How Overwolf’s Ad Platform Boosts Brand Partnerships

Overwolf Database-Link-e1521645463907 is a dedicated platform for in-game apps and services, letting players augment popular games such as Fortnite Database-Link-e1521645463907, League of Legends Database-Link-e1521645463907, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Database-Link-e1521645463907 (CS:GO) with extra, third-party functionality—things like coaching tools, recording functionality, and unique voice packs. With 10 million monthly active users, the platform has become a part of many PC players’ everyday gaming routines.

That’s what makes it a potentially effective tool for advertisers. Overwolf serves up ads throughout its platform, but according to marketing communications lead Shay Zeldis, it does so in a way that doesn’t annoy or impede players. Pair that with an engaged player base that actively uses Overwolf’s myriad offered services, and there is an opportunity to reach a large, receptive audience.

The company is now leveraging that capability by creating specialized campaigns for partnered brands, building themed competitions that attract players while promoting the sponsor. The Esports Observer spoke with Zeldis about its latest partnership with 20th Century Fox, and how its platform engages gamers in ways that other advertising routes do not.

Boosting Brands

Overwolf’s latest activation spotlights the upcoming 20th Century Fox film, The Kid Who Would Be King, with a promotion that begins this weekend and culminates the weekend of the film’s release, January 26-27. It’s an interactive experience that allows Fortnite players to earn 1,000 V-Bucks (the premium, in-game currency) by earning a Solo Victory Royale win during each competitive window.

“Unlike most places on the web, our ads obey an entirely different set of rules.”

Players opt-in by downloading the promoted app in the Overwolf store, and if they win the solo Fortnite match while using the app, they automatically earn the reward. This system generates a lot of incentive for Fortnite fans to continue playing match after match, all while raising awareness of The Kid Who Would Be King. According to Zeldis, pairing the kid-centric film with Fortnite was an ideal match in terms of target audience.

“We have the ability to basically sift out the audiences that they’re interested in,” he said, referring to the aggregate user data for each supported game. “We figured out that our current Fortnite player base is right up their alley. They also want to be associated among gaming audiences with Fortnite and with the aura that goes with it—the young, hip connection to current gamers.”

While Overwolf apps are typically made by third-party developers, the company develops these promotional apps and works with the partnered brand to maximize exposure. It’s all packaged up in an experience that’s meant to be effortless for users, rewarding them simply for playing and enjoying their games. All the while, however, it engages them with advertising and brand messaging.

“We basically facilitate the platform that is both where the right kind of users are in a mental state that’s good for the brand, and we have the technical capabilities to connect them directly in a seamless, one-click solution that doesn’t take a toll on user engagement and attention,” says Zeldis.

“Our platform is pretty much the only place nowadays where you can pinpoint and engage only gamers…”

In October, Overwolf held an Alienware Database-Link-e1521645463907 promotion that instead engaged players through their favorite Twitch streamers, letting those creators recruit hundreds of their viewers and bring them into a Fortnite challenge for cross-community competition. The promotion awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes and racked up significant community engagement, says Zeldis, ultimately paving the way for this 20th Century Fox promotion.

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Credit: Overwolf

Friendlier Ads

According to Zeldis, most of the revenue that Overwolf and its app developers make comes from advertising on the platform. Overwolf purposefully designed its ad system to ensure that users aren’t bombarded with ads at unexpected or potentially frustrating moments.

“Unlike most places on the web, our ads obey an entirely different set of rules,” he says. “We developed an in-house ad engine, and the concept is that we never advertise when the gamer is actually doing something important. What that means is that we actually manage to reach a point where ads can only appear whether it’s outside the game—in a launcher or client—or whether it’s in the game, they will only appear when the gamer is present but not engaged.”

For example, if you’re playing Overwatch Database-Link-e1521645463907 or CS:GO and your character dies, you might have to wait to respawn back into the game. “That sort of location is where we meet the gamers,” says Zeldis. “Our engagement stats are through the roof, incomparable to any other display-based platform that we know of when it comes to gamers. We have pretty much 100% view rates, and people watch entire ads, entire videos, because they’re on hold anyway. They’re not bothered.”

“Many users are used to paying for apps and game services…”

Related Article: Overwolf Raises $16M in Series B Funding Led By Intel Capital

That approach is driving brands like Alienware and 20th Century Fox to Overwolf for elaborate, competitive campaigns. Zeldis says that competition-themed activations have “seen a vastly better response” than non-interactive ones, and that brands are excited about finding new ways to meaningfully connect with players. It’s a different approach than traditional display advertising or an esports sponsorship, yet it’s still hyper-focused on gamers—and primarily those who love competitive online games that are also popular esports.

“Our platform is pretty much the only place nowadays where you can pinpoint and engage only gamers, and engage them in a way that sort of demands their attention in a positive way and doesn’t piss them off,” says Zeldis. “Basically, what we’ve been getting in these last few months is a lot of interest from brands that have been trying—for years, in some cases—to find a way to actually connect to gamers natively in a positive way.”

The Road Ahead

Overwolf’s ad engine is evolving, too. The company plans to allow users to support specific app creators by targeting their viewing revenue, as well as deciding when to see video ads and how often they run. That approach could potentially drive additional marketing engagement, since users know that viewing ads will benefit their favorite creators.

We’re seeing amazing stats like nothing we’ve seen before…”

“Many users are used to paying for apps and game services,” adds Zeldis, “and the trade-off between non-intrusive ads and actually paying from their pocket is one that they’re happy with, at least based on our stats.”

Even ahead of those changes, Zeldis says that the current engagement data is encouraging. Between November’s $16M USD Series B funding round and August’s launch of a joint $7M app investment fund with Intel, it appears that investors and partners are also excited by what they’re seeing from Overwolf and its gaming app platform.

“What we’re seeing is sort of an explosion when it comes to user engagement and how well users are taking to the new marketing and advertising formats,” he says. “We’re seeing amazing stats like nothing we’ve seen before in the 10 years we’ve been trying things before that, and any comparable data that we’ve managed to get from other platforms and other ecosystems.”

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