Massive Inc.'s ad serving network is going live today with the release of Take-Two Interactive Software's Mall Tycoon 2 Deluxe. RealNetworks will be the game's--and the network's--first advertiser. It is the first PC or console-based title to serve digital ads in real time.
Mall Tycoon 2 Deluxe is the first of 15 titles Massive will sell ads for, reaching a weekly audience of two million young men. Konami, Legacy Interactive, Ubisoft, and Vivendi Universal Games are the other publishers Massive has reached ad serving agreements with.
At the Ziff Davis Media Digital Life Expo in New York, inGamePartners, another video game ad serving network, announced several new game publisher and advertiser client wins. inGame has secured ad inventory in Maui Interactive's new mobile football title, Michael Vick's Two-Minute Drill. This is inGame's first mobile market title, but company CEO Darren Herman said Michael Vick's Two-Minute Drill will soon be followed by a mountain biking and racing title.
inGame's new advertising clients include Emerge Partners, which represents liquor brands Absolut, Remy Martin, and Jim Bean, Citrix Online, Electronic Arts, the United States National Guard, and "other military establishments," which Herman declined to "Lord of the Rings: the Battle for Middle Earth," through its game network partners. These partners include PHXX, GriffinRUN, and the Global Gaming League; inGame offers game network subscribers the option of linking to inGame's servers to play games for free in exchange for receiving digital ads.
Both Massive and inGame input a piece of code into game software that enables it to communicate with an ad server, which then displays an advertiser's branded image or message during real-time game-play. Both companies say they can serve ads to any gaming platform-console, portable console, PC, online network gaming, or mobile phones--as long as it's Internet-enabled. In the short term, Massive and inGame are focused on different video game markets: Massive is focusing on PC and then console-based titles, while inGame's short-term focus is online networked games.
Both platforms enable advertisers to target by demographic and geographic location, and adjust campaign duration in real-time. More specific targeting features must be agreed upon with game developers, and usually require players to provide opt-in registration. Both companies also supply campaign tracking and reporting.
Video games have become the largest entertainment industry in America. Close to $10 billion is spent on video games annually, outpacing the movie industry. According to the Entertainment Software Association, in 2003 more than 239 million computer and video games were sold, almost two for every household in America.