6 Minute Read

At Playwire, we’re always looking toward the future. To help publishers maximize their revenue, we have to look forward so we can see changes coming, prepare for them and, ultimately, thrive. 

Still, there’s something to be said for looking backward, too. Knowing what’s behind you — what you’ve been through, the challenges you’ve overcome, your regrets and your biggest victories — informs what you do in the present and how you move into the future.

So, that’s exactly what we did. We took the time to look back and write out the history of Playwire. Read on to get to know us a bit better.

History of Playwire

Playwire: What’s in the Name?

Before we get too deep into Playwire’s history, let’s take a look at the name. Like our company, our name has evolved over the years.

In our company’s earliest days — literally within the first month — we went through our first name change. At first, we called ourselves E-Game Logic. Within one month of our founding, we got everyone’s favorite piece of mail: a cease and desist letter. It was from another company with a highly similar name. 

We weren’t married to the name, so instead of fighting it, we decided to make a change. The thought process went a little bit like this: synergy, internet … Intergi. 

Nobody was thrilled with the new name, but it did the trick until around 2014. Founder and CEO Jayson Dubin was at a dinner with several other industry leaders. One of the dinner guests was generously bending Jayson’s ear about how much he disliked the name Intergi. Then, he said he was going to prove that the name wasn’t right. 

He asked someone else at the table if their company had ever worked with Intergi. The person said no, they didn’t think so. As it turned out, that person was in charge of one of Intergi’s largest partners. 

That was good enough to warrant a name change. And that’s how the much more memorable name, “Playwire”, was born.

The Early Days

Playwire was founded in 2007, but its history goes back a bit further than that. Jayson Dubin became president and publisher of the Media Division at TheGlobe.com in 2005. As part of that position, he oversaw three print magazines. Because Jayson came from a web background, he wanted to start putting the print content online. 

To do that (and make it profitable for the company), he hired editors and started acquiring web traffic. But getting enough traffic for the endeavor to make financial sense proved to be a big challenge. 

During that struggle, the first rumblings of what would eventually become Playwire were apparent. Websites started coming to Jayson asking for ad inventory. As time went on and the demand for ad partnership became stronger, Jayson formed the idea to create the world’s first ad network for video games. 

The CEO of TheGlobe.com didn’t like the idea. But Jayson knew the company was experiencing a difficult time, so he offered to acquire the magazine assets as a first step to making his ideas a reality. He eventually secured the funding and started the company that is now called Playwire.

The ‘WoW’ Moment

Along with Steven Berger, Jayson had founded the first ad network for video games. Because it was the first and only ad network for video games, it was also the biggest. That was fun to say, but the reality was that the company only had a few employees and a few websites on board.

Then, Playwire had its World of Warcraft (WoW) moment. At the time, WoW was the largest game in the world. A company called Massive, which was owned by Microsoft, wanted Playwire to provide exclusive ad representation for WoW. 

The guarantee Playwire got from that agreement was worth more than the company was bringing in annually at the time. That deal ushered in a season of growth for Playwire that has continued to the present day.

From Gaming to Video

Playwire quickly reached the No. 1 spot on comScore’s list of gaming ad rep firms. By 2009, the business was growing nicely, so the team started to consider Playwire’s next steps. On the table were social, mobile and video. 

At that time, it was next to impossible to compete with the social media giants like Facebook. And mobile was still taking its first steps. So, video became Playwire’s next target. The company brought in an expert to build a video player. With the player complete, Playwire started making and selling video ads, experiencing early success.

The next step was to make an online video platform (OVP) that would allow people to upload videos that could run as related content. The team put a lot into the Playwire’s OVP, but it went nowhere. That was a setback, but Playwire still had its video player, which would eventually lead to Trendi.

The original idea was to create a video platform. Unfortunately, allowing people to upload their own video content led to a lot of submissions that were less than brand-safe. So, Playwire started creating its own video content and making its own video playlists. The idea gained traction quickly and took off. Playwire’s video product, Trendi, was released in 2016. Today, the video team makes 10 to 15 videos per vertical each week to keep the content fresh and the ad revenue pouring in for publishers.

Tackling More Verticals

By 2014, Playwire was growing consistently. The company had a large global footprint with offices in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. It started to make sense to go after more verticals. The company had gaming and video, and by 2014, it had entertainment, too. 

Around that time, a law called the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was starting to affect kids’ websites. Rather than getting into compliance with COPPA, many of the big players pulled out of advertising in the children’s vertical. That’s where Playwire saw an opportunity.  The team partnered with the largest kids’ site at the time and started building up Playwire’s COPPA business

At one point or another, Playwire became number one in gaming, entertainment and kids’ sites. That was when the company started to realize it could monetize any website, regardless of vertical. So, Playwire invested heavily in its direct sales team when many competitors were hemorrhaging sales professionals. 

How We Learned to Stop Chasing the Ball and Start Playing Our Positions

When Chief Operations Officer Chris Giomblanco first set foot in Playwire’s offices, it felt less like walking into the headquarters of a growing ad tech company and more like watching a bunch of 5-year-olds play soccer. Wherever the ball went, everyone chased it — all at once. 

Jayson was the center of everything. When someone needed guidance or help with even a small task, the go-to mantra was “Go talk to Jayson.” Jayson is a world-class leader capable of bringing teams and companies to great heights, but that’s too much for anyone to handle. It’s just not how effective companies run and grow.

And it was Chris’s mission to fix that. The first step was to get everyone to play to their strengths, and Jayson was first on the list. He was to go out on the road and arrange more deals for Playwire while Chris stayed back and watched the kids, so to speak. Next up was the rest of the team — Chris made sure everyone played their positions instead of only chasing the ball. Goalies became goalies only. Defenders were defenders. Strikers were strikers. And so on.

From there, accountability and reporting for those positions was the natural next step. Chris came to Playwire with experience at major companies, so when he saw sales meetings where no one could assess where the team was in reference to the quarterly goal, he knew something was amiss. 

The perspective that Chris brought to the team was a catalyst for lightning-fast evolution in the right direction. As COO, he has transformed the company from one that was operating with pure brute force to one that allows talented people to take the reins and do what they do best. It’s an evolution we’re still in the middle of as we navigate the adolescence that sits between the childhood of being a startup and the adulthood of being a big company.

App, OTT and Beyond

Since those days, Playwire has grown rapidly. In 2018, FreakOut Holdings acquired Playwire as a majority owner (although Playwire is still a separate company). Record revenue and explosive growth have allowed Playwire to invest in the future. 

App and OTT Advertising

Most recently, the next big step has been breaking into revenue amplification for mobile app publishers. Those efforts are beginning to bear fruit. The next opportunity on Playwire’s horizon is over-the-top (OTT) advertising

What’s Next for Playwire

Through missteps and growing pains and sometimes-blinding success, Playwire has positioned itself to go after the big opportunities — the ones that truly define a company and its position in the world. We’re excited about that, and we’re ready for the challenge.

What comes next is hard to predict. But we can guarantee our next move will satisfy two requirements that have driven Playwire from its earliest days:

  1. It must be best for the publisher.
  2. It must solve a problem.

Time, pressure and perspective have driven us to this point. Now, we have to engineer the rocket we’ll ride to the next big chapter in our history. Here’s how we’ll do it: When everyone is speaking, we’ll listen. When there’s a problem to solve, we’ll solve it. That’s how we’ll get to where we’re going.

You Know Our History. Now Be a Part of Our Future.

Playwire’s history, the present, the future — it’s all about time. And if you’re interested in joining us to maximize your revenue, it’s also about time that you give us a call. To speak with Playwire’s history-making team of publisher revenue experts, call 1-561-206-4621 or contact us online.

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