In-Game Ad Network Double Fusion Gets Funding, New CEO

San Franciso-based in-game advertising network Double Fusion has raised an additional round of financing – led by Jerusalem Venture Partners – and appointed a new CEO, as it seeks to grow its footprint in the space. Alex Sood will replace Jonathan Epstein at the helm, having previously managed the firm’s Asian subsidiary. The company said Epstein stepped down to pursue “passions outside of gaming.”

A press release did not indicate how much capital was raised, but stated it would be used to “continue to develop its position as the entry point for advertisers to reach the highly attractive gaming demographic.”

Commenting on the investment and his own appointment, Sood said, “We’re excited about the future of in-game advertising. The market is showing real traction and acceptance for in-game advertising as a must-have media for brands looking to reach a core demographic target.”

Despite the noise surrounding the in-game space however, its unclear exactly how important brands and agencies perceive the channel, and how many dollars are actually being invested in it.

Earlier this month Electronic Arts announced it would begin selling its in-game inventory direct to advertisers this summer, removing its third party network partners – Microsoft-owned Massive Inc. and IGA Worldwide – from the equation in response to advertiser demand for closer integration with EA’s brands.

However, agencies remain skeptical about the value of the medium. Speaking with ClickZ, Jason Klein, co-president of LBi’s U.S. operation, said the agency had been working with Microsoft-owned in-game network Massive Inc. for four or five years, but that it wasn’t investing heavily in the space.

“Its getting better, but trackability is an issue,” he said. “In-game ads lie in this awkward place between digital and outdoor ads. For example if you buy an ad on a subway in a game – that’s essentially an outdoor branding play. Because it’s in a digital environment it’ll come from a digital budget, but it wont offer the same trackability as other digital channels,” he explained.

He added that Microsoft tended to sell inventory from Massive’s network as part of an overall ad package – as opposed to a standalone solution – describing the in-game portion of such buys as “more of a novelty.”

“Often the value of going to those news vehicles is when you’re first there, and there’s a stunt or novelty element to it,” he said, adding, “There are a number of providers out there now, but it’s not a big chunk of what we’re doing.”

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