First Mover: Jeff Karp | Adweek First Mover: Jeff Karp | Adweek
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First Mover: Jeff Karp

The GSN exec thinks gaming can learn a lot from product placement in the movies

Photo: Chris Gaede


Specs
Age 47
New gig Evp of mobile and social games, GSN Digital
Old gig Evp, chief marketing and revenue officer, Zynga

Why did you leave the gaming giant Zynga for its competitor, GSN Digital?
GSN was just a great opportunity. They’ve been one of the leaders in skill-based gaming for many years. They were one of the first to see the opportunity in social casino with the acquisition of [online gaming portal] Mesmo. There are some great assets in play, with brands like Wheel of Fortune. And they’re kind of in their infancy with regards to mobile and extending into other platforms.

A number of social companies have turned their primary focus to mobile this year. Are there still opportunities in Facebook gaming?
The challenge is out to all of us who create games. I’m not sure that any of us truly innovated dramatically in the past year plus. We’ve been targeting the same demographic pretty consistently, and I think there’s an opportunity to create content [geared] to new demographics.

Such as?
I don’t know if we have anything specific yet. Everybody has done a pretty good job with females 35 plus. But that’s the primary market that most social gamers have tapped today. If you look at a couple [gaming companies] like Kixeye and Kabam, they’ve addressed more of the core gamers, especially Kixeye, which is a little more Facebook-centric.

What new ways do you see for Facebook games to involve advertisers?
As a macro statement, we’re all still learning the best ways to provide players [with] brands that integrate effectively into entertainment. The movie business has been doing it for years. Think of Risky Business and Ray-Bans and how that started a trend. I think we have that same opportunity in gaming.

How do you view the in-game advertising spectrum, which spans integrated sponsorships, in-game offers and run-of-the-mill banners?
It’s a combination. You’ll have a few advertisers that will go big and create compelling entertainment value that will have pretty high touch among the players, combined with banner advertising that may be more turnkey but can still be creative by providing rewards to players.

Which performance metrics do brands most often use in determining if an in-game campaign was a good investment?
It really depends on who the brand partner is. If you’re looking at [a gaming brand], they’re probably looking for installs. CPG companies are looking for brand affinity and trying to drive specific sales against their brands or products.

Gaming apps seem to be the dominant mobile publisher category. How much potential is there?
I still think mobile is fairly underleveraged today. There’s alot of growth in mobile, but the advertising dollars don’t necessarily align to usage.

Which game is your favorite time-suck?
Whatever the newest games the teams are developing. Favorite past games of mine include SSX, all EA Sports games, Plants vs. Zombies, CityVille, Wheel of Fortune Slots and the newest game from GSN, which is…

Given that your job revolves around games, can you play for fun or does work flood into your mind?
I play for fun but then assess the game from a consumer/player’s point of view. What makes this game fun and unique? Why would players like it? Who is the target audience? That said, my favorite way to assess games is to listen and watch other players. Watching my own children play takes the prize. 

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