Chartboost, the startup founded by former, pre-Disney acquisition Tapulous employees who wanted to build a mobile ad network that changed the meaning of the term and appealed especially to game development companies, today announced the addition of two new partners to its Kiosk offering. Kiosk is a way for developers to easily get payouts from major mobile gaming companies via direct relationships from which Chartboost itself doesn’t take a cut, and new partners Crowdstar, Kabam, Booyah and GREE are offering up significant bounties for developers willing to promote their games via interstitial ads in their own titles.
The new partners join existing companies PocketGems and TinyCo, which have both seen considerable success with Chartboost’s Kiosk program. PocketGems has tripled their direct deals – meaning advertising arrangements formed directly with developer partners though Chartboost – and TinyCo, which is using the platform to boost its Kindle Fire presence, now gets two-thirds of its Chartboost business via the Kiosk. Chartboost is clearly hoping that this kind of success will help it attract even more companies with big ad budgets looking for ad space inventory, which is a key ingredient for attracting new sign-ups on the developer side of the equation.
“We were making games before, and we learned from the early days of iPhone games and making money from iPhone games, and then when we left we decided to build technology for mobile game developers,” Chartboost CEO Maria Alegre said in an interview. “What we’re trying to build right now is a technology platform for game developers to run their business, so we want to become their business engine.”
For Chartboost, the starting point of accomplishing that goal involves inventing a better way for developers to buy and sell ad space within their games, one that both puts a strong emphasis on user experience and also increases the transparency associated with running campaigns. Alegre describes why they wanted to start off addressing this problem, and what they bring to the table that hasn’t generally been available from other sources.
“We call it the ‘no BS’ alternative to the ad network,” she said. “Because in the end it’s technology that any ad network would offer, but without the ad network restraints, so it’s completely transparent. Instead of being a black box, you can see who you’re advertising and publishing with, and then you can do deals directly gaming company to gaming company, we kill the middleman.”
To make that work, Chartboost operates on a freemium model, one Allegre says is borrowed from the mechanics of mobile game sales themselves. For free, users get internal cross promotion within their own apps, as well as direct relationships with publishers along with performance tracking. The company makes money only when users launch a campaign that actually runs in the ad network, with any apps in the network that have opted in to paid cross-promotion. Aside from unique pricing, Chartboost also focuses on making the ads an non-intrusive as possible, and generally advises its users to only serve around one ad a day, with a focus on high quality in order to deliver more conversions than a blitz of frequent and persistent banner ads.
The Kiosk is essentially a spotlight Chartboost provides in order to bring attention to key opportunities available on the network for establishing lucrative direct relationships. Basically, it’s a lead generation tool for Chartboost, which can use it to reel in both new developers and marquee partners to funnel to its paid offerings. And if the startup later wants to expand to other areas of mobile game back office management, they’ll have a built-in audience open to exploring other premium features thanks to early good-will efforts like this one.