Virtual Currency Monetization Platform Super Rewards Acquired by Adknowledge

In what is one of the biggest moves in the virtual currency monetization space to date, Adknowledge this morning is announcing the acquisition of Super Rewards, one of the leading virtual currency monetization platforms for social apps and online games. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, and no major changes at Super Rewards as a result of the acquisition are planned. Adknowledge says it views its role in the acquisition as a parent company that will now be helping Super Rewards accelerate its growth.

“What contextual advertising was to the web, virtual currency is to the social web,” Scott Lynn, Founder and CEO of Adknowledge, tells us. “We’ve seen the explosion in virtual currency over the last year, and we think it’s a unique ad unit which really engages the consumer. Super Rewards has had tremendous financial growth, advertiser satisfaction metrics are very positive, and users love it as well because it gives them more control. Virtual currency will be a $600M market this year, and it’s how we believe social media will monetize long term.”

Super Rewards CEO Jason Bailey tells us that he felt the time was right for the sale given the company’s options for growth going forward.

“We really feel strongly that there’s going to be a lot of consolidation in the space,” Bailey says. “We’re growing at a phenomenal rate – we have offices in Vancouver, Burlingame, and New York, and are about to open an office in London – and we’re very profitable. When we were exploring how we wanted to grow our business, it became clear when we started talking to Adknowledge that it was a great fit. We work with 3,000 advertisers, they work with 50,000. Now, we’ll be able to grow our business at a speed and scale that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.”

Adknowledge, which has 13 offices around the world and will do $250 million in revenues this year, has previously acquired social ad network operations from Cubics and Lookery. Lynn says the company does 700 million banner impressions per day on Facebook and MySpace apps, but it became increasingly clear recently that the money was in virtual currency.

Lynn says that a major synergy for the two companies will be expanding Super Rewards’ international sales reach. With so much of Facebook’s growth happening in Europe and around the world, Lynn says Adknowledge is “committed” to expanding into more markets. Although Super Rewards enables users to pay either via offers or direct payments, Lynn says Adknowledge is “most excited” by the offer products for now.

In addition, Bret Brewer, Adknowledge’s President, says the company is eyeing longer term applications of the model in new areas as well.

“We just see it working in more and more places, like the newspaper industry, offline games, and more categories as the world catches on to the opt-in model where the power shifts to the consumer,” Brewer says.

The virtual currency monetization space is hot, and we expect the Super Rewards acquisition will be the first of several over the next year as larger online advertising networks look to bolster their business in the social network application and online games space. It will be particularly interesting to see how consolidation in the virtual currency space may affect the payments market overall – the greatest synergies in the Adknowledge/Super Rewards acquisition are primarily around growth of the offer network.

Nevertheless, we believe this is a strong acquisition by Adknowledge, and a validation of the space in general. More and more game developers are thinking about integrating virtual currency monetization into their games and apps earlier in the process, and the pace of development in the space is not slowing down. It should be an interesting year ahead.


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