TicTacTi Employs Image Recognition for In-Game Widget Ads

TicTacTiCasual games may see a vast amount of traffic, but monetizing them can be more than a little tricky due to issues relating to Flash-based game files and the needs of various publishers. Israeli startup TicTacTi is looking to make monetizing casual games more efficient, by using image recognition to insert ads into casual gaming widgets.

The biggest obstacle in providing In-Game Advertising (IGA) typically involves getting the actual ad into the game. Games, which are typically in Flash SWF format, require distribution by a publisher, which can be anything from an Oberon, to a HeyZap, to an online edition of a newspaper. Each publisher has its own quirks and demands when it comes to monetization—one wants to advertise pre-game, the other post, and the third between levels. And this is where the crux of the problem lies—all of these quirks require alternate versions of the game source for the various publishers and advertisers.

TicTacTi realizes that requiring developers to integrate with multiple SDK’s to facilitate the embedding of ads is not scalable, so it developed a semi-manual method that at least takes the SDK integration out of the equation.

Each game has to be set up by TicTacTi, a process the company estimates at about one to two hours per game. The actual game source code is not required which means that games can by encrypted—an important point for game developers. It’s here that TicTacTi “marks” events in games where ads could be placed. For example, a game could be marked in such a way that when the “Loading” prompt is visible, it would initiate a pre-roll ad marker, and when the “Game Over” prompt is visible, it would initiate a post-roll marker.

TicTacTi MarkerTicTacTi’s image recognition engine seeks these visual events in order to trigger the ad insertion. If the game source already includes TicTacTi’s IGA logo marker (see right), the game preparation stage can be skipped altogether because the image recognition engine will identify it automatically.

The image recognition is performed entirely client-side with ActionScript. The patent-pending technology involves a mechanism that combines image recognition throttling and emulation. This means that it is activated for small segments of time so as not to impose a cost on the user’s CPU. TicTacTi’s own testing revealed CPU usage remains the same for the entire game duration.

In order to embed the game, the publisher would call TicTacTi’s wrapper, which would in return load the game, along with additional elements. These include the ones that drive the image recognition, the ad insertion component and the reporting to the backend.

Standard ad units and tags are supported so ads inserted into the Flash games can originate from ad exchanges such as Right Media, Double Click, or the publisher’s own ad server. TicTacTi will charge a varied commission for the service.

Embedded below are a widget utilizing TicTacTi’s technology and a video demo of the service.

var t3cfg = {
wrapperUrl: 'http://cdn.tictacti.com/cdn/GameEngine/tttgamewrapperas3.swf',
gameUrl: 'http://cdn.tictacti.com/cdn/Widgets/Games/bouncing.swf',
widgetName: 'Bouncing-balls'
TicTacTi.renderWidget('3170', 'bouncing', '600', '400', t3cfg);