Some see a conflict of interest in the media company's overture to game publishers.
IGN Entertainment is rolling out an in-game advertising product to online video game publishers and offering them its own sales staff to support their efforts.
Best known for its media holdings at IGN.com and RottenTomatoes.com, IGN will offer game publishers a proprietary ad management product developed by its technology group. Publishers have the option of selling ads in-house or outsourcing sales to IGN.
No publishers have yet been announced, but the company has already implemented other of its technology offerings in approximately 300 games. These will likely be a starting point for the ad management product.
If several publishers opt to let IGN sell ad programs in their games, IGN would effectively run an ad hoc media network. The company prefers to characterize its external ad sales operation as a service.
"If game publishers drive us toward a network approach and they're not worried about the commoditization of games, certainly we're in a position to do that," said David Tokheim, IGN's VP of marketing. "We're trying to let the publishers lead."
The news raised some ad watchers' eyebrows. They believe IGN's game coverage on the media side and its in-game technology ought not exist under one roof. Tom Biro, author of the AdJab blog, attacked the new offering on his site, calling it "shady" to draw revenue from publishers while covering them editorially.
His comments were echoed by other gaming pundits, who say it's an inherent conflict when a negative game review can result in reduced sales of a game, therefore lowering commissions for its technology and ad sales groups.
Tokheim rejects the criticism. "Our success is based upon providing our readers an objective, informative voice," he said.
The company has offered other in-game technology components for about four years. Its R&D efforts in the tech group have so far been geared mainly toward enabling various tracking and multiplayer gaming functions.
This move in the in-game advertising space pits IGN directly against Massive, which gradually built a network of publishers willing to carry dynamically served ads. Earlier this year, Massive struck a deal with Nielsen to gather metrics in the gaming environment.
IGN's extensive editorial network covers games and other entertainment, as well as a large file distribution network, FilePlanet, which offers demos, betas, and patches.
Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!
Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.
The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.
September 17, 2014
September 23, 2014
September 30, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT