Wild Tangent bets you'll watch ads in exchange for virtual items

wild tangent thinks you'll watch ads in exchange for virtual goodsEveryone who follows the Facebook gaming world knows that the direct marketing offers in FarmVille, et al, generally ask users to give up personal information in exchange for virtual coins that would, otherwise, cost real-life cash. It's not exactly the best way to play it safe on the Web.

But, what if you could simply watch a Sprint ad and, in exchange, get a one-of-a-kind storage barn for FarmVille, or a rare vehicle for Mafia Wars?

That's the gist of WildTangent's new BrandBoost advertising platform, creating ways for advertisers to get the word out, while rewarding viewers for their time and attention. In a recent Nielsen survey of 27K players, more than 85% say they do not want to pay for virtual items, so this is a way players can score a virtual item in exchange for time, instead of cash.

We asked WildTangent biz dev head Dave Madden and ad sales VP Bill Clifford how this program is different than the direct marketing ads already on FarmVille (some of which caused a major controversy last year). The duo says ads served by BrandBoost don't require any sign-ups, exchange of personal info and will cater to more upscale type of marketer.

"It's sort of like watching Primetime TV, whether you're watching Lost or the Super Bowl, there's a certain caliber of marketer and if you're watching that same channel at 4 a.m., you might see the Video Professor and other direct marketing commercials," Madden says. "It's the same medium but the marketers are completely different."

Companies signed up for BrandBoost, include Kraft, General Mills, Toyota, Disney and other big name companies, has the program has already been implemented on the MMO FreeRealms as well as Outspark.com and OMGPOP.com. WildTangent also has deals in the works with "two top social game developers," which will be announced in early March.

The question remains, would you be willing to watch an ad in exchange for a virtual item? WildTangent says 95% of people who've interacted with BrandBoost decided to interact with the ad. While our first reflex is to say 'no way,' it would also be very tempting.

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