The Value of Blended In-Game Advertising in a Privacy-First World | MMA Global

The Value of Blended In-Game Advertising in a Privacy-First World

April 12, 2021
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In January 2020, Google announced that it was planning to phase out third-party cookies within two years and would comply with Apple’s significant changes to IDFA in early 2021, and the digital marketing world shook. By 2022, all major browsers -- Chrome, Firefox and Safari -- will have blocked the collection of third-party data via cookies, and digital marketers and advertisers will need to utilize other methods of data collection to target their audiences and personalize their content.

As we know, it all comes down to privacy. The world is moving toward prioritizing privacy over personalization and that’s not a bad thing. With cookies, users don’t know who is collecting their data, which is disturbing. And the results can feel invasive -- if you’ve ever been harassed around the internet by hyper-targeted and relentless messaging, you know this feeling.

Obviously, this is a major shift in the world of digital marketing, especially for advertisers and companies who rely mostly on third-party data to target their audience. Performance marketing, in particular, will need to adjust in a big way, as it relies on a deep understanding of online behavior to target users and personalize their digital experiences.

On the other hand, brand awareness marketing that already relies on contextual targeting, first-party data, and statistical location data won’t need to make major adjustments to business-as-usual, perhaps just some minor tweaks. And since brands are anyway moving toward increasing brand awareness efforts and more synergy between their performance and awareness marketing silos, this is a good thing.

With the swing of the pendulum toward brand awareness in the new privacy-first world, media such as digital OOH and in-game advertising can help brands reach their target audiences. The goal of these media is first and foremost to get brands in front of consumers, with a secondary goal of generating consumer action down the line.

In the gaming industry, the move away from cookies and persistent identifiers in a privacy-first world is compounded by the need for game developers to respect gamers to ensure user retention. Blended in-game advertising provides the solution to both of these issues. First, it is perfect for brand awareness campaigns due to the high level of attention that video games have as interactive 3D media in comparison to any other static 2D media. When people play video games, they are 100% focused on the content. Since blended ads are part of the content, the level of attention to ads is high, which is exactly what major brands that invest heavily in brand awareness campaigns are looking for. Second, with blended ads being part of the game, they do not disrupt the gameplay -- and, in fact, can add value to the game by increasing realism. Gamers feel respected and have more positive feelings toward ads being shown in this manner...and the brands who are doing so.

How is audience targeting done in-game without cookies? There are several solutions that provide precise audience targeting across platforms and devices without using persistent user identifiers, so users retain their privacy.

Statistical demographics data involves combining estimated user non-precise locations with statistical location-based demographics data. This provides advertisers with diversified audience targeting options related to age group, gender, family status, and much more. For example, Anzu has recently partnered with foremost cookieless data provider Digiseg on this.

Contextual targeting is achieved by matching game titles to distinct audience types with defined demographic properties and interests. The audience selection is translated to targeting game bundle IDs based on the contextual targeting product data. For example, a Barbie game will be matched to young female audience groups. When an advertiser selects these audience groups as its target, the Barbie game bundle IDs plus bundle IDs of other games that have a major audience of this type will be targeted.

In addition, it's very common for games today to ask users to input many pieces of information, such as birth date, age group, gender, and more, depending on the game developer needs to collect first-party data. When publishers choose to share this information with advertisers, ads can match a nameless user’s age, location, language, and gender but not a specific, identified individual user and his or her behavior across different devices and apps, preserving user privacy.

The solutions mentioned above enable large-scale global brand awareness campaigns in the gaming sphere, unified across all platforms and devices, without the risk of invading the user's privacy or violating privacy laws and regulations. As persistent user identifiers and cookies continue to disappear in a privacy-first world, blended in-game advertising is a valuable solution for brands wanting to continue to find the right audiences and run effective campaigns that respect gamers.



The article was first published on MCV/Develop on February 23, 2021.

Ben Fenster is Co-Founder and CPO of, the world’s most advanced in-game advertising solution. Anzu’s full suite of one-of-a-kind AdTech integrations includes ad viewability in collaboration with Comscore and Moat, brand lift measurement in collaboration with Kantar and Nielsen, as well as audience verification, data enrichment, and fraud detection. 

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