Massive Makes Ads Part of Gamers’ Action

LOS ANGELES Massive Inc. will be the first company to provide “dynamic, campaign-based ads” within electronic game environments while providing reach and frequency feedback to sponsors, said company CEO Mitch Davis at the Electronic Entertainment Expo here yesterday.

The privately held New York-based company, founded by the Australian ex-Encyclopedia Britannica exec Davis, will launch the service in October with ad delivery in 10 titles. It expects to encompass 40 titles by late 2005. Games like Atari’s Tycoon City, Ubisoft’s Rocky Legend and Tom Clancy titles such as Ghost Recon will participate in the advertising network.

Davis said Massive’s proprietary technology allows ad delivery during a player’s gaming online, or afterward offline, when ads have been stored in memory and downloaded during offline game play. When gamers reconnect online, they upload ad impressions and download new ad files.

“When the gamer is playing online or offline, the advertising will change throughout the course of the game,” said Davis. “So advertisers have the enormous advantage of not having to work with game developers 12 to 24 months in advance of a title’s release. They can run a different ad, for instance, in November and December, or from week to week.” Davis predicts that advertisers will swap out ads frequently to prevent “fatigue” at seeing the same execution over and over.

Davis said the first generation of ads for games would consist of naturally integrated billboards and posters, the equivalent of rich media on the Internet now. The second generation, which he expects in the third quarter next year, will include full sound and motion. Davis declined to speculate on rates, but one source estimated that ads should run at a $30 CPM rate in 15-second units.

“We’ll be able to guarantee delivery and provide numbers of reach, frequency and impressions served, and also measure the brand association, both qualitative and quantitative analysis,” said Davis. “This will give advertisers the ability to segment.”

Davis said that both Nielsen and Massive studies show a unique receptivity to ads by gamers, who welcome them as increasing realism. He added that because game players tend to be young males, 18-34, and because movie studios, titles and game platforms have business alliances, movie ads within games are now likely. “It opens up games to time-sensitive campaigns like movies. And this is clearly the demo they’re trying to reach,” he said.

Davis also said he has named Richard Skeen, from Bertelsmann’s Gruner+Jahr, vice president of ad sales.