Imagine being in the middle of Times Square in downtown New York and using your cell phone to play a video game on a giant screen against the throng gathered there. MegaPhone, a digital advertising company launched in 2006, does just that, providing its clients a unique way of interacting with consumers.
“I think all of us who work in the advertising industry have to ultimately admit to ourselves that people don’t like most advertising,” said co-founder Dan Albritton. “What we’re trying to do is to bring a genuinely fun experience and then you’re getting a little advertising wrapped inside of it.”
Albritton and partner Jury Hahn have created a software platform that allows anyone with a cell phone to call a number and play a video game against thousands of complete strangers on giant digital screens at concerts venues, sporting events, or in urban centers like Times Square.
Most of MegaPhone’s big wins on the client side have come in the sporting world. Adidas used their technology to run a “shooter” game at the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans in which participants punched in a number on their cell phones and using an avatar controlled through their phones “shot” other players. Players were then sent their scores and an SMS asking if they wanted additional advertising. In another promotion, fans at a Philadelphia 76ers game made free throws by yelling “shoot” into their phones. The best scores were awarded with free tickets to upcoming games.
Albritton said that most media companies that own outdoor screens sell advertising by telling potential clients their ads will be seen by X number of eyeballs. “That’s completely false,” he said. “Five million people may walk through Times Square every day, but when they look at your sign, that’s it. They look for a quarter of a second. What we provide is real metrics.”