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Indie Mobile Devs Get A Leg Up With New Cross-Promotion Service From Chartboost, Execution Labs

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Execution Labs, a Montreal-based gaming incubator, is teaming up with mobile game advertising and monetization startup Chartboost to create a new matchmaking program that will help indie game developers promote each others’ work.

It would allow smaller developers to tap into cross-promotion, a strategy that has helped bigger game developers hold on to their millions of players as they get shuttled from one game title to the next. Big game developers like Zynga and Rovio routinely promote their new games in old titles. That makes it much cheaper for them to get millions of users for a new title.

At the same time, it’s become harder than ever for brand-new game developers to break in. Yesterday, a Distimo report showed that just 2 percent of the top 250 publishers in the iPhone App Store were “newcomers.” Android is not much better with just 3 percent qualifying as “newcomers” in the Android app store, Google Play.

It’s a classic shift you see on software platforms, as early movers take advantage of lower marketing costs to gain reach and crowd out latecomers.

Execution Labs is calling this matchmaking service the “Lab Partners” program. It will help indie mobile game developers find similar developers with whom they can set up advertising trades. They’ll be able to search for other games by platform and genre to see potential partners. So if a player enters one developer’s game, they’ll see ads for another studio’s similar titles.

The service is free and is powered by Chartboost’s Direct Deals platform. Chartboost was founded by some former Tapulous employees and started off by facilitating direct advertising trades between mid- and large-size mobile developers.

Over time, that grew into a gaming-centric mobile advertising network that now involves about 12,000 titles. The company’s revenues grew fast enough that the startup attracted a $19 million round led by Sequoia Capital earlier this year.

Now Chartboost is envisioning itself as a business engine for games. While the company hasn’t shared its product roadmap for the coming year, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine it building out tools for retention and monetization later.

As for Execution Labs, it’s a Montreal-based incubator backed by BDC Venture Capital, Real Ventures and White Star Capital.