October 10th, 2007

Sony Launches In-Game Ad Unit

By Kamau High

Sony Computer Electronics America is getting into the ad business.

The North American division of the Japanese videogame company this week began its own in-game advertising unit headed by Darlene Kindler, former vice president of publishing with Google’s AdScape Media.

What does this mean for creatives? “We offer an environment with feedback in real time where they’ll be able to see where their ad placement is and how many people are interacting with it,” said Kindler.

With the start of a network, Sony hopes to leverage not only its games, which are played on consoles, PCs and handheld portables, but also its online and offline retail outlets as well as it movie studio.

“There are so many departments that will be participating that there is a huge ability to create a network with in-game, around the game, retail channels and with Sony Pictures. It’s about more than in-game advertising, that’s a small piece of it. The biggest aspect is running it across the network with things like sponsorship and tournaments,” said Kindler. She will report to Phil Rosenberg, svp of sales and business development

Sony is currently working on a free virtual world that only can be accessed using its PlayStation 3 console. That realm is called Home, and it will offer advertisers a chance to interact with users. In September the company announced Home, which had been expected to debut this holiday season, would be delayed until next spring.

Sony’s move to control its in-game advertising follows Microsoft’s purchase of its own in-game ad network, Massive, last year. In July, Massive said that it would put ads in the PC and Xbox 360 versions of Electronic Arts first-tier titles such as Madden, Nascar, Tiger Woods, NHL and Skate.

Explaining why Sony was only now forming its own ad unit, Kindler said, “Sony is very careful on how they approach new businesses. You can’t go out there and sort of try things and throw them against the wall. You need to set up a strategy.”

The in-game advertising market is projected to grow to $971.3 million in 2011 from $77.7 million in 2006, according to the Yankee Group.

More game companies convincing advertisers that games are a legitimate advertising vehicle will fuel that growth. “We’re beginning to be able to have the right value proposition for all audiences. It has to be a quality proposition for brands, a good value for gamers and have everything be contextually relevant,” said Kindler.


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