Massive: In-Game Ads Successful, And Gamers Love 'Em!

Gamers have a "consistently positive" opinion of in-game advertising? That's what ad agency Massive, which is owned by Microsoft, found in a survey whose results it announced this morning.

Media research firm Interpret looked into four of Massive's advertisers: an unnamed fast-food restaurant, candy company and entertainment studio, plus Adidas footwear and apparel, and found the ads are having an effect, showing significant percentage increases in brand recognition when compared to those who didn't see the in-game ads.

With the Adidas promotion, for example, gamers who saw the ads in 2K Sports' Major League Baseball 2K7 said things like "Adidas is the only brand for me" and "Adidas is an inspirational brand" 70 percent more often than those not exposed to the ads.

And Massive's study seems to show gamers don't mind being influenced: 70 percent of gamers said the ads enhanced realism, fit the games they appeared in (universally sports games, except for the ads in Rainbow Six: Vegas) and that the ads "looked cool."

In-Game Advertising Research Proves Effectiveness for Brands Across Categories and Game Titles

adidas, other leading brands from quick-service restaurant, candy and entertainment categories drive key marketing metrics for brands and products advertised throughout Massive Network.

NEW YORK - June 3, 2008 - Massive Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. and a leading network for video game advertising, and Interpret LLC, a leading new media research firm, today released research results that provide further insight into the significant brand impact of dynamic in-game advertising. The study demonstrates that the gaming audience has a consistently positive opinion of the ads and how the ads affect their game experience.

Interpret conducted detailed research on behalf of Massive and four of its advertisers: adidas utilizing brand advertising for footwear and apparel, a quick-service restaurant (QSR) brand promoting a tie-in to gaming and a specific menu option, a candy company marketing new creative for its candy bar brand, and an entertainment studio advertising the DVD release for a hit film. The study measures a broad range of brand metrics across game environments and suggests best practices to guide advertisers and their agencies within this rapidly maturing medium.

adidas tested ads it ran through the Massive Network in "Major League Baseball® 2K7," published by 2K Sports, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. Among those exposed to the adidas ads (the test group), 40 percent recall the company's tagline of "Impossible Is Nothing" - an increase of 90 percent over those not exposed to the ads (the control group). The number of gamers exposed to the ads who agreed with the statements "adidas is the only brand for me" and "adidas is an inspirational brand" rose 70 percent over those not exposed to the ads. In addition, 73 percent of gamers recalling the ads agreed with the statement that "the ads enhanced the realism of the game."

"The influence of gaming on our target for adidas can't be denied," said Brian Mathena, group media director for Carat. "The scalability and effectiveness that Massive's dynamic in-game solution provides is evident in the results of our efforts. Massive has consistently been a true partner in consulting on the best gaming solutions for adidas and the rest of our clients."

Drawing on its unparalleled experience in video game advertising research, Massive has conducted studies for more than 30 clients across North America and Europe assessing the impact of in-game ads across numerous key brand metrics, including purchase interest, brand recommendation and brand attributes. Results such as these released today help the advertising community understand how and why in-game advertising works, and guides the development of best practices for this important component of media plans.

Across all game genres and advertisers studied, the research revealed that an average of 70 percent of gamers agreed with statements that the dynamic in-game ads "contributed to realism," "fit the games" in which they were served and looked "cool."

A leading QSR brand executed custom ad creative for select titles with strong results. Among those gamers exposed to the QSR ads in "Need for Speed Carbon," a racing title published by Electronic Arts Inc., the number saying that they would recommend the QSR brand to others rose by 39 percent compared with the control group, and those assigning the QSR brand the highest possible brand rating rose by 17 percent from the control group to the test group. Fifty-six percent of exposed gamers agreed with the statement that the ads made the gaming environment feel more interactive.

A global candy bar company executed a branding campaign in "NASCAR® 08," published by Electronic Arts. Seventy-five percent of gamers recalled the candy bar in-game advertising with 56 percent recalling the specific ad creative. Within the test group, 72 percent agreed with the statement that the candy bar is "a great snack to eat while playing video games," an increase of 29 percent from the control group; the proportion agreeing that the candy bar "gives you energy" and "is cool" rose 24 percent and 21 percent from control group to test group, respectively.

An entertainment studio ran a campaign advertising the DVD release of a hit film in "Rainbow Six: Vegas," an action title published by Ubisoft Entertainment. Unaided awareness of the DVD increased 16 percent among gamers exposed to the ads as compared with the control group, with 66 percent of those recalling the campaign having a more positive opinion of the DVD following in-game exposure. Purchase intent for the DVD rose 23 percent from control group to test group, with 80 percent of exposed gamers responding in the survey that "they would probably or definitely purchase the DVD."

"The depth of this research reflects Massive's commitment to offering advertisers an understanding of how in-game advertising can impact brands across game genres and advertising categories," said Cory Van Arsdale, CEO of Massive. "As the in-game medium matures and establishes its position on the media plan, advertisers and agencies are eager for insight into creative nuances and best practices for maximizing its impact. We view this type of guidance as an essential part of our role as an industry leader and innovator."

Methodology

Interpret implemented a test/control methodology for each game in which Massive dynamically served ads, totaling over 1,000 gamers across the United States. Both control and test group respondents played the same game title that was studied for each ad client. The control group consisted of those who had played the game but were not exposed to ads delivered from Massive. The test group had played the game on a connected Xbox 360 system or PC during the time the ad campaigns were live, and had the opportunity to be exposed to the ads delivered by Massive. Both groups were asked the same set of questions about the brands and ads included in the study, and the respondent differences were evaluated to identify significant shifts in each brand metric measured.

About Interpret LLC

Interpret is a next-generation media and market research firm with a focus on evaluating and measuring the intersections of content, advertising, technology and consumer behavior. Interpret's management team has unique experience pioneering new custom research methodologies and analytics to help companies Plan, Test and Measureā„¢ their new media strategies. In addition to campaign ad effectiveness testing, Interpret's suite of products and services include GaMeasure and GamerLog, two syndicated services developed to deliver planning and measurement intelligence to the burgeoning field of in and around-game advertising. The firm is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, with offices in New York and London. More information can be found online at: http://www.interpretllc.com.

About Massive Inc.

Massive Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, is the creator of a leading network for dynamic video game advertising. The Massive Network offers advertisers the ability to reach an aggregated gaming audience in real time across multiple platforms. Over 200 blue-chip advertisers have run campaigns across the Massive Network throughout North America and Europe. Publishers in the Massive Network generate revenue through dynamic in-game advertising, enabling them to fully realize the value of their content while preserving and enhancing the game experience. Massive's technology allows for all forms of downloadable media and advertising content to be contextually integrated into the game environment, including image, audio, video and game object formats. More information can be found online at http://www.massiveincorporated.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.