Category: Events

Gamewheel re:publica event – Free VR Headset Draw Results

A big thank you to all of you who stopped by and showed us some love at re:publica and Performersion. We had a blast and our cheekily named “B-Box” was overflowing with your business cards.

So without further ado the winners of our much coveted VR headsets are Tommy from Mashup Communications and Lukas from Friendsurance! Congrats.

Have you missed us at re:publica TEN? No worries, you have still chance to compete for a free Gamewheel VR Headset!

Fill out our 5 mins survey from here and get a chance to win the next free Gamewheel VR Headset!

Everything We Learned at re:publica TEN

The talk of town this week was re:publica TEN, but what has truly been making news headlines is the annual conference’s first ever Virtual Reality exhibition which highlighted some of Germany’s and Europe’s leading VR/AR labs, companies, agencies and schools and paved the way for the Performersion exhibition (scroll down for more details).  



Headsets, Headsets Everywhere


People flocked to the separate exhibition ground to get their hands-on VR experience. Many were fascinated by the latest VR news coming out of Samsung and Facebook’s and felt the need to experience “what the hype was all about!” They were not disappointed.

Stands ranged from immersive art experiences, to VR cinema, as well as horror survival games, Augmented Reality concepts and mobile apps.

Toywheel’s stand boasted both a server based virtual reality Pong game (which you can still play if you have a VR headset lying around) and our classic Augmented reality App Toy Car RC. The positive and supportive feedback once again confirmed that we are certainly on the right path when it comes to our VR/AR strategy and future predictions.


As it was our first time at the conference, we weren’t sure what to expect, but our CEO and veteran re:publica TEN attendee ushered us into the conference’s expertly constructed  world of tech, media and politics. With over 850 speakers and 500 hours of programing centering on topics ranging from nudity, fashion, gaming, Virtual Reality, health, education and internet freedom. We were definitely able to find our people among the crowds.  


So Here’s What We Learned:

re:publica TEN is not just about meeting new people and experiencing new things. It’s about hearing different opinions and openingly engaging with hard-hitting political and societal issues. No topic was left untouched, be it the: refugee crisis, hate speech, social media and nudity, the code of conduct for immersive arts and tech in fashion.

VR/AR are here to stay! The public’s response and demand for VR content is a clear indication of the tech tides. VR is a hot commodity that outlives its hype. It is a clear path to new and immersive experiences that will lead the evolution in media consumption and human interaction.


The best part? The plethora of talks and panels are openly available to watch and listen to online via the the conference’s Youtube channel and podcasts. So, it truly is an experience not to be missed.



re:publica TEN wrapped up on Wednesday but our fun was not over yet. We stuck around to participate in the first ever exhibition of it’s kind: Performersion, where art and tech meet to collaborate. The two-day event, which was open and free to the public, led to some incredible insights and some amazing new ideas. We found ourselves amongst our peers as well as VR/AR enthusiasts and evangelists and some kids who are really, really, good at handling technology.


All in all, it was a week well spent. Our creativity batteries have definitely been recharged and we can’t wait to dive right back into the studio to cook up some crazy new ideas inspired by both events.

A big THANK YOU, to those of you who stopped by and said “Hi,” It was truly a pleasure to meet so many of you. Let’s stay in touch.


Have you missed us at re:publica TEN? No worries, we plan to present our newest AR/VR games and concepts at the upcoming and amazing Tech Open Air (TOA) conference 13–15 July in Berlin. So hope to see you soon (again)!

Gamewheel’s Re:Publica & Performersion Debut

We’re extremely excited to announce that we’ll participating in both Re:publica (2016) Ten and the first ever Performersion. One of the main focuses of this year’s conferences is Virtual Reality (VR). A whole separate exhibition ground (Labore:tory) will be dedicated to exploring how VR can impact our society, culture, and daily lives. This is where you will find our stand, which will be exhibiting our latest VR game concepts developed at our very own R&D lab and game studio, Toywheel.

VR Headset

Toywheel has pioneered  AR games since 2014 with Toy Car RC game, which has been featured multiple times by Apple globally and downloaded over 150.000 times. As the creative and experimental VR extension of Gamewheel, Toywheel is where unique and often crazy ideas are developed which are later leveraged into fully customizable and scalable Game Ad solutions on our interactive content platform, Gamewheel.

If you’re planning on attending either event, then drop by to experience our latest VR game concepts and be part of the immersive art movement!

We’re having a pretty cool giveaway as well. So don’t forget to drop your business card inside our B-box for a chance to win your very own VR headset.

Where there is VR, you will find us.

The Gamewheel/ Toywheel Team

Will Facebook’s f8 VR/Oculus Rift News Change the Ad Industry?

It’s no surprise that we’re all eagerly awaiting Mark’s latest VR announcement at the f8 keynote later today. Virtual Reality has been the year’s hottest topic, being prominently presented at both SXSW 2016 and GDC 2016. Fortune and AdWeek both agree that Facebook’s latest Oculus Rift news will certainly change the ad industry. The mega hype surrounding the latest VR devices’ releases is a clear indication of both industry and public demand. Samsung’s bold move to bet big on VR with their Galaxy S7 and S7 edge contributed to further fanning the flames. Rumors circulating at SXSW this year, indicate that Samsung invested over $200 Million in their VR marketing campaign. This huge budget was set to enable the distribution of a free Gear VR headset along with the purchase of the newest Galaxy phone. Even Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance at the launch event of Samsung’s new flagship, further indicating that VR is a hype that cannot be ignored.

Headset Sales Prediction by Jesse Schell

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.22.03 AM

Jesse Schell, of Schell Games, forecasts in his talk at GDC that by 2017, 32 million mobile VR headsets would’ve been purchased. His projections indicate that VR headsets sales would double every year, reaching the 2 Billion mark, as early as 2023 (he differentiates between Gamer VR and consumer devices, which he calls Mobile VR). Brands will sponsor VR native-content, leaving ample opportunities for product placement and unintrusive ad forms. He predicts that a large portion of VR videos will focus on concerts, big brand launches and events. Some ads will probably incorporate game-like elements, whilst others will have Reality TV show and 3D movie appeal. Jesse also predicts that an entirely new game genre will crop up by the end of 2018.

A lot of prominent brands and ad agencies have already embraced the emerging trend. The newly created content is truly remarkable. Just look at the Gifs below for a small taste of the delicious (and near) future or check out the astonishing VR content from platforms like Vrse or Littlstar.

Disney World Resort



Despite all the advancements, VR storytelling is still a challenge for creatives. Our CEO Evgeni met Littlstar’s President Ben Nunez after the VR Storytelling panel at the German Haus during this year’s SXSW conference. Ben, a prominent VR veteran, revealed that although services like Littlstar are available on every mobile device, the technology is currently developing at such a fast-pace that it presents lots of opportunities for creative content creators though “both linear and non-linear storytelling in VR/360 is still a challenge. But we’re very confident content creators will figure out.” Therefore, collaborations with VR technology providers and experts with the aim of creating innovative and engaging linear and non-linear storytelling projects are rather difficult.

VR Creation and Analysis Tools

To encourage even more VR content, both Facebook and Google have published documents detailing how to create 360-degree ads on Facebook News Feed and Google AdWords (backend). However, the efficiency and performance capabilities of 360-degree ads is still unclear.
Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.18.45 AM

Since marketing is all about measuring and analysing ad performance, Startups like Retinad and Immserv have pioneered the VR analytics platforms. One of their more impressive tools is a heatmap that analyzes a user’s browsing, navigation and purchasing activities (Demo of Retinad). More companies will most certainly follow suit.

Facebook’s biggest competitor in this new arena is Google. 70% of Google’s valuation is based on it’s search ads business with ‘mobile search’ acting as the leading market driver. Google and Alphabet have positioned Youtube as a main player and venue for VR content on the web, ensuring its compatibility with all headsets and smartphones currently on the market. Those incredible VR ads  from Boursin and Audi illustrate how Youtube can be utilized to usher in this new and exciting ad era. Google has also reportedly invested more than $500 million on AR/VR startup Magic Leap, which has literally (via virtual means) been making a big splash with its hyper-realistic products.  

Will VR Change The World Of Advertising?

The general public’s outcry and backlash against intrusive ads (represented by the rise of AdBlocking) has cost the advertising industry reportedly billions. 360-degree ads (optimized for VR headsets) offer a truly engaging and interactive user experience that will positively reshape consumer perception, attitude and behavior towards static video ads. Brace yourselves, the ad industry is making a big comeback all thanks to the combined double-threat effect of 360-degree videos and VR headsets!

Here are some more innovative ads to inspire you to get busy and up your ad game this Monday! Keep scrolling to uncover our expert opinion on this latest trend.







Our Prediction – AR “Not VR” Will Change the World

Because “AR/VR” is often used in the same context, their differences are often misunderstood. VR technology is very different from AR technology. While VR is “detaching” people from the real world by showing them engaging content, AR is more advanced technology which connects both – virtual and physical world through an immersive experience. We believe that AR is the future, because the augmentation of human abilities through technology is not just a technical breakthrough but rather the next step in human evolution. It is also the only design pattern that will make people universally profit from current AR/VR technology development.
Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.42.00 AM

Raconteur provides a really handy overview of the differences:

Virtual reality Augmented reality
How it works Immerses the wearer in a 360-degree, 3D-environment; spatial sound and motion-tracking optional Overlays 3D graphics on to the wearer’s view of the real-world environment
The gear to watch out for Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, Sony Project Morpheus Google Glass 2, Microsoft HoloLens, Sony SmartEyeglass, Recon Jet, Magic Leap, Vuzix M100, ODG R-7
Main benefits Transports the wearer to another environment; low-cost mobile VR with innovative accessories Wearer remains engaged in the real world and keeps hands free; glasses rather than headset
Main hurdles Simulation sickness and input; needs apps, experiences and games ready for launch Small field of view, expensive hardware, fashion form factor required and needs apps/games
Biggest deals Facebook paid $2 billion (£1.3 billion) for Oculus VR in 2014 Magic Leap raised $542 million (£346 million) from Google, Qualcomm and others in 2014

In our view, VR is just one simplified pre-manifestation of AR, which is bound to become a mainstream medium as soon as mobile devices and camera performance allow it. Based on our belief in free play and an imminent AR future, we’ve pioneered AR Toys with Toywheel in the beginning of 2014. Since then, we have reached over 150.000 downloads and have been featured by Apple globally multiple times. Over the last few months we’ve seen the app numbers grow organically, highlighting increased interest in AR/VR. Although, we also experienced major hurdles in getting the user experience perfect due to notorious hardware limitations, we’re confident that future headsets are going to revolutionize the user experience, yet again.

We believe that platforms like Microsoft HoloLens as well as Google’s MagicLeap are what will truly change the world. Microsoft has already started shipping $3K HoloLens developers kits on the 30th of March. You could even apply for one now.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.46.41 AM

Until this AR technology is ready for the market, advertisers are well advised to start using 360-degree videos and VR toys/games as well as the much underestimated sensor-driven games, which can be easily used on every mobile device currently on the market. A great example of the power of sensor-driven games is this little Marble Maze Game experience (It’s easy – you just need to tilt the mobile device to put the sphere in the whole). Incredible, right? As soon as there is a standard in AR/VR advertising, which is compatible with a mainstream audience, you can be sure that Gamewheel will be the first to add it to our platform. Until then, please contact Toywheel, our VR/AR full-service creative studio if you’re interested in pushing the envelope and on being at the forefront of this revolution. 

Summarizing, here are our 5 take aways

  1. VR device releases have been the biggest hype at all major tech events this year
  2. Facebook’s f8 will most certainly build on the hype with Oculus Rift news
  3. 360-Degree VR Storytelling is bound to reshape Ad Industry
  4. We believe that VR will revive the ad industry but AR will change the world
  5. Toywheel is pioneering AR/VR games with a clear future vision

Game Ads – The Next Big Thing After Video Ads?

We’ve already released a few articles about leveraging games in advertising, marketing and business to win the bidding optimization wars or to find the product market fit in case of startups. Today, we’ll focus on some new thoughts inspired by SXSW.

Gamewheel Insights from SXSW

In 2016, Gamewheel joined South By Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals in Austin for the first time as part of the Berlin startup delegation, and the trip could not have been more inspiring. Little thanks to our #PartnerInCrime Openers for making this trip happen.

With over 72,000 registrants and artists in attendance, SXSW is one of the most effective channels for bridging technology, creative, media and advertising spaces. This year’s conference was even more special because it marked SXSW’s 30th anniversary. To commemorate this major milestone – both the president of the United States as well as the First Lady joined the conference! This officially means that Gamewheel’s CEO presented alongside keynote speakers like Barack and Michel Obama, albeit not the same event, nonetheless we couldn’t be prouder! The Obama’s presence at the conference showcases the rising importance of the tech world in politics. Behind all the media attention focused at the prominent guests, SXSW once again offered a plethora of fresh insights that we cannot wait to share.

Today, we’d like to focus on the discussion we had during the panel “How All Brands Can Win with Game Advertising” run by Susan Borst from IAB. The panel’s leading guests, Michael Flamberg (Nielsen), Kym Nelson (Twich) and Peter Jonas (Facebook), demonstrate the importance and relevance of gamification in advertising and the rise of games as a default part of the marketing mix. Showtime’s Game Ad for their new show Roadies, which was prominently placed into the SXSW conference app, further highlights gamification’s rise and predominance in the marketing world.


Why Using Games in Advertising Now?

YouTubers have paved the way for video ads and contributed to the ad industries phenomenal growth over the past years. Recently, video ads have also become one of the top priorities of Facebook and contributed significantly to the mobile ad revenue growth in 2015. In fact, Digital Video format is the only growing advertising format besides mobile according to recent IAB Industry Report 2015:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 10.10.57 PM

The rise of mobile ads and Messaging apps and platforms, which are now already bigger than social networks according to Business Insider, has created a demand for an even more interactive and flexible ad format. We call this next generation of online marketing: Game Ads.

Game Ads are short interactions, with durations similar to Video Ads, that boast even higher engagement rates and deeper insights into user engagement. As there is no auto-play feature, a user has to interact with the Game Ad to finish it, resulting in higher brand value per session.

Why should you start caring about games now ? Game play dynamics have changed significantly over the past few years due to new technology, plus social/mobile adoption. With impressive scale and engagement, gaming is a powerful form of digital media consumption that marketers can no longer continue to ignore. The evidence is clear: demographics for games are more inclusive than ever with time spent playing growing at an unprecedented rate. (Source SXSW panel description)

Putting this in numbers – 79% of people aged between 18-44 have their smartphones with them 22 hours a day, seven days a week. More than 62% of adults and 85% of teens play mobile games. The staggering statistics don’t stop there, as AdAge recently pointed out , games are no longer a man’s domain – 49% of game players on mobile devices are women according to the latest data shared by Nielsen. So, let’s dive right into how to incorporate games into your advertising strategy.

Typical Scenarios of Games in Advertising

We’d like to provide our view on the typical scenarios of leveraging games in advertising based on our team’s expansive experience in creating games, building gaming studios and products, like the AR/VR focused studio Toywheel and our SaaS game builder, Gamewheel.

In the ecosystem advertising report by IAB, 3 types of game advertising have been highlighted. We’d like to extend this classification by a new game usage scenario number 4 – Game Ads.

1. Around Game Ads – This game advertising type includes game sponsorship of display units around the game. Display or digital video ads are shown while the game loads or can show during natural breaks in gameplay, such as between levels (“inter-level”,) or between rounds of play (Source IAB)

in-game2. In-Game Ads – Display ads within the game and ads triggered based on experience within the game, integrated within the game environment. There are two primary types:

  • Static or dynamically served in-game ads that are integrated into the game environment
  • Value Exchange is a model that is gaining popularity with marketers, developers, and gamers. These ads allow players to engage with an ad in exchange for in-game content and rewards, such as a new game level, in-game currency, branded items, etc. (Source IAB)


3. Custom Branded Games (aka Advergames) – These are custom-made games specifically designed around a brand and act as de-facto longer format ads, cleverly blending brand messaging with a fun and interactive gaming experience to achieve campaign objectives. (Source IAB)


4. Game Ads – Shorter version of Advergames with 15-60 seconds game play, which are “not trying to compete with full game experience”, but are running as part of an Ad campaign eg. in social media or in-app. We refer to Game Ads as also “mini-games”, “interactions” or “toys”. Those are mostly being used as part of brand engagement or content marketing campaigns to introduce a new brand/or new product, raise awareness or indirectly/directly explain a new specific feature or topic through simple game mechanics.


How is the Game Ad Campaign Typically Designed

Typical Game Ad Campaign consists of three main elements as we have outlined in our detailed guide, which you can find here:

  • Ad
  • Mini-Game
  • Destination page


Typically, Game Ads are rewarded instantly after the game-play through the destination module, which could be a landing page or something more advanced. Different game outcomes, could be linked to different rewards, which is gamifying the advertising experience. Therefore, on top of the added benefit of high ad engagement rates and times, marketers also gain valuable insights through measurable actions, often allowing advertisers to capture or enrich lead / customer data:

  • Purchase intent – e.g., Play and visit the special offer site
  • A social share – e.g., Play and share your “pride/ achievement” on Facebook
  • Participate in a poll – e.g., Play and answer a poll
  • Coupon – e.g., Play and download a coupon
  • App Install – e.g., Play and install an app
  • Event – e.g. Play and sign-up for an event
  • Provide email – e.g. Play and download content marketing piece
  • Custom integration – e.g. Play and connect with custom service / API

With the rise of messaging platforms, leveraging such engaging and easily “personalizable” advertising formats, such as Game Ads is key to gaining more marketing traction. In fact, it creates a completely new use case: Game Ads could be placed inside of messaging groups, using multi-player or leaderboard game mechanics. Moreover, those games are perfectly suited to work in combination with chatbots like virtual currency chatbot known from Kik (see screenshot below) and other messaging apps.

We expect a lot of new features around the combination of Ad Games and Messaging platforms to be introduced during the f8 conference in April 12/13 in San Francisco, especially after the degree with which the secret basketball game went viral right after the SXSW Interactive conference.


Why Game Ads Are Significantly Less Risky Than Advergames

Game production costs have steadily declined over the last few decades, yet a significant budget and high-associated risk are still an inherent part of building any new game, even if it is a relatively small Advergame.

The decline in production costs has been fueled by the rise of the indie games industry, which is powered by new game engines like Unity, and mobile ecosystems like Apple’s App Store. Still, most of the indie game studios can’t actually make a living out of their work. If you look closely at successful indie game titles like Monument Valley, you’d be surprised by just how much of their budget goes into production. According to Monument Valley founders, they spent $1.4 million for the eight-person team to create the game.

Our team gets a lot of requests every day to evaluate game projects for all 4 scenarios described above, thus we’ve created this simple table to provide you with our typical budget estimates for the game content. Hopefully, this provides you with a “gut feel” for future decisions.

Game Scenario Gameplay Budget types ($) Game types
Game Ads – new! 15-60 seconds (repeatable) 0 – Freemium, SaaS

1-10K – Indie

>10K – Regular

Simple casual, retro or mobile games, maximum of one level
Advergames >1 minute 10-25K – Indie

25-50K – Regular

>50K – Major

Simple casual, retro or mobile games, one or several levels
Full-size games required by both In-Game Ads and Around-Game Ads >10 minutes 50K-250K – Indie

250K-1M – Regular

>1M – Major

Full-size, more complex, unique game types

Given the typically tiny budgets for Games in the advertising arena (see the overview table above), lots of agencies and indie game studios end up “reskinning” popular games or just copying exciting successful game mechanics with slight variation to match the brand brief campaign. Though, in this case most of the studios underestimate the cost and complexity of such “presumably small changes” and their implications to the game design & testing. It’s no surprise that most of those projects are notorious for being risky and not hugely successful.

This is why we have created the platform Gamewheel, which offers a library of popular game types, that can be fully branded and edited online using the simple self-service wizard. Each Game Ad can be connected with a reward through a customizable CTA destination leading to a landing page after the game. If you would like to learn more, here is a full guide how to build an Ad Game campaign without any fixed costs using Gamewheel.

Besides zero development & test efforts, as well almost instant production time, another advantage of the Gamewheel approach is the ability to test multiple versions of game types using Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) platforms like AdGibbon or social media ad managers like Facebook at no additional cost.

We’ll be detailing how to A/B or split-test an Ad Game campaign in the future on our blog as well as discussing the various game types available on the Gamewheel platform and what ad campaigns they’re best suited for. We’re also tirelessly working on a few case studies combining Game Ads and Messaging platforms to demonstrate the power of this new advertising terrain. You can find a first dozen here already.

So, don’t forget to signup for a free Gamewheel account and to visit our blog regularly for all the latest updates and developments both at Gamewheel and within the online ad industry.

Call now