Zynga Still Has A Few Tricks Up Its Sleeve

Zynga’s (NASDAQ:ZNGA) acquisition of Draw Something and creator OMGPOP back in March had many questioning whether the social gaming company had a few screws loose. While the Draw Something mobile game app was certainly popular with users, it hadn’t yet begun to monetize that popularity, which made Zynga’s $180 million purchase seem a bit hasty.

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But now Draw Something has an ad model that could turn things around. It used to run spammy banners in its free mobile app, which together with the paid no-ads version, has amassed 50 million downloads in five months. But now, with a direct-sales force that’s been on the ground for eight weeks, Draw Something is inserting advertisers’ paid terms into the game, which means players will literally be drawing brands.

Here’s how the game works: Players pick one from a list of three terms, then create a drawing of that term, which another player will then use to decipher the original term to win points. Now among words like ‘catfish’ and ‘snowman’ will be words like Coca-Cola or Doritos.

The National Hockey League has already bought terms relating to hockey — puck, Zamboni, hat trick, slap shot — now that the Stanley Cup playoffs are underway. And utilizing another popular social platform, the NHL has posted some of the best hockey-related drawings from Draw Something users to Pinterest.

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