Rovio Tests New Direct Programmatic Capabilities

Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish video game developer best known for Angry Birds, is currently testing new direct programmatic capabilities.

With the company already having a private real-time bidding marketplace, the new solution will allow advertisers to choose the inventory with which they wish to place their ads.

Though there won’t be any bidding while it’s in its testing phase, Rovio’s new solution will serve as a direct sell for select brands. Mobile advertising provider Nexage will function as the demand-side platform, running the campaigns programmatically.

“The programmatic direct approach allows for a similar outcome in the sense that you are locking down a specific site, versus audience, knowing it’s relevant for your brand,” explains Mark Leonard, trading director at The Trade Desk, a platform that provides buying tools for digital media buyers. “The efficiency and workflow of direct buys increases substantially and allows buyers to utilize one platform, and tackle a few buying approaches.”

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), programmatic buying and selling is growing at such a rate that 20 percent of all digital advertising is sold by machines to machines. And more and more brands are getting so deep into programmatic that they’re setting up their own trading desks. Snack giant Mondelez recently did so, following in the footsteps of other major brands such as Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, and American Express.

With the upcoming release of two more Angry Birds spinoffs, starring pink bird Stella and Hasbro’s Transformers, Rovio will dedicate a larger portion of its attention to programmatic as well.

Kristin Kovner, president of K-Squared Strategies, thinks this is a smart move for the company.

“Rovio is making it more palatable for large-brand marketers to come on board in a way that hasn’t been possible in mobile inventory previously and in a way that’s brand-safe,” she says.

Earlier this year, Rovio started incorporating mobile video advertising, the fastest-growing segment of programmatic buying, into its games, as well as its online cartoon network ToonsTV.

In one example, characters in the Star Wars-themed Angry Birds are frozen in carbonite like Han Solo. They thaw after a period of time, but players can speed up the process by watching a video. By having interactive ads that tie in with the game, users are less likely to feel their experience is being interrupted.

Kovner says that while focusing more on programmatic will be good for Rovio, it will also be mutually beneficial.

“Setting aside click fraud and the problems around click fraud on mobile, the gaming industry is very valuable and has a deeply engaged audience who spend ample amounts of time on those platforms,” she says. “So for brands looking to its great inventory, now it’s brand-safe inventory because [Rovio is] giving brands control on where their ads will appear.”

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