The gaming industry found its next eureka moment when the world was enclosed in four wall closets by a pandemic and found the gaming experience like the silver line in the dark pandemic cloud. As COVID-19 lockdown hit the streets, advertising channels suffered huge losses, but online gaming proved to be the opposite. Companies that increased their advertising spend on gaming during the pandemic benefited from the boom.
While the online gaming industry offers a huge potential for advertising, conventional in-game ads deride its main purpose of making people interested in the advertised products or services. Even if the advertisement catches players’ attention, it gets a negative impression because of the disruption.
Providing advertisers with a sophisticated ad solution while mitigating disturbance in a gamer’s gameplay is the cutting-edge platform – Anzu.io
Headquartered in Tel Aviv, the platform is led headed by the successful leadership of its CEO- Itamar Benedy. The platform facilitates in-game advertising solutions for mobile, PC, consoles, and Roblox. Crossing paths with Itamar, we gained a profound understanding of the workings of the Anzu platform and how it has reinvented the way ads are presented in a game.
Below are the highlights from the interview:
Please brief our audience about your company, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as one of the top martech companies.
Anzu is the world’s most advanced in-game advertising solution, introducing native, creative, and dynamic advertising to video games and esports.
At the very heart of Anzu is a passion for challenging the status quo. Before Anzu, in-game advertising was always thought of in terms of mobile, with nothing for AAA PC and console games at all. So, we set out to change this. Our technology now allows advertisers to programmatically run campaigns on all these platforms.
Anzu is a company of firsts: the first in-game ad company to become Unity Verified; the first to bring in-game ads to the Roblox platform; the first and only official in-game ad provider for Xbox. Our patented ad tracker, cross-platform offering, and first-to-market viewability with MOAT make for an attractive proposition for both advertisers and game publishers.
Many of the world’s biggest advertisers and games companies believe in and support our vision, and this has resulted in partnerships and investment from industry giants, including WPP, Sony Innovation Fund, and NBCUniversal.
What are the core values upon which the company is built?
At Anzu, we respect gamers by respecting the gameplay. We work to benefit all parties involved—advertisers, developers, and gamers—by introducing blended, dynamic ads into games.
Anzu benefits brands who want to reach exclusive audiences in brand-safe, scalable, and measurable ways. Anzu benefits game developers and game publishers who want to add new, sustainable revenue streams that preserve the gaming experience. Anzu benefits gamers as it respects the gameplay with blended, non-intrusive ads.
Tell us more about your offerings and what aspects make you stand out in the cutthroat market.
Anzu’s best-in-class SDK technology, battle-tested by AAA gaming studios including Ubisoft and Saber Interactive, is the only offering on the market available across mobile, PC, consoles, and Roblox. After thorough vetting by the team at Unity, Anzu has become the first in-game ad solution to gain Unity Verified Solutions Partner (VSP) status, as well as becoming the first licensed in-game ad partner for Xbox.
Bringing blended yet highly viewable IAB-compliant ad formats in-game, Anzu is the only solution of its kind to bring real-time analytics and existing digital industry standards in-game. Anzu’s patented, adaptive technology with a full suite of one-of-a-kind cross-platform AdTech integrations includes first-to-market ad viewability, brand lift measurement, audience verification, data enrichment, and fraud detection in partnership with industry leaders such as Moat, Lumen, Comscore, and Nielsen.
Ultimately, our vision is to establish in-game advertising as a mainstream ad category. By forming strategic partnerships with global advertising firms, including WPP and NBCUniversal, Anzu has opened in-game advertising opportunities for brands all over the world, including American Eagle, Samsung, and PepsiCo.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies like AI and ML has impacted the martech industry and how is your organization riding the technology wave?
Deep technologies like AI, machine learning, and big data are all examples of modern technology that require significant investment. However, despite these huge investments in technology, marketers often see very little value in return – often a single-digit percentage increase.
That is why Anzu’s model and technology are much more inviting to advertisers. Rather than investing significant resources into optimizing technology that already exists, we took our SDK technology and made it into a brand new medium and advertising opportunity with much higher returns.
Seamless application into current games for developers brings double- or even triple-digit percentage increases to metrics like brand awareness through in-game advertising, bringing more impact to advertisers’ marketing efforts.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the martech industry?
The martech industry all starts with how things work, so I’d first advise starting by asking why something works in a particular way, then gaining a broader understanding of how we can fix it and do it differently. For martech especially, that is really important. We have spent many years in the space, and we do not see a lot of entrepreneurs in the marketing space that do not already have previous martech or advertising experience, so it emphasizes the need to learn behind the scenes.
My second piece of advice might sound contradictory. People from advertising are used to working in a specific way, so in some cases, they are not open to working any differently. Once you understand how things work and you are convinced you have a better way of doing stuff, ignore a hundred executives who tell you it will not work. Ignore any unhelpful critical voices that are not open to innovation, but only after you understand how things work.