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Appssavvy Ditches Banners for In-Game Activity Ads

Startup switches gears for higher engagement
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Startups love the word “pivot,” but it’s rare that a company will outright ditch one money-making strategy for another untested one. That’s the case with Appssavvy. The company serves display ads and, like everyone else in the category, talks trash about the low engagement of display ads. But today Appssavvy announced it would walk the walk—the three-year-old company is shutting down its display business entirely in a play to put all eggs in one basket. A Farmville basket, of sorts.

Here come the buzzwords—Appssavvy is launching ad platform today which focuses entirely on social, in-game advertisements. It’s called “activity advertising,” or, as the company calls it, “adtivity.” The ads appear in games between activities and are directly inside the gaming area, hoping to catch an audience that is already loyal and engaged.

Appssavvy’s ads include an array of “branded calls to action,” allowing viewers of the ads to click through, watch video, share to Facebook, like on Facebook, tweet about, or follow a product on Twitter. Appsavvy claims these new ad formats outperform standard display by 11 times, and rich media by two times, based on measurements of engagement on its own ads against eMarketer stats for rich and display engagement rates. (Appsavvy calculates social activity to include all the activities mentioned above; rich media includes clicks and interaction; search and display is limited to clicks.)

More than 30 game publishers have signed on to host Appssavvy ads, including 6waves, 50 Cubes, Friend.ly, iWin, GameDuell, OMGPOP, and Social Graph Studios’ Status Shuffle. Prior to its official launch the company has conducted more than 700 campaigns. 

Of course, any brand can go straight to Zynga, or Social Graph Studios, or PopCap games and arrange an elaborate branded experience. A Farmville user’s crops can grow in the shape of a McDonald’s arch, for example. But Appssavvy wants to create those types of ads at scale. For this, the company is banking on its ad platform, and the fact that the same creative ad content can be served across many games, over time (as opposed to a crops that grow in the shape of a McDonald’s arch, which can really only run once).

Founded by Chris Cunningham, the New York-based company has $3.1 million in venture backing from True Ventures and angel investor Scott Kurnit.