Why the game marketing ecosystem is ripe for disruption

For many game developers, the traditional way of promoting their products online is broken beyond repair.

With no direct digital access to potential customers, they depend on an ungainly mix of ad exchanges, media buying platforms, data aggregators, agencies, and resellers. The results of such a tangled web are predictable: Unfair prices, low-quality leads and surging churn rates.

This unsatisfying situation has led many game developers to shift their focus from customer acquisition to retention in the hope of boosting the cost-effectiveness of their marketing strategies.

“We now think exclusively in terms of years – not days, weeks, or months,” wrote Kevin Chou, CEO of Kabam, in a VentureBeat guest column on retention metrics last month.

Still, this doesn’t address the fundamental problem that digital advertising often targets the wrong people. And if players aren’t really interested in your kind of game, there’s not much point in spending money to try and keep them around.

A push to invest in ad tech also hasn’t solved the problem. In fact, extending the technology stack has served publishers quite well, but from a buyer perspective it has only resulted in more complexity and no discernible improvement in results.

Part of the issue is an inherent conflict of interest, with ad buyers (game developers) on one side and ad sellers (publishers, agencies and networks) on the other. Whereas ad agencies and networks have an incentive to try to get buyers to spend as much on ads as possible regardless of their effectiveness, publishers have an incentive to keep their audience as vague and undefined as possible. But many developers are no longer content to accept such conditions.

“We’re very quickly getting to a point where we can value your eyeballs. We’re not just gonna talk about how many you have anymore. No one is going to give you money because you have eyeballs,” said Gabe Leydon, CEO of developer MZ, in a now famous interview venting the frustrations of the industry. “We want to know if they’re real. There’s a lot of fake eyeballs. There’s a lot of fraud. We want to know if it performs when we buy it.”

So what’s the answer?

With their troves of user data, web behemoths Google and Facebook continue to have a sizable advantage when it comes to performance marketing. But game developers stand to make their ad buying more expensive — and risky — relying on just a few major distribution channels. And upstart firms promoting programmatic ad technology, though offering greater optimization and an improved ROI, still depend on ad networks. This keeps an unnecessary layer between game makers and their end users.

Our Berlin-based start-up is trying to change the equation with the first peer-to-peer marketing platform for game developers. Launched only in March, Simplaex already counts many of the game industry’s biggest companies as its clients.

We never expected that nearly every game developer we talked to would be so annoyed by the current situation. But people really want an alternative, because the technology stack is getting more complex and their costs are increasing, but their results hardly change.

Our new platform enables developers to buy, engage, and sell to players while bypassing the traditional gaming ecosystem for digital marketing. Using solely first-party data and its own real-time bidder, it essentially functions as a marketplace for player acquisition and retention.

Capturing in-game events of players in real-time, developers can use it to target identifiable users and tailor marketing campaigns on a granular level. Simplaex also offers personalization options to engage and reengage users throughout the lifecycle of a game. Plus, the platform creates new revenue streams, such as monetizing players that are no longer actively playing a game.

Aiming to have direct access to over 100 million players by the end of the third quarter, we are offering developers a live demo of the platform at the gamescom trade show in Cologne, Germany later this month.

Will it mean an end to the lack of transparency, hidden costs, and middlemen failing to add any value in digital game marketing? Only one thing is certain: The current gaming ecosystem is ripe for disruption.

Jeffry van Ede is CEO and co-founder of Simplaex.

Learn how to get the most out of your game marketing efforts athttp://simpl-loadb-ez3eknlwyr8g-187318696.us-east-2.elb.amazonaws.com

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Simplaex, experts in marketing mobile games, has successfully closed its A-round funding. The Berlin-based company will use the capital to expand into new verticals and deliver its proprietary technology to a broader customer base. Helping to drive this expansion will be Perry Ofir, Simplaex's newly-appointed CRO who was formerly VP of Sales & Business Development at Adgorithms.Simplaex launched in April 2016 as a groundbreaking marketing platform for game developers. In the twelve months since, it has grown into a sophisticated data marketplace with over 300 million unique user profiles. On the back of this impressive growth, the company is now looking to expand beyond the gaming industry.

Simplaex Surpasses 150 Million Players for Game Developer Platform

Simplaex, a revolutionary peer-to-peer platform for game developers, now offers direct access to over 150 million players. The important milestone comes just ten months after the Berlin-based start-up set out to transform game marketing. Developed together with some of the world's leading game companies, Simplaex is laser focused on the two main pillars of the industry's business model: Acquiring players and finding a way to monetize them. The groundbreaking technology completely bypasses the traditional way of game marketing, giving developers immediate access to a transparent and effective player marketplace.

First-party Data Innovator Simplaex Closes $2.6 Million Funding Round

Simplaex, experts in marketing mobile games, has successfully closed its A-round funding. The Berlin-based company will use the capital to expand into new verticals and deliver its proprietary technology to a broader customer base. Helping to drive this expansion will be Perry Ofir, Simplaex's newly-appointed CRO who was formerly VP of Sales & Business Development at Adgorithms.Simplaex launched in April 2016 as a groundbreaking marketing platform for game developers. In the twelve months since, it has grown into a sophisticated data marketplace with over 300 million unique user profiles. On the back of this impressive growth, the company is now looking to expand beyond the gaming industry.

Simplaex Surpasses 150 Million Players for Game Developer Platform

Simplaex, a revolutionary peer-to-peer platform for game developers, now offers direct access to over 150 million players. The important milestone comes just ten months after the Berlin-based start-up set out to transform game marketing. Developed together with some of the world's leading game companies, Simplaex is laser focused on the two main pillars of the industry's business model: Acquiring players and finding a way to monetize them. The groundbreaking technology completely bypasses the traditional way of game marketing, giving developers immediate access to a transparent and effective player marketplace.

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Simplaex is officially launching its next generation marketing technology platform at GDC 2016 in San Francisco that solves the problem of today's user acquisition and retention in both mobile and online gaming. Since the introduction of the F2P business model the gaming advertising industry has developed into an ecosystem that is controlled by networks, agencies, brokers and resellers. Game developers and game players are more disconnected than ever before.

Why the game marketing ecosystem is ripe for disruption

For many game developers, the traditional way of promoting their products online is broken beyond repair. With no direct digital access to potential customers, they depend on an ungainly mix of ad exchanges, media buying platforms, data aggregators, agencies, and resellers. The results of such a tangled web are predictable: Unfair prices, low-quality leads and surging churn rates. This unsatisfying situation has led many game developers to shift their focus from customer acquisition to retention in the hope of boosting the cost-effectiveness of their marketing strategies.

Why game developers are neglecting their players

Can you imagine going to a restaurant that made it increasingly harder to get through each course of a meal? Sure, you can have your appetizers, but to eat your entrée you’ll have to cross the street to another location. And don’t forget to bring your spoon with you — otherwise you can forget dessert! No, I can’t imagine that either. But that’s exactly what the game industry does to its customers. It makes products that are by their nature progressively more difficult to consume. It’s the developer’s conundrum: Every gamer is intrinsically different yet they’re all playing the same game. They have various levels of skill and determination, as well as a range of ideas about what constitutes success and brings gaming satisfaction. It’s impossible to make a game that’s a perfect fit for everyone, but you can try to look after your active users and make sure they’re happy.

Why game developers should embrace player churn

Churn. It’s an ugly word. Game developers are naturally concerned about player retention. But eventually even the most ardent player loses interest in a game. It’s normal. It’s part of the cycle. And so it’s also normal when developers are inclined to squeeze the absolute maximum revenue out of people before they’re gone forever. However, trying desperately to monetize your players only increases churn, aggravating the problem.

Why game developers must rethink their advertising strategy

What if you could go to the movies for free, but every 15 minutes the film would stop for a commercial break? A few very cost-conscious people might tolerate it, but I reckon most would refuse to ruin their cinema experience that way. Similarly, there’s a good reason game developers dislike in-app advertisements: They distract your customers — and frequently discourage them from using your product. “Gamers want to game. So disturbing the gamer’s experience, even if it brings value, isn’t always the way to go,” wrote Avi Hadas, in a recent guest column on in-game advertising for VentureBeat. The stakes are high. In an industry concerned about churn, retention, and monetization of players, in-game ads might save your business — or end up killing it.

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What if you could go to the movies for free, but every 15 minutes the film would stop for a commercial break? A few very cost-conscious people might tolerate it, but I reckon most would refuse to ruin their cinema experience that way. Similarly, there’s a good reason game developers dislike in-app advertisements: They distract your customers — and frequently discourage them from using your product. “Gamers want to game. So disturbing the gamer’s experience, even if it brings value, isn’t always the way to go,” wrote Avi Hadas, in a recent guest column on in-game advertising for VentureBeat. The stakes are high. In an industry concerned about churn, retention, and monetization of players, in-game ads might save your business — or end up killing it.