Microsoft Launches Branded Game on AvantGo

Microsoft is expected to launch a branded video game on AvantGo’s mobile platform tomorrow. The effort will promote the company’s Office 2003 suite.

The trivia-based advergame is part of a year-long marketing relationship Microsoft struck with iAnywhere Solutions, which operates the AvantGo service.

“Microsoft Office Trivia Challenge,” will mark the second phase of that partnership. The first, in November 2004, was a similar branded game that took the form of a memory challenge.

The new game will be made available to AvantGo users on their devices through the syncing mechanism that brings them the rest of their mobile content. It will be promoted through interstitial ads on the AvantGo device interface, a mention in its subscriber newsletter, and an banner on its Web site, which draws 20 million pageviews a month.

The game resembles Jeopardy, pitting each player against the clock and a set of trivia categories. Each category features at least one Office-related question. The game’s branding elements are integrated with the company’s offline ads.

“When the screen’s completed, the user sees an interstitial screen which features the dinosaur characters currently being seen in Microsoft ads,” said Neil Versen, AvantGo’s director.

Microsoft hopes the new game will reprise the high interaction rates it measured with its November effort, which was downloaded by 65,000 users and played at least four times by 47 percent of them, according to iAnywhere.

The relationship between iAnywhere and Microsoft will continue through 2005, and will likely expand to include product categories other than Office. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Marketers are spending more money developing advergames, or branded video games, than they are on ads placed within games, according to The Yankee Group. That’s expected to change over time, as game publishers gain the ability to better track and report on advertising within game environments.

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