Zynga and SGN launch ad networks for game developers on social networks

Want to play more games on Facebook? Well, some fast-moving start-ups are banking on it — and are enticing you to play new games by luring you with advertising. It’s the latest way entrepreneur are trying to make a buck on the tens of millions using Facebook and other social networks.

Zynga and the Social Gaming Network, competing creators of popular games in social networks, are behind two competing efforts. They’re placing ads within their own games to promote other developers’ games, and they’re taking a cut of the revenue they get for doing it. These are the first ad networks that specifically target games on social networks.

For example, Zynga’s Texas Hold ‘Em poker game (pictured above and below), or SGN’s Warbook medieval fantasy game could feature an ad for some small developer’s brand-new group Tic-Tac-Toe game.

Leading widgetmaker RockYou, among many others, already sells ad space to small applications to attract new users. Of course, RockYou’s ad network and others have ad inventories that include both games and other applications. Zynga and SGN, both of which claim to get hundreds of millions of monthly pageviews across their networks, hope that their existing game-focused users will be more inclined to try out new games than these larger ad networks. Game-focused features of each platform may help differentiate the concept.

For example, SGN’s platform, launching tonight, will try to figure out which types of games a user prefers to play, then recommend an advertising developer’s game within the game. The platform intends to be a full-fledged portal for users, where one can see the games their friends play and their friends’ high scores.

This platform will also move the feed activity about a game from a user’s profile page to the game platform page — notices like “You scored a billion points on Group Tic-Tac-Toe.” I haven’t seen this feature implemented, but it seems counterintuitive, as profile pages are key to advertising your activity to friends. The company’s hope may be to create a special portal for the more serious of gamers.

SGN is focusing on building out the platform first, and plans to incorporate the ad network later. (For more on the company’s network, see our article from yesterday.)

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Zynga is more of a straightforward ad network. It will feature ads for other games within the top toolbar or other parts of its game canvas pages on Facebook. If you’re a small developer and you join Zynga, you’ll also get the option to have Zynga sell ads for you, and share revenue.

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Of course, these ad networks are for small applications that aren’t able to grow big within Facebook on their own merits. In fact, many game applications can grow just fine by themselves, by using distribution mechanisms within Facebook, like profile pages and news feeds.

Nevertheless, SGN and Zynga see themselves as mano-a-mano competitors, as this coverage from other blogs suggests. In fact, SGN was planning on launching its platform at a game developers’ conference next week, but rushed to launch it tonight when the company found out about Zynga’s platform launch.