EA Selects Single Player For In-Game Ads
The news that EA is dropping third parties from selling into the company's dynamic in-game ad inventory is a pretty interesting development. At first blush, it looks like a move to increase margins and control pricing of the inventory. The more I think about the announcement, though, the more I hope the rabbit hole goes deeper.
When publishers of any sort integrate a third-party ad-serving solution, it essentially puts the sales teams and the creative teams at odds. Sales teams want to dream up incredible, never-done-before done campaigns with brands. A third-party solution acts as a bottleneck, shattering many of those dreams. Creatives look at those third-party solutions as invading their space, and find viewing the ads as a necessary evil.When the ad-serving technology sits with product teams that work in parallel with the core product teams, this changes in a significant way. Suddenly the core product makes concessions to organically integrate with the ad products coming down the pipe, and then the sales teams are able to dream a bit bigger, doing some very neat stuff. I really hope this intention played a part in EA's decision, in addition to the desire to control pricing and maximize profits.
Now, conversely, there are benefits that come with third parties which will be lost by this move. It makes the media buy more complicated if it means executing across game genres rather than just EA titles. There is the potential for difficulties on the shoulders of creatives if the formats differ too wildly. Reporting will likely be a hot-button issue for some time after this change.
If EA ends up doing some really neat, integrated things with its dynamic in-game ads, I think this will be a good thing for the industry. If instead the company just built a duplicate offering in-house, I think it is a move that will slow down innovation in the industry.