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.

2 comments about "EA Selects Single Player For In-Game Ads ".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, March 19, 2010 at 3:15 p.m.

    So EA is pretty much conceding that making and selling great games isn't enough to be viable today. Well a billboard in a NASCAR game is one thing. But the moment a McDonalds ad shows up in World of Warcraft watch for a backlash...oh wait Blizzard sells its content online via subscription and does quite well.

    Big question is how the EA games are served. Any that are piped through a web browser like FireFox would allow 3rd party networks to be they are on my browser.

  2. Carlos Pacheco from Truly Inc., March 22, 2010 at 12:39 p.m.

    Dynamic VG advertising has not evolved in the last couple of years. Last time I working on a campaign there was no way of doing any 3rd party ad tracking and no way for users to interact with the ads that were served on consoles. Also, Massive/Microsoft had a specific way of measuring dynamic ad exposure that was unique. Not to mention the fact that Massive was the third party that sold EA titles before. How will this impact console ad exposure on the Xbox since Massive its the exclusive seller. The console was the first one to serve ads and still the one with the most titles currently serving dynamic ads. I'm curious to see what EA's plan and offer will be.

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