Sponsors Aboard In-Game Ad Network

LOS ANGELES As beta testing of the Massive real-time online in-game ad network ends today, more than a dozen advertisers have signed on, company CEO Mitch Davis said.

Advertisers will include Paramount Pictures, Los Angeles, purchasing in-game billboards and posters for four movies; Universal Music, Universal City, Calif., currently running ads for the rock group Motley Crue; Coca-Cola, advertising Diet Sprite and Fanta in games such as Anarchy; and Comcast, promoting its G4 gaming channel. Other advertisers include Nestle, Honda, T-Mobile, Verizon DSL, Dunkin’ Donuts and UPN.

“The advertisers have responded to the network enthusiastically,” said Davis. “They’re employing a broad range of creative tied to different periods to reach that 18-34 audience.” Davis added that the advertisers are taking advantage of the unique features of the network by purchasing time-based campaigns and geo-targeting.

For games such as Funcom’s Anarchy Online, an exclusive deal was struck whereby those paying to play the game online will not see the advertising, but free play will be sponsored. Davis said he believes the advertising is popular with gamers, and that Anarchy players have photographed their in-game avatars posed by in-game billboards and sent them to friends.

Davis said that before year’s end, the Massive network would swell from five to 40 titles, joining Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory and Take-Two Interactive’s Mall Tycoon and Ski Resort, among top sellers. He said the net, encompassing 500,000 players during the test phase, is on pace to reach its goal of 3-4 million 18-34 male players per week by the fourth quarter.

Davis, who declined to give detailed information on ad impressions, said that Massive is undertaking an advertising effectiveness study.

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