Y&R Invests in In-Game Ad Venture

LOS ANGELES WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam has launched an in-game advertising enterprise with event-marketing specialists Bounce, principals of the new company confirmed today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo here.

Bounce Interactive Gaming (BIG) will be majority owned by Y&R but operate independently.

“Gaming is established and huge for 18-34-year-old men,” said Sam Huxley, director of Internet strategy for Y&R/BrandBuzz, New York, and chief strategic officer for BIG. “It’s the fourth-largest activity for them and it’s virtually untapped from an advertiser perspective. Our key mission is to start developing metrics and standards, and integrating input from game developers, ad agencies and clients to develop a pricing structure that makes sense.” The company will provide media buying and planning, opportunity analysis with a proprietary pricing tool, brand content and event marketing.

Bounce has been affiliated on a project basis with Y&R for two years, said BIG managing partner Tim Swift, who co-founded Bounce, New York and Santa Monica, Calif., in 2001 with John Cossette and Tom Ross. “We understand the gaming space,” said Swift. “It is an amazing space for advertisers to live. Our strategy is first to harness the power of Y&R to quantify and qualify value in gaming and secondly, understand ways to make game advertising believable and credible to the media buyer, not go the way of the Internet with banner ads that annoy people.”

Swift said in-game advertising currently enjoys unique receptivity, citing a Nielsen study indicating that consumers feel the games “are more realistic if there are advertising messages, just as in real life.”

Huxley said the company would work with game developers, “getting them to understand common goals.” He said the future of the business is in “bundling and [making] bigger deals for multiple titles rather than getting in one game. Those are things that will fall out of higher confidence and better relationships with the studios.”

BIG will be officially located in Santa Monica, Swift said, but operate in both the New York and Los Angeles markets. Rick Eiserman, CEO of BrandBuzz, assumes that title at BIG as well.