In-Game Ad Network Taps Into Virtual Worlds

  |  April 7, 2008   |  Comments

Double Fusion broadens it reach to include virtual worlds and branded entertainment.

In-game ad network Double Fusion has furthered its involvement in virtual worlds through a deal that makes it responsible for Habbo's ad inventory in the U.S. region.

Under its agreement with the teen-targeted virtual world, Double Fusion will manage media sales and coordinate in-world integrated marketing campaigns for Habbo in the United States. While Double Fusion did some previous work with SK Telecom's Cyworld (define) in South Korea, this is the first large-scale integration of a virtual world for the in-game advertising network.

"Our commitment is to deliver immersive branding experiences in games and branded entertainment," said Jonathan Epstein, CEO of Double Fusion. "We view online worlds as the twin [to in-game advertising]."

Over 200 brands worldwide have advertised in, integrated with, or sponsored elements of the Habbo world in some way. "Habbo is about real life," said Teemu Huuhtanen, president of the North America region at Sulake, the company that publishes Habbo. "Teens are expecting to see brands, and give us regular feedback."

While virtual worlds such as Second Life are integrated internationally, users and advertisers in Habbo are divided by country. Ad sales in each country are handled either directly by Sulake or by a representative company.

Advertising opportunities in Habbo include in-game billboards, contests, interstitials, branded items and sponsored rooms and quests. In a deal that predated its relationship with Double Fusion, Habbo worked with Paramount Pictures on a two-week campaign to promote "The Spiderwick Chronicles" in a February tie-in with the film's release. The WWE is another big advertiser, as Habbo attracts its target 13- to 17-year-old age group.

An upcoming event expected to drive membership, and potentially advertising sponsorships, is a live concert performed by Epic Records recording artist Natasha Bedingfield on the afternoon of April 10. It's the first time Habbo.com has featured a guest artist performance live, in-game in its virtual world, though other teen communities like Whyville.com have hosted performers such as Stacie Orrico. The Beddingfield performance won't be an isolated event. Sulake has signed with the William Morris agency to book live entertainment such as concerts and chat events, which present sponsorship opportunities just as they do in the real world.

"Musicians and celebrities are important to teens," said Epstein. "There's a way for brands to get additional punch."

Double Fusion's expansion into the category comes as Nickelodeon announces an expanded roster of virtual worlds. The family-friendly network plans to build upon its existing Neopets and Nicktropolis virtual worlds sites with new environments called Monkey World and World of Neopia. Additional worlds for Nick's "SpongeBob SquarePants" and other new and existing properties are also possible. Advertising and sponsorships, when appropriate, will be sold by the Nickelodeon Kids & Family sales team.

"There is no 'one size fits all' business model for our virtual worlds. Each virtual world will be distinct and our approach to the business model should align with the goals for the user experience," said Steve Youngwood, EVP of digital media at Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group. "We expect to see a mix of models throughout our virtual studio pipeline including advertising, premium services, and real world product extensions."

Separately, in an expansion of its relationship with NCsoft, Double Fusion wil represent ad inventory in "City of Heroes," a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The MMORPG genre is often seen as a bridge between online games and virtual worlds due to its role-playing aspects.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Enid Burns

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...