May 29th 2019

What Google’s New Families Policy Means to App Publishers

One year after GDPR, mobile app publishers and their advertising service partners around the world are still navigating the user privacy and safety landscape. Protecting children from inappropriate apps and ad content is an especially high priority. Recently, Google updated its Developer policies to help ensure that only age-appropriate ads are served to underage users in apps available on the Google Play Store, and that their data is treated appropriately. These policies are applicable to apps within Google Play’s Designed for Families program as well as apps outside the program that include children in their target audience.

We’ve put this blog together to help you understand these changes and what app publishers should do about them.

What is Google’s Designed for Families program?

In a nutshell, it’s a set of guidelines and requirements for Android publishers of primarily child-directed apps to ensure that all content in their apps is appropriate for children, including ads. Publishers who join Google Play’s Designed for Families program are required to use approved ad networks and guarantee that the ads they show comply with Google’s new policies. By joining, Android publishers help their kid-friendly apps become more easily discovered by age-appropriate users on the Google Play Store.

Google has defined specific criteria for how ad networks should comply with Designed for Families and treat younger users’ data, as required by the US Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) and other relevant regulations such as GDPR.

More information can be found here.

What is Vungle doing to support Google’s new policies?

As an ad network that participates in Google Play’s program, Vungle is dedicated to making our network healthy and safe for every user. Vungle has long offered tools for publishers to comply with both COPPA and GDPR. To support Google’s new program, Vungle has automated processes in place to ensure that apps directed toward users under their country’s applicable age of consent do not receive ads for apps rated Teen or Mature.

How do I use Vungle to comply with Google Play’s ad network policy requirements?

If you’re a publisher of an app primarily directed at children:

  • Select the COPPA Compliance option when setting up your app on Vungle’s platform.

  • You can retroactively turn on the COPPA Compliance option for any app you’ve already added by selecting it, clicking Edit App Settings, and selecting COPPA Compliance.
  • Vungle will apply the necessary content filters to ensure that advertisements for Teen- and Mature-rated apps — as well as programmatic ads — are not served to your users.
  • Check if your other ad networks are complying with Google’s guidelines on their end. Educate yourself on how they align with Google’s changes.
  • You should also make sure to follow Google’s ad content requirements.

If you’re a publisher of apps directed at mixed audiences (users both under and over your country’s age of consent):

  • You can designate your app as entirely child-directed by following the steps above.
  • If you want to segment your audience by age, you will need to apply an age gate to these apps to differentiate traffic. Here’s how:
    1. Create two versions of your app in the Vungle self-serve publisher platform — one labelled as COPPA compliant and the other labelled for general audiences.
    2. Check the COPPA Compliance option on the child-directed version of your app.
  • Publishers must then use the appropriate Vungle App ID based on the age group of the user. Please see our SDK documentation to learn more about initializing and making ad requests to the Vungle SDK.

Why should I segment my audience?

If your audience is mixed, segmentation protects your users by helping Vungle serve appropriate ads to different age groups, and it also allows advertisers to target the right users at appropriate prices.

One of our top publishing partners recently implemented this process with impressive results. The non-COPPA version of their app saw 62% higher CPIs and over 3 times the revenue than their COPPA-compliant version.

The world of mobile privacy is always evolving, but advertisers on Vungle can be confident that our industry-leading ads don’t land on the wrong devices — and publishers can be confident that their littlest users are being protected.

Marcella Churchill

Director of Marketing