Azerion acquires AdPlay and strengthens Italian digital advertising position – European Gaming Industry News

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Tell us about your career so far and how you ended up at Bidstack? (highlights and stories)

I have been immersed in the video game industry, digital environment and advertising technology for the past 7 years and specialize in advertising and monetization. In 2016, I left my dear France to join the London branch of French ad exchange Mozoo and develop the Surikate product in Europe, the company’s direct performance arm (UA) for leading games and lifestyle apps. After a period of significant growth, in 2017 Mozoo acquired AdinCube, a leading advertising brokerage platform for game app developers. Here I had the opportunity to join the new team, where I used my expertise to secure partnerships with publishers in the EMEA region. A year later in 2018, after a rapid period of expansion, AdinCube was acquired by Ogury, where I successfully built the gaming publishing portfolio from the ground up. Here I was able to onboard game studios like Miniclip, Kwalee, Outfit7, Crazy Lab Games, Good Job Games and many more. In 2021 I was given the opportunity to join Bidstack to scale the publishing portfolio to mobile, PC and console and I am now responsible for the supply side of the business in Europe and in several other markets worldwide.

What does your role as ‘VP of Gaming’ at Bidstack entail?

It is primarily focused on managing and working with a young and entrepreneurial team that is passionate about gaming and helping game developers and publishers unlock a new, incremental revenue stream that enhances the gaming experience for the end user protection.

Reporting to our US based SVP Gaming, my role is essentially leading the business development for Europe with game developers and publishers in the UK, EMEA and other international territories.

Our mission is to educate studios on the benefits of integrating Bidstack’s monetization technologies regardless of platform and structuring deals with AAA publishers, leading game studios and AAA titles.

What attracted you to the gaming industry?

My path to gaming has been laid out very naturally. Taking a step back, I have always been passionate about gaming and have been a player myself for as long as I can remember. I still see myself playing the SEGA Mega Drive with my brothers and spending hours on my Gameboy or Nintendo DS before evolving with each generation of new consoles like the PS1, PS2, the Xbox 360 etc.

When I started my career I started in digital and mobile advertising, first on the UA side of things at Mozoo’s Surikate and then on the in-game monetization side through various ad brokerage platforms and ad networks; this gave me the chance to interact with game studios for the first time.

The creativity, genuine talent and passion surrounding these individuals really impressed me, and I was thrilled to discover more about programmatic exchanges and all the rules, processes and technical considerations that went on in the background of the games themselves in order to generate income for those studios.

Today, I am very grateful to work in such a fast-growing and ever-evolving industry. The gaming market is a multi-billion dollar industry that attracts about 3 billion gamers every year, and that number only seems to be growing.

The industry is no longer a niche interest; video games are now mainstream and a big part of everyday life for billions. Advertisers have started to pay more attention to that in addition to their traditional media mix such as TV, print or social media, making it the best place to be in my opinion.

What’s super exciting about our industry is that you can never get bored. From new laws on user privacy and data protection, new monetization formats and gaming platforms to record-breaking mergers and acquisitions, there’s always something new happening.

Are you a gamer in your downtime/what do you play?

I’m still a gamer myself, mainly on console. I’m a huge fan of my PS5, and if you don’t see me playing COD Modern Warfare 2 these days, I’ll probably try to finish Elden Ring!

Bidstack is an in-game advertising and video game monetization platform. What does this mean in practice?

Bidstack’s mission is to empower game developers to dynamically manage and monetize the space within and around their game environments.

Our programmatic platform pioneered how brands display ads in natural spaces within video games – with these brand experiences ranging from trackside banners and city billboards to LED signs, skins and other contextually relevant surfaces within a game environment.

The platform is designed with performance in mind and all of our products provide stability and security for our partners in their in-game, rewarded video and in-menu inventory. Our proprietary technology also preserves the realism of a game by rendering effects on top of creatives to make them a seamless part of the experience.

Bidstack gives publishers full control over what appears in their games through our AdConsole – here; they can approve or reject ads in real time before they appear in their gaming environment. We further strengthened our ad quality capabilities with the acquisition of Pubguard (a malvertising and ad quality platform) in 2019, with their suite of tools that ensure we provide our partners with a premium ad experience and enforce strict category exclusions.

Bidstack delivered the world’s first programmatic in-game campaign in 2018. Since then, we’ve grown from a team of 4 to over 80 across 5 international locations and became a listed company on the London Stock Exchange. We also have a unique sales footprint thanks to our strategic partners and have secured a strong portfolio of +150 games across mobile, PC and console.

However, advertising represents just one use case for our technology, with many of our gaming partners using the platform as a content management tool to shorten development cycles and manage brand licensing relationships for their titles.

What are the benefits of in-game advertising for developers and players?

The benefits are numerous. Our technology unlocks a new, sustainable route to publisher revenue that is non-intrusive and can work alongside existing monetization strategies.

Developers can now authentically recreate real-world environments where audiences have come to expect the presence of realistic advertisements, including billboards, banners, or product placements in in-game, in-menu, and rewarded video formats.

We are the leading solution when it comes to helping developers on all platforms (mobile, PC, console, Metaverse) successfully navigate the waves of the medium, generate these new incremental revenue streams and reduce ad pressure with a better user experience.

In a world where the vast majority of gaming ads are performance driven, the branded ads we serve reduce churn rates and increase user retention for developers, making the game a more premium and safe environment.

This brings me to the benefits for the player. Unlike other types of digital advertising, in-game advertising also resonates better with consumers. Seven in ten UK gamers are positive or neutral towards organically embedded in-game advertising. Console gamers are 22% more likely to buy brands advertised in games.

While some existing and established ad formats can be intrusive (non-skippable full screen ads, etc.), in-game ads, fully native and integrated into the environment in a non-clickable way, can really increase immersion and make the game a more realistic experience. Personally, I’d love to come across a billboard advertising the latest smartphone from a real brand when I’m walking through Night City in CyberPunk. This would look great and make me feel like this is kinda real!

What’s the best in-game ad you’ve seen lately?

Probably our campaign with Paco Rabanne and Starcom to Rezzil, which recently won Best Regional Campaign – North America at TheWires 2022 ceremony. It delivered impressive results through the use of contextual and virtual reality, paving the way for future opportunities in that space.

What are some of the challenges in the game and how can they be overcome?

A key challenge is the fact that every player is different, especially within the free-to-play arena, and will respond to a game’s experience in their own way, so it’s important to explore different ways to monetize your titles .

Harmony between in-app purchases and in-game advertising is essential. Both solutions are complementary and must work in the right balance. As I mentioned earlier, there are now so many innovative formats on the market that game developers have a real opportunity to support the development of their games while improving the experience for players.

Another challenge is to keep up with the new innovations that generate value in an ever-evolving market. To stay ahead of the game, I think you need to build trust with your players and show them respect by using high quality branded ads in formats designed to enhance their gaming experience rather than cluttering the gaming experience with overly intrusive, irrelevant ads that will hurt the whole experience.

So, with players less used to paying for access to their favorite games and increasingly frustrated with intrusive monetization methods, many developers are now turning to in-game advertising as an option that works for game makers and players alike.

What can we expect from Bidstack – and from you – in the future in 2023?

Bidstack is in a phase of exciting growth. We recently announced some huge hirings in the US and 2023 shows no signs of slowing down. Next year, we expect to expand our range of products and ad formats, onboard more game studios and brands, and continue to grow our talented team. For me personally, part of my job that I love is attending great technology conferences and gaming events. With the world fully open again, 2023 presents great opportunities for us to bring our technology to the attention of the world’s top publishers and brands.

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