Tap.me Hires Top Omnicom Exec Matt Spiegel for Mobile Ad Play

Tap.me, a small Chicago start-up, has landed a big name as its new CEO.

Matt Spiegel is perhaps best known for starting Resolution Media, which he led for more than four years before selling to Omnicom Group. Since then he’s held several positions at the global advertising and marketing company, including CEO of its media digital group.

Spiegel begins today as the CEO at Tap.me, which is building an ad network focused on monetizing games. It is starting with mobile applications and then will move to other platforms, like Facebook.

The founding team, which is made up of former game developers, including CEO Joshua Hernandez, recognized the need for a better ad platform.

“What they witnessed in the game space is that most ads interrupted the game play and were not very effective,” Spiegel said.

The ads were either banners that were ignored during game play, or were premium sponsorships, which consisted of integrated product placements. The latter was more effective, but time consuming and not easily scalable.

Despite the downfalls, games continue to be the most downloaded applications. “We’ve reached a tipping point, where the consumer attention and time spent on games has gotten to the point where brands should look at it as a content channel,” Spiegel said.

So, in essence, the company believes that ads should not interrupt the game play, but that they can be shown before the game.

It works like this: A game developer picks something in its game that can be sponsored, such as being able to jump higher, access to a virtual good, gaining more speed or endurance, or being able to unlock a new level. Tap.me then provides advertisers that will sponsor those items, like Red Bull or Gatorade. Players have the choice of playing with or without the advertisements.

Because many of the ad units are for similar actions or items, the market can reach scale, unlike customized sponsorships, like a car company providing a free tractor in a farming game.

So far, the company has more than 35 games signed up on Apple and Android and recently hit two million uniques on the Tap.Me platform. Some games include: Hospital Havok 2, Escape 3D: Bathroom 2, Drake’s Tower, Charmed and Mr. Runner.

Hernandez said so far most of the players, or 88 percent, opt in for the advertisements and are choosing to interact with the brand. He said the sponsorships also result in longer game play, and that the users who did pick to see the ads spent 63 percent more time in the game than players who did not.

Tap.me was originally founded in 2009 as a game company, but after seeing the challenges with in-game advertising, it shifted its focus in 2010 to advertising. The 15-employee company has raised $1.44 million from angel investors and two Chicago VCs, I2A Fund and Hyde Park Angels.

Now with Spiegel on board, the company plans to raise more capital and accelerate the number of advertisers and game makers it has on board.

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