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Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, has been puffing its feathery chest lately about moving into China as part of a quest to get a billion fans for its phenomenally popular mobile game.
Tonight, the company is doing something about it by announcing a partnership with Madhouse, a major ad network in China, to drive the mobile marketing campaign in the world’s most populous country. If Helsinki-based Rovio can move fast into China, it can stop worrying so much about how much the Angry Birds game is being pirated there. Rovio made the announcement at the ChinaJoy 2011 conference in Shanghai.
Angry Birds has been downloaded more than 300 million times.
Shanghai-based Madhouse will put ads into Rovio’s games across China as a way to popularize and monetize the game across the country. Madhouse will place in-app banners and rich media ads into the game, and come up with fully customized marketing solutions that make sense in China. Advertisers on the Madhouse SmartMad ad network can now reach Angry Birds users as they play the game.
Madhouse, founded in 2006, is an established mobile ad company with technology for intelligent networking. The company says it can reach 75 percent of all of China’s mobile internet users, which number around 900 million. Joshua Maa, chief executive of Madhouse, said that the partnership will likely attract the attention of brands that want to reach Angry Birds players.
Rovio figures it can hit 100 million downloads in China by the end of the year. Peter Vesterbacka (pictured right) said last week that Rovio’s game is the third-most-pirated brand in China, behind Disney and Hello Kitty.
Ville Heijari, vice president of franchise development at Rovio, said that the company will release an update for its Angry Birds Seasons game for the mid-Autumn Moon Festival in September. That game will be marketed with special Angry Birds Moon Cake pastries. He also said the company is selling other Angry Birds goods for the Chinese market, including a line of Angry Birds sneakers, which sold out the first run in less than a week. Rovio hopes to sell millions of shoes in China alone. Rovio is setting up an office in Shanghai to hire a team there.
[pictured: Wibe Wagemans of Rovio on left, George Donovan of Gogii Games in center, and Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio on right]