Food for Thought: OpenTable App Dumped After Redirects Take Consumers to Games Sites

Talk about bait and switch. An OpenTable app that should have been about “dinner and a movie” turned into a huge fiasco when consumers were redirected by the app to game links. Not dinner and a movie. More like: forget dinner, let’s play games. And it did not go over well. According to a revealing …   Read More

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Food for Thought OpenTable App Dumped After Redirects Take Consumers to Games SitesTalk about bait and switch.

An OpenTable app that should have been about “dinner and a movie” turned into a huge fiasco when consumers were redirected by the app to game links.

Not dinner and a movie. More like: forget dinner, let’s play games. And it did not go over well.

According to a revealing piece at VentureBeat, “Over the summer, people in San Francisco researching restaurant options on their mobile devices received an unusual surprise. When users came across a mobile ad for the hugely popular reservations stalwart OpenTable, and clicked on the link to download the app, they were instead taken to an AppLovin screen that offered not killer deals at their eatery, but one hawking mobile game downloads for money.”

OpenTable app viewers “were understandably baffled, because what should have been a seamless process downloading the app, and perhaps making reservations at their favorite restaurant with it, instead turned into a distracting fiasco that had nothing to do with eating but everything to do with mobile gaming.”

What happened?

“As it turned out, the snafu was chalked up to a “deep linking,” or “retargeting personalization” experiment by mobile analytics outfit AppLovin, which was running a mobile ad campaign with OpenTable,” notes VentureBeat.

Saddest part of the sorry tale: OpenTable, a partner in the mobile ad campaign, were completely unaware of the dastardly experiment.

“AppLovin, a successful mobile analytics firm situated in the Valley, told VentureBeat that the incident was an attempt to put relevant screens in front of users clicking on the app,” according to the story. “But in this case, users were taken to a page selling game downloads with names like Sing Karaoke, GSN Casino, and Marvel Puzzle Quest, apparently unbeknownst to OpenTable.”

Of course, when OpenTable discovered the snafu, they demanded that AppLovin cease and desist.

AppLovin, though contrite, was perhaps a little late for dinner on this redirect thing.

“When OpenTable gave us the feedback that they didn’t like this flow, we pulled it instantly and have discontinued it since,” said Adam Foroughi, AppLovin CEO. “Anytime we hear a need from a consumer or brand we act promptly to address it.”

Andrew Frank of Gartner said AppLovin’s so-called “experiment” was reminiscent of the advertising world’s Stone Age.

“We’ve been through this before with early web advertising, in which these types of interstitial ads interrupted the flow between screens of the ad experience. It’s definitely one of the most interruptive experiences you can have,” Frank said.

Yikes! It’s exactly those kinds of events that anger web users. When a consumer wants to make a dinner reservation and is instead pummeled by advertising for Candy Crush Saga — well, it’s all of the worst stereotypes come true.

“Advertising has to be complimentary to the experience. It can’t be noticeably detracting,” Frank said. “If interstitial content has nothing to do with the context of what it is the advertiser is trying to accomplish, the experience is even more jarring.”

There’s much more to read (and you should), click here.

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