Innovation & Design

More In Game Ads Beckon


The CEO of Jogo, a newly launched in-game ad agency, explains why his company can compete with Adscape and Massive

Looking at the current in-game advertising field, it's easy to think that no independent company stands a chance anymore. After all, IGA and Double Fusion have been establishing ties as independent companies for the past few years, and Massive and Adscape are backed by Microsoft and Google, respectively. This sort of uphill battle looks insurmountable from an outsider's perspective.

It was to our surprise, then, when Jogo, a new in-game ad firm, surfaced two weeks ago. Questions immediately swirled about this nascent company. What was their executive experience like? Were they going to focus on European publishers and agencies? And how were they planning on competing with the likes of the established in-game advertisement superpowers?

We sat down with Jay P Drago, CEO of Jogo, to get some answers, to discuss current in-game advertising models, experience from the dot com bust, and to get some hints on Jogo's machinations.

"Advertising technology business" experts

Jogo may be new, but the staff behind the firm are certainly not new to the advertising business. Among his first jobs, Drago worked at Katz as a technology officer. Next, he helped found 24/7 Media, helping build up their ad network and operations over the next five years. After that, Drago opened Adgility, working with clients like Eyeblaster in establishing a U.S. presence before the company was rolled into Falk North America and sold to Double Click last year. While he founded Jogo late last year, he's been looking to do something like it for roughly 6 years, he said.

"Jogo is the next step for me. We understand the aspects of reporting assets, metrics, understanding traffic, procedures, how money moves through the system, etc," said Drago, who then switched gears to talking about other in-game ad companies. "A lot of these people didn't go through the growing pains of the Internet as a new industry. I have to make sure to speak the language of the advertisers because originally, we didn't and it retarded growth for 2 years. We brought our own metrics and that confused them. We recently had a call with one of the top agencies in Germany. They said, 'We talked to all these guys and it's scary because it seems like a few years ago.' So, partially because of that, I want the advertisers to come to us. I'm very cautious for the industry, because after all these years of talking to advertisers, I don't want to see it suffer unduly because we haven't attracted people that understand the growing pains. For instance, I look at Massive, seeing what they've done with 50 titles and I don't see that as sustainable."

"I'd like to say on one side, 'Everything our competitors are offering we will too,'" he said, commenting on the company's technology. "We obviously only recently launched. The original plan was, however, to come out after finishing up the technology by the end of 2007. However, we decided that if we didn't come forward now, it would be too late. I think this will be the final year that a company that comes into this industry has the potential to last. Most other companies after that won't survive or will just be swallowed up."

"Going back to what I said about agencies and advertisers, there is a real issue with metrics and standards, because they remember the dot com bust. It's a very sensitive subject when you bring up a new media; they want to know how you quantify it. On the other hand, you have publishers looking to put ads in to get additional revenue. One of the things that stuck out for advertisers and agencies is the need for unified tools. It's vital to have the resources that give you the ability to locate inventory and engage advertisers. People go out, they sign titles, and when they've got them, they secure the advertisers. We're trying to connect advertisers with publishers and push a standard that the agencies understand and communicate that our product makes it simpler for them to get into the game (pun intended). Right now, the in-game advertiser brings the inventory to the agencies and we want to make it easier for publishers to engage the advertiser. Jogo will still be there as a medium, but the conduit will be much easier."

Growing the industry at home and abroad

When Jogo announced their first deal with 10tacle, a company not well known in North America because of its European background, we wondered if the company would be focusing on European developers. Indeed, they will be focusing on Europe... and every other part of the world. While many details about prospective partnerships and other plans were left purposefully vague, we were given a sly nod and a wink that these plans are significant.

"It's the first official deal that involves core games. As you detected by the nature of the press release, we didn't speak about specific titles. What we do want to do is talk about what they're bringing to market, their opportunities, [and] let's represent them without being pinned to a specific title," said Drago. "How it came about stems from an office in Dussledorf we had. My partner has a big presence in Germany and while forming the company we had people who were interested in it. We talked to them, they had been considering it, they had some experience with it, and I think they liked our approach. So we engaged them at a level that I would like to deal with all of our clients: working to best represent what their ideas were. Also, in Germany they respond well to the American inspirational presentations.

"We're totally looking for European clients," he continued. "We've had great success in the European and the U.S. market, but the thing is the European market responded very quickly, and phone calls have started to come in. We've gotten cold calls from all different aspects from mainstream to casual publishers, technology companies, agencies, all saying they want in. A lot of it came out of Europe very quickly. There was also a very good response to Jogo at a recent European event."

When queried about worldwide clients, Drago responded after a long pause: "We've been quite successful establishing development footprints around the world. I'm concerned about telling you what I want to say, though, because I'm afraid you'll write it down and print it!"

"There are certain countries that have different operating aspects," he explained. "It takes infrastructure, it takes knowledge, [and] it takes resources. Comparatively, I look at the funding that IGA and Double Fusion have and I say, 'How are they using it?' Is it going into technologies or are they throwing out money to publishers to secure titles? They might not even be looking in that direction, so we're making sure that the company is more international, but knowing how to execute in these other countries is really important as well. For example, try and set up an ad company in China and see how far you'll get."

"Unfortunately, certain announcements will always hit the press release first. A lot times, these things get done within very tight time periods. You can assume we're talking to an awful lot of folks right now. 'Timing is everything' applies to a lot of what we have going on, though it certainly doesn't mean rushing into it.

"It's a specific thing to the industry. If Boeing sells a SuperBus to United, it's public. When you're dealing with an industry not off its sea legs, compared to somebody of the stature of Coca-Cola who would want to publicly say, 'We're forging new ground,' for them, if they do something, they're at least being progressive even if it fails. If something goes wrong in our industry, they don't want to admit that it failed."

Last mover advantage?

It was quite clear by the end of our lengthy conversation that Drago has every intention of making Jogo a major player in the in-game ads space. He's well aware of what the competition is providing and he has plans to combat their offerings. Likely larger announcements are to follow this year, when Jogo's technology goes live and further partnerships are revealed.

"It's funny that you say 'entrenched in the industry,'" said Drago about the competition (IGA and Double Fusion). "If it's a fledging industry, there's plenty of room to grow. They understand there are going to be multiple players; we all want rise to the top. I suppose the core of your question is, 'Does that means it's hard for a company to compete in the space?' Well, they had a period where they were feeling out the market and that's to be expected when dealing with a new industry. When do I give credence that they started to take hold? Only last year really, so there's no fear that Jogo would not be able to compete. There are three things for why this is. Number one is our time line, which I have confidence in. Number two is our experience, the product we're going to deliver, and the people we know. Number three, if we were only going to do same old same old, we'd still compete. Right now, we have a specific date in third quarter when we'll convey a lot of information and specifics."

"As for moving forward, as I said earlier, our technology is still in the works and will be deployed this year. We'd like to say that, 'Jogo will be all things to all gamers' but that's not really the case. It's important to Jogo to make sure that we bring certain things of value to advertisers. There are certain things that don't need to be sold as in-game. Part of our strategy is focusing on the embodiment of in-game ads, bringing value to advertisers, and taking a fast moving approach to how we approach markets. We're not so cautious though; as soon as we identify a market, we will deploy. Let there be no doubt that we'll be there. So far, within the first few months, we established good relationships with publishers and we're going to continue to do that. Lastly, we're going to compete where we can compete; that does not mean going after the single greatest title everyone is going after."

"We definitely will take a consultive approach. If the advertiser is looking at a title, we might talk to them and say, 'We can engage this more.' We're more than willing to work with the advertiser and make it more appealing to them. I think it would be great if I could be more vocal about some additional announcements and relationships. Right now, we feel we're on a ship rushing towards a pot of gold. We're keeping things close to the chest right now, because you don't want to look to the right and left and see other ships rushing to the same island," he concluded humorously.More In Game Ads Beckon

The CEO of Jogo, a newly launched in-game ad agency, explains why his company can compete with Adscape and Massive

Looking at the current in-game advertising field, it's easy to think that no independent company stands a chance anymore. After all, IGA and Double Fusion have been establishing ties as independent companies for the past few years, and Massive and Adscape are backed by Microsoft and Google, respectively. This sort of uphill battle looks insurmountable from an outsider's perspective.

It was to our surprise, then, when Jogo, a new in-game ad firm, surfaced two weeks ago. Questions immediately swirled about this nascent company. What was their executive experience like? Were they going to focus on European publishers and agencies? And how were they planning on competing with the likes of the established in-game advertisement superpowers?

We sat down with Jay P Drago, CEO of Jogo, to get some answers, to discuss current in-game advertising models, experience from the dot com bust, and to get some hints on Jogo's machinations.

"Advertising technology business" experts

Jogo may be new, but the staff behind the firm are certainly not new to the advertising business. Among his first jobs, Drago worked at Katz as a technology officer. Next, he helped found 24/7 Media, helping build up their ad network and operations over the next five years. After that, Drago opened Adgility, working with clients like Eyeblaster in establishing a U.S. presence before the company was rolled into Falk North America and sold to Double Click last year. While he founded Jogo late last year, he's been looking to do something like it for roughly 6 years, he said.

"Jogo is the next step for me. We understand the aspects of reporting assets, metrics, understanding traffic, procedures, how money moves through the system, etc," said Drago, who then switched gears to talking about other in-game ad companies. "A lot of these people didn't go through the growing pains of the Internet as a new industry. I have to make sure to speak the language of the advertisers because originally, we didn't and it retarded growth for 2 years. We brought our own metrics and that confused them. We recently had a call with one of the top agencies in Germany. They said, 'We talked to all these guys and it's scary because it seems like a few years ago.' So, partially because of that, I want the advertisers to come to us. I'm very cautious for the industry, because after all these years of talking to advertisers, I don't want to see it suffer unduly because we haven't attracted people that understand the growing pains. For instance, I look at Massive, seeing what they've done with 50 titles and I don't see that as sustainable."

"I'd like to say on one side, 'Everything our competitors are offering we will too,'" he said, commenting on the company's technology. "We obviously only recently launched. The original plan was, however, to come out after finishing up the technology by the end of 2007. However, we decided that if we didn't come forward now, it would be too late. I think this will be the final year that a company that comes into this industry has the potential to last. Most other companies after that won't survive or will just be swallowed up."

"Going back to what I said about agencies and advertisers, there is a real issue with metrics and standards, because they remember the dot com bust. It's a very sensitive subject when you bring up a new media; they want to know how you quantify it. On the other hand, you have publishers looking to put ads in to get additional revenue. One of the things that stuck out for advertisers and agencies is the need for unified tools. It's vital to have the resources that give you the ability to locate inventory and engage advertisers. People go out, they sign titles, and when they've got them, they secure the advertisers. We're trying to connect advertisers with publishers and push a standard that the agencies understand and communicate that our product makes it simpler for them to get into the game (pun intended). Right now, the in-game advertiser brings the inventory to the agencies and we want to make it easier for publishers to engage the advertiser. Jogo will still be there as a medium, but the conduit will be much easier."

Growing the industry at home and abroad

When Jogo announced their first deal with 10tacle, a company not well known in North America because of its European background, we wondered if the company would be focusing on European developers. Indeed, they will be focusing on Europe... and every other part of the world. While many details about prospective partnerships and other plans were left purposefully vague, we were given a sly nod and a wink that these plans are significant.

"It's the first official deal that involves core games. As you detected by the nature of the press release, we didn't speak about specific titles. What we do want to do is talk about what they're bringing to market, their opportunities, [and] let's represent them without being pinned to a specific title," said Drago. "How it came about stems from an office in Dussledorf we had. My partner has a big presence in Germany and while forming the company we had people who were interested in it. We talked to them, they had been considering it, they had some experience with it, and I think they liked our approach. So we engaged them at a level that I would like to deal with all of our clients: working to best represent what their ideas were. Also, in Germany they respond well to the American inspirational presentations.

"We're totally looking for European clients," he continued. "We've had great success in the European and the U.S. market, but the thing is the European market responded very quickly, and phone calls have started to come in. We've gotten cold calls from all different aspects from mainstream to casual publishers, technology companies, agencies, all saying they want in. A lot of it came out of Europe very quickly. There was also a very good response to Jogo at a recent European event."

When queried about worldwide clients, Drago responded after a long pause: "We've been quite successful establishing development footprints around the world. I'm concerned about telling you what I want to say, though, because I'm afraid you'll write it down and print it!"

"There are certain countries that have different operating aspects," he explained. "It takes infrastructure, it takes knowledge, [and] it takes resources. Comparatively, I look at the funding that IGA and Double Fusion have and I say, 'How are they using it?' Is it going into technologies or are they throwing out money to publishers to secure titles? They might not even be looking in that direction, so we're making sure that the company is more international, but knowing how to execute in these other countries is really important as well. For example, try and set up an ad company in China and see how far you'll get."

"Unfortunately, certain announcements will always hit the press release first. A lot times, these things get done within very tight time periods. You can assume we're talking to an awful lot of folks right now. 'Timing is everything' applies to a lot of what we have going on, though it certainly doesn't mean rushing into it.

"It's a specific thing to the industry. If Boeing sells a SuperBus to United, it's public. When you're dealing with an industry not off its sea legs, compared to somebody of the stature of Coca-Cola who would want to publicly say, 'We're forging new ground,' for them, if they do something, they're at least being progressive even if it fails. If something goes wrong in our industry, they don't want to admit that it failed."

Last mover advantage?

It was quite clear by the end of our lengthy conversation that Drago has every intention of making Jogo a major player in the in-game ads space. He's well aware of what the competition is providing and he has plans to combat their offerings. Likely larger announcements are to follow this year, when Jogo's technology goes live and further partnerships are revealed.

"It's funny that you say 'entrenched in the industry,'" said Drago about the competition (IGA and Double Fusion). "If it's a fledging industry, there's plenty of room to grow. They understand there are going to be multiple players; we all want rise to the top. I suppose the core of your question is, 'Does that means it's hard for a company to compete in the space?' Well, they had a period where they were feeling out the market and that's to be expected when dealing with a new industry. When do I give credence that they started to take hold? Only last year really, so there's no fear that Jogo would not be able to compete. There are three things for why this is. Number one is our time line, which I have confidence in. Number two is our experience, the product we're going to deliver, and the people we know. Number three, if we were only going to do same old same old, we'd still compete. Right now, we have a specific date in third quarter when we'll convey a lot of information and specifics."

"As for moving forward, as I said earlier, our technology is still in the works and will be depl


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