There are few online advertising sectors that are increasingly inhaling more and more ad dollars than the burgeoning in-game ad industry. Games are the new old medium. They’ve been around for more than thirty years already, but they’ve only recently been realized as an ad delivery platform. For the past few years, a handful of in-game advertising companies have been developing their ad delivery technology and their relationships with game publishers.
In April 2006, Microsoft delivered a hearty shock to the industry by purchasing in-game advertising company Massive. The move, in a way, legitimized in-game advertising, opened up a major console market to in-game ads, and set up Massive as a clear frontrunner in the industry. Even though Microsoft is now an in-game ad player, there’s still a lot to figure out about making ads and games play together.
Where’s it all going? What are the trends? What should you be keeping an eye on? Last week I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from three in-game ad players: Epstein, CEO of Double Fusion (DF), Justin Townsend, CEO of IGA Worldwide (IGA), and Nicholas Longano, President of New Media from Massive (M). I asked each one the same 6 questions about competition, ad formats, metrics, ad placement, and the future of the industry. I’ve juxtaposed their responses so you can see the general direction that each company is headed.
- Has the industry grown large enough that you could consider other in-game advertising companies as serious competition, or is it still a wide open market?
- In what direction is the in-game ad formats heading: display ads like on billboards, or in-game product placement?
- Is there an industry standard for measuring in-game ads?
- How useful do you think in-game metrics are, since games can be played both on and off-line on a whole bunch of different platforms?
- What sort of games are more easily combined with advertising? What do you do for games that aren’t sports or set in a present-day location? What about fantasy, sci fi games, or even puzzle, arcade, and casual titles?
- Do you think it’s possible in the future that some high-profile games could be entirely ad-supported?