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Zynga revs up mobile ads with Honda campaign

The "It Starts With You" advertising promo will offer in-game rewards to Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends players.

Words With Friends
Zynga unveiled its first reward-based mobile advertising campaign supported by Honda, a move by the social game provider to generate more money and help alleviate investor concerns.

As part of the "It Starts With You" campaign to promote the 2013 Honda Accord, Words with Friends and Scramble With Friends players can earn in-game currency and tips by playing Honda-related words.

Some of those words include "new," "tech," and "you" -- not quite the first things that come to mind when thinking about a new car but probably words that pop up fairly often. According to Honda's independent research, its target audience has a "strong affinity" for word and puzzle games.

Zynga, which also makes games such as Farmville and CityVille, has been facing heightened worries about its future of late. It's closely tied to Facebook, with the two relying on each other to help drive revenue. Both have seen their shares tank in recent months as worries flare about their abilities to make money and their strategies in the mobile market.

More than a dozen high-level executives have left Zynga in the past couple months, raising more worries about the company's future. It also has faced financial problems, announcing a big write-off earlier this month and telling Wall Street its growth was slowing. As a result, Zynga shares have lost about 75 percent of their value in the year-to-date.

Zynga today noted that while the partnership with Honda is its first mobile-gaming advertising campaign, it already has offered reward-based advertising in its Web games. The company said it has "gained significant traction" with major brands such as McDonald's, Nordstrom, and Fox.

The Honda campaign kicked off Oct. 6 with a "Word of the Day" promotion in Words with Friends. Zynga said during the first four days of the promotion, more than 220,000 Honda-sponsored words were played for gameplay tips.

The Scramble With Friends promotion, meanwhile, began Oct. 13 and lasts through Oct. 31. It features a branded game board, with tokens awarded to players who locate the words "Accord," "luxury," and "new."