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Tackling Brand Safety in a mobile-first environment



Ensuring brand’s reputation in the smartphone industry

There’s no denying the fact that millennials and Genz’s of today prefer communicating via social media, texts, email than talking on the phone. This is now becoming pervasive across users of all ages, especially in the Covid era. Phones today are no longer just a smartphone, but it encompasses all facets of life for a user. This is the new era of smartphone usage where the device is moving past the only communication stage.

Smartphone applications are at the forefront of today’s users. Even businesses have acknowledged the rise of creating user-friendly applications to attract users. The smartphones of today come pre-loaded with applications for easy access for their consumers, which define a brand’s reputation among the consumers apart from other features. With the application usage comes commerce. From social media to eCommerce, from gaming to education, users are constantly hooked onto their smartphones 24*7 thus giving the brand’s a medium to increase their awareness via leveraging the increased app usage. There has been a significant rise in in-app advertising which contributes a majority part of a brand’s marketing mix, thus increasing the complexity of online marketing.

Reports have indicated that India will have about 829 million smartphone users by 2022, thus paving way for brands to target a huge pool of consumers. Another study suggests that brands are now investing 45-55% of their digital advertising budget on mobile advertising while is stated to increase by 70% by 2022. Increased smartphone penetration, the upcoming 5G ecosystem, smartphones of today are the preferred mode of media consumption which clearly states that mobile advertising is garnering a lion’s worth of share among digital marketers and brands of today.

Amid this rapid evolution of smartphone usage, changes in communication methodologies, brands are now marred with a complex challenge of creating effective mobile advertising strategies, which not only resonates with the users but also ensure that the advertisements are delivered in a brand-safe environment.  This is an important aspect to look at because smartphones are no longer adult-owned devices but are being used by people across age categories and kids alike. Online gaming, eCommerce, education,

More often than not, the smartphone, although being a personal device to a user, is also used by kids and other family members in the house. Online gaming, eCommerce, the web, these are not a private space and users can navigate freely across the digital mediums. The openness and unregulated dynamics of these mediums have raised concerns of brand safety in recent years, keeping in mind when and where a brand’s advertisement appears. Consumers (including kids) are at the risk of being exposed to objectionable content such as pornography, terrorism, sexual exploitation of children, fake news, hate speech, and much more. Not just this, there has been an exponential growth in incidents of app spoofing, hidden ads, hijacked mobile devices, and account takeover issues (ATOs).

Statistics suggest that children spend more hours on e-gaming platforms which expose them to two main risks- unregulated processing of personal data and unintentional serving of age-restricted ads (condoms, gambling, and much more). More often than not, certain mobile advertising strategies adopt gamification features that attract children. Upon clicking the ads, they’re then retargeted to websites with objectionable content or such links are malicious adware which hijacks the device. Scammers lure them on the pretext of awarding game coins and rewards if they download a particular app on their phones and then these devices are used by scammers to create bigger frauds. This puts the smartphone brand image in jeopardy for no one really knows how the app came in the first place or the occurrence of the advertisement. Exposure to violence is another threat that becomes a safety concern.

The mobile ecosystem may or may not ever be brand safe. But it is imperative to take due precautions to prevent the brand image from being tainted and deploy the right tools to ensure a safe advertising environment.

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