RealNetworks Selling Video Ads Against Casual Games

RealNetworks has begun selling video ad placements in downloadable game titles from GameHouse, its Seattle-based game development studio.

Real is claiming it’s the first company to introduce streaming advertising to the casual gaming audience, which is predominantly female and over the age of 30. It’s a demo that contrasts heavily with the overwhelmingly young and male console gaming crowd.

The ads, which have so far only appeared in limited tests for Honda and Hasbro, are enabled by rich media ad vendor Eyeblaster. The offering is the first official rollout of Eyeblaster’s eb.in-games product, which aims to become a dominant force in casual games.

The companies conducted a limited launch of the new streaming ads in the last few weeks.

“Hasbro and Honda seem very happy with preliminary work we’ve done so far,” Doug McFarland, Eyeblaster’s EVP and GM, North America, told ClickZ News. “There’s a dearth of good available video inventory. We’re going to spend the summer months doing a lot of learning with Real.”

The video ads appear in transitional units that play while a game loads up. At launch the placements are being sold into four games at the rate of about 7,000 impressions per day, but the number of included games will shortly expand to 12.

As of yesterday, McFarland said the user metrics were promising, with 72 percent of visitors viewing the video ads in full, despite having the option to skip them.

“Effective advertising in casual games requires an added level of sensitivity to the consumer experience, ensuring the ads are not overly disruptive or intrusive,” said Michael Schutzler, SVP of RealNetworks’ games division. “By leveraging our experience in online games and ads, we’ve created an approach for downloadable games that blends into the game play and is also very effective for advertisers.”

Eyeblaster conducted tests last year with game publisher WildTangent to gauge the viability and consumer acceptance of ads in the casual game titles. McFarland said three out of four consumers watched the ads. Viewing times for the video ads averaged 22 seconds for :30 spots.

“All the work we’ve done in gaming in the last 11 months has shown that ads are accepted in games,” said Eyeblaster’s McFarland. “Within the casual gaming market, it offers developers and publishers the chance to begin to monetize [their titles.”

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