Google Starts In-Game Advertising

Google has launched their in-game advertising service, through the AdSense platform. The launch was announced only last week, and will remain in beta for the present. Initially it will only be available to game publishers who have a minimum of 500,000 players per day.

In February 2007, Google acquired AdScape Media for a sum of $23 million, which will now be put to use for this latest venture called AdSense For Games.

During the beta phase, Google will concentrate on different ways of placing the ads in the games. The test will incorporate video ads, as well as text and image ads into online games.

To start with, Google will work with PlayFish, Mochi Media, Demand Media and Komani. The games will first be placed in Frogger and Dance Dance Revolution. Companies like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sprint and eSurance have already signed up to promote their brands via AdSense for Games.

Google is not the first company to incorporate advertising in games, and will have to compete with others like Double Fusion, IGA, and Microsoft’s Massive. Google’s entry into in-game advertising confirms that this market has huge untapped potential. Speaking to CNet, Jonathan Epstein, CEO of Double Fusion, said, “Google does not enter into markets that don’t have billion dollar-plus potential for them.”

Christian Oestlien, the senior product manager of AdSense for Games, explains that Google will establish a presence in this market with the help of their vast network of advertiser partners and effective placement of print, image and flash-based ads.

The success of Google’s venture will depend largely on their ability to integrate the ads appropriately into the games. If the ads are placed in a relevant and non-obtrusive manner, they will be appreciated. Otherwise, users may show their displeasure. Results would also depend on how well users interact with the ads, especially for click-through ads.

While pessimists may also wonder, if this is the right time to invest in a new advertising medium, given the insecurities in the current financial markets, many believe that gaming is a pretty resilient industry and game players tend not to let economic worries stop them from playing.

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