Angry Birds Are Hungry for Advertising

Rovio wants to understand game's fans, then sell to them

SAN FRANCISCO—Angry Birds has become an enormous mobile gaming hit, with more than 250 million downloads. Now Rovio, the company behind the game, says it's ready to start making more money from all of those players through advertising.

Wibe Wagemans, the company's head of marketing and advertising, spoke Tuesday at the GamesBeat conference in San Francisco, where he said that if you add up all the time users spend playing Angry Birds, it represents more than 1 percent of the time spent watching television. But even though Angry Birds includes ads, it's obviously bringing in far less than 1 percent of TV's ad revenue. (An imbalance between audience size and ad spend is a common problem in Silicon Valley.) Now Rovio seems to be courting advertisers more seriously, with executive Peter Vesterbacka showing up at the Cannes Lions festival last month. And Wagemans predicted those revenues will start to go up soon.

"The key is understanding the DNA of your fans," he told Adweek. Once Rovio has more data about its players (and Wagemans said the company is looking for analytics partners), it can start advertising to them more effectively. At the same time, Wagemans said, by understanding that fan DNA, Rovio can avoid some of the trust and privacy concerns that come up when companies collect user data.

Rovio still sees plenty of room for growth. Unlike most gaming companies, such as Zynga, once Rovio had its big hit, it stopped building out its portfolio of games and instead worked on exploiting the Angry Birds property.

"It would be nice to get some new [intellectual property]," Wagemans said. However, he argued that by focusing on a single title, making it easy to play, expanding to multiple platforms, and now moving beyond games with toys and movies, Rovio has been able to reach a much broader audience.

That audience is only going to grow with the coming launch of Angry Birds on Facebook. Wagemans said social networking would be a big priority for Rovio in the coming months, and when an audience member asked if the company would build a social network of its own, he would only say, "Wait and see."

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