17 May 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Niklas Bakos is the founder of Adverty, an innovative in-game ad platform for advertisers, agencies and developers. Niklas, who has an extensive background in both the gaming and advertising industries, is passionate about helping brands to leverage lucrative advertising opportunities in the largely untapped gaming industry to unlock previously unreachable audiences.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Adverty delivers seamless advertising to connect brands and people through its display advertising technology built specifically for gaming. This represents an exciting opportunity because – despite the vast number of engaged, passionate gaming enthusiasts – gaming remains largely untapped as an advertising channel. As the leading platform for true in-game advertising, Adverty delivers a seamless experience to connect brands and people through its revolutionary display advertising technology built for games. Our platform offers in-game ad inventory at scale and allows content creators to monetise the complete experience with unobtrusive, easy-to-integrate, immersive ads. Our unique solution unlocks unreachable audiences and comprehensive monetisation streams in the largest exclusive network of seamless in-world advertising for games, esports and brands.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I developed my background in mobile gaming after studying Media Technology and completing a European Union-sponsored mobile entertainment project. Whilst that was my initial route into gaming, a former teacher employed me at their mobile gaming company and subsequently helped shape my growing interest in that area. Working across multiple departments at that company gave me strong business and industry insights. Years later, I moved onto one of the biggest gaming publishing companies in the world, Glu Mobile (now part of Electronic Arts). This was well before the rise of smartphones and the boom of mobile apps we see today. After a time working for numerous international companies, I was ready to branch out on my own so I joined forces with a childhood friend to launch Adverty. We had a common interest in virtual reality and our early ideas were far away from what Adverty has evolved into today. I was advised to leverage my gaming and advertising experience to develop Adverty and it was that combination that led to the birth of Adverty’s innovative in-game advertising platform.
How did you achieve awareness?
Securing brand awareness is always an ongoing process and as we are establishing a new advertising method, there’s always going to be an educational piece for clients. Whilst the gaming industry isn’t new, in-game advertising is much more unfamiliar so prospective clients often need convincing. Since 2017, we have been working hard to gain brand awareness by knocking on doors of agencies and educating them on both gaming and in-game advertising. The pandemic has actually helped us accelerate awareness of this advertising channel as more consumers spend increasingly large amounts of time on their mobile devices. Through our partnerships and press coverage, brands are growing more familiar with Adverty and we have grown and matured along with the highly lucrative gaming industry.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Gaining investment is always a key part of establishing a startup and it has been a tough, but inspiring road. We initially rode on the VR hype in 2016, but as a VR ad-tech startup, many investors at first sight saw us as complex and high-risk. In the early days of the business, we spent 8 months talking to hundreds of investors and VCs and whilst they showed interest, they were mostly not ready to join our business journey. We eventually found a group of business angels who loved our pitch and raised the seed money needed to initiate everything. Two years later we did an early IPO on a Nordic Exchange for growth SMEs. Joining the Stock Exchange has been an interesting ride since we are now on many occasions perhaps seen as a larger company than we actually are.
What are the key successes?
Several high profile funding rounds have helped to elevate and accelerate our ambitious expansion. Our innovative in-game advertising platform was one of the first on the market and today the number of competitors are frequently increasing. We have built a fantastic team across the globe and developed some truly unique in-game ad tech, taking our In-Play and In-Menu ad formats as examples, to enable seamless unobtrusive ads within and between gameplay. Our ad platform and BrainImpression technology for viewability are today multi-patented in the US, which of course is another tremendous milestone for the company. This innovation uses human brain and eye research to track true in-game impressions and advanced on-screen tracking algorithms to determine valid impressions according to digital advertising industry standards. Equally important is a wider acceptance of in-gaming by the digital industry and we are seeing big agencies develop their own in-house gaming advertising platforms in a bid to leverage lucrative opportunities.
What were the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Being a founder is a challenging journey and it is definitely a bumpy road to business success. Adverty hasn’t always gone in the direction I expected and there’s tough decisions to make almost on a daily basis. But as long as you believe in your vision and what you have built, as well as having the strength to fully focus on that every single day, success will come at one point. I overcame most challenges by having the right strategy and people supporting me.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success for others on their journey?
- Ask people for second opinions
- Always listen to your gut feeling
- Believe in yourself and the business vision
Who are the 2 people who inspire you the most?
● Steve Jobs – An iconic businessman who revolutionised so many industries with the various Apple products.
● Daniel Ek – A Swedish visionary leader who founded Spotify, disrupted the hard-to-disrupt music industry, made his company a world leader and has completely changed how people engage with music. The fact that Daniel prior to Spotify founded and sold an ad tech company called Advertigo, makes this choice so much more fun.
What is your favourite inspirational /motivational quote?
“Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn” – even when you lose you are learning.
What is Adverty’s plan for the future?
We’ve been working closely with the IAB and other industry leaders in recent months to establish new industry standards for in-game advertising, given our strong belief that programmatic media buying will grow to include more opportunities for the in-app space – in which gaming is by far the largest category. The future of programmatic advertising looks likely to include a mix of both awareness and performance-based in-game approaches, given that the most powerful advertising combinations have long been born from a blend of the two. Indeed, it’s when differing in-game formats – such as In-Play and In-Menu – are used together, that advertisers are likely to see the greatest success. New formats will no doubt follow, too, thanks to emerging technologies such as AR and VR, and the increasing bandwidth that comes with 5G.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?