Game Apps Get Tougher For Ad Tech; Is The Newsletter Apocalypse Nigh?

Comic: In-game advertising

Here’s today’s AdExchanger.com news round-up… Want it by email? Sign up here.

All Fun And Games (For Some)

A week ago, Google quietly made a large chunk of mobile gaming revenue disappear with the news that it would prohibit certain in-game formats – namely, full-screen ads that display unexpectedly, full-screen ads that display before the main app page loads and ads that appear during gameplay when a user begins a level or a new sequence. 

This is a user-friendly change, since those formats are also extremely annoying.

Problem is … they’re also some of the most commonly used formats.

Casual game developers will now have fewer impressions to sell and will no longer be able to achieve (ahem, force) certain lucrative metrics, like “engagement” tied to unskippable full-screen video.

But one gaming ad format was explicitly exempted by Google: the rewarded ad, which allows users to unlock features or move forward in a game in exchange for watching a video.

The move away from ubiquitous interruptive ads – and a growing focus on rewarded ads – is only the first step, however, as Google strives to improve the Play Store gaming experience, writes Dave Madden, founder and president of Simulmedia subsidiary PlayerWON, in a blog post.

Next up, developers will need to start attracting larger and non-endemic brands and stop relying so heavily on rival mobile game developers to buy their ads.

Newsed And Abused

Niche newsletters have become all the rage over the past couple of years. Well-known reporters have broken away from big-name publications to start their own email and Substack businesses.

But the “micropublishing” honeymoon phase is over, writes Vox columnist Peter Kafka. That’s not to say newsletters are going away, but building a subscriber base with long-term revenue is a heavy lift.

There are some success stories. Former Digiday Editor-in-Chief Brian Morrissey’s Substack, The Rebooting, is one example.

But many writers got burnt out and went back to full-time employment.

Previous New York Times journalist Charlie Warzel, for example, started a Substack but made “considerably less than [when] working at the Times” before he moved to The Atlantic, he tells Kafka.

But newsletters aren’t just a tough biz for indie journos. Meta’s failed newsletter product, Bulletin, shut down last month.

Part of the problem is that users – not just writers – are getting tired of constant news coverage.

“The optimistic view is that newsletters allow people to get exactly what they want, bypassing general-interest publications or the morass of social media,” Kafka writes. “But the bigger issue is how much interest people have in news of all kinds.”

Triller Slight 

In an attempt to lure influencers away from TikTok, video-sharing social app Triller offered 300 Black content creators $14 million in exclusivity contracts – but has neglected to pay, reports The Washington Post.

Triller is known for offering large sums to content creators, to the point that there’s even a slang term to describe it: “Triller money.” But the Black content creators who were poached from TikTok get a meager deal compared to other (mostly white) Triller stars. And sometimes half or more of payment is paid in Triller stock.

Triller’s payments are sporadic, and for some nonexistent. 

The app also promised to facilitate brand deals with major advertisers like Hallmark and Popeyes, but its sponsorship program has been plagued by misleading production requirements and poor management, creators say.

Triller claims it has met financial commitments, and the company says it takes pride in uplifting diverse creators. But those creators disagree. Many say that Triller’s payments only started trickling in after reporters chased down the story.

And this isn’t Triller’s first controversy. In 2020, the platform was called out publicly for inflating user numbers.

[Related in AdExchanger: “Despite Strides, Creators Of Color Still Struggle To Get Discovered And Get Paid.”]

But Wait, There’s More!

Seven takeaways following Stagwell’s Q2 report, including how creative and media agencies are joining forces. [Ad Age]

Dentsu Group acquires a majority stake in tech and services firm Extentia. [release]

Content creator marketing startup Clutch announces $1.2 million in pre-seed funding and launches its open beta. [release]

RevenueCat: What’s a good monthly renewal rate for in-app subscriptions? [blog]

Comparing creator revenue: YouTube, Facebook and Snap. [Insider]

For some reason, the incredibly popular HBO Max service is getting rinsed. [Tedium]

You’re Hired!

Bazaarvoice names Colin Bodell as CTO. [release]

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