EA Peddles Game Apps in Ads for iPhone Owners Only

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When Apple launched its App Store in July, Electronic Arts was responsible for three of the roughly 300 total games that were made available. Those titles, “Tetris,” “Soduku,” and “Scrabble,” remain among the iPhone’s current top sellers. They were followed by the highly anticipated “Spore,” among other EA staples. The publisher expects to release “Monopoly,” “Lemonade Tycoon,” “Need for Speed” by Q4.

To support these games, EA has engaged in an extensive mobile and online campaign targeted to iPhone owners. EAsudoku.jpg

The mobile media buy began in July with a single unnamed ad network, according to Patrick Gunn, director of marketing for direct-to-consumer products for EA’s iPhone products. That network was able to sniff out and target iPhone users and serve text and banner ads exclusively to them. He said EA is now working with multiple mobile ad networks that can target ads only to iPhone users. Those networks include AdMob, Millennial Media, Quattro Wireless, and Third Screen Media/Platform-A.

EA Mobile has placed ads on sites such as Sportstap, Accuweather.com, Mapquest, CBS Entertainment, MySpace, and Hollywood.com. Consumers can click through the ads to buy and download games from EA or the iPhone App Store and upload them to their iPhone or iPod Touch in a process called sideloading. EAscrab_iphone_banner.jpg

Additionally, a marketing partnership with Apple has given EA prominent placement in the iTunes App Store and at Apple marketing events. Within iTunes, Apple has frequently featured “Spore” and other EA titles in a rotating promotional unit, called a “brick,” on its main Applications page and subsections.

Bricks are an editorial feature in the Apple App Store, Gunn said, though he wouldn’t go into the terms of the companies’ relationship. The partnership also includes the development of a branded look and feel to product pages. Instead of the standard blue and gray background of the store, EA is allowed to create its own pages that take on the look of the EA brand or the game’s intellectual property. “Gamers get excited about that,” said Gunn.

Also within iTunes, Apple offers a “Uber Page,” which offers everything to do with one property in a single interface. It groups the iPhone version, iTouch version, and other related content in one place. In the case of “Spore,” both versions were on the same page and a podcast from Will Wright was also made available from the same location.

Indeed, much of the partnership revolves around “Spore,” created by Will Wright of “Sims” fame. The game is a companion to the new massively multiplayer online game of the same name, released this fall by Wright and EA. After its release, the iPhone version shot up to the number-one downloaded game in the App Store in a matter of days, and held its lead spot for a significant time, according to Gunn. Note: The article originally listed “Monopoly,” “Lemonade Tycoon,” “Need for Speed” as currently-published titles on the iPhone platform when they are at the date of publication unreleased.

“EA has been one of the few companies to have a brick for more than one week at a time,” he said. “We have had multiple weeks in a string connected, either our EA branded brick that leads to an EA page, or a game-specific page.”

The two companies have also worked together on in-store marketing promotions and other events. Said Gunn, “EA and Apple speak all the time and are constantly turning up new ideas.”

He added, “There’s only a few of the top game publishers that can partner with Apple that can market in the way that they’re used to marketing and can invest in the way they’re used to collaborating.”

Note: The article originally listed “Monopoly,” “Lemonade Tycoon,” “Need for Speed” as currently released titles on the iPhone platform when Electronic Arts has not yet released those three but will do so by the end of the year.

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