Angry Birds Ads On Kindle Fire – FAIL

My wife received a Kindle Fire as a Christmas (er, Holiday) gift last year from her employer. It’s been interesting to see what role it plays among all our other devices such as the much larger iPad and the much smaller smartphones. So far its role is one of a time-killer (i.e. games) and list keeper (it’s great for shopping). As far as games go we have many for our 3yr old and one for us older types, Angry Birds by Rovio. Of course, we have the free version(s) of Angry Birds. I may be inclined to pay for it if I could install and use it on any of my devices but as it is I’d need to buy it multiple times. Sorry Rovio.

The free version is ad supported. No surprise there. But there’s a problem with the ads. Many don’t appear to fit. That is, the actual ad is too big for the screen real-estate allocated for displaying it. Here’s what I mean:

image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 1

Uh, buy one what?


image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 2

Hmm. Something about avocados at Subway.


image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 3

At least we know the price on this one. Finally, I tapped one of these misfit ads. What happened next made sense at first; I was taken to the Android Market (now call ed Google Play) – Kindle Fire runs on the Android operating system – where I could presumably download the game. But when I tried to install I only saw my Nexus S smartphone listed in available devices. My Kindle Fire wasn’t listed.

image: Rovio Ad Network Fail

Confused, I just backed my way out and continued playing Angry Birds.

Is this the experience advertisers can expect when placing ads in Rovio games?



What could have saved this campaign?

It’s a little difficult to tell what exactly is going on here and who is responsible for what but here’s what I think is happening: Rovio’s advertising production system doesn’t realize I’m playing on a Kindle Fire and is serving ads designed for Android smartphones. This easily explains why I was taken to Google Play instead of the Amazon apps store. Amazon, like Apple, has created a closed ecosystem for accessing content for the Kindle Fire and you can’t get apps from the Android Market.

It isn’t quite as easy to explain why the ads don’t fit, though. The physical ad space seems about the same as space on the phone version. One of two things is happening: 1) Rovio is up-scaling the ads because the device is larger even though the space is the same or 2) Rovio is serving the wrong version (i.e. size) of the ad. Either way, the process is breaking. And pretty frequently. Nine of the ten different ads I saw were misfits! And I probably saw each ad 3-5 times. Do advertisers realize that 90% of their paid impressions are being wasted on Kindle Fire?

The fix goes all the way back to the advertiser. If, as an advertiser, you know that you have purchased space on the Rovio ad network it is your duty to test those ads on the devices you know it will show up on. Then, hold the ad network/publisher accountable for failures.

What do you think is happening here?

4 thoughts on “Angry Birds Ads On Kindle Fire – FAIL

  1. Karl Eckler

    Great post! What you say is correct, there are so many players in this ecosystem that without a certain amount of pull (probably not available to a “mere” consumer) and a fair amount of time spent on hold and complaining to people it is probably impossible to discover where the system breaks. That is if anyone knows.

    I think it’s an especially good observation that advertisers have to monitor their own ads to hold accountable technology that fails. I’m guessing that is the root problem behind a number of the Fails coming across your blog and all of our lives: the people making the ad decisions don’t understand the engineers who implement them and don’t use the technology that delivers them.

    Thanks for being the exception to this ponderous over generalization I just made!

    1. Kelly McIvor

      Yep. It seems like there are many marketers that are simply not held accountable for performance. I’d like to think that if I were spending a company’s money on mobile advertising I’d know how they were performing and how the ads were being presented. But perhaps corporate complacency would infect me, too.

      1. Don

        I understand that those who are placing the ads not being able to test every device, resources are limited and with the Android system there is a new device evert couple weeks, so a large amount of capital would be spent on buying each type of device. The failure fall directly on the person selling the add. Dont sell what you cannot test.
        BTW whenever i come across issues i contact the person placing the add so they can have the host fix the issue. Many may never know there is a problem.

  2. Azure LaRoux

    On the Droid the subway ads are shown as miniatures of the full advertisement. While I’m not one to usually complain about ads on free games, the ads cover a quarter of the game which makes the game impossible to play. In short they fixed a fail with another fail.


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