On February 4, 2021, Melissa Steinman was quoted in Marketing Dive on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) growing scrutiny of the mobile gaming industry. According to the article, marketers have ramped up their spending on in-game advertising to reach mobile consumers who are spending more time with their smartphones during the pandemic. Amid that growth, the FTC is concerned about the potential for abuse by companies that use mobile ad platforms like Tapjoy to mislead consumers.
The government agency said it received complaints from consumers who responded to offers to win digital currency in exchange for completed activities like watching a video, signing up for a free trial, providing personal demographic information, or taking a survey. "The problem was that a lot of these offers were not getting fulfilled," Steinman said. "Tapjoy was getting a lot of complaints about that fact and didn't do anything."
The FTC reached a proposed settlement with Tapjoy in January. In a statement about the settlement, Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter decried "lax policing practices that led hundreds of thousands of gamers to file complaints." They also indicated the agency will need to address "deeper structural problems in this marketplace."
The sweeping statement suggests the FTC is likely to broaden its examination of advertising in the mobile gaming industry, according to Steinman. "They're saying they need to look at the whole industry of mobile gaming, what's structurally wrong with it," she said in an interview, pointing to Slaughter's January 21 appointment as interim chairwoman of the FTC as a sign of her clout in the Biden administration. "This is the opening volley, and the mobile gaming industry should watch out."
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