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September 02, 2006

Live Ads in Video Games? Count Microsoft In!

By Li Evans

Buckle up folks, another frontier in dynamic and live advertising is about to be upon us. What’s that you say? Another way to advertise via another electronic medium that has a captured, attentive market segment? 

For those advertisers salivating at ways to get their newest products out to that declining TV market segment of male 18-30 year olds, EA Games & Microsoft might have a solution for you. Announced on Thursday, August 31, EA Games in conjunction with Massive Incorporated (a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft) will be able to provide live advertising in the video games for Xbox 360 and PC games it releases – first up is Need for Speed™ Carbon. 

There tends to be a lot of debate on advertising in games.  The main outcry is that players are sometimes forking over near $60 a game to play – why on earth should they be subjected to ads?  That’s a great point – if the games were free, then by all means the advertising wouldn’t be as objectionable.  However there is the point of the games feeling “stale” after a few months with old advertising that is currently in the games, for example, billboard signs on the side of the road in driving games displaying out of date products or brands. 

EA Games' take on it is that this form of advertising will keep the games “fresher” and more realistic to what is happening in today’s world.  The Washington Post quoted EA's vice president of online commerce, Chip Lange as saying,  "Some areas naturally support the advertising. If you drive around an urban environment and there's no advertising, the space feels naked -- and if the advertising is dated, the game feels old." 

So why is this making news here at Search Marketing Gurus? Microsoft’s involvement is the main reason. While Google is looking to radio and TV, Microsoft has picked up on a revenue stream that just might turn in some real revenue for them, if they incorporate it into their host of advertising “search” offerings. 

When TV and Radio are loosing the market share of 18-30 year old males to video games – isn’t it smart to figure out a way to recapture that market? I wouldn’t be surprised to see more deals upcoming in this area because it’s smart marketing. Advertisers need to go where the market is to reach the consumer – Microsoft (through Massive Incorporated), right now, is the only major provider of the market to the advertiser. This is one market segment we'll have to wait and see how long it will take Google and Yahoo! to catch up in.

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