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GDC Sponsor Q&A: AdColony's David Pokress believes mobile ads can be beautiful

Hey game makers! If you're coming to GDC 2020 in San Francisco next month, don't overlook your opportunity to check out the offerings from an array of sponsors who help fuel the games industry, including our Diamond Partners, whose support plays an integral role to the success of GDC.

To give you a better sense of what the expect from the show and Diamond Sponsor AdColony we reached out to David Pokress, EVP of Global Publishing at AdColony, to get a better sense of what a mobile advertising company brings to GDC and what game developers should know about the future of mobile ads!

Hey there! Would you please introduce yourself and what AdColony is showing off at GDC?

My name is David Pokress, EVP Global Publishing at AdColony, where I’ve been helping AdColony’s publishing partners grow and monetize for five years now. AdColony isn’t “showing off” anything at GDC the way we have in the past, we’re here to focus on the fundamentals of the mobile gaming economy for publishers and advertisers.

AdColony had an outstanding 2019, including launching our newest monetization SDK. If there’s anything we want developers to take away from their meetings with us this year in San Francisco, it’s that supporting your apps doesn’t have to lower the user experience, it doesn’t have to compromise users’ privacy rights, it can be done with amazing, beautiful, creative ads from the world’s most well-known brands like Toyota, Starbucks, Disney, and beyond (and yes, other apps) in what are first and foremost user-friendly integrations.

So what's changed the most in the world of mobile advertising in 2019 and 2020?

Privacy.

It is more apparent than ever to any developer who’s been watching their user opt-in rates for location tracking and Bluetooth plummet under iOS 13, or Limit-Ad-Tracking rates steadily increase on iOS and Android, that users want more. More controls over the data publishers send advertisers, more control over when they see ads, and they want the opportunity to say “Enough!”

Conversely, most users also fundamentally understand the trade-off between free games and advertising on their phones. Most users don’t mind having ads in their favorite apps, but they do want relevant ads, they want good ads, and they want to control when they see them.

AdColony was one of the pioneers of opt-in rewarded video, where users receive in-game items for viewing an ad at the time of their choosing, and we’ve made a commitment to being the monetization platform that supports user privacy rights whilst still enabling developers to monetize effectively and keep making games. 2020 will continue that promise for us.

It’s not just GDPR, CCPA, and all the rest, but platform holders like Apple restricting access to data on users’ behalf. I myself have been kind of shocked by the number of times my phone has said: “This app has been using your location in the background a lot, do you want to continue to allow this?” It’s not malicious, a lot of the times it’s necessary, but putting on my “consumer shoes” for a second, it’s not hard to see why privacy and transparency are important to users today.

How can AdColony help developers with user acquisition?

We’ve been doing UA since there were apps for users to be acquired by. We’ve learned a lot in that time and our approach today is the culmination (not that it’s done evolving — we’re always learning!) of years of experience in what works, what doesn’t, creative optimization, and our own unique flavor of the “human touch.”

That might sound weird, given that our SDK has programmatic demand built-in (no extra work from developers, at all!) and our dedication to advanced bidding/RTB, and programmatic solutions for advertisers on the brand side, but it’s not. We believe that there’s still something very valuable in having a human being look at results, look at creative, look at campaigns, and optimize and suggest new solutions to advertisers in deliberate and meaningful ways. We have an entire office of campaign managers, account managers, and creative optimizers whose sole job is to make advertiser campaigns succeed.

What are the biggest new opportunities for developers to grow their audiences?

The great thing about our industry is that it has been consistently growing through everyone’s hard work. That growth combined with increasingly sophisticated and creative ways to deliver ads to the consumer paint a pretty bright picture of the future. They say a rising tide lifts all boats and that’s true (perhaps more true) in mobile games just as much as anywhere else.

Since I focus on the monetization side of the business what I can say is that continued focus on monetization in all of its various forms (IAP, subscription, ads) will make developers more successful and allow them the financial wherewithal to grow their audiences. From an ad point of view, that means partnering with the right companies that deliver a great balance of brand and performance ads, top-notch creative and an eye to the ever-growing programmatic future.

Register now for GDC 2020

GDC 2020 runs from Monday, March 16th through Friday, March 20th. This will be the 34th edition of GDC, and now that registration is officially open, you'll want to take a look at the (ever-expanding) session schedule and your GDC pass options -- register early to lock in the best price!

For more details on GDC 2020 visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via FacebookTwitter, or RSS.

 

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