Microsoft to go Massive on in-game advertising

4 Jun 2008

Microsoft is working hard to capture one segment of the lucrative internet advertising business that rivals Google and Yahoo! may very well struggle with – the burgeoning in-game advertising space.

The software giant, which is also a prominent player in the PC and console games market with its X-box family, yesterday revealed that its wholly owned subsidiary Massive Inc has signed up over 200 blue-chip advertisers to run campaigns in Europe and North America.

Massive, which can run dynamic, in-game advertising without affecting the game experience, yesterday completed an audit by Interactive Media Services Group to verify accuracy and said it will undergo regular, annual audits to ensure consistent impression counting.

A second study was carried out with Interpret LLC, a new media research firm, which looked into the brand impact of in-game advertising.

Sportswear giant Adidas tested ads it ran through the Massive Network in Major League Baseball® 2K7, published by 2K Sports, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

Among those exposed to the Adidas ads, 40pc recall the company’s tagline of ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ — an increase of 90pc over those not exposed to the ads. The number of gamers exposed to the ads who agreed with the statements ‘Adidas is the only brand for me’ and ‘Adidas is an inspirational brand’ rose 70pc over those not exposed to the ads.

In addition, 73pc of gamers recalling the ads agreed with the statement that ‘the ads enhanced the realism of the game’.

Across all game genres and advertisers studied, the research revealed an average of 70pc of gamers agreed with statements that the dynamic in-game ads ‘contributed to realism’, ‘fit the games’ in which they were served and looked ‘cool’.

A leading restaurant brand executed custom ad creative for select titles with strong results. Among those gamers exposed to the ads in Need for Speed Carbon, a racing title published by Electronic Arts Inc, the number saying they would recommend the QSR brand to others rose by 39pc compared with the control group, and those assigning the QSR brand the highest possible brand rating rose by 17pc from the control group to the test group.

Some 56pc of exposed gamers agreed with the statement that the ads made the gaming environment feel more interactive.

A global candy bar company executed a branding campaign in NASCAR 08 published by Electronic Arts. Some 75pc of gamers recalled the candy bar in-game advertising with 56pc recalling the specific ad creative.

Within the test group, 72pc agreed with the statement that the candy bar is ‘a great snack to eat while playing video games’, an increase of 29pc from the control group; the proportion agreeing that the candy bar ‘gives you energy’ and ‘is cool’ rose 24 pc and 21pc from control group to test group, respectively.

An entertainment studio ran a campaign advertising the DVD release of a hit film in Rainbow Six: Vegas, an action title published by Ubisoft Entertainment. Unaided awareness of the DVD increased 16pc among gamers exposed to the ads as compared with the control group, with 66pc of those recalling the campaign having a more positive opinion of the DVD following in-game exposure.

Purchase intent for the DVD rose 23pc from control group to test group, with 80pc of exposed gamers responding in the survey that ‘they would probably or definitely purchase the DVD’.

“The depth of this research reflects Massive’s commitment to offering advertisers an understanding of how in-game advertising can impact brands across game genres and advertising categories,” said Cory Van Arsdale, CEO of Massive.

“As the in-game medium matures and establishes its position on the media plan, advertisers and agencies are eager for insight into creative nuances and best practices for maximising its impact. We view this type of guidance as an essential part of our role as an industry leader and innovator,” Van Arsdale said.

By John Kennedy