giftgaming is a patent-pending in-game ad service and startup supported by Accelerate Cambridge, Cambridge Judge Business School.
Ever get stuck on a game? Don't want to buy in-app purchases or watch annoying video ads? Introducing giftgaming.
Brands give powerups, extra lives, etc. (with coupons) to players and we deliver them as surprise gifts to you!
Typical workflow of giftgaming:
1) You see a gift icon
2) You tap the icon when convenient
3) You receive a powerup from a brand
4) You optionally save a coupon (in-game)
5) You return to game.
giftgaming is built on Scala, the same technology used by LinkedIn, Twitter and Intel, and the Lift Framework (used by Foursquare).
With giftgaming, we hope to see an entirely new business model called "freebium" which combines freemium, advertising and freebies to preserve the gaming experience.
With giftgaming, we aim to put an end to intrusive in-game advertising that is destroying immersive gaming experiences. Right now they are being ruined by incredibly intrusive and irritating advertising (such as video ads). We intend to restore gaming to its former glory with our service.
In Peter Lorenz's words (Former Jagex VP of Business Development and Former WildTangent Director of Business Development EMEA)*, giftgaming "offers a non-disruptive, friendly and very nice way of actually monetising a game."
Ultimately, we hope to change how players see brands completely; adding value to the gaming experience, rather than being a mere intrusion. Also, players thinking better of the game companies who use giftgaming, as they have opted to use a service which gives players free in-game content.
* - Please note that all views and opinions expressed herein represent only the individual’s and not their previous or current employers.
giftgaming® integrated in Cave Coaster below, created by Smyowl. Now available from Google Play.
Substantial accomplishments to date
- Over 50 brands onboard via affiliate programmes
- One large publisher network with access to over 125+ million monthly active players is in the process of integrating giftgaming
- giftgaming live in a real game -- Smyowl's "Cave Coaster" on Google Play:
- Over 30 brands onboard via programmes
10 major brands onboard with affiliate programmes
Released developer plugins to the public
Received £8,000 grant from Cambridge Judge Business School
First self-service signups on dashboard from game studios
Invited to give an elevator pitch to Cambridge angel network
Marmalade Technologies and BassBuds as giftgaming Launch Partners
Beta signups launched at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe Startup Battlefield
3 major game publishers signed up to giftgaming beta list
Finalist in Cambridge Wireless Discovering Startups Competition
Right now we will monetise via affiliate programmes as this solves one side of the advertiser-publisher equation, and gets us to traction fastest.
Each time a player makes a purchase with a giftgaming coupon, the brand pays us an affiliate commission of however much they spend with the brand (also known as "cost per conversion"). We then share the revenue with the game publishers.
Use of proceeds
We need to raise at least £30,000 to give us an additional runway of 6 months, which is the approximate time we anticipate a later angel round to close. If we can raise up to £150,000, we probably don't need an angel round and we will use those funds to recruit a technical sales team to get more publishers, assist developers and manage client relationships.
Our monthly expenditure will be just under £5,000, split between:
- Business Development Director Salary
- CEO Salary + expenses float
- Conference attendance allowance
- Lambert & Chapman chartered accountancy service
- Hiscox PI+PL Insurance
- Github (code repository service)
Our target market is two-sided: global and major brands who want exposure and consumer loyalty, and game companies who make “freemium” games (free-to-play games funded by in-app purchase and/or in-game advertising), with a focus on mobile and online browser-based games. Famous examples of these games include:
- King’s “Candy Crush”
- Supercell’s “Clash of Clans”
- Jagex’s “Runescape”.
We are aiming for indie (independent) mobile games and studios rather than AAA-title/blockbuster mobile games as our servers can only support so many players at present, and they are more likely to integrate us as there are less gatekeepers to go through.
In future though, we think with a large enough infrastructure and investment, integrating into mobile gaming giants' games is very much a possibility given our solution integrates naturally and reuses the game's existing infrastructure.
We feel that game companies will want to outsource to us because they already have enough to worry about with developing their own games, let alone worrying about maintaining a scalable in-game advertising platform, and managing client relationships.
Creating custom branded items is not cost or time effective and is not particularly scalable as it involves negotiating what the item will be and how it will be used in the game. Moreover, for the brand it only offers exposure and not conversions - in today's marketing climate, return-on-investment is becoming more important.
We also believe browser-based games could be targeted; there are many games on the browser-gaming services, which are part-funded by video ads played at the start of games. This can be frustrating to the player who has to watch it every time they want to play a game, especially if it is the same video.
Characteristics of target market
The percentage of players who make in-app purchases is incredibly low: 1.5%, despite King’s success with Candy Crush and freemium. One way to compensate is with in-game advertising, an industry where spending is estimated to be $7.2 billion and is predicted to account for 78% of total game advertising revenue by 2016 (DFC Intel, 2011).
With Rovio's 2013 profits down by half, EA's Battlefield 4 players angry at in-game movie ads, and King dropping in-game ads for being "too intrusive"
there is high demand for a solution like giftgaming from both gamers and game companies alike.
Free games account for half of the European games market. On the App Store alone, there’s over 260k games and entertainment apps and an increasing trend of games with in-app purchase; 93% of apps use a freemium model.
In the UK today, non-gamers are now the minority.
Our go-to-market strategy has been refined since our last round on Seedrs, with thanks to our new advisor, Brewster Barclay (former 6-year CEO of another adtech company called Clickstream Technologies).
Route to market:
- Create known revenue generating mechanism through Affiliate Window, see below. This allows the whole business development focus to be on publishers and so scaling eyeballs and revenues. This is a critical step in developing a two-sided market whereby we are using known monetisation channels, hence not having to market on both sides of the platform, and creating a new and engaged audience for the advertisers.
- Make giftgaming plugin able to integrate with a few clicks into Unity/HTML5 games
- Business development focused on medium to large publisher sales pipeline
- Simple integration also allows self-service sign-up (since January), for small to medium publishers.
- Affiliate networks.
- Advertising Agencies
- Trade shows: (Cannes Lions, Advertising Week Europe, iMedia Summit, etc)
- Self-service online signups
- Game developer conferences: (Mobile Games Forum, GDC, Pocket Gamer Connects, Casual Connect)
- Web Gaming Platforms
- Providing support for multiple platforms (Unity, Marmalade, HTML5)
- Developer Ecosystems (eg. Marmalade Ecosystem)
- Game developer forums
- Support for emerging platforms (Amazon Apps, Windows Store)
- Game publisher networks
- Game Developer Consortiums
- Direct sales
- Online marketing to drive self-service sign-ups (Twitter, Blog posts, etc.)
Our competitors tend to have "a value exchange" i.e. the player must first watch an advertisement to receive an in-game item, etc. We however give the in-game item first and give it as a gift to the player, so the player develops a positive relationship (rather than negative) with the brand. This a selfless act of the brand; a welcome change for many players.
With giftgaming, a game company can deliver a gift at any time meaning brands can buy a lot of gifts, potentially providing more money for game companies than moment-based competitors (MediaBrix & Kiip), who have to wait for high scores, etc. Surprise gifts are also the best way for customer loyalty (Barnes, 2001), which will make giftgaming the best solution for brand loyalty.
Allowing coupons to be saved in just two-clicks without asking for an email address or requiring the installation of another app should give our brand clients a much higher coupon save rate. We can also provide location-based coupon reminders; not only does this give our brand clients a better service, it also means players do not forget about their exclusive offers!
Supporting platforms other than mobile is one way we can exploit our competitors weaknesses. We feel our competitors focus too much on mobile and we believe there could be more innovative in-game ads on PC/console. We also feel more focus could be given to the needs of game developers; they want to boost sales as much as brands. Therefore there will be potential for game companies experimenting with what gifts are given. Patents would be used to help defend our business and prevent competitors who may have bigger funding or more resources from copying us.
We truly believe in keeping the most important customer happy: the gamer. The gamer keeps both the brand and the game company in business, so unlike competing solutions, we would never ask the player to do something we would not do ourselves, thus ensuring we are the best in-game advertising service solution in future.