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.
This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Early Bird Rates available through Friday, July 18. Register now and save!
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.
The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.
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.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014