Former Nike Veteran Mike Cookson Joins Anzu.io’s Executive Team

08 October, 2019 | By Anzu




Mike Cookson

We are pleased to announce that Nike’s former Head of Brand Media Mike Cookson has joined Anzu.io’s executive team as its Chief Strategy Officer. A creative global media leader and advisor to world leading, premium growth brands and technology, Mike has worked at the intersection of media, content, and technology for 25 years. 

Gaming is more advanced than before, attracting the attention of not only investors and businesses, but also becoming an attractive industry to work in for the corporate veterans. Anzu is a rising innovative player in the field of gaming and ad tech, bringing in the sophistication of digital advertising into video gaming and esports. Anzu’s blended in-game advertising solution seamlessly integrates real-world brand ads into the gameplay. The platform introduces real-time data and programmatic capabilities to video gaming, guaranteeing ad viewability and brand safety, making gaming accessible to marketers. 

In-game advertising has been growing in numbers as more brands continue to shift their advertising budgets to console gaming and esports. Newzoo data predicts the game industry to generate $148 billion in revenue in 2019. Mike’s move from a big corporate brand to gaming is a testament to the growing interest of brands and businesses in gaming as an industry to not only invest in but also work in. Large consumer brands such as Hyundai and Pepsi are among those that are using in-game advertising in innovative ways to reach the modern gamers who are moving to gaming as more than just an entertainment escape and consider it as part of their pop culture. 

Mike, a 10-year veteran at Nike was responsible for the brand’s media-related activity across EMEA and globally for football. Mike pushed Nike into new creative media spaces and drove the strategy for groundbreaking campaigns such as the multiple Cannes Lions winner ‘Write The Future’. He also introduced programmatic and adaptive creative for Nike brand, driving the company’s digital verification across ad fraud, viewability and brand safety to ensure a new level of quality for digital media. Prior to Nike, he held senior strategy and planning roles at CIA International, Y&R/The Media Edge, and Vizeum. As a new-age young entrepreneur, he also founded Plug UK, a youth marketing agency specializing in dance music. 

“We are excited to have Mike on-board with us as we continue to shape a new trajectory for Anzu’s growth as well as discover how our efforts and innovations can transform the video game and advertising industry. There’s been an increased push and awareness amongst global brands on what they can achieve with advertising in video games and esports, and we are ready to take gaming to the centerstage with Mike. I am looking forward to taking our advertising efforts to the next level as we create new opportunities for brands to unlock untapped gaming audiences,” said Itamar Benedy, CEO and Co-Founder of Anzu. 

“Gaming and esports are truly coming of age, representing the next big opportunity for brands to connect with consumers through popular culture. Often misunderstood, the gamer audience is broad and rich and if approached in the right way will open up new possibilities for brand communications. Anzu’s technology is a game-changer in this space enabling brands to dynamically connect to consumers through beautifully rendered formats all wrapped up with next-level tracking technology to give brands and studios confidence in a new ecosystem. I am thrilled to join such a passionate and expert team and look forward to helping transform the space alongside the dedicated founders and impressive investors.” said Mike Cookson.

Backed by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, WPP, and Axel Springer Digital Ventures, Anzu has forged strategic partnerships with Fortune 500 brands as well as with gaming and esports giants. The company has led innovation in in-game advertising with their advanced solutions that bring the power of programmatic technology and viewability to console gaming, including the launch of first-ever ad-verification solution with Cheq. 

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Anzu.io is an in-game advertising platform that brings real-world brand ads to video gaming and esports. Backed by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, WPP, and Axel Springer Digital Ventures, Anzu redefines digital advertising through seamless integration of non-intrusive ads into the gameplay. Bringing real-time data and programmatic to the video gaming world, the platform promises native advertising, brand safety and ad viewability. Follow Anzu on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.