Microsoft Sees Ad Potential in Xbox Live

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Microsoft Sees Ad Potential in Xbox Live
« on: November 11, 2009, 03:51:07 PM »

Microsoft Sees Ad Potential in Xbox Live, Game Breaks

Nov 8, 2009

-By Mike Shields


EA’s Skate2
Though in-game advertising has never achieved the explosive growth that many predicted earlier in the decade, Microsoft believes it has cracked the code on how best to bring advertising into the vast video game universe.

The software giant appears to be emphasizing advertising around games, primarily via its Xbox Live platform, but also during natural breaks in video games—over ads that are dynamically inserted into games.

The software giant will host an Advertising Gaming Upfront at Lincoln Center in New York on Nov. 12, during which it will unveil several new partnerships, along with a case study on a recent campaign for the Kia Soul, which included sponsorship placements and a custom microsite within Xbox Live, along with virtual banners within games like Guitar Hero and NBA Live delivered via Massive, Microsoft’s in-game ad subsidiary.

The study found that users exposed to both the Xbox Live portions of the campaign and the Massive ads delivered higher scores on measures such as purchase intent and recall than those that just saw one element or the other. Those gamers were twice as likely to visit a Kia dealer, said Microsoft.

The message: multi-screen gaming campaigns are the way to go. Yet Microsoft execs clearly see Xbox Live—its Web-based platform where users can interact with other gamers—becoming its signature gaming ad property. “Xbox Live has 20 million [global] users,” said Robin Domeniconi, Microsoft’s vp, US ad sales, publishing and marketing.
“When you have that many live users coming through your TV, this is where being a tech driven media company puts us in the lead.”

When Microsoft bought Massive in 2006, it was seen as the core in-game ad property. But buyers say they are now looking at Xbox Live and other ‘around game’ avails over dynamic in-game ads. “The dynamic opportunity is fairly limited,” said Dario Raciti, OMD’s director of Ignition Factory Gaming. “Xbox Live is making all the right moves. When you go there, you see a lot more brands.”

Also at play is the fact that, once the economy went south last year, Massive renegotiated all of its publisher partnerships in anticipation of weaker demand. As a result, “we’ve grown this year when the ad industry took a dive,” Richards said. One of the new pacts Richards is set to unveil this week is with Tripwire Interactive for the PC game Killing Floor. Richards used that horror title as evidence of Massive’s momentum—but it’s also an example of in-game advertising’s evolution.

Rather than forcing ads into the game’s fantasy environment, Massive will deliver ads during the game’s built-in down time. Plus, the game will feature video ads and standard IAB ad placements. Those efforts at standardization are crucial if “we want to be part of every media plan,” said Richards.

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