Agawi Uses Its Cross-Platform Gaming Tech To Launch A Mobile Ad Unit That You Can Actually Play

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Pretty much everyone agrees that mobile advertising isn’t very good (or outright sucks). Here’s an interesting solution from Agawi – an ad unit for mobile games called AppGlimpse, which functions as a playable demo for the game.

The startup, formerly known as iSwifter, has developed technology for virtualizing games and eventually other apps so that they can run on any platform. In this case, Agawi says that it can create a cloud version of any Android game that will run as an ad on both iOS and Android.

Currently, mobile ads for games are limited to banners or, at best, videos. Co-founder Rohan Relan said that doesn’t really convey the experience of playing the game: “It’s like a movie trailer that’s just static pictures and words.”

Advertisers just upload their games to the AppGlimpse dashboard, then they can run ads that access a virtualized version of the game running in Agawi’s cloud. The demo can last for up to two minutes, then it directs users to full, downloadable versions. As stated above, you can use the ad to promote both the iOS and Android versions of a game, but you need to have an Android version to build the ad unit.

“In the long-term there is a strategy for even using iOS versions of a game to create ads. It’s a significant engineering effort, but we’ll get there,” Rohan Relan said. “In the near-term though we’re going to only be creating ads from the Android versions, but given how fast Android is growing and the popularity of cross-platform tools like Unity, we think we should still be able to cover a ton of games.”

This could be beneficial for publishers too, said co-founder Peter Relan. After all, they already get paid “a huge premium” for running engaging video ads, so advertisers should pay even more for this. (Publishers can integrate with AppGlimpse by using the company’s software development kit.)

When I visited the Agawi offices a few weeks ago, one of the main points the team made was its intention to go beyond cloud gaming and eventually become the enabling technology for all kinds of cross-platform applications. (And they did show me tests of some non-gaming apps.) AppGlimpse is the first step in that direction — although Peter Relan said that the initial advertisers and publishers will be gaming companies. Focusing on gaming is “an obvious go-to-market strategy,” but, he added, “we could be back in a few months and say that we’re now opening up to all apps.”

Interested developers should sign up here.