With social and mobile developers facing shrinking revenues and increasing user acquisition costs, MediaSpike is making it easier for studios to team up with advertisers in order to place branded content in their games.
MediaSpike is geared towards letting developers and advertisers work together to put product brands into social and mobile games with a minimal amount of fuss. The way the system works is developers can apply two-dimensional images with product advertisements to parts of their game. The company was founded by Blake Commagere, who’s had some extensive background in viral marketing.
Commagere’s background is in viral marketing, having consulted for several companies after leaving his position as a senior engineer at Plaxo. He also created a widget on MySpace (during its heyday) called Care Badges, which was used for non-profit fundraising and had approximately 50,000 users within a month of it going live. Due to the success of Care Badges, Commagere’s business was acquired by Sean Parker’s company that later became Causes, which Commagere then helped create a widget for.
After that, Commagere’s turned his attention to social gaming. In the early days of the Facebook games canvass, he created several “very light” games like Zombies and Vampires that he tells us pulled in upwards of 50 million users. It didn’t take long for him to realize virtual goods were the money maker for social games instead of banner ads, and advertisers were constantly approaching him about creating branded in-game content. These special branded virtual goods were unique because he would only receive complaints when a campaign ended and the goods were removed from a game. “It was the trifecta: advertisers loved it, users loved it and I loved it,” he tells us.
Commagere explains MediaSpike allows advertisers to use lightweight SDKs to target specific user groups while the company’s background servers do the lion’s share of the work. He provided us with a demonstration of how this works from an advertiser’s perspective, selecting the target audience’s demographics (which determines which partner game the content will appear in) and the length of the campaign. From there, the SDK lets a user select what type of item would sport a brand image, with arbitrary sizing being automatically supported; in this case we saw a Red Bull poster being placed in a demo game’s club setting, as well as players being given the option to order a Red Bull from the bar. The setup took less than a minute, the user had complete control over where advertisers could place it and the final result even supported click-throughs to an external site.
Commagere believes that even though the artwork is two-dimensional, there’s no limit to what kind of product placement can be utilized in a game and doesn’t see any reason why the content can’t be interacted with for gameplay. One example he provides is an special hamburger players can consume for extra health or other benefits.
MediaSpike’s platform is still in private beta and MediaSpike is still determining who the right first partners are for the program. “I have to be careful about what games receive what content,” Commagere notes. “I can’t put Red Bull into a Knights of the Round Table game.”
At the moment, MediaSpike is funded with the undisclosed amount of money raised in 2011 from investors like Raptor Captial and Venture51. The company is in a good position to succeed in the field of social and mobile game advertising right now since the platform is based around affordable use and easy implementation, no other group is dedicated to brand placement in games and — as Commagere tells us — “I’ve never seen an advertising solution that enhanced gameplay before.”
Developers who are interested in participating in MediaSpike’s private beta can go here for more info.