By Li Evans
Believe it or not, there are a few places where Google is behind or isn't even "playing in the game", yet. One of those markets is Video Game Advertising, both In-Game and Published Title Releases bought in the store. In this space, Microsoft's Massive Incorporated is a major player along with Double Fusion and IGA Worldwide. There is a lot of news being reported this weekend that Google is in talks to buy its way into this advertising and marketing space by acquiring Adscape Media, Inc.
Last year, Microsoft acquired Massive Incorporated for what was speculated at somewhere between $200 and $300 million, although dollar amounts were never disclosed publicly. I wrote about Microsoft stepping into In-Game advertising back in September, when EA Games and Microsoft announced their deal to provide live in-game advertising within EA's games that can be played through the XBox 360 and PC's.
I'm involved with a project outside of my day job that keeps me pretty active in news on the video gaming front (I know David Temple's going to ping me and say "When do you find the time?!"). So, from experience, I am familiar with the fact that Adscape Media, Inc. is a "new kid" on the block when it comes to this particular market. There are other companies that have a lot better foothold in this particular area, but they probably aren't quite as open to Google's courting since they have a lot more publishing deals signed and established titles than Adscape Media does.
I checked out Adscape Media's site, (if you are a SEO - please stop twitching, the site's done entirely in flash) today to see if they had any new titles signed on or publishers added, but nothing was listed. Usually these firms are really eager to boast the titles they have locked in like Double Fusion and IGA Worldwide do. This is important in the world of game development. Game publishers want to know that these advertising companies are experienced in this realm of advertising and want to be able to converse with other publishers about their experience, especially in the area of "creative control". They don't want some company who's going to make their titles into a parking lot of ads.
This is also an area where your normal "mom and pop" advertisers are likely not going to be able to play as readily. The major barriers I see are: understanding how it all works, price/budgets and what exactly is the model? It certainly isn't PPC, so for Google, if they do "seal the deal" with Adscape Media, Inc. early this week, will it be more like the radio and print ads that they have in beta now? I think it will likely take a road similar to that, but again, it will take a lot of eduction of the customer that is the advertiser.
For Microsoft, acquiring Massive, Inc. made sense since they are the maker of the XBox. However, for Google, this just seems like a much cheaper "YouTube like" purchase. It is another way to quickly acquire the eyeballs that they are missing out on, and figure out how to monetize the acquisition in a "Google Way".
If you would like to learn a little more about Adscape Media, (who by the way boasts over 100 years experience in the Video Gaming Market) check out Gamasutra's interview with Adscape Media's CEO Chris Gilbert. He gives his thoughts on Microsoft's acquisition of Massive, Inc., what he believes is their competitive advantage, hurdles this particular industry faces and bit more.