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Chartboost Adds Video and "Product Placement"-Style Game Ads

The mobile game ad network plans a closed beta for two new advertising formats.

Hay Day screenshot courtesy

Mobile games-advertising-within-games network Chartboost is getting two new ad formats: Videos that will reward users for watching them and special display ads designed to be integrated into gameplay.

The two new formats will enter a closed beta today, meaning developers will have to apply for immediate access. Once integrated into games, Chartboost Video will give players virtual currency or in-game rewards in exchange for watching video ads, while the other new format, officially called InPlay, will put advertisements alongside rather than on top of normal game content.

“It’s like product placement inside of a movie,” Chartboost CEO Maria Alegre said in an interview with Re/code. “It’s part of the story.”

A company press release noted that InPlay is only intended for larger companies that have the time and resources “to create a seamless transition experience for the player.”

One of the first companies to test InPlay was Supercell, which used the service to put an ad for one of its games, Clash of Clans, into the virtual “newspaper” of another game, Hay Day. Players check the newspaper to see what crops other players are selling, so the advertisement is incidental rather than an interruption to their virtual farming playtime.

Zynga tried something similar in FarmVille starting in 2010, with special crops sponsored by the likes of McDonalds and Farmers Insurance. The difference here is that, as with Chartboost’s normal interstitial display ads, the only things that may be advertised in-game are other games.

Neither new format breaks much new ground in terms of ad content — other companies like Vungle and AdColony already do video ads with rewards — but adding them to Chartboost’s developer arsenal opens up some interesting possibilities.

Chartboost encourages the companies toward the more advanced end of its clientele, i.e. the ones that would have the resources to use InPlay, to strike “direct deals” to advertise in each others’ apps. That means growing mobile developers could have an easier way of piggybacking on each others’ success without having to risk alienating any players with an ad interruption.

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