The interview with the media guide
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Itamar Benedy, CEO of in-game advertising company Anzu, hopes to bridge the gap between the needs of marketers and publishers. But can it deliver ads that don’t spoil players’ user experience?
“The stars are aligned to make gaming an advertising category.”
Itamar Benedy, the founder and CEO of in-game advertising company Anzu, has waited seven years for gaming adtech to mature and for advertisers to begin to see the opportunity. But now, he says, it’s there.
“Now gaming is accessible, affordable, easy to plan, easy to do, and easy to measure,” he says.
Benedy who spoke to The Media Guide On a call outside a café in Paris, he exuded confidence in the growing gaming market.
“The brands are ready, the games are ready, the technology is ready, the advertising is ready. Let’s turn it into a billion-dollar business.”
An example of Anzu’s ad inventory showing a Samsung ad placed in slappyball.
“Gaming was never a bucket”
Anzu was founded in 2017 on the grounds that consumers – especially young, hard-to-reach consumers – spend a lot of time playing games, whether on mobile, console, PC or, increasingly, in virtual reality. However, brands and agencies have not been able to keep up.
“Gaming has never been an issue,” says Benedy, who notes that the medium has only recently been attracted by commercial interests and is being viewed as an advertising category in its own right.
Anzu hopes to bridge the gap between the needs of marketers and publishers and provide advertising for games in a way that doesn’t disrupt or detract from the user experience. The company has grown to over 100 employees, with Benedy leading the global team from his New York office.
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Your model attracts investors. Last month, the company closed a $48 million Series B funding round; His investors now include WPP, NBCUniversal, Sony and PayPal. US sports teams are also participating in the promotion as they see synergies between live sports and sports video games such as e.g. B. see NBA 2K, MLB: The show, Driving me crazyAnd FIFA. The parent companies of the MLB’s Chicago Cubs, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers, and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils are also investors in Anzu.
“We see a great correlation between esports, gaming and advertising,” adds Benedy.
But it’s a balancing act. When asked if Gamer want When it comes to showing ads in their games, Benedy admits there will always be a portion of gamers who hate ads, period. According to our own consumer study, the vast majority of gamers, especially younger gamers, are either OK with ads, neutral, or otherwise resistant to them, but are likely to capitulate over time.
Anzu Poll: Would you welcome more game advertisers?
Benedy (pictured, under) considers in-game advertising as a pragmatic value exchange. During AAA games like this year’s The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom can sell their games at $70 without a recurring revenue plan, the vast majority of games are cheaper or free to play. That means game developers and publishers must find other ways to offset the rising costs of game development.
Until now, the primary way to achieve this has been through in-game microtransactions. Since their widespread adoption in mobile gaming and throughout the last generation of consoles, they have drawn at best a tepid and at worst hostile response from gamers, particularly when they result in a “pay-to-win” model that utilizes the best in-game Materials are locked behind a paywall. Even premium titles like Activision Blizzard’s Diablo IV includes microtransactions, such as B. The ability for players to purchase in-game cosmetic items to generate additional revenue on top of the $70 price tag.
Microtransactions have also at times come under scrutiny from regulators, who have questioned whether purchasing randomly generated items (also known as “loot boxes”) is comparable to gambling.
Anzu Poll: Do you think in-game ads improve or detract from the gaming experience?
Advertising, says Benedy, can therefore be a “win-win-win” for publishers, advertisers and gamers, providing a new revenue stream for publishers and a new way for brands to gain additional reach without adversely affecting the game affect gameplay. And Benedy argues that placing ads in games, if done seamlessly, can improve realism. After all, there are billboards in real life too. So why shouldn’t players expect to see them in 3D worlds as well?
Anzu works with game developers to create in-game ad inventory that integrates in an intuitive and seamless way. “It’s really about the user experience,” says Benedy. “When you’re playing a game and there are a lot of popups like mobile games, it’s a horrible experience. We’re trying to create a new way of advertising that actually makes sense… We’re actually making the game more realistic.”
“However you are used to measuring other media, gaming will surpass these KPIs in this medium.”
On the other hand, the company needed to ensure advertisers could easily access in-game ad inventory and buy it programmatically.
“Brands love innovation. But brands don’t usually change the way they work,” admits Benedy. “So our work is about aligning existing protocols, best practices and ways of working in advertising to bring that into the gaming world, not telling advertisers to change the way they work.”
One of the biggest problems gaming has historically had was that it was isolated from advertising and the digital mix. Anzu aims to bridge this gap by creating a means by which brands can perform targeting, media planning and execution just like any other digital campaign.
Similar to other digital formats, brands can advertise hundreds of games at scale, either programmatically or by whitelisting specific titles throughout Anzu’s inventory. Advertisers can choose between the desired ad format and upload the creative (e.g. virtual billboards, banners or videos).
Game publishers, on the other hand, have control over ad inventory setup, and Anzu’s technology allows this to be populated with dynamically changing ads that can be programmatically targeted to users based on personalized user data.
Anzu has worked with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Media Rating Council (MRC) to create internal in-game advertising guidelines for marketers, and last week announced a partnership with Integral Ad Science to deliver a measurement solution to validate in-game advertising Game to bring advertising quality to the market.
Current Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used by Anzu include Incrementality, Frequency, Premium Placement, Visibility, Attention, and Attribution.
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Benedy describes the ad buying process as a mix of digital out-of-home, CTV, programmatic digital and social. However, he believes that gaming is a more attractive medium for advertisers than these alternatives on a comparable basis, arguing that it can outperform them on their own KPIs.
“However one is used to measuring other mediums, gaming will exceed these KPIs in this medium,” he says. “Because gaming gets a lot more exposure compared to television because there is no second screen and better visibility because it’s set in a 3D world. Compared to social media, it’s much more brand safe; There is no user generated content.
“We are apple to apple and show better results compared to other media.”
According to Anzu, a recent study by attention measurement company Lumen Research found that in-game advertising increases viewability by 98%, compared to an average viewability of 78% for other digital media.
“Gaming is the first ever 3D environment that is programmatically accessible,” says Benedy. He adds, “Any game where it makes sense to have branded content there, we will do it.”