Google on Wednesday began offering a limited number of online game publishers the opportunity to earn ad revenue by participating in a beta test of its AdSense advertising program for games.
"As a beta user of AdSense for Games, you can display video ads, image ads, or text ads within your online games to earn revenue," Google ad product marketing manager Ryan Hayward said in a blog post. "You'll be able to show these ads in placements you define, such as interstitial frames before a game, after a level change, or when a game is over. Members of our AdWords team will sell your in-game ad placements directly to top brand advertisers, and you'll also see contextually targeted text and image ads based on content and demographic information."
The beta test is open only to established game publishers. To be eligible, publishers must generate a minimum of 500,000 game plays per day and receive at least 80% of their traffic from the U.S. or the U.K. At some point in the future, the program is likely to open to less successful game publishers.
According to a study commissioned by Massive, the in-game ad company that Microsoft bought in 2006, gamers like in-game ads if they're done tastefully. It remains to be seen how modern brands can be tastefully promoted in nonmodern environments like Blizzard's World Of Warcraft. For casual Web-based games, however, this shouldn't be an issue.
Google answered Microsoft's acquisition of Massive in March 2007 when it announced that it had acquired Adscape Media, another in-game advertising company, for an undisclosed sum. The beta testing of AdSense for Games represents the first fruit of that deal.
The Yankee Group last year said that global advertising in video games reached $77.7 million in 2006. It predicted that figure will reach $971.3 million by the end of 2011. Such numbers, however, seem optimistic in light of the current global financial crisis.