Massive Signs Multiyear Deal with EA

Microsoft’s in-game advertising unit, Massive, extended its longstanding relationship with Electronic Arts with a multiyear agreement for games through 2010. The long-term contract suggests the commitment publishers are making to in-game advertising.

Under the agreement, Massive will handle dynamic in-game advertising for EA video games and PC games during the period. Two years is among the longer deals signed to date between an in-game ad network and game publisher. It signals to marketers that planning can be done more than a few weeks or months in advance, and that publishers are dedicated to the channel.

“We’ve already done several fairly significant upfront deals on an annual basis [with media buyers],” said Jay Sampson, Massive’s VP of global sales. “Now marketers can begin to plan against this medium and their network on an annual and multiyear basis.” He said dynamic in-game advertising is typically bought on a 60- to 90- day horizon, and can happen further out through deals like this.

“We needed to come up with a predictable programming model,” Sampson said. “We needed to talk to them about what’s in your programming mix about six or 12 months in advance, so they can go back and plan accordingly. That’s the maturation point we’re seeing.”

Whether media is bought more than a few months in advance, long-term deals aid in planning. Brian Bos, SVP and convergence director from WPP’S Mindshare Team Detroit said it helps him better align creative and think in terms of sequential messaging.

Media buyers see the deal with a publisher of EA’s standing as significant. “I’d like to see more publishers in the space begin to take this medium into consideration and expand upon it,” said Bos.

Sampson said the network has been fairly steady at 50 titles. However, within the network Massive adds new games and sunset others, or the dynamic advertising goes dark.

A stable of EA titles exist on Massive’s network. The relationship dates back to 2006. The deal includes any EA game that’s ad relevant; it will come under the Massive network. While some games released by the publisher will be deemed not appropriate for the network, any appropriate title will grow the network, potentially past the 50 titles.

Going forward, Massive’s focus for triple-A, or high profile titles, will likely be to sign longer or multi-year contracts. Though for newer franchises there may be more flexibility. “Our aspiration is to lay a foundation of predictable programming, so there is a trust, but at the same time, make sure we are really attentive that if there is a hot title coming out we can bring that into the network as well,” said Sampson.

Revenue is shared between Massive as the ad network and EA as the publisher; EA can then pass revenues down to the game developer. Details of the revenue sharing agreement weren’t disclosed.

Dynamic advertising is currently running on the Xbox 360, PC, and to some extent on the Xbox platform.

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