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World's largest ad broker targets web games

Google and 'family safe' Flash

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In its continued struggle to duplicate the worldwide dominance of its text-based advertising biz, Google has launched a long expected program for slapping ads onto Web-based Flash games. Naturally, "AdSense for Games" is billed as a beta.

Google gobbled game ad outfit Adscape Media in February 2007, and this morning, the, um, fruits of its purchase were finally unveiled on the Official AdSense blog. "Do you develop or publish web-based games?" asks chipper Google ad guy Ryan Hayward. "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."

Ah, but not everyone is eligible. Your game must be played a minimum of 500,000 times a day. At least 80 per cent of your traffic must come from the US or the UK. And your Flash must be "family safe."

Ads can be placed as interstitial frames before a game starts, after it's over, or right smack-dab in the middle of things. Naturally, Google will serve "contextually targeted" ads according to a game's content and the demographics of its users. This means your game may display ads that are completely inappropriate for your audience.

According to The New York Times, Mountain View will allow advertisers to "bid" for ad placements "in Google’s typical auction style." This means the company will auction off ads in a way that's not really an auction.

But Google says it will also sell ad placements directly to advertisers. There was a time when Google wouldn't deal with ad agencies. But that's changing. It now realizes that the online auction model has its limits.

Meanwhile, over at YouTube, Google is adding "click-to-buy" links to videos that let you purchase digital stuff from Apple's iTunes or Amazon.com. So, if a video plays a particular song, you might be able to instantly buy that song from Steve Jobs. For the moment, these ads are limited to music from labels EMI and the Universal Music Group - and the new release of Spore.

Google paid $1.65bn for YouTube in October 2006. But it as yet to find a way of actually making money from the world's most popular video site. ®

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