Author: gwadmin

90 Million Hours Play Time through Collaboration with AppLift’s mobile DSP

Today, I’m very pleased to share some great news: our first major Gamewheel 2 collaboration, which we have been working on over the last few months. As announced by AppLift today, Gamewheel 2 is going to power up AppLift’s new studio offering to deliver Premium Playable Ads. It’s a big success for our team who believes in the power of gamified storytelling in every marketing goal from branding to performance.

With this step we’re also extending our offering on the mission to become the leading Playable ads platform through integration with the AppLift’s mobile DSP DataLift 360. AppLift’s DSP offers programmatic access to over 65 billion monthly unique impressions compatible with MRAID2 Playables standard, which could total at 90 million monthly hours of play time for Playables (assuming 5 seconds average play time per session). With Gamewheel 2 we’re now offering brands a new access to this most lean forward mobile medium, where American adults already spend the majority (89% according to eMarketer) of their media time per day.

Now, it’s a good moment to reflect over the past and share the story how we actually arrived at this point of the startup rollercoaster.

The dawn: how we pivoted to Playable Ads content creation

As we started the Gamewheel journey in 2014, I was actually pretty new to the advertising industry. While going through the Seedcamp accelerator we decided to pivot from being an AR mobile game studio to a B2B games solution, as we believed that it’s a much more scalable business with appearance of the new MRAD2 format. Thus, we all read a lot about the ad industry concepts and we kind of stuck with this 3-step funnel approach, we thought was really clear and easy to grasp.

First you do 1) branding, then 2) content marketing and then 3) performance:


Seems logical, that if you want to create a scalable online product you cannot go directly to branding first, as you always will need unique and expensive content and it’s super hard to acquire such clients having branding budgets as a small B2B startup. On the performance side, games and gamification seemed to be kind of an overkill to think about. So we decided – we have to focus on content marketing. So we did!

And this is where first challenge began

What is Content? According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI):

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (CMI)

No, wait a moment – is this not kind of a generic definition of marketing in general? We had a really hard time figuring this out, so the only startup solution to this is: build new things and fail fast.

How we got our first success with Burger King©

We first built a simple MVP product and launched it a few months later – Gamewheel Beta – here are the first blog posts about it. Then we did campaigns and pitches, a lot of campaigns and pitches. And even more campaigns and pitches…

At the end we were a bit lucky. The creative agency of Burger King© discovered our tool directly after its launch. They totally understood what we meant with end-to-end storytelling. Burger King© marketing is split into roughly 6 main campaigns over the year so we just jumped on implementing the first Playable Ad in 2016 and consequently adding Playable Ads to each 6 campaigns total (as covered later by Think with Google).

And due to “the law of shitty click-throughs” – we won! Because we were trying this approach with Playable Ads as one of the first non-gaming brands on mobile and this is how our average CTR looked like:

While doing this we had to work with several agencies at the same time and we spend a tremendous amount of time on setting, clarifying and aligning everything. And this is when we realized the actual issue we solved with Gamewheel, which was much bigger than just improving the CTRs.

After a while we started to distill the success factors into the stories… and we created a lot of stories, until one final realization dropped into place last year.

The core issue: Playable ads marketing is yet not well understood

The two most common misconceptions:

  • Brand marketing just costs money and does not care about numbers = Quality
  • Performance marketing just drives sales and doesn’t care about creativity = Spam

Where is the place for content marketing in this? Kind of in between creatives and performance, just adding some spice to everything, but actually nobody is willing to pay lots of money for high quality content. So let’s just consider content marketing as a cheaper version of brand marketing. Wait, this does not make sense at all.

  • Playable content marketing supposed to be kind of in between = High Quality Spam?




Everyone just got it all wrong. Playable content marketing is not in between – it is an essential part of the end-to-end storytelling!

The actual thing is – content marketing is the “water” that’s supposed to connect brand marketing to performance and let the brand marketing seed grow and help performance marketing to drive sales and profits. So, the better picture is actually this:

And as we did more and more campaigns we understood that not games and interactive engaging content is an issue, but the creative and media people are not working well together and tend to fight instead of collaborating.

Advertisers shall focus the efforts on synchronising the content and messages of Branding and Performance in an effective and measurable way through meta gamified storytelling.

How we solved it: by measuring & caring about every step of engagement

You remember the saying:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half – Marketing Pioneer John Wanamaker (1838-1922)

Thus, nobody is really interested in revealing that what they do isn’t actually contributing that much value. But in times where everything can be measured, this is not the question anymore. There is no other way to be successful than to be working together end-to-end because of 3 trends:

  • Almost 100% measurability of attribution through programmatic advertising – remember the good old saying about the fact that 50% of budget is wasted. In current times you don’t have to guess which half. You can just measure the attribution of every individual advertising element.
  • Increasing amount of isolated platforms – our time is super spread across all the different social media networks and channels, websites, apps and TV etc. Overall it’s clear, that the total marketing performance would increase if we focus on one message at a time and then subdivide it into all the possible channels.
  • Shift in user behavior towards entertainment – currently, basically everyone expects to be entertained on the new channels, even if it’s about serious information like politics. Static information is being ignored.

Gamewheel 2 solution: Measurable Playable Ads Engagement

As soon as we came to this realization, we started testing our Playable Ads on different types of programmatic media to interconnect creative & media work and interconnect branding & performance campaigns. We did many social media campaigns like the one for Hugendubel and then we discovered the scalability of Real-time-bidding (RTB) media on different mobile DSPs.

This discovery led to a complete reorganization of the company which was finished by end of 2017. After the reorganization we have partnered with the best game developers, specialized on building interactive creatives like Playbale ads, but also have a great understanding of media  and ad tech. We tested the compatibility of our Playables with several mobile DSPs and ad exchanges as announced in the recent blog post. In light of this, we’re very proud to announced the collaboration with AppLift and their mobile performance DSP DataLift 360 today.

Thus, if you ever feel a struggle to justify your marketing campaign or measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy – we’re always happy to have a chat and share our advice based on the last 3+ years of experience where we have helped building content to power over 3000+ Playable campaigns.



Founder & CEO Gamewheel

Playable Ads in Facebook Messenger

Long awaited – Messeger Ads are there!

According to Facebook Blog, messenger ads will appear on the home tab in Messenger:

“When people tap an ad that appears in their Messenger home tab, they’re sent to the destination chosen during the ads creation. This destination can be your website, an app, or a Messenger conversation. Messenger ads are available for the Traffic, Conversions, App Install, Reach, Messages, and Brand Awareness objectives” –  read more on the Facebook blog on about how to set up the ads.

We’ve released the Cuuura story about how you could leverage Playable ads in messenger prior to Ads beeing available. Instead we run the story on the Kik messenger inside of the Chatbot. Read more about the success story here. In fact, now you could use exactly the same ad and run into inside of the Facebook Messenger.

How to run Playables in Messenger Ads?

Facebook does not offer you an option to create Playable ads (yet) but it’s not an issue. You can just use your regular Gamewheel Playable and add it into the Facebook Ad Manager by using regular Ad-to-Web campaigns.

This is the huge advantage of Gamewheel 2 technology that we’re fully relying on modern web JS stack and allow you to put up your Playables created in any channel possible from MRAID2 programmatic ad tech channels to chatbots and now Messenger Ads.

Read more about how you could set up a Facebook Playable ad campaign for the time feed oder messenger on our blog.

Please let us know if we can help you brining your Gamewheel campaign onto Facebook messenger.



Gamewheel Founder

Gamewheel 2 Managed Service Launch


3000+ thanks and happy holidays!

As you might know we had quite a “rollercoaster year” and now I’m finally ready to break the silence.

I’d like to thank you for staying with us since 2015 and for all your trust until now. It has been a huge pleasure being part of over 3000 super creative Playable campaigns. We have featured the best campaigns on our website in the success stories section, but trust me — it’s just a beginning and I hope that you’ll be part of our shared success story.

Gamewheel 2

After a major restructuring of our team in summer, I have spent many hours revising our strategy going forward. Gamification and playables is still relatively new to most of advertisers and agencies and it’s rather hard for everyone to assess the risks and return on investment, thus the process of creating and launching a new campaign took regularly a while.

With Gamewheel we’re on a mission to become the leading Playables platform, providing measurable & premium interactive engagement. Thus, we have to reduce this complexity to democratize access to this premium format.

This is why we came up with a new simplified model, focused on a combination of three things in order to deliver best experience with highest engagement and maximal performance at lowest risk possible:

  1. Playable creative production
  2. Targeted media optimized for Playables
  3. End-to-end data-driven optimization

We have verified the new strategy with selected brands and trusted media partners and now, I’m happy to announce the launch of Gamewheel 2. We will extend offer offering by Playable media starting 2018 and will focus on Playables managed service first.

New Cost-per-play (CPP) model

As of now we not only fully support the increasingly popular MRAID2 Playables format for programmatic media trading on interstitial and rewarded ad placements, but also provide managed service for Playable media buying and managed campaign service.

All this will allow us to provide all our customers and partners with a new simple model with guaranteed & measurable engagement where we take all the risk of creative content production and optimization and you just pay for the Plays (Cost-per-play, CPP).

Zero risk, one simple cost figure to agree, and tons of engagement guaranteed. How cool is this?

You already have a trusted media partner and prefer to work on a fix-price campaign budget? No problem at all! We’ll continue providing Playable MRAID2 tags, mini-games and gamification consulting or what have you. But to show our dedication to our mission we’ll also provide your with some recommendations for optimization based on experience, backed up by unique engagement data to ensure best end-to-end performance and maximize the ROAS and ad experience.

Info for Gamewheel SaaS customers

What does it exactly mean to you and all the existing content you have created? Please ensure you carefully read the following notes:

  • PLAYABLE MANAGED SERVICE. If you’d like to just continue gamifying your organic and native communication and need playable content you will not be able use the SaaS service for a period of time. Instead, you’ll profit from our newly launched managed service offering. Just send me a short briefing and I’ll personally ensure that your campaign will get the best resources and attention.
  • SaaS SERVICE RELAUNCH. We will temporarily disable your existing SaaS logins, effective 4 Januar 2018 and provide preferred service to any existing customers until the full relaunch in 2018 to ensure seamless transition. We will onboard you onto the new platform based on your needs – register on the Gamewheel 2 SaaS waiting list and provide more info to help us to understand your needs.
    • IMPORTANT: We have developed the new Gamewheel 2 platform from the ground-up to fulfill the highest requirements and scalability. Thus, it will not directly support content built on the existing platform, but it will be even easier to recreate existing games with the new platform. In case you’d like to keep your content online during the relaunch period, please fill this form out with the Gamewheel campaigns you’d like to be transitioned. We will get back to your shortly and help you to ensure the continuity.
  • NEW MEDIA OFFERING. We’re very happy to announce that we now offer flexible paid media managed service focused on Playables, ranging from social media to RTB channels. We support all typical charging models to let you choose which risk you feel most comfortable with while achieving your goals: from typical CPM impression-based model to performance-driven CPI/CPA models.
  • CPP MODEL. Gamewheel is the only platform where you can buy Playbales media based on the innovative to Cost-per-play (CPP) with guaranteed maximum play costs as well as unique Cost-per-Play-Time (CPPT) model which is comparable with TV, but has a lot of advantages. Comparing to passive TV media, it’s guaranteed that Playables are providing interactive, dynamic and most personal engagement. You don’t have to forget about TV media, it’s there to stay. Although, through our planned support for programmatic TV channels in the future, you will get a truly Omni-channel interactive campaign experience across all media channels.

Enjoy your holidays and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on our way forward and how we can help you reaching your goals in 2018 faster.

Evgeni (at

Founder & CEO Gamewheel

P.S. To reward you for reading such a long email in the best gamification fashion – here is a little Christmas surprise: our newest campaign we worked on with Disney and Facebook to promote the new Coco movie.  #KeepOnPlayin’

Disney Coco Game

Who Saves Coco?

We are proud to present our latest Disney Coco Game campaign for the brand new Disney Pixar movie. The game is leveraging the basketball mechanics in a very creative way and offers a leaderboard where best players can win free tickets to the theaters in Germany.

The game was loved so much that UCI Kinos decided to embed it on their new website. Check it out!

3 Use Cases How Brands Leverage Gamification in Marketing

In the previous article “Trends for mobile advertising” we’ve already talked about how games can be leveraged to strengthen the relationship between the brand and the customer. Today, we’d like to have a look at a different use case for game technics – Gamification in marketing or gamified advertising.


Gamification leads to better customer engagement and loyalty

What is Gamification?

The goal of Gamification is to increase the probability that a person repeats desired steps, providing and opportunity to influence humans behavior through games. Essential game elements often used in the Gamification include scoring systems, ranking lists, virtual goods and small incentives. Gamification has become increasingly popular in marketing, education and other industry sectors.

Current research shows that Gamification increases customer commitment and loyalty, as well as the motivation of employees. If implemented correctly, it can have a high return on investment for companies (Dr. Städtgen, Gamification and Motivation, 2015). Today, we’d like to have a look at three use cases of how brands have leveraged Gamification in their marketing. But before we go into the individual cases, let’s have a quick look at the psychological background of why Gamification works.

Psychology of Gamification – Introducing the Prospect Theory

Why does Gamification work? You can find a hint in the Prospect Theory introduced by Kahnemann and Tversky. It shows that small incentives enable people to take an extra effort to do things that they otherwise would not.

The Prospect Theory is a behavioral economic theory that describes the way people choose probabilistic alternatives that involve risk — where the probabilities of outcomes are known. People take an effort because of their intrinsic motivation (brand commitment maybe too) in situations where they expect a reward. In other terms, people’s behaviors are being influenced by Gamification elements mentioned above, which can have a very small cost / investment for the brand.

(More information about Prospect Theory)

Gamification in marketing

Case Study 1: Nike

Nike+Fuel is a personalized app. This app demonstrates how a brand can stay connected with its customers through Gamification elements.

The goal of this project was to keep in contact with customers to gather information about them. Nike used Gamification as a way to give an incentive while customers were running and tracking their activity. Runners competed against others and collected their latest achievements and overall performances. Nike collected personal data about users which were valuable for content marketing. Furthermore, the app is linked to social media so users could compare performances from all over the world. After completing different levels customers are rewarded with trophies and badges, which in psychology science is called a positive intensifier. Nike increases its brand presence when customers share their training results on social media.


Nike gathered a high amount of data over a long period. This information can be used for personalized services and lead to an increase in productivity of R&D and digital marketing. At the same time, the game boosts the loyalty of the customer.

(Detailed Case study)

Case Study 2: Urban Sport Club

Urban Sports Club Gamification

Urban Sports Club Gamification

Gamewheel created a rock climbing themed game for Urban Sports Club. The company, a fitness flat rate, used a game in a lead generation campaign.

In this game theme, the user has to climb as high as they can to get a chance to win a 3 month contract for free. It’s a great way to for Urban Sports Club to gather new potential customer leads, engage their community in a very authentic way, present their value proposition differently and have the opportunity to create a special relationship with customers.


The majority of users replayed the game over 3 times, which shows a very high level of engagement. Urban Sports Club was able to capture the players data who participated in the competition in the leaderboard and add them to the existing vivid club community. Summarizing, games can offer new ways to power up communities and create a sense of natural & fun competition to boost engagement and capture new potential leads.

Detailed case study.

Case Study 3: Target

Target becomes Santa’s helper with ‘Holiday Wish’ app. Target developed a 3D animated game experience allowing kids to create Christmas wish lists and send them to Santa. The US retail giant generated nearly 75,000 downloads of the app.


Though the app was released in limited distribution for its initial launch, the data collected from users proved that it was a success. Over 100,000 wish lists were created, as well as 9,200 new accounts.

61% percent of users used the app multiple times a week, including 31 percent who used the app multiple times per day, generating over a million page visits to via the app. The average wish list was comprised of about 30 items and had an average value of $1,500.

Over the course of six weeks from app launch to the close of the holiday season, nearly 1.7 million total items were added to Target guest wish lists, for a total sales potential of $92.3 million.

(Detailed Case study)

Press release: 1 Million Euro seed round and Gamewheel platform launch

We’re thrilled to make some exciting announcements today: we’ve raised 1 Million Euro seed round to launch and expand our platform and partnered up with the leading publisher of html5 games – Famobi.


Contact if you’re interested in covering the story or have any further questions about Gamewheel. Here is the full version of the press release:

Gamewheel announces a 1 Million Euro seed round to launch and expand its new online platform for creating native interactive advertising – Pick, Brand, Share! ℠

Berlin, 23 November 2015 – Gamewheel, a Berlin-based Seedcamp portfolio company, has launched its new cloud-based platform which is the simplest way for brands, agencies and publishers to add games and other interactive content to their mobile marketing campaigns. In order to launch and expand the platform into different markets, the company raised a 1 Million Euro seed round led by Crown Ocean Capital and partnered up with the leading publisher of html5 games – Famobi.

After joining Seedcamp in the beginning of the year, the founders of Gamewheel, who previously founded the augmented reality game studio Toywheel, officially launched a new cloud-based tool for creating interactive marketing content. As a first step, the company is offering customizable advertising mini-games and a digital advent calendar to help brands engage with their customers on mobile this holiday season.

Users can select from a library of ready-to-go content templates, add their own branding and integrate the customized content into their marketing campaign to the mobile or social media channel of their choice. Afterwards, they can easily review and analyse their campaign’s performance, all without doing any coding. The games and other interactive content are mobile ready and use browser-based technology that allows them to run on any platform.

Gamewheel has a typical SaaS business model, currently with two plans. The free plan is great for early stage startups and SMEs who need a simple way to make individual marketing campaigns more interactive. With a free account the user receives 1.000 launches for free and can buy additional packages on demand starting with 9.90€ for 1.000 campaign launches. The enterprise plan is more appropriate for agencies and brands that need to create interactive marketing content on a regular basis. Gamewheel also offers custom art production and game design services to complement the self-service online tool.

According to Evgeni Kouris, the Co-Founder and CEO of Gamewheel, “When advertisers can provide consumers with fun, interactive and highly targeted content, everybody wins – consumers have a better ad experience, the advertiser gets higher marketing effectiveness and publishers make more money off their traffic. However, the existing solutions for creating interactive marketing content are not suited for the age of RTB – they’re expensive, require long production cycles and struggle to support dynamic content optimization. Gamewheel addresses this problem in an efficient and affordable way – what real-time-bidding (RTB) did for ad serving, we’re going to do for creative ad creation.”

He proceeds – “We’re also not just focused on marketing – in the long-term, our goal is to build an adaptive content platform, like digital LEGOs™ for interactive content – that empowers creators to leverage the technology in the most effective way and deliver interactive content tailored to brands’ individual goals without a need to code or take care of technology.”

The initial response to Gamewheel has been very positive. Customers like Oracle, Urban Sports and Stagelink Club who ran Facebook mobile campaigns using games created with the tool saw a large increase in ad engagement, leading to a decrease in customer acquisition costs of up to 30%.

The company’s approach has also received strong support from both advertisers and game industry insiders. Today’s partnership announcement with Famobi is highlighted by the founder Ilker Aydin: “Gamewheel is simple, modern and innovative. I love it!”. Famobi and Gamewheel partnered up to bring the simplicity of online ad games creation to a vast network including Famobi’s customers such as, Disney and Deutsche Bahn.

To accelerate the Gamewheel’s growth, Gamewheel added two veterans from the SaaS, AdTech and mobile industries to its team. A. Pierre Yurow, who has an extensive track record in the AdTech and mobile industries (co-founded Spectrum Mobile, worked at Omnicom and Cellfire) is heading Gamewheel’s business development and sales. Ian Hannigan, who previously co-founded (SaaS innovator in the mobile app prototyping space), is heading Product and UX Design. Through a partnership with Telekom, Gamewheel has a new sales presence in Berlin Mitte at the Telekom 4010 Shop in Mitte. Stop by if you’d like to learn more about Gamewheel.

About Gamewheel
Gamewheel is the simplest way for brands, agencies and publishers to quickly add games and other interactive content to mobile marketing campaigns. Gamewheel was founded in 2014 by Evgeni Kouris (CEO) and Christian Bittler (CTO), who previously built the augmented reality games studio Toywheel. The founding team has an extensive track record in game development and launching innovative media & tech ventures. Gamewheel is financed by various leading investors, including Seedcamp and Crown Ocean Capital, and has raised seven-digit seed capital to date. The company also has several advisors from the vast Seedcamp network. Gamewheel – Pick, Brand, Share! ℠

Why every startup should use games in their mobile marketing

This post is part of a series about how startups can use games to engage their target customers on mobile. We publish a new post in the series every Wednesday, so stay tuned.


If you’ve spent any time thinking about your business’ marketing strategy over the past few months, you’ve probably seen this chart before. It comes from the 2019 version of Internet Trends, an influential presentation released annually by Mary Meeker, a partner at the Venture Capital firm KPCB. The chart compares the amount of time consumers spend on different media (print, TV, internet, etc.) with the percent of overall ad spending allocated to each medium.

The message of the chart is clear – advertisers were dramatically underspending on mobile in 2010. Consumers in the US have spent nearly 8% of their media time on mobile devices in 2010, but advertisers were still allocating only 0.5% of their total budgets to mobile advertising. In 2015, the figures were even more dramatic: nearly 25% media time on mobile vs. 8% ad spend. This represented a huge missed opportunity and there reason why Gamewheel was founded. By the end of 2018 the situation moved to an almost perfect equilibrium as expected.

There are a few reasons why this situation exists, one of which is inertia. Lots of large brands and ad agencies grew up in a world of print and television, developing sophisticated marketing operations designed to take advantage of these channels. It’s only in the past few years that they’ve fully embraced online, so it’s no surprise that the shift to mobile is taking time.

For a young startup launching in today’s mobile-first world, though, this isn’t really an excuse. If you’re trying to reach your target customers, you should be doing it where they spend their time. And that means you should be advertising on mobile.

Another major obstacle holding back the growth of mobile advertising is one that does affect startups. And that’s the fact that, as Steve Jobs once famously said, “most mobile advertising sucks.” When marketers first started advertising on mobile, they took formats that had been developed for the desktop world and shrunk them down to mobile-size proportions. As a result, most mobile ads are small, difficult to read and struggle to engage users’ attention. And with the rise of adblocking, many of those ads aren’t even being seen in the first place. Because of poor performance and concerns around viewability, advertisers are hesitant to invest money in mobile marketing, particularly their premium branding budgets.

As a startup with a limited marketing budget, this is an important issue to be aware of. You can’t afford to waste money on ineffective “wallpaper” advertising like mobile banners. So the question is, what sort of mobile marketing should you do?

A lot of work has been done in the past years to make mobile advertising better. One clear trend has been to make ads more interactive – by adding video, audio, transitions and other elements. These types of ads, which are called rich media, do a much better job of engaging viewers than static ads. Adform, for example, found that consumers are three times more likely to click on a rich media ad than a traditional banner ad.

So if you want to engage your target consumers on mobile in the most effective way possible, it’s clear that you should be running interactive ads. These days, the advertising industry is mainly focused on doing that via video. But why stop there? If you’re looking for something that’s highly interactive and has a proven ability to engage people’s attention on mobile, there’s no better medium than games. Emarketer estimates that 64% of smartphone users in the US already play mobile games, with NPD Group finding that mobile gamers spend an average of two hours per day playing games. From this perspective, there’s a perfect fit between what marketers need and what games can deliver.

That being said, having a game alone isn’t enough. You still need to deliver the game to your target users and make sure they convert after they finish playing. This is where good campaign design comes into play. We’ll go into the details of that next week and break down for you step-by-step how to get your ad game campaign up and running.

Call now