If Google's entry into a field of advertising doesn't legitimize it, nothing can. And that's why the in-game advertising industry just got a huge shot in the arm.
On Tuesday night, Google announced the beta launch of its new AdSense for Games program, the search giant's first foray into the video games market, and the long-awaited answer to the question of what the company planned to do with AdScape Media, which it bought for $23 million in February 2007.
According to Christian Oestlien, the senior product manager for AdSense for Games, the program's beta launch will focus on the placement of a variety of forms of ads in Flash-based casual games and some larger titles.
In the beginning at least, Oestlien said, Google will work with partners like PlayFish, Mochi Media, Demand Media and Konami.
The latter, Oestlien said, would use AdSense for Games to place ads in well-known titles like Frogger and Dance Dance Revolution.
And among the initial advertisers participating in the program are eSurance, Sprint, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Of course, the in-game advertising field already has several well-established players, including Microsoft's Massive, DoubleFusion, and IGA.
"By (Google) finally launching in the space," said DoubleFusion CEO Jonathan Epstein, "it confirms for all parties...that this space is of interest to one of the largest media companies in the world. Google does not enter into markets that don't have billion dollar-plus potential for them."
To Epstein, having Google plant its flag in the in-game ads space shows everyone that games cannot be taken lightly as an ad platform, no matter what other choices advertisers have for their dollars.
"The battleground here is not between ourselves and Massive and Google," Epstein said. "It's getting games their rightful share of the ad dollars, as opposed to TV, print, and (traditional) online ads."
For its part, Google is well aware that it will have several significant competitors, but still thinks it can set itself apart.
According to Oestlien, Google intends to do so by leveraging its network of thousands of advertiser partners, as well as its proven experience helping those partners with the placement of effective print, image- and Flash-based creative ads.
Google's long-term play Given that Google announced its AdScape buy more than a year ago, Google's move is by no means a surprise. Some see that it's only natural that the company seeks to repeat the success it has had with AdSense in as many new environments as possible.
And some think that while Google may have its work cut out for it in the games space in the short-term, the AdSense for Games move is really part of a long-term play involving several different media. … Read more