TIPS ON IN-GAME ADVERTISING

From the EA Exec Who Is Pioneering the New Ad Model

By Published on .

Reprints Reprints

Who: Julie Shumaker, 36, director of sales for online and in-game advertising at Electronic Arts, the No. 1 seller of video games in the U.S., posting $3 billion in revenue in 2004.

Julie Shumaker and some characters from EA's new 'The Sims 2' game.

Credentials: For four years Ms. Shumaker was the director of sponsorship sales for dot-com startup NBC/Quokka Ventures, introducing brand and product placement in sports programming such as NBCOlympics.com and USOpen.com. She was also a sales manager at Yahoo! Before her marketing career, she was a professional golfer.

M+V Play: Embedding advertisers' brands in games.

Biggest Accomplishment: Building the ad business for in-game advertising from the ground up.

Challenge: Setting priorities. "We have a small staff, and EA sells one out of every four games in world."

M+V Advice to Marketers: "Don't set too many constraints on the game publisher. Don't try to control it as though it is a standard advertising buy."

What if a brand isn't ready to play in the M+V sandbox? "Ad sales is not a place where you're used to saying no, but I do so as often as once a week. We don't have time to baby sit; we're trying to pump out great product. We really have to qualify up front whether the marketer is a partner that will be able to handle this.

Top Lessons of M+V: 1) Trust the producers. "If we did $3 billion selling games last year, these guys must know something about building games."

2) Work with clients who are comfortable with the unknown. "This isn't a print ad. This isn't a 30-second spot. This is an entertainment product."

3) Advertising instincts almost have to go out the door. "Your goal isn't to make sure consumers see your brand in an interruptive way. Your goal is to be seamless. To have an effective TV spot, it often has to be loud, saying, Hey, see me, hear me! Branded entertainment needs to be almost the opposite. It needs to be contextual, feel relevant."

Example of well-executed M+V in a game: Dodge Viper campaign for "Nascar Race for the Cup" starts off with the player cruising the streets in their Viper, trolling for a race. "You just feel you're in the game. We didn't have to make the Dodge car a different color or have different attributes from actual cars. It feels smooth."

On gaming and relaxation: "I play games because I have to understand my company's products. To relax, I live by the motto "weekend warrior." I do a marathon every year. I ski, surf and do road bicycling.

Mentor: Mike Ellis, a former boss, who runs ad sales for AOL out of Detroit. "He was a such a fair businessman. He really negotiated win-win. He has a terrific work-life balance, maintaining as big role at work, but putting family first. He was a great boss."

What keeps you up at night? "Living up to the confidence the producers have given me."

Lesson derived from golf: "The one thing about golf is that it is pinnacle of empowerment in the sports world. You hit every shot. You can't pass the ball. When you post your score, the world sees your score. That I have to be responsible for the number, I find very empowering. I love that."
Most Popular