Zynga Poaches Ad Sales Vet From Competitor

Zynga, maker of FarmVille and other social games, appears serious about harvesting more ad sales. The San Francisco company has hired RockYou’s Julie Shumaker to be VP of North American Sales, a newly created position.

At RockYou, which develops social games such as Gourmet Ranch, Shumaker worked on its advertising network, product innovation, and operations organization. The industry veteran will report to Zynga Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Jeff Karp, who has vowed to ramp up ad sales for his brand.

According to a source close to the situation, Zynga plans to continue hiring ad salespeople while venturing into international markets. The public company recently reported $74.5 million in 2011 advertising sales, which was small compared to Zynga’s overall revenues of $1.14 billion for the year.

In addition to FarmVille, Zynga’s games include CityVille, CastleVille, Empires & Allies, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, Hanging With Friends, and Words With Friends. The games are played on Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, and Google+.

In an example of brand advertiser integration, Ford partnered with Zynga last fall to host what was dubbed the world’s largest “Words With Friends” game to promote Ford’s 2013 Escape model.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 11 p.m. to midnight, Words With Friends fans competed against celebrity Jenny McCarthy, who was at an event in Los Angeles. As they played, a large photo of the 2013 Ford Escape was exposed on giant screens. The Escape debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show the following day.

Other Zynga ad types:

Engagement Ads, in which players can answer questions about brand preferences and purchase behavior in exchange for in-game currency. For instance, a user might field questions about his or her American Express card.

Branded Virtual Goods, in which a brand ties advertising deeply into game play. Capital One’s bank location in CityVille would fit this category, while perhaps the best-known examples have been FarmVille integrations involving brands like Farmer’s Insurance, Bing, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s. Paramount recently launched a campaign in CityVille offering an in-game item to drive awareness of “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

Mobile Ads, which are served into free versions of Zynga mobile games like Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends. Advertisers have included Amazon, eBay, and HBO; Zynga also has used the space to cross-promote other mobile games.

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