This article examines the use of fake mobile ads in the app market, where we delve into examples and consequences of these controversial strategies.
Table of contents
What Are Fake Ads?
Fake mobile ads, particularly in the context of gaming, are misleading advertisements that portray a game in a way that’s significantly different from its actual gameplay. These ads often showcase captivating scenes on platforms like YouTube or social media, designed to grab your attention and encourage downloads.
However, upon downloading the game, users frequently find that the reality falls short of the expectations set by the ad. This can lead users to view these ads as deceptive or even scams. The primary motive behind these ads is to increase conversion rates, drawing users in with alluring but misleading representations.
Fake Ads Statistics
In fact, if we compare Q1 in 2022 and 2023, we already see a slight growth.
The GAMES category led in 2022 with more than 69.02% of ad traffic on the App Store and 55.58% in Google Play. Regarding the number of advertisers, Android games cover 43.69%, and iOS games – 48.60%.
In total, in 2022, Apptica in cooperation with KYCAID captured more than 14.6 million creatives. In reality, the competition is tough; user acquisition departments are trying every possible trick to acquire users at lower CPI. Fake/Deceptive ads are one of them.
The main idea behind the deceptive ads is that the CTR of fake ads is definitely higher along with the lower retention rate: users download the game, attracted by the catchy creative, and then delete it when the game doesn’t meet their expectations.
However, if the game is of high quality with great visuals and satisfying gameplay, some users will stick with it and enjoy playing it.
However, it can be quite risky to abuse fake ads as the app may be banned from Google Play or App Store after negative user feedback and proven discrepancy between the ad and the gameplay.
One of many negative comments on Google Play
With that in mind, publishers have invented various solutions to deal with such “inconveniences.”
Examples of Fake Ads
You can find the elements shown in the fake ads embedded in the tutorial (during user onboarding) or in mini-games. Below, you can see a few examples of fake ads.
The creative of the app you might see.
How Playrix integrated the mechanics of the creative (minigames).
The actual mechanics of the game (Match-3).
It’s interesting to note that many apps take elements of well-performing hyper-casual mechanics and integrate them into their creatives. However, these applications may fall under the category of casual or mid-core games and have nothing in common with what you see in the images or videos.
We can detect several mechanics that are well integrated into the advertising strategies of many apps.
A user moves a hero to get more powers and achieve a goal (save a princess, get gold, or destroy a villain, for example).
Angry Birds Dream Blast
Players must pull the correct pins to complete a task. The pins usually block some kind of threat like fire, monster, or water. In other cases, the pins lock some resources needed to save the main heroes.
Save the Doge
A user must draw a line to save a dog from a swarm of bees. These mechanics were borrowed by many apps as it is or in an adjusted form.
Some examples of integrations of other applications.
Moreover, Mighty Party has recently released some new creatives with puzzle-solving mechanics and adjusted its ASO strategy correspondingly.
Choose an Option
The player gets a selection of items to choose from. The selected item can help resolve the situation or lead to failure. In-game, this option may be absent or integrated into mini-games. This mechanic is quite common among Match-3/Puzzle games.
Crowd Running Mechanics
A crowd is running down the line getting more power and overcoming obstacles.
In this Count Masters: Stickman Games app, the gameplay is accurately reflected in the creatives. The user gets exactly what he sees.
But here, the situation is different. Lords Mobile: Kingdom War uses this hyper-casual mechanic, but at its core is an RPG/strategy game that relies on battles.
Shoot and Run
Hero or heroes run along the line overcoming the obstacles by shooting.
There is a creative success of such mechanics: Top War: Battle Game (in the last 30 days, this strategy game collected close to $22 million in revenue).
However, this mechanism can be fulfilled in advertising strategies of other applications.
As an example: Lonely Survivor (action and survival game).
Conclusion on Fake Mobile Ads
In short, fake mobile ads still exist, and it’s an ambiguous trend. On the one hand, it can severely damage retention and loyalty, but on the other, it can drive a lower CPI, thanks to proven successful mechanics in creatives. Besides, some users can continue playing the game anyway which will justify all the costs.
This is a real image risk, but apparently, it is worth it, as some advertisers are willing to take this risk. We believe that we might see more deceptive mechanics throughout the year and more ways to integrate them into the real game to ease the pain of the users who were trapped.
Originally published on April 9, 2023. Updated on October 9, 2023.