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Q&A: Bill Young, managing director, EA Ready

Gaming company Electronic Arts partnered with automotive brand Chevrolet on Aug. 9 to integrate a Facebook sweepstakes into the free demo version of EA’s “Madden NFL 12” game. Bill Young, managing director of EA Ready, the group that oversaw the initiative, says mobile and social gaming platforms offer more opportunities for advertisers.

Direct Marketing News (DMN): Are there any plans to run a marketing partnership, such as the one with Chevy featured in the Madden demo, in full versions of an EA game?

Bill Young: Not right now. The thing about where video games are headed is our ability to change them on the fly. Through dynamic in-game advertising and all the community features within the games, we’re able to talk to the gamers in real time. That allows us the opportunity to do things like this on the fly. I think you’re going to see some very cool programs in upcoming games that are akin to this. In future games, not just on console but mobile and probably especially social because those audience numbers are so incredibly high, it allows us to do things like this really at will.

DMN: How are you guys looking at mobile and social with this type of advertising initiative in mind?

Young: With mobile, I think that the larger the Android market gets, the more we’ll be able to do things like this. Apple has a fairly strict policy we need to adhere to. But I foresee that changing too: It’s good for everybody. It’s good for Apple; it’s good for Electronic Arts. If we can find ways to make apps more profitable, it’s going to be great for everyone.

DMN: With mobile, I imagine the sharing and location capabilities are the ones you’re most looking to take advantage of.

Young: It’s funny you say that. We’ve had a few conversation with auto partners about check-ins at dealerships. Nothing’s come to pass just yet. But the social integrations, being able to share and let your users become your evangelists, it’s unprecedented what you’re able to do between the mobile devices and social apps. You can reach so many people so fast.

DMN: How would the check-ins idea work?

Young: I would imagine you can assume that a lot of games that are on the console will have mobile extensions that talk to each other. So it’s not like they’re completely separate titles. It might be a different experience, but it’s actually [connected] to the same user name. So you can be playing a game on your Xbox and hit save, go get on your commute to work and pick up your [mobile device] and start working on the progress of that game. If it’s a skill-based game, maybe you’re honing your skills on the phone and those attributes you’re increasing will be reflected in the console game when you get home.

DMN: So if it’s a racing game and you take that mobile device to a dealer, maybe you can earn a car to use in the game?

Young: Yeah, that’s a perfect execution. Let’s say you live in a town that has five Chevy dealerships. If you go to check in at all five, you get a Chevy Camaro in the next “Need for Speed” game that’s exclusive. The only people that get that car are people who have checked in.

DMN: And Chevy would be able to add in their own calls to action, such as to take a test drive or opt into their email mailing list?

Young: Yeah. I think that finding some way to capture that registration and not just be a number is critical.

DMN: Would a social initiative be similar to the mobile possibilities minus the integration of location-based services? For example, instead of checking in to receive the Camaro, you share something about Chevy with five friends?

Young: I think there’s actually more opportunities for advertisers on the social and mobile front in the future than there is on consoles, to be frank. There are so many different types of interactions and so many opportunities for a user to not only interact with a brand but also to share and to achieve. There are so many different things you can do in a short period of time on a mobile device, and any interaction in that is an opportunity for an advertiser to be a part of it.

DMN: And for the advertiser, social would be enticing because it helps them to broaden the reach of any campaign.

Young: Yeah, and beyond that they have the opportunity to get [consumers] to like their brand, fan their brand, whatever the local nomenclature is for that social network. It’s an opportunity to capture that user.

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