EA gained a new senior vice president of global media sales last week as WildTangent’s Dave Madden jumped ship to the video game publisher. Video advertising in EA’s social games probably isn’t far behind.
Madden oversaw the launch of BrandBoost at WildTangent, one of several video advertising platforms for Facebook games. Like competitors TapJoy and SocialVibe, WildTangent’s service allowed brands light level integration into social games by offering players virtual currency or branded virtual goods in exchange for watching a video ad. Madden previously told us that through BrandBoost, WildTangent hoped to create a more direct user experience than the two-clicks removed offer wall advertising.
“This biggest challenge [at EA] is engagement scalability by platform,” Madden tells us today. “Our users at EA appreciate content on multiple platforms. The biggest thing we’ve learned in social gaming is adding value to the user, putting the user in control.”
With video advertising, Madden says he thinks advertisers can solve the challenges of engagement and scalability in social games. The trick is allowing the user to feel in control of the experience, as in not forcing them to watch an ad while playing game, and to slot the experience into the game in a targeted way. As a hypothetical example, he talked about how when a user hits a proverbial wall in a game where they cannot progress without spending real money, the game could offer them the video ad as a means to get past the barrier. Like if we were playing Dragon Age Legends and ran out of energy, but didn’t want to spend Facebook Credits buying Crowns to purchase more, we could watch a video ad for HBO’s Game of Thrones TV series. The experience would ad value to us because we’d get the Crowns we needed and the video ad is for a brand that shares a common fantasy setting with Dragon Age Legends, so we’d be more likely to engage with it.
As tailored as Games of Thrones might feel to Dragon Age Legends, however, Madden says that the future of advertising in social games is moving beyond intimate customizable campaigns. It can be very rewarding for a brand to build an elaborate gameplay experience around its product, but Madden feels that the most cost efficient and scalable means of advertising lies more in video ads combined with in-game content.
“That lets the brand tell the story,” he says.