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Speaker Spotlight: get up to speed on mobile ads at PGC Helsinki with AdInMo CEO Kristan Rivers

PGC Helsinki takes place September 14th - 18th
Speaker Spotlight: get up to speed on mobile ads at PGC Helsinki with AdInMo CEO Kristan Rivers

Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital is around the corner, taking place on September 14th - 18th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

The conference spans across five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and a new and improved meeting system. For more details on PGC Helsinki Digital and to book a ticket, head to the website.

Today's spotlight is on Kristan Rivers, CEO of AdInMo. Rivers has been in the digital entertainment industry for over two decades, holding senior roles across the US, Europe and Asia at companies including Apple, Paramount Pictures, flaregames, and I-play.

He'll be heading to PGC Helsinki alongside AdInMo CTO Chris Wright to preview some of the key findings of Pocketgamer’s Mobile Trends Survey 2020, and chatting about the state of play when it comes to advertising in games. Tell us a bit about AdInMo?

Kristan Rivers: The current mobile game advertising ecosystem is broken. Gamers hate intrusive ads. Developers hate interruptive ads that take over the screen, and force users out of their game with a clickthrough. Advertisers can’t do brand awareness campaigns and are wary of fraud in traditional banner advertising; plus bottom line Coca Cola can’t sell a can of Coke with a clickthrough.

The AdInMo team is dedicated to fixing this and making advertising in mobile games not suck.

The company was founded three years ago and has already helped hundreds of developers generate more revenue with their games.

What does your role entail?

Typical for any CEO at a startup stage company, my day to day role involves everything from sales to fundraising to chief coffee-maker. In my experience, the key remit for a leader is to bring together a great team and then relentlessly remove any obstacles they may face.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I was an avid gamer from my teens. At risk of showing my age this meant playing games and honing my programming skills on early home computers including the Sinclair ZX81, and Commodore VIC-20 and C-64. I released my first, and sadly for me only, game called “Great Balls of Fire” for the VIC-20 on cassette tape. My mom was a graphic designer so helped with the package artwork. I think the computer store in the local mall sold at least three copies.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the space?

To be honest it can be hard to break into the industry. Tenacity and serendipity are critical. You can create serendipity by hanging out where the industry people you admire are and interacting with them, such as forums, social media, and of course events like PGC.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

This has of course been a time of massive upheaval for everyone personally and real business & economic impact for all industries. Games in general and mobile specifically has demonstrated itself as a key platform with increased average gameplay and more gamers and from a monetization point of view it positions games as a key driver of low-human contact and pivot to digital marketing for brands and agencies.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

The app store tax will not completely go away, but it should decrease to a more reasonable level. Asia will continue to be a difficult market for most developers and publishers to fully crack, but growth in LatAm and MENA will make that less important.

Dynamic in-game advertising will be found in a lot more game genres, moving from mostly sports and real-world games today to drive monetization across all game genres, as game designers and developers gain experience in bringing non-intrusive ad units into their game design process.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

Technology of course has advanced tremendously, but the core requirements of a successful game haven’t. A great game still has to be fun and compelling, and in these days of phones with the power of games consoles, I love that a 2D pixel art game can still be successful.

I think the biggest change in the industry is how impactful games are as medium. For most of my career gaming was considered fringe, but now it’s totally mainstream – as a career, as a channel and of course as a hobby.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

Catching up with old friends and making new ones. PGC events are always my favourite way to connect with the industry – even without the beer.

Check out the full schedule to see the complete range of impressive speakers attending. You can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.

There's still time to register for Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital here.