Rovio’s Michele Tobin: “Brazil and Mexico belong to the Top 10 markets for Angry Birds”

Michele Tobin, who is the VP of Brand Partnerships and Advertising, RovioIn-Game Advertising has become a significant and often highly engaging ad-category. Rovio, the Finnish video game developer and entertainment company, best known for being the creator of the Angry Birds Video Game franchise, has been experiencing a slow-down in revenues growth over the last quarters and has began shifting to the dominant free-to-play model for apps, in which games are downloaded for free but money is made from in-app purchases and advertising. Los Angeles based Michelle Tobin, VP Global Brand Partnerships & Advertising (photo), was hired by Rovio a year and a half ago from Millennial Media to lead Rovio’s direct ad sales business. Portada interviewed Tobin to ask her about her unit’s expansion into the Latin American market.

Tobin stresses the high smart phone penetration growth Latin America has experienced over the last few years and the positive impact this has had on the use of the Angry Birds game in the region: “Angry Birds has become part of popular culture globally, with high brand awareness and recognition from hundreds of millions of fans. So it’s no surprise that Angry Birds apps lead the pack in being among the first downloaded by new smart phone owners. When regions experience explosive growth in smart phone penetration, we see huge spikes in downloads and significant audience growth. We’re seeing this happening now in Latin America, and therefore are expanding our team to support this dynamic growth.”

“Our birds express themselves without words, so they all speak the same universal language – fun! Our brand campaigns can be geo-targeted by region and we run creative in-language appropriate for each market,” Tobin adds.  Rovio ad offerings include 15-second pre-rolls for ToonsTV videos, sponsored in-game rewards and rich media placements.

Miami-based new hire

Tobin adds that she sees great potential in Latin America and that is the reason why Osvaldo Tirse was recently hired as the company’s new Director of Brand Partnerships and Advertising for Latin America . “We see tremendous potential in the market and recognize that a large amount of pan-regional buying is done in Miami, so it made sense to base our Director of Brand Partnerships for Latin America, Ozzie Tirse, there.”

Brazil and Mexico, Top 10 Countries in the World

Angry BirdsAccording to Tobin, Brazil and Mexico are Rovio’s two strongest markets in Latin America, and among the Top 10 markets in the world for Rovio. “We are also very strong in other key Latin American countries, such as Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru.” “We do not have any exclusive deals, and are instead very focused on building our own direct sales team in Latin America, as we are in other markets. While we do work with rep partners in select markets, we feel that no one can tell the Rovio story quite like our own direct sales team, and by working directly with us, we can come up with the most innovative ways for advertisers to engage with our audience via mobile and online media, video, integrations, sponsorships and more.”

Tobin says that Rovio works with many leading brands across a broad range of categories. “Some of our advertisers include great brands like Pepsico, Energizer, Fiat, Disney, Ambev and Netflix.” Tobin cites LatAm’s large and growing mobile audiences as the main rationale behind a very rosy Latin American growth outlook. “We are extremely optimistic about the opportunities in Latin America given the dramatic and continuous rise in smart phone penetration – Mexico alone had 50% growth in smart phone penetration last year! We know this large mobile audience is valuable to advertisers and that the advertising dollars will follow the consumer eyeballs. With both the digital and mobile ad markets growing and advertisers moving money towards digital and mobile, we are confident that our extensive reach and premium environment presents a huge opportunity for brands in the region.”