Over Thanksgiving my cousin and daughter talked up an iPhone and Android game called Angry Birds. It’s a very simple game where you launch birds from slingshot to take out egg-stealing pigs hiding behind various structures. Simple in concept…and absolutely addictive. Believe me.
On iPhone it sold something like 12 million copies for $.99 largely through viral word of mouth and has been the best selling app for many weeks. More interesting, from a brand-building perspective, the game is free on Android and supported by advertising. The game’s maker Rovio is reportedly making approximately $1 million per month just from advertising and it has already hit over 8 million downloads.
The ads, for things like search engines or cosmetics, are pesky but since the game is so fun and addictive you just skip over them and keep playing. To be sure, you do notice them. And, hey, if they keep the game free why not? Do they work? Probably too early to tell, but I were a media buyer and wanted to get eyeballs on my message, I would definitely not want to pass this one up.
As smartphones become more and more pervasive, 20 million downloads will seem like nothing. Future games will be in the 100s of millions of downloads globally – turning them into powerful vehicles for building brands. Rovio has cracked the code for how to do it with games. In this video, put together by Google’s AdMob team, Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka offers some interesting insights on how it’s done. Is this the future?