landscape 

With a quickly-growing economy and youthful populace, Vietnam has seen the number of internet users in the country triple over the past decade. Similar to other countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam’s mobile-first population sees 72% of adults in the country using a mobile device every day. In Vietnam, there are approximately 3.99 million gamers, and over 60% are between 18 and 30 years old. With COVID-19, online gaming in Vietnam spiked, with a 40% increase in mobile game downloads before and after the 2020 Tet holiday in Vietnam (compared with no increase across the same period in 2019).

Chinese-themed online games have also proven to be highly popular in Vietnam due to cultural similarities. In 2017, all but 15 of the 293 games released in Vietnam were launched by Chinese developers. Additionally, data from the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications revealed that 69% of legal massively multiplayer online (MMO) games in the country in 2020 were released by Chinese companies. In the same year, Vietnam also ranked second in terms of mobile video gaming experience in Southeast Asia, behind only Singapore. The high quality of mobile experiences available in Vietnam enables local gamers to enjoy games that demand more powerful graphics and processing systems – such as midcore and hardcore games. 

Midcore and hardcore games

Midcore and hardcore gamers are defined by distinct behaviour and characteristics, setting them apart from softcore or casual gamers. Understanding these motivations and responses are critical for developers and companies to attract the right customers and grow their user bases. 

Midcore gamers still enjoy video and online games, despite busy schedules, and are more invested in gaming than softcore or casual gamers. Correspondingly, midcore games are more challenging than casual titles, usually offer competitive modes, and require strategy and skill to reach milestones and climb rankings. Comparatively, hardcore gamers play to win against other players, test and build their skills, and even complete a game to fully experience the in-game universe. Several steps up from midcore games, hardcore games demand significant time investment, for players to learn game mechanics and immerse themselves in storytelling. Hardcore titles span massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA) and first-person shooters, many of which are used in competitive esports arenas. 

Esports has proven a lucrative and extremely popular activity across Asia, generating $519 million in revenue in the region last year – representing half of global esports revenue in 2019, and by far the highest figure out of any region in the world. As COVID-19 continues to compel people all over the world to stay indoors, similar strong growth is anticipated in the immediate to medium term. As a result, mobile game developers are in the optimal position to leverage digital channels and reach out to key demographics, to acquire new users for up-and-coming midcore and hardcore games. 

Reaching the right audiences 

To reach the right users for midcore and hardcore games, and maximise acquisition especially during the initial launch phase, developers must carefully analyse consumer behaviour, and tailor advertising strategies to complement these preferences. A key concern for midcore and hardcore titles is around audience targeting – these games do not need to acquire a high volume of downloads and players, but rather need to build a qualified volume, with a high lifetime value – where downloads are made by the right target users who will continue playing a game for an extended time. 

One key strategy for developers is leveraging up-and-coming social channels for maximum impact. This method of increasing large-scale visibility with the target user profile is especially effective in Asia, where social media is constantly used by a large base of young, digitally savvy individuals. In particular, hashtag challenges on TikTok have proven to be especially successful. Hashtags are situated at the app’s top entry points (such as in-feed ads and challenge pages), and are supported by a constant flow of user-generated content – both of which greatly increase visibility. 

Developers have also used playable ads to successfully drive acquisitions for midcore and hardcore games. Playable ads showcase midcore and hardcore games from multiple perspectives, including mechanics, characters, skills and combat. For example, interactive ads from the launch campaign of fantasy MMORPG Dragon Raja allowed the target audience to personalise character appearances and costumes. This in turn helped spotlight highly unique in-game elements, and enabled viewers to directly experience gameplay in an immersive, engaging manner. 

Having a deep understanding of target audiences and personalising campaigns based on these insights have also proven particularly effective. With Dragon Raja, which was launched in February 2020, Twitter and Snapchat were selected as the key social channels to run the launch campaign. These channels were deliberately curated to cater to the target markets of the US, Canada and Germany. To enhance targeting and ad relevance, key user demographics (such as gender and areas of interest) were also identified, and customised creatives were delivered to these specific groups via the selected social channels. As a result, Dragon Raja managed to surpass 2.7 million downloads within the first 30 days of launch.

The future of mobile gaming

While different regions and countries bounce back from COVID-19 at different rates, mobile gaming will continue its strong positive growth – especially for mobile-centric countries such as Vietnam – and is forecasted to reach a potential $98 billion in revenue by 2024. More and more consumers look to playing online games as a form of release, especially in a time where physical travel is all but impossible. In this situation, developers are well-positioned to actively build and scale their user bases, as the overall target audience base continues to grow. They hence need to be especially savvy about evolving demographic trends and preferences, and tailor strategies to showcase emerging games at the right place and the right time, to the right individuals – to ultimately attain conversion and user acquisition. 

Brand Safety and Influencer Marketing Overview

Influencer marketing is already a huge marketing channel, but it’s estimated that fraud eats up 15% of influencer ad spend. Costing the industry USD $1.3 billion annually, over 684 million fake accounts have been removed from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedln since 2014.

In APAC, there are approximately 58 million fake users with India and Indonesia making up the largest pieces of the pie. Up from 30% in 2019, 34% of marketers now perceive brand safety as an on-going influencer marketing concern.

This report from INCA looks at brand safety challenges and consumer data in influencer marketing.

Gaming and Esports Spotlight on Indonesia

Indonesia is a dynamic market for mobile games and esports, especially given its ever-increasing rate of internet and smartphone users.

With an online population size of 171 million, favourable demographics with 60% of the population aged between 15-54, and a government that supports the development of gaming and esports, Indonesia is an emerging gaming powerhouse.

This spotlight report from Niko covers the detail.

The Game-Streaming Market in China

China’s streaming ecosystem is a far cry from what’s going on in the West, in terms of content, monetization, and how the audience interacts with the content.

While platforms such as Twitch and YouTube generate the majority of their revenues through subscriptions, China’s biggest platforms, including YY Live, Huya, and Douyu, predominantly make money from user donations to streamers.

China is a mobile-first country and this is reflected in its game-streaming market. The collective nature of traditional Chinese culture also means that its viewers engage with content differently to Western viewers. Interactions between viewers and the streamers are far more prominent in China, thanks to innovative platform features such as bullet chats.

Chinese streaming platforms are also generally less toxic toward women, as gender balance is very important in Chinese culture. In fact, there is less toxicity all round, as gaming and streaming are considered social activities in China

This report from NewZoo looks at the game-streaming market in China in detail.

The State Of Influencer Marketing in APAC

The influencer marketing space has heated up over the past few years, across Asia Pacific with platforms and resources readily available to both marketers and influencers.

Driven by strong market advancement, digitalization and capable industry players, influencer marketing has gone from strength to strength in Asia, and has become a part of most marketer’s arsenals today.

This new influencer marketing report from CastingAsia leverages data points from over 170,000 influencers and over 1,300 influencer marketing campaigns conducted across Asia over the past year.