Nielsen Expands Video Game Measurement

Nielsen Entertainment struck a deal with fledgling video game ad network Massive Inc. to provide third party measurement of ads within a burgeoning media channel that’s still poorly understood by advertisers.

Nielsen’s Interactive Entertainment division will provide third party accounting of ad units served on Massive’s video game network, said NIE general manager Michael Dowling. In the process, the measurement firm will gain knowledge of how gamers interact with games and in-game ads.

“Nielsen will provide the media planning and buying community a credible measure of those impressions,” he said. “This will allow publishers to demonstrate the unique value of the medium.”

Sometime during Q2 2005, Nielsen will begin reporting on in-game ads across Massive’s network of six game publishers and 30 titles. Until then, the companies said the partnership will remain in “beta.” Massive counts Dunkin Donuts, Verizon and RealPlayer among its advertisers.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Massive partnership is Nielsen’s second foray into video game measurement. Earlier this year, Nielsen entered a similar relationship with Activision, one of the top three game publishers along with Electronic Arts and THQ. Nielsen’s Dowling described this announcement as an extension of the same quest begun through its relationship with Activision.

The ability to serve a single campaign simultaneously across multiple game titles is relatively new. In the past, publishers have sold ad placements separately for each title. Through networks like Massive’s, planners can control the timing and targeting of ad insertions, test creative on the fly, and auto-optimize various campaign elements.

“In the past, advertisers had to rely on fixed placement within games. This limited their ability to plan and target campaigns ” said Massive CEO Mitch Davis. Now a range of tools is available, including day-parting and geo-targeting. Massive offers several trackable units, he said, including static placements and interstitial units.

Sound like online advertising? That’s essentially what it is, which is why the deal will initially focus on PC games. The vast console gaming market is still largely out of Massive and Nielsen’s reach, since most of those games don’t connect to a network.

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