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Tap Me aims to improve mobile-gaming ads

A start-up is trying to change the way ads are handled in casual games by making the spots less obtrusive and potentially more viable for the average marketer.

Tap Me places ads in different areas of a game.
Tap Me places ads in different areas of a game. Tap Me

A start-up has its sights set on improving advertising in mobile games.

The company, called Tap Me, unveiled today an "integration library" for iPhone and iPad app developers. Tap Me's service integrates advertising into different areas of a game. Ads can be placed in power-up opportunities, in-game rewards, and on other types of game content, all with the goal of improving relevance and decreasing annoyances. For example, if an achievement in a respective title is "speed," Tap Me's platform displays an ad for, say, sneakers, when that achievement is earned.

In addition, Tap Me also includes a messaging platform, allowing developers or advertisers to communicate with players. The company said that it can envision the platform being used by advertisers to persuade people to perform a task--such as getting a person's friends to retweet a message--to earn points in a respective game.

Developers need to integrate its platform into their titles, choose where ads can be displayed, and then tag those areas with metatags. Tap Me's advertisers can then buy placement across the apps that use its platform on certain metatags that match what they're trying to promote. Tap Me said a company like Gatorade might choose to place its ad on apps with metatags featuring "endurance" or "speed."

Chicago-based Tap Me did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on how it shares advertising revenue with developers.

Tap Me will find itself in a rather crowded mobile-advertising market. Both Google's AdMob service and Apple's iAd are available to developers who want to make a bit more from their apps. And considering the sheer size and influence Google and Apple have in that space, Tap Me might find itself at a disadvantage.

For its part, Tap Me doesn't see it that way. The company was quick to point out that it's not a direct competitor to AdMob or iAd. Tap Me said in a statement that its service "creates new real estate for advertising that can be used alongside other ad platforms, such as iAd or AdMob."

The company also took a few shots at other platforms. It said that current ads placed in video games are "interruptive, out of context, and ineffective." Tap Me further criticized current mobile ads, saying that they "occupy valuable screen space, are prone to accidental clicks, or inject offers that require players to shift experiences outside of the game."

Either way, it's a good time for Tap Me to be in the mobile-gaming arena. According to a report from eMarketer, mobile-gaming revenue is expected to climb significantly in the coming years to $11.4 billion in 2014. It estimated that mobile-gaming revenue reached $5.6 billion in 2010.

Tap Me's beta is available now to iOS developers. It plans to open its service to Android in the near future.

The company unveiled the service in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference, which starts today and runs through Friday. CNET will be on hand at GDC to cover what's new in the world of games.