Tap Me, a Chicago-based mobile gaming ad startup, has begun beta testing its iComplishments platform for ads in iPhone-, iPad- and Android-based games.
The firm recently received $1 million in venture funding and is now working with nine advertisers, including three undisclosed national brands.
"We're asking game developers to meta-tag their content and make that data available to advertisers," said CEO Joshua Hernandez, citing as an example an athletic shoe brand that might easily learn exactly where in a game running takes place, as well as how many consumers played that section of the game on any given day. "The advertiser gets to understand exactly where to place an ad or sponsorship within a game… It's not putting a billboard in an in-game street scene; it's letting the brand add value to the game play experience."
Tap Me hopes to evolve into a turn-key in-game solution for brands, letting advertisers, for example, leverage their search marketing keyword programs to see what mobile games best match those keywords and then place ads and sponsorships directly in those titles. "Part of our goal is to make in-game advertising as easy as Google AdWords," Hernandez said.
Tap Me is still sorting out its pricing model. Hernandez suggested it will not be based on impressions, since in-game ads are first and foremost about engagement. While Tap Me will focus initially on the mobile market, Hernandez also suggested the company has long-term plans to bring iComplishments to the social media, PC and console gaming markets as well.
Tap Me is not the only company making noise in the in-game ad space. Double Fusion, an established in-game ad firm, is expanding and moving its U.S. headquarters from San Francisco to Los Angeles in March. The move puts it closer to many entertainment industry clients.
Double Fusion primarily helps brands reach the young male "hard-core gamer" demographic. Its network includes popular console titles like Shaun White Skateboarding, Driver: San Francisco and Sony Computer Entertainment's Killzone 3.
Double Fusion CEO Alex Sood is clearly aware of the surge in popularity of casual games such as Farmville and Angry Birds on mobile and social media platforms. "We are keeping an eye on those spaces and I think you'll see us get increasingly involved in those formats, likely more on mobile than PC-based social media games," he said.
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David Ward is a veteran freelance journalist based in San Diego, who currently focuses on online marketing, digital entertainment and the growth on new consumer technologies such as 3D in the home.
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