Just how accurate are annual predictions? Our CEO Kristan Rivers scores pretty well

Dec 20, 2023

The last few years have involved plenty of change and uncertainty for both the games and adtech industries, and I’m sure 2024 will be no different. Before we look ahead, let’s look at how my 2023 predictions turned out.

Mobile gaming audiences will continue to diversify: A

This was a bit of a softball, as this is clearly not a new trend. The ongoing cord cutting and shift of viewing habits from traditional media to gaming continues to drive non-endemic brand advertising dollars to gaming. According to YouGov, the only age groups watching more TV than playing video games are the 45+ audiences, and even then it’s a close run.

Advertisers will embrace contextual audiences: B- 

I’m giving myself a generous B- on this. Performance advertisers especially are still partying like it’s 1999, quaffing the last few dregs of cookies and device IDs, before they disappear completely. 

No more compliance lip service: B+

A somewhat more solid B+. The industry is just about there, and Google’s requirement that by January 2024 any web and mobile publisher using their advertising platforms must use a Google-certified Consent Management Platform integrated with IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework when serving ads to users in Europe, means compliance actually will happen. 

It’s time to truly embrace privacy: B+ 

I would argue the adtech industry continues to handle this poorly, as the requirements for highly targeted advertising have the potential to conflict with demands of user data protection and privacy. Regulatory frameworks like GDPR and COPPA, the increasingly privacy-first positions of the major mobile platforms, combined with the increasing priority users themselves are placing on privacy, meant that the industry at least saw the value of privacy in 2023, if not yet fully embracing it. AdInMo’s recent case study with Black Smoke Studios and Usercentrics showed an 83% opt-in rate when users were given agency on decisions around their personal data. 

2023 will be about the Attention and Engagement Economy: A 

In 2023, advertisers began recognizing the limitations of traditional click-through rates and impressions, and began a shift towards prioritizing metrics that reflect user interaction, engagement, and interest. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) played a key role accelerating this shift through its Attention Taskforce which aims to standardize metrics for attention in online environments. 

Monetization convergence: B 

In my 2023 predictions I noted that “Game developers and publishers have always had to think about advertising… In 2023 the opportunities will be for developers and publishers to use in-game advertising in a more strategic way, driving overall monetization growth beyond ad monetization.” I had hoped the shift from pure ad monetization metrics would be fully in play in 2023, but it is happening. See my 2024 prediction below for more on this.

Let me know if you agree or disagree with my grading of last year’s predictions.

2024 Predictions

Given change always takes longer than you think, a scorecard of A to B- is not bad. Here’s my 2024 predictions, let’s see if I  can do even better this year.

Player First: games bring back the fun.

I recently wrote that one of the main failings of the mobile games industry is a relentless pursuit to squeeze every drop of monetization out of players, to the detriment of the game experience. In 2024, I predict (and truly hope) the mobile gaming industry will reverse this trend, recognizing that ultimately a happy player is a more valuable player. In the past, a key metric for “game quality” has been app store ratings, maybe in 2024 we’ll even find a new metric to properly quantity gamer delight?

Real world + AR wins against Metaverse.

The metaverse was the AI of 2022: overhyped and frothy. The real world and augmented reality (AR) offer a more immersive and interactive experience than the metaverse ever will. We are social animals, craving real, first-person experiences. There’s a reason Taylor Swift and not Sam Altman was Time’s person of the year, (bringing much happiness to my own two Swiftie daughters). TayTay’s record-breaking concert series proves that the real world always wins, and the ongoing ABBA Voyage in London and a similar upcoming KISS experience demonstrate that mixing digital and the real world provides a better experience than putting on a VR headset and snowcrashing into a metaverse. 

AI + Adtech moves past peak hype to BAU.

The adtech industry is poised to embrace AI in a substantive and transformative manner. AI’s ability to rapidly analyze vast amounts of data enables an evolution from broad demographic targeting to individualized and personalized ad targeting, with campaigns optimized for better attention and engagement. AI in adtech is not another fleeting trend but a fundamental shift towards more intelligent and effective advertising solutions.

The cookiepocalypse will be 2024’s IDFApocalypse for advertisers, but this will be a good thing.

The ongoing erosion of device IDs driven by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and Google’s Privacy Sandbox privacy frameworks was the first salvo in the battle for user privacy vs advertisers’ deterministic targeting requirements. 2024’s removal of third-party cookies from Chrome (also part of the Privacy Sandbox initiative) will cement a much-needed transformative shift in digital advertising towards user privacy. Marketers and adtech platforms will fully embrace privacy-centric targeting and attribution practices, relying on contextual targeting and truly anonymized behavioural segments to deliver personalized, yet privacy-respecting, advertising experiences. 

Evolving reward-based in-game advertising.

Rewarded ads, where players receive in-game rewards for watching ads, have been one of the most popular ad formats in recent time. In 2024 rewarded ads will evolve to incentivize more diverse behaviours. Rewarded videos in games today simply incentivize longer play sessions, with the value exchange to players being “watch this video to get some more gems/coins/whatever to extend your play session a bit.” The power of InGamePlay advertising is our ability to measure player behaviour and reactions in real time. This opens up the possibility of rewarding players for giving their attention or engagement to specific ads or brands, such as “spot all the Nike ads for a reward,” and better aligns the requirements of the advertisers to the needs of players and developers. 

Kristan Rivers

AdInMo, CEO & Co-founder


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