|UbiSoft's popular 'Splinter Cell Chaos Theory' is one of the games into which Massive will insert ads.
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Tracking the Rise of a New Marketing Venue
Headed by Mitch Davis, a former senior vice president of Britannica.com, Massive does for games what ad-serving networks such as DoubleClick and 24/7 RealMedia do for Web pages -- make it possible for a marketer to precisely place and track digital ad campaigns across multiple publishers' games on a variety of hardware platforms.
The network's technology automatically downloads advertising images after a gamer installs the video game on his or her PC. "This is not like product placement that occurs nine or 10 months before the product ships," said Nicholas Longano, Massive's chief marketing officer. "The game ships with the Massive [ad-receiving] technology incorporated in it."
As the gamer ascends to higher and higher levels in the game, ads can change to reflect the higher degree of play. Ads can also be altered on the fly in response to the gamers' reactions, Mr. Longano said.
Ads can be inserted in games played online in real time as well as games strictly played within the bounds of the user's computer.
The Massive system can target campaigns geographically, by day parts, number of impressions served, reach and frequency. "We can run a different campaign at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles and 5 p.m. in New York," Mr. Longano said. Reporting is currently provided by the company. Later this spring, the network will begin using an in-game auditing service now in development by Nielsen Interactive Entertainment.
Ad code in game software
The company began the rollout of its new system back in October when it signed deals with game publishers UbiSoft, Atari, Universal and Take-Two that enabled it to build its ad anchor and targeting code into the physical software of the games themselves.
The first round of gamevertising involves four game titles: Ubisoft's "Splinter Cell Chaos Theory," Funcom's "Anarchy Online," and Take-Two Interactive Software's "Mall Tycoon" and "Ski Resort." The Take-Two games were the two games that Massive had been testing since October. About three dozen additional ad-capable games are scheduled to go live by the end of the year, according to the company.
Massive and the publishers have entered into a revenue-sharing agreement, according the company. Advertisers pay the network on a cost-per-thousand basis. Advertising arrangements add $1 to $2 per game box for publishers, who generally earn $6 to $7 per box, Mr. Longano said.
He said other advertisers that have signed up for the program include Intel, Universal, Comcast G4, Nestle, Honda, T-Mobile, UPN, New Line Cinema and Dunkin' Donuts.
70% of U.S. households
Digital gaming has become a major national entertainment, with 70% of U.S. households playing some kind of video game, according to Nielsen. Massive's efforts are an attempt to expand in-game advertising in general as well as to standardize the measurement of gamers' response rates to the advertising.