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Why in-game ad platform Anzu is Best Tech Platform of the year

Anzu won the ‘Best Tech Platform’ category at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveal the secrets of their success...

What is it?

Anzu is an innovative in-game adtech platform that blends non-intrusive brand ads directly into the gameplay across mobile, PC, and consoles. The company works with industry leaders, including Vodafone, Samsung, Pepsi, WPP, GroupM, Ubisoft, Microsoft and Sony.

With over 3.1 billion gamers across the world, and the average gamer spending 8.27 hours a week playing games, this medium has the potential to become the best marketing channel. Although gaming is bigger than the film, TV and music industries combined, advertisers are yet to capitalize on this audience due to a lack of technology, education, ease of access and confidence.

The challenge

Previously, advertisers were reluctant to invest in gaming for several reasons. Firstly, there was no easy way to programmatically serve dynamic ads across mobile, PC and consoles. The ad formats that existed were highly intrusive and often disrupted the gaming experience and consumers’ perceptions of the brand. There were no industry standards to compare campaigns that ran in gaming to those that ran on social media or across the web. As a result, it was challenging for advertisers to understand the media value and brand impact.

With this in mind, Anzu’s three co-founders Itamar Benedy, Ben Fenster, and Michael Badichi, decided to build a solution that would allow advertisers to easily penetrate the gaming market.

The strategy

The team identified several issues which were stopping advertisers from seeing gaming as a viable marketing channel. One of the main reasons was that the existing technology did not properly consider the end-user – the gamer. The industry had also only thought about in-game advertising within the mobile ecosystem, ignoring console and PC platforms, where most mature gamers existed.

With fraud and reporting discrepancies plaguing the market, as well as an increasing focus on keeping user data safe, amplified by Apple and Google’s recent moves, the founders also knew to be successful, clients needed full transparency over their campaigns. To achieve this, they would need to team up with existing tech vendors to bring industry standards to in-game advertising.

The platform

Anzu is the first to serve cross-platform dynamic in-game banner and video ads programmatically across mobile, PC, and console and the first to bring digital industry standards in-game, working with industry leaders including Comscore, Moat and Nielsen.

Anzu is on a mission to help advertisers reach every gamer on the planet. To do this it has built out the world’s most advanced in-game advertising platform, which allows advertisers to communicate with gamers across all major platforms via in-game ads that form part of the gameplay. The platform has attracted investments from WPP and Sony Innovation Fund, and its clients include GroupM, American Eagle, PepsiCo, Samsung, and Vodafone.

Anzu has brought recognized industry standards to in-game advertising for the first time by partnering with industry leaders including Moat, Comscore, and Neilsen, allowing advertisers to compare their in-game campaigns to those running on other advertising channels. Anzu’s 3D ad tracker has helped advertisers achieve extremely high viewability rates (Cap’n Crunch 99%; Klarna 95%; Samsung 91%; PepsiCo 89%). It also works with leading games publishers, including Ubisoft, Playstation, Amanotes, and Nacon, allowing advertisers to run ads in some of the world’s most popular games. Anzu has also become the only in-game advertising solution licensed as an official Xbox middleware provider.

It has attracted some of the leading marketers and games experts as strategic advisors, including David Sable, Jamie Gutfreund, and Jens Hilgers. The platform’s success is hard to overstate, and the company is growing at an exponential rate. By recognizing a huge opportunity, listening to advertisers and publishers, and putting gamers at the heart of everything it does, Anzu has become a force to be reckoned with and is set to continue transforming the way advertisers think about

The Anzu team has built a product that is truly the best in the market, far ahead of some of its closest competitors. Anzu is the only operating SDK in the console environment and takes pride in being the only in-game advertising solution licensed as an official Xbox middleware provider.

Its SDK allows the display of dynamic in-game ads in a wide variety of formats, with precise targeting and real-time control over ad display. The more simple competitor API integrations have limited targeting capabilities and ad format restrictions, such as no video, with no real-time control over ad placements on the client-side.

The platform’s success has also attracted some huge investors, including WPP, whose investment in Anzu was it's first in the gaming industry, and Sony innovation fund, whose first investment was in the advertising industry.

Anzu has also become the only in-game advertising platform in the market to offer ad viewability tracking to ensure advertisers pay only for IAB-recognized viewable impressions, not just for displayed in-game ads without standard ad viewability verification. This is possible through a patent-pending 3D ad tracker that allows them to work with third-parties like Moat, which it is currently working with to bring ad viewability across platforms.

This entry was a winner at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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