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In-Game Advertising Heavies Up on Fixed Placements

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Massive Inc., which pioneered the “dynamic” in-game advertising business, is becoming a bit more static in its approach. The Microsoft subsidiary recently began selling fixed product placements in videogames—commonly referred to as “static” ads—as they are baked into games during their production. That’s something of a departure for the company, which made a major splash in the industry back in 2005 when it introduced dynamic ads, i.e. ads served into games as they are being played, much like traditional online advertising.

Massive executives, while acknowledging the dynamic business didn’t explode as fast as some had predicted, said that the company’s broadened portfolio is being driven by advertiser demand for a more comprehensive in-game ad offering. “Now, we can help advertisers reach that gaming audience with deep integration in a game,” said JJ Richards, Massive’s general manager, who emphasized that static and dynamic are complementary.

Earlier this year, Richards brought on Aaron Lassila from rival in-game ad firm Double Fusion to serve as Massive’s national manager of fixed product placement. It was Double Fusion that in the past year or so first started expanding beyond dynamic ads into both static placements and casual games.

Double Fusion CEO Jon Epstein said that offering a broader portfolio is wise, since some brands need timely awareness messages, while others are drawn to games’ immersive qualities. “I can’t dynamically insert you into a storyline,” he said. “I can put a car in a game and park it there. If you really want to demonstrate, say, a new car’s speed attributes, that stuff still requires deep integration. There is a real role for static business.”

However, some perceive Massive’s move as a sign that dynamic ad spending has dried up during the economic downturn. That perception may stem from the recent news that competing in-game ad firm IGA Worldwide was in need of emergency funding or a possible white knight buyer in order to survive (executives at IGA were unavailable for comment).

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