Happy mobile gamer

Advertisers are eternally looking to create positive associations with brands. Often this occurs through tieing the brand to a moment of celebration, or to relief in a moment of difficulty. Social and mobile advertising platform MediaBrix is taking this strategy and translating it into the world of gaming.

In every game, there are moments of triumph such as completing a level, achieving a high score, or defeating a key enemy. At the same time, these games regularly leave players frustrated and angry when things aren’t going their way. MediaBrix has created a platform for introducing appropriate brand advertising messages and even in-game rewards during what it calls Breakthrough Moments (BTMs) in games.

With this strategy, the company enables its advertiser partners to engage with the growing audience of 250 million Facebook users that play social games and the 50 percent of the US population between 18- to 44-years-old that does so daily.

MediaBrix works closely with its game publisher partners to storyboard their gameplay and determine natural BTMs during which users are receptive to brand messages and their inclusion will add to the experience. For example, in Words with Friends, when a user gets a board of all vowels and is forced to skip a turn, an advertisement may read, “Having a tough go of things? Pick all new letters courtesy of Coke.” In some cases the add may include a video or other interactive element, but there is never a signup or click through to an outside site required.

“[MediaBrix’s focus on BTMs] shows an in-depth understanding of the player experience that I rarely see from other platforms,” Large Animal Games founder and CEO Wade Tinney says.

This is not surprising, given that the company is comprised of both game industry and premium advertising veterans.

“It’s not all about making money, but rather about creating engagement,” MediaBrix CEO and co-founder Ari Brandt says. “The reality is that not every game has breakthrough moments, and we are extremely conscious about deploying these messages only where they fit.

MediaBrix has restructured its platform into four interrelated ad products, Flex, Views, Fusion, and Rewards, with the latter debuting this week. Flex is a simple brand congratulations delivered during a celebratory moment. Views offers a value exchange by rescuing players from a difficult situation in conjunction with an opt-in video ad. Fusion involves the advertiser working directly with the publisher to create their own custom breakthrough moments within gameplay.

The newest addition to the product suite is Rewards, is only available at rare moments of “highest achievement,” such as a new high score, and allows brands to reward the player with a virtual gift. Due to the rarity of such situations, MediaBrix has added in the option for brand to offer a downloadable coupon or other means external engagement, something unavailable through its other products.

“It’s a misconception that social gamers are all teenagers in their underwear in their parent’s basements,” Brandt says. “The range of demographics that we can target is really limitless. We have run campaigns for Lexus targeting affluent males, and others for P&G and Unilever that are female head of household focused.”

MediaBrix is a managed service business, with its main client being advertisers. The team of 50 includes has has grown its platform to deliver 500 million BTMs each month. The two year old company has raised $5.5 million across two rounds of financing from Edison Ventures and Revel Partners.

It can be difficult to make apples to apples comparisons of various advertising platforms, especially in the subjective realm of brand rather than performance advertising. Nonetheless, MediaBrix touts some impressive sounding stats to quantify the impact of its BTM strategy. The company says that its campaigns achieve “video completion rates that are 84 times the industry average, a 500 percent lift in brand awareness compared to online normative averages, and engagement that are 2,000 percent higher than other forms of digital advertising.”

Whether BTM advertising is really the best thing since online advertising sliced bread is up for debate. But there’s no arguing that it’s a good idea to tie a brand to a particular moment of strong emotion for the consumer. Anyone who’s played video games knows that they are nothing if not a roller-coaster of emotion. MediaBrix has created a simple and effective suite of products for brands to interact with their audience during these critical moments. In a world of banner blindness and twitchy fingers bypassing interstitial video ads, this strategy is one that appears sound.