Posts filed under ‘games’

Can Google score with in-game ads?

As Google expands its lucrative ad network to new markets, industry watchers increasingly believe the search giant will buy its way into the nascent market for advertising inside video games.

 Click below image for more details.

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Google has reportedly looked at acquiring AdScape Media, a small company, founded in Ontario and now based in San Francisco, that specializes in so-called in-game ads. Google did not return calls seeking comment, and an AdScape spokeswoman declined to comment on the talks.

Though an industry insider who asked to remain anonymous said negotiations had stalled, such an acquisition would allow Google to take on old foe Microsoft, which last year acquired a similar but larger company called Massive. In-game ads, however, are one place where Microsoft would have a rare advertising advantage over Google thanks to thriving sales of its Xbox 360 gaming console and a long list of gaming titles.

“Google would be playing catch-up against some significant entrenched providers,” said Michael Goodman, a program manager at research firm Yankee Group Research. “The biggest challenge for them is they might see themselves closed out of the Xbox as a platform to serve ads to.”

In-game ads may sound like a niche, but it’s a growing one that reaches a choice demographic for advertisers. A recent Nielsen Entertainment study found that men aged 18 to 34 are spending more time playing video games (12.5 hours on average per week) and less time watching television (9.8 hours per week). About 6 million U.S. households have at least one “power gamer,” someone who spends as much as 20 hours per week and $50 per month on games, and there are more than 15 million active players of casual games, which are free ad-supported games such as Tetris or cards, said Michael Cai, director of broadband and gaming for Parks Associates.

“It’s not a pimply faced teenage kid playing video games in the basement anymore. It’s people with a lot of disposable income,” said Jeff Berg, content editor at the Interpublic Emerging Media Lab think tank. “It’s a natural space for Google to move into if they can do it effectively.”

The dollar value of this market isn’t nearly as small as many people would think. Parks Associates predicts that game advertising revenue will grow from $120 million in 2006 to $200 million this year and $300 million in 2008. Yankee Group forecasts in-game ad revenue to reach $732 million by 2010. Buying AdScape wouldn’t get Google a lot of new customers, but it would get the company technology, Goodman said. “Google already has significant relationships with advertisers, but they would have to build up relationships with game publishers,” he said.

“Google is the king of search ads, but they aren’t that dominant in brand advertising.”

–Michael Cai, director, Parks Associates

Over the last 18 months, the search giant has been rapidly moving into new ad markets such as print and radio, using its automated online ad-delivery system to provide a way for advertisers to reach new customers via offline mediums. Google purchased radio advertising provider dMarc Broadcasting for just over $100 million a year ago and has been conducting radio ad delivery tests.

While it’s hard to imagine virtual world games like World of Warcraft being a great advertising vehicle for Coke or Pepsi, plenty of games could be ideal, such as sporting titles.

“For example, we take Nike’s (ads) they’ve used for print or television and implement that straight into the games across our sports titles,” said Justin Townsend, chief executive of in-game advertising firm IGA Worldwide. The ad is delivered over the Internet and can be changed depending on which advertiser has purchased the ad rights, he said. The ads are targeted geographically, so players in Germany, for example, will see a German version of the ad. Because Google’s greatest success has been in contextually targeted ads rather than display ads, it might be better suited serving ads that appear alongside casual games, which are sold over the Web, Cai said.

“The question is whether Google is interested in getting into a new media form–gaming, and whether they are looking beyond search and trying to address a new ad business–display advertising,” he said. “Google is the king of search ads, but they aren’t that dominant in brand advertising.” But is the gaming industry ready for Google’s automated kind of advertising?

“It’s not clear,” said Jonathan Epstein, chief executive of Double Fusion, a competitor to AdScape, IGA and Massive. “It doesn’t mean it can’t get there, but when you look at how markets evolve it’s always the specialists that drive innovation and focus in the market.” Eva Woo, vice president of marketing at AdScape, said her company has a technology that allows advertisers to interact with consumers without interrupting the game, something that could appeal to Google. If a gamer opts in, AdScape’s Real World Virtual World Gateway will deliver messages via SMS or e-mail from the advertiser, Woo said.

When the game detects that a player has reached a certain level in the game or that a player is having problems getting beyond an obstacle in the game, for example, the advertiser could offer hints, rewards or coupons. “We’ve been developing this (advertising) technology for five years,” she said. “We have one patent issued and 15 patents pending.”

A risk for Google, of course, is getting shut out of Microsoft’s growing Xbox market, and the question remains whether gamers will rebel against publishers who allow advertisers into their gaming worlds.

“Male gamers playing core games don’t mind ads if they help make the gaming experience more realistic rather than disrupting their gaming activity,” Cai said.

Copyright ©1995-2007 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.By Elinor Mills Staff Writer, CNET News.com

February 10, 2007 at 2:30 am 11 comments

Interview with Bryan Kennedy, co-founder of Likebetter

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Below is an interview with Bryan Kennedy, co-founder of Likebetter. We hope you find the interview informative and useful. Please visit their website and check it out! http://likebetter.com/.

TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?

Likebetter: I don’t know about you, but I take a ton of digital photos. I literally have ten thousand photos on my hard drive, just sitting there in folders. No one besides me has ever seen them, and really, I only saw them when I took the picture in the first place. This shouldn’t be.

We want to help you dust off those monster collections of photos, by acting as a “goodness filter” that only the best photos can pass through. You upload your collection to likebetter, send a link to your friends, and within minutes you have a list of your best photos – which you can then do cool stuff with, like exporting them to flickr, printing them, or posting them on your blog.

likebetter-interview.JPG

TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?

Likebetter: There are a ton of companies in the photo space. No one that we know of has tackled this particular problem in the way we have.

A lot of companies have adopted our lovely interface though. Which we take as a compliment, and then we make catnip voodoo dolls of their creators, and introduce them to Felix.

Likebetter.com stands out from other photo-centered sites like Flickr because it’s all about helping you find your best photos. Since finding your best photos is hard, and Flickr isn’t helping much, we’re fixing it ourselves.

TechAddress: What are some of the main features?

Likebetter:

* It’s much easier to upload tons of photos at once here than there.

* Social editing features – your friends sort and rotate your images for you.

* Photo viewing and voting are the same – whenever someone views your photos, they’re giving you feedback. Everyone participates in some small way.

* Exporting to other photo sites (soon): no one we know does/allows this. Most photo sharing sites don’t allow sharing in this way, which sort of defeats the purpose. You own your photos, so we’re going to help you do what you want with them.

* Our interface is super-simple and really, really pretty.

TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?

Likebetter: Anyone with a digital camera, really. Since that list now includes my mom, it must be really, really big.

Our power users are photographers, graphic designers, web designers; anyone who works with visual information, and needs to evaluate it in some way. There’s nothing stopping you from finding your best logo designs, web site layouts, or whatever you want. We’ve kept likebetter general on purpose.

TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?

Likebetter: Lots of stuff. Right now we’re fleshing out the flickr/smugmug/etc integration. That’s coming soon.

TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?

Likebetter: Likebetter should be the place you put your pictures as soon as you plug in your camera.

TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?

Likebetter: No, none really (hurray!). Some people complain about a lack of so-and-so a feature, but we just add it and they’re happy.

Scaling was a hard problem to lick, and will likely continue to prove difficult in the future. It’s just one of those things you need to deal with.

TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?

Likebetter: Make something that people want.

TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?

Likebetter: Wait, is this a trick question? Are you trying to get me to change my story? Likebetter is going to revolutionize the telecommunications industry, of course.

TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?

Likebetter: We were funded by ycombinator.

TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date? If you have already launched, when was your launch date?

Likebetter: October 2006. Digg was very helpful.

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February 7, 2007 at 3:22 pm 1 comment

Google’s Next Ad Frontier May Be Inside Videogames

Originally by Nick Wingfield and Kevin J. Delaney of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com subscription required)

http://www.google.com/logos/Logo_60wht.gif and http://techmeme.com/070120/i17.jpg

Google is in talks to acquire closely held Adscape Media, whose technology allows for the delivery of ads over the Internet and in videogames. Google Inc.’s efforts to broker advertisements beyond the Web could soon expand into ads that appear in videogames.

The Mountain View, Calif., company is in talks to acquire Adscape Media Inc., a closely held San Francisco company whose technology allows for the delivery of advertising over the Internet and placement within videogames, according to people familiar with the matter. They added that a deal could be reached as early as next week. While the possible terms of a deal aren’t known, Microsoft Corp. last year acquired Massive Inc., a company that delivers in-game ads, for close to $200 million.

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An acquisition of Adscape, if completed, would allow Google to offer the hundreds of thousands of advertisers who currently buy online ads through its system to also buy ads that appear within videogames. The market for delivering ads into games — such as a virtual billboard on a racetrack or a poster in a boxing arena — is still in its infancy, but major games publishers such as Electronic Arts Inc. believe it could be a lucrative business and many are pursuing it aggressively. Sending ads over the Internet is just now becoming more feasible through new game consoles such as Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which are designed to be connected to the Internet.

One person familiar with the matter says Google for months has been discussing with game publishers the prospect of delivering ads over the Internet into the action of their games.

If completed, a deal with Adscape would form part of an ambitious Google effort to broker advertising across many types of media globally. The Internet company, whose 2006 revenue is expected to top $10 billion on the strength of its online-ad sales, currently is testing systems for selling ads in newspapers and on radio, and has said it plans to extend into television ads. People familiar with the matter say it is discussing a possible agreement with CBS Corp. that would include brokering TV and radio advertisements. Both CBS and Google have declined to comment on any talks.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on any talks with Adscape, saying “We are always considering new ways to extend Google’s advertising program to benefit our users, advertisers and publishers. In-game advertising offers one such possible extension among many others.” Adscape Chairman Bernard Stolar said he “has spoken to every major player” about a possible acquisition of Adscape, but there currently is no such deal.

People familiar with the matter say Google had looked at Massive prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of the company. A purchase of Adscape would add a new front to expanding competition between Google and Microsoft, which today stretches from Web search to word processing. Google could look to form an alliance with Microsoft’s archrival in the games console business, Sony.

In-game advertising has attracted an array of contenders, including IGA Worldwide Inc. and Double Fusion Inc. Adscape’s chairman Mr. Stolar is a well-connected veteran of the games business, having previously served as an executive at Sega, Sony’s U.S. games division and Atari, and could help Google form crucial partnerships with publishers.

January 20, 2007 at 1:11 pm 2 comments

Corporate Profile – Vivox

Company: Vivox

http://www.vivox.com/images/vivox_logo.jpg

Location: Framingham, Massachusetts

Launch Date: August, 2005

In the company’s own words, what is it? Vivox makes online communication natural. Communication is the essence of community, yet today’s online communities lack the richness of human interaction that we experience in the physical world.

Vivox managed services generate natural and engaging online interactions that reflect the intelligence, power and nuance of the physical world. A Pulver.com company that launched in August 2005, Vivox has served behind-the-scenes as the industrial strength platform for Free World Dial-Up, also a Pulver company, which provides VoIP services to global subscribers. Vivox is chaired by Jeff Pulver, an acknowledged pioneer in the Internet telephony/VoIP industry.

Outside quote about company: Joel Dreyfuss, Editor-in-Chief of Red Herring said, “With venture capital flowing again, we’re seeing a lot of innovative new companies taking on the established players with disruptive technologies and innovative business plans. The Red Herring 100 North America companies, among them Vivox, are pushing and breaking the boundaries of the technology business and we are excited to report on their success stories.” Business Wire, May 2006

Features:
* Anonymous Calling capabilities
* Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
* Community Communications
* MMOG Voice Communications
* Perpetual IM services
* Web Video Chat

Screen Shots:
vivoxs-site.JPG

Management/Directors:
Rob Seaver-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
James Toga-Founder and Chief Operating Officer
Monty Sharma-Vice President Product Management and Marketing
Rick Frye-Vice President of Sales

Relevant Links:
http://www.mpogd.com/news/?ID=1962
http://www.corante.com/dating/archives/2005/11/29/worldfriends_selects_vivox_for_instant_messaging.php
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2006/03/01/8370595/index.htm
http://www.streetiq.com/buzz/052606.shtml

December 12, 2006 at 7:32 pm 3 comments

Interview with Alex Bard, founder and CEO of Goowy Media

http://www.goowy.com/images/goowylogo.gif

Below is an interview with Alex Bard, founder and CEO of Goowy Media. We hope you find the interview informative and useful. Please visit their website and check it out! http://www.goowy.com/. You can also view a demo at: http://www.veoh.com/videoDetails.html?v=e154018K9DsgrEc

TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?

Goowy: Goowy Media develops innovative online products and services that provide simple, intuitive tools for communicating and sharing on the Web. Its two consumer services, yourminis and the Goowy Webtop, have received high acclaim and are being used by people from all over the world to manage their digital lifestyle.

Headquarted in San Diego, Goowy Media was formed in 2004 by four Internet veterans who have been friends and colleagues for more than a decade: Alex Bard, Gary Benitt, Jeremy Suriel and Sashi Bommakanty. The company has received funding from Mark Cuban and has been named the “site of the day” by Adobe two times in the past year.

yourminis (www.yourminis.com) is a personalized dashboard (start page) of multimedia minis (widgets) that provides instant access to your Internet tasks, information and entertainment in one place, including checking email, weather, traffic and news, accessing your calendar, browsing photos and videos, listening to music and more. yourminis also allows you to share your dashboard with friends and family, making it the easiest and most fun way to enjoy and share personalized content across the Internet.

The Goowy Webtop offers a desktop-like environment inside of a browser with advanced applications for communicating and sharing including email, contacts, calendaring, instant messaging, file storage, minis (widgets), games and more. The Goowy Notifier feature alerts the user via the desktop of any new mail or other activity.

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TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?

Goowy: We believe experience matters. We focus a lot of our time ensuring that we can deliver a simple, innovative experience for our users across both of our products. We also focus on more multimedia, and personalization than a lot of our competitors. We believe in creating dynamic applications which offer our members immersive experiences for managing their digital lifestyles.

TechAddress: What are some of the main features?

Goowy: yourminis.com
yourminis is a customizable personal dashboard

· Personalized dashboard gives you immediate access to your Internet tasks, information and entertainment all in one place – from anywhere

o Create and name multiple tabs to organize by subject or other criteria

o Select personalized tab backgrounds and layouts

o Personalize the size and shape of every mini

· Media rich minis give direct access to content from all over the Internet

o Read email, access calendar and manage to-dos

o Check weather, traffic & news on all topics

o Browse Flickr photos & YouTube videos

o Add your favorite RSS feeds from anywhere

o Search using top search engines as well as eBay and Amazon

o Listen to featured podcasts like Diggnation & ESPN Radio

o Watch videos like Rocketboom & vSocial

yourminis provides broader access and vast choices

Access yourminis in a variety of ways choosing the one that makes most sense for you:

· Make yourminis your browser start page each time you log on to the Internet

· Install as a browser extension

o Brings up yourminis in “heads up display” mode with Firefox, Flock and Internet Explorer

o Automatically identifies and gives you one-click options for RSS, audio, photos, videos, social networks, microformats and more, while browsing to allow instant addition to the dashboard for updates and easy viewing, listening and sharing

o Layers over existing web page to allow quick checking of yourminis while browsing the Internet

· Desktop client (coming soon)

yourminis is the easiest way to publish and share personal content

· Create a personalized tab of minis and share with others via simple URL

· One-click publishing of yourminis allows you to add published minis as a badge on your blog or social network

· Explore the vibrant community of yourminis tabs to find, rate, comment on and share public tabs

goowy.com
Offers a series of tools for communicating and sharing including Outlook-like email client, contacts, calendar, integrated instant messaging, file storage, games and minis.

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TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?

Goowy: We develop our products so that they are simple to use and intuitive. We have people from all over the world and of all different demographics using our applications as part of their daily online life.

TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?

Goowy: For yourminis we are working on a community aspect for sharing tabs which will go live sometime next week. You can publish tabs into the community and then people in the community can find, rate, comment on and add your tabs to their dashboards. In addition we are going to release APIs shortly so that external developers can build widgets for the platform.

For Goowy we are releasing a series of new features this week including photos of your contacts, in messages, inline thumbnails of pictures in email, download multiple attachments, and more. In the next few weeks we will be releasing mail rules, lazy loading of messages and a faster more robust email front end.

TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?

Goowy: We are going to continue to evolve our current offerings as well as listen to our community to develop applications that help users manage their digital lifestyle online. It is a very exciting time and the support and feedback from our community has been tremendous and has helped us define our company roadmap.

TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?

Goowy: I think every company has challenges as they scale and deploy products in real time. The companies that survive and thrive are the ones that are responsive to their members, and constantly work on optimizing their product or service. We are one of those companies and work very closely with our members to offer them the best possible experience.

TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?

Goowy: Have fun, build products that are relevant and create value for members, work with people you like.

TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?

Goowy: Our mission is to make people’s online life easier, more intuitive, and simple. We help people consume and share information more effectively.

TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?

Goowy: We raised a series A of financing at the end of 2005 from Mark Cuban (owner Dallas Mavericks, HDNet, 2929 studios, Landmark Theaters and more). He has been a great influence on the company and has really helped us shape our vision.

TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date? If you have already launched, when was your launch date?

Goowy: Both of our services are live…check them out at www.yourminis.com and www.goowy.com.

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December 1, 2006 at 3:33 pm 1 comment

Interview with Michael Taggart & Walter Burch, founders of TenHunt

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Below is an interview with Michael Taggart & Walter Burch, founders of TenHunt. We hope you find the interview informative and useful. Please visit their website and check it out! http://www.tenhunt.com/.

TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?

TenHunt: TenHunt was developed first and foremost with the consumer in mind. The idea really sprang from the notion that it would be a lot of fun to have a live, online scavenger hunt where people compete for prizes. Being that we are internet marketers at heart, we realized that there is a huge value for advertisers to be involved in the TenHunt games. Users will be exposed to their message/products/services when they are scouring their website to find the answer to the next question. That experience may lead the consumer back to that website when they are looking for something that the advertiser offers.

TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?

TenHunt: Most free iPod sites and the like are simply scams that people can never actually finish to win the product in question. TenHunt is a real-time competition and so we differ in the fact that a prize will always be given out simply to the fastest TenHunt player. It’s as simple as that. We don’t know of any other online scavenger hunts on the web, so it seems that we don’t have any direct competition at the moment. Users and the community as a whole will drive the success and direction of TenHunt.com. We have already received a good amount of feedback that has caused us to make changes to the game/site to better serve the players. For instance one user sent us this recently:
“Just a suggestion….don’t make the game be on Friday night! We’re all computer geeks enough; we don’t need to emphasize that by playing games on Friday night by ourselves.” This email has led us to change the date of next week’s TenHunt to Thursday. This type of feedback helps immensely. We want the game each week to be shaped by the players.

tenhunt-interview2.JPG

TechAddress: What are some of the main features?

TenHunt: One live, real-time, online scavenger hunt. Everyone starts at the same time and receives the exact same questions in the same order. There are live statistics to let players know where they stand at any point during the game.

TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?

TenHunt: Anyone who wants to have fun online and potentially win a cool prize for free. TenHunt is not limited to any one demographic. The prizes and game play will determine the overall demographic of the site going into the future.

TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?

TenHunt: We are adding an RSS feed for upcoming games as well as adding sections to the player’s area that will show them their overall TenHunter rank and things of that nature.

TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?

TenHunt: We are shooting for the goal of giving away over a million dollars in prizes by the end of 2007. We would also like to give users the option of playing multiple TenHunts each week for a variety of different prizes.

TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?

TenHunt: Most negative criticism is from people that are skeptical about whether or not we are a real company giving away real prizes. Other people feel that the business model is not sustainable. However, we know for a fact that if you can get people to experience and truly engage with a website that is very valuable to an advertiser. We feel that the model is sustainable. There just isn’t anyone out there doing this yet, and the whole concept is fairly new.

TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?

TenHunt: The guiding principle is to provide an incredibly fun and exciting game/site for people to interact with. The players make the game and our guiding principle is to always protect their interests.

TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?

TenHunt: We think that the TenHunt concept is innovative in its own right. Our mission is to create a site that brings advertisers and consumers together in a way that is beneficial to both sides. We believe the model will bring about a whole new channel to internet marketing.

TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?

TenHunt: Self-funded with an indefinite lifecycle.

TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date? If you have already launched, when was your launch date?

TenHunt: We have already launched, but the first TenHunt starts at 7:19 PM PST tonight (Friday November 10).

November 13, 2006 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

Facebook launches The Friend Game

Bob Trahan is a long time Facebook employee and one of the first very first users. He posted an article of Facebook’s blog yesterday saying that he has been moonlighting on a pet project for a while and he wanted to share a few words to explain what the project is about.

” I’ve been moonlighting on a pet project that I hope will inspire my friends to scour my profile with the same passion I put into creating it. Or at least it will make them laugh as they wonder, “Who is this clown who listed ‘Living in the future’ as one of his activities?” I also think everyone could use something fun right now, so I took the time to finish this, and we’re releasing it now for you to enjoy.

The Facebook Friend Game.

The game is very simple – a trivia question, five friends to choose from, one correct answer, and the clock is ticking. As always, this maps to your privacy settings, and since only your friends are involved, the actual content is protected by your Limited Profile privacy settings. If you uncheck ‘Personal Info,’ the friends on your Limited Profile list will never see you in the game.

For now, there is no running score. My hope is the game will serve as the basis for more meaningful social interactions. Sooner or later, you’ll learn something interesting about a friend, or end up getting a trivia question about an inside joke or shared experience. When that happens, there’s no reason not to drop the game and go interact with your friends.”

DIGG THIS STORY

September 20, 2006 at 9:37 am 4 comments

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