Video game ads are the new hot commodity. And ad tech companies that specialize in in-game ad inventory are seeing an infusion of cash.
After just 11 months in market, Gadsme announced Wednesday it raised $8 million in seed funding.
The investment round was led by Galaxy Interactive, a venture capital firm that specializes in gaming and interactive experiences, and Ubisoft, one of the biggest names in game publishing.
Game developers and publishers that have tested or run campaigns using Gadsme’s tech also contributed to the funding round, according to Gadsme CRO and Co-Founder Simon Spaull.
“[This funding round] wasn’t just about raising capital. It was about partnering with true gaming experts that could understand the product and could help the company with our vision and execution,” he said.
Getting Ubisoft onboard was a particularly big win for Spaull, who is a longtime fan of the company’s hugely popular Assassin’s Creed series.
This was Gadsme’s first round of investor funding. The company was initially funded at startup in 2019 by its co-founders Spaull, Guillaume Monteux and Luc Vauvillier.
Gadsme plans to use the investor funds to grow its current team of six and expand its operations in Europe, the United States and, eventually, the APAC region, Spaull said.
It also plans to develop more interactive, gamified ad formats suited to popular genres of games, he said. These might include ads in first-person shooter games with elements that can be shot instead of clicked or ads for sports games that can be interacted with by hitting them with a ball. And it also plans to add customization options for sponsored outfits and skins.
Gadsme also plans to expand its options for marketing in metaverse environments, Spaull said.
In-game ad offerings
Gadsme’s tech works with mobile, PC and console games. And it is compatible with direct and programmatic ad placements.
“We’ve built our own SSP, so we are able to access programmatic demand,” Spaull said. Gadsme considers its SSP to be a key differentiator for its in-house tech stack.
Developers integrate Gadsme’s in-game ad SDK into a game’s existing code via development platforms like Unity. A drag-and-drop interface allows for ad placements like in-game billboards and sponsored game assets, including character outfits, vehicle skins and digital product placements. The SDK also allows developers to add shading and other effects to these marketing assets to ensure they blend in with the in-game environment.
Although Gadsme’s tech is compatible with brand marketing and performance-based marketing, it focuses more on the latter because performance-based campaigns are much more common in the gaming space, Spaull said.
Due to the focus on performance marketing, Gadsme works to make its ads as interactive and actionable as possible without disrupting the gaming experience, Spaull said.
For example, in Voodoo’s Ball Mayhem!, Gadsme’s tech is used to insert billboard-style ads into and around the field of play, mimicking the ad experience at a live sporting event. The ads are clickable but are programmed to minimize accidental clicks as the player moves around the environment. When a player does deliberately click on an ad, the gameplay is paused and a browser-style page pops up with an interface that allows the player to shop for products featured in the ad. After the player completes the transaction, they can pick up their game right where they left it.
Gadsme’s tech stack also includes a patented measurement solution that weighs criteria like time on screen and click-through rate to assign a viewability score to ad placements. Ad performance can also be measured via an advertiser’s third-party attribution partners or via surveys for branding campaigns.