RealTime IT News

Microsoft's 'Massive' Ad Campaign

If you're looking for a new Lexus or soft-drink, don't turn on the TV. Go gaming.

Ads delivered by Microsoft's newest acquisition, Massive Inc., will soon start appearing within games played with Xbox LiveR, MSN Games and other Microsoft online services.

Integrating two areas receiving greater attention from the software giant, Microsoft's purchase of New York-based Massive links its new AdCenter with its successful Xbox LiveR subscription service.

Analysts believe the in-game ad market will be worth $700 million by 2010.

Typically, in-game ads are 15 seconds long and inject themselves into a videogame as a poster, billboard, television screen or soft-drink can. Advertisers include brand-name entertainment, auto or telecom companies.

Massive, a two-year-old company with 80 employees, will serve up ads to nearly 200 game titles by the end of 2007, according to Mike Goodman, a Yankee Group analyst who has surveyed the practice.

While Microsoft hopes to use in-game ads to capture the elusive 18- to 34-year-old male market, who increasingly are turning away from television in favor of video games, the software maker also plans to extensively use Massive to reach their full online audience.

Targeting users of MSN and MSN Messenger will reach women 35 years and up who are casual gamers, according to a statement.

The Massive ad technology will also extend to serving up ads to mobile users of Windows LiveT and the AdCenter platform.

Goodman questioned whether Microsoft will limit Massive to serving only Xbox Live subscribers and whether competitors will be shut out of serving ads to Xbox users. Such a practice would balkanize the nascent in-game advertising market, according to the analyst.

Microsoft also announced the purchase of Vexcel, a Reno, Nev.-based imagery and remote sensing company. Vexcel will deliver dynamic data to MSN Virtual Earth.