TechWeb

RealNetworks Puts Ads In Free Online Games

Jun 27, 2006 (01:06 PM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=189602238


RealNetworks Inc. on Tuesday began putting streaming video ads in games through its RealArcade service.

Consumers who download select games to the PC from the RealArcade site will view a 10- to- 15-second advertisement before the game begins. RealNetworks senior vice president of worldwide gaming Michael Schutzler says the site gets between 750,000 and 1 million downloads per day.

The first two companies to sign-up for steaming advertisements through the service are Honda Motor Co. and Hasbro Inc. "Sponsors could allow us to extend a typical hour-long, try-before-you-buy offer to two hours," Schutzler said. "In some cases, we might be able to offer the game for free."

Games that display advertisements today are "casual games," such as Bounce Out Blitz, Mah Jong Medley, Shape Shifter, Splash, and Word Slinger. Within the next two years, all 400 games in the RealNetworks library should offer the service, which is made possible with technology from digital services company Eyeblaster.

Cadillac communications manager Kevin Smith said the General Motors Corp. division likes what they've seen. Game enthusiasts have responded positively to having an option to download three additional cars into Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox Live game Project Gotham Racing 3.

Cadillac and Microsoft in May signed a deal to bring virtual recreations of the CTS-V, STS-V and XLR-V performance models to Xbox Live in the game Project Gotham Racing 3. Gamers can elect to download a special package into Project Gotham Racing 3 game.

The gaming demographics for Project Gotham Racing 3 are stronger than expected, Smith said. "We're reaching our target audience," he said. "The average age is between 28 and 35 years old. The income is strong, about 80 percent male, and a number of them probably can afford a Cadillac today."

Plans are rolling to insert Cadillac cars into Microsoft's Forza Motorsports 2 when the game ships in the fall. "Our Cadillac CTS-V race car, along with others, will be integrated into the game," Smith said.

The trend to reach 18- to 34-year-old males through PCs rather than TVs is picking up speed, as more companies clamor for space in and around games, said Steve Baloff, general partner at venture capital firm Advanced Technology Ventures, an investor in WildTangent, an online video game provider who has been doing in-game advertising.

The deals are part of the growing in-game advertising trend. Macrovision's Trymedia Games division, and in-game advertising technology company Double Fusion, in June launched a service called "around-game ads" geared toward advertisers that want to reach consumers through the multibillion dollar gaming industry. The service places ads in a "Try-and-Buy" offering that lets consumers download games they can test before they purchase.

Parks Associates research analyst Harry Wang said the in-game ad business model will continue to evolve as publishers, and companies that want to advertise in games, attempt to work out the kinks.