Microsoft to bring in-game advertising to major Xbox titles

3 Dec 2008

Microsoft has struck major advertising deals with some 225 advertisers, including games publishers Activision and Blizzard, to feature in-game advertising in Xbox 360 and PC online games.

Activision and Microsoft’s in-game advertising subsidiary Massive have already worked together on putting in-game ads into the online versions of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, running more than 330 campaigns for more than 225 advertisers.

In 2008, Massive worked on a number of innovative ad campaigns from featuring Barack Obama’s ‘Early Voting Has Begun’ campaign to various text-messaging ad campaigns.

The company also worked with Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 to enable gamers to interact with the ads as they followed the clues in a scavenger hunt ,as well as facing ads that gamers can destroy as in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.

“Massive enables ‘just-in-time’ messaging that lets us be very specific about what messages we want to use and when, similar to what we are used to in the broadcast world,” said Tony Pace, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at Subway. “Prior to Massive, you would have to guess what message you would want in a game a year before it hit the marketplace.”

Microsoft said that gamers exposed to in-game ads rated the brand 31pc higher than those not exposed to the ads, and 23pc more games would consider the brand after seeing the in-game ads. Some 60pc of gamers recall seeing ads for the brand in-game.

Today, Microsoft and Massive revealed that top publishers have come back for long-term contract extensions, which they say points to the maturation of the industry.

“What was met with scepticism and resistance just a few short years ago has now become a key part of a media mix, and an essential way to reach a crucial demographic,” said JJ Richards, newly appointed general manager of platform services for the Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group at Microsoft.

“I have been closely involved with Massive for the past couple of years, and have seen the amazing growth firsthand,” Richards said.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Guitar Hero II: Legends of Rock has previously featured in-game advertising

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years