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Google’s Advertising Buffet

Google the Gatekeeper?  Is Google trying to become the defacto middle-man for advertising placement across both new and traditional media?  Will a prospective company be able to go to Google a year from now and order advertising placement as if at a buffet: “give me 2 radio spots, 1 tv hit, and a ¼ page in these three papers alongside these keywords and this text placement?”


The answers are probably no, but with increasing efforts to participate in placement of tradition media advertising – including in radio (through acquisition of dMarc), print (partnerships with newspapers), and television – alongside its dominant Internet search advertising services, these seem questions worth asking.  It’s almost impossible not to speculate about them.

Today, adding fuel to that kind speculation, Google announced the acquisition of Adscape Media, a small one year old startup that was focusing on providing advertising for the video game industry (termed “in-game” advertising).

According to Red Herring online, Google paid $23m for the acquisition.  Adscape’s technology, similar to its larger rival Massive (which is the leader in the new market, and was acquired by Microsoft last May for upwards of $200m), will allow Google to sell advertisements that will be placed with a games virtual environment.  An example of this kind of ad might be a billboard display included in the urban landscape of a video game.  That virtual billboard, like its real counterpart, could display an ad as if it were part of the natural landscape of the game.  Further, the ad would be dynamic and could be changed on the fly through the internet connectivity of the gaming platform.  Today the billboard will show Coca Cola.  Tomorrow, it will show an ad for Shrek 3.

Predictions for this in game-advertising report a market sizing upwards of $1b in revenue a few years from now.   Given that scale, and with Microsoft’s entrance into the space last spring, there has been suspicion that Google, or Yahoo, would enter the market soon too. 

By adding Adscape media to the portfolio, Google’s advertising services portfolio continues to grow.  So back to that speculation – are they trying to be a gatekeeper or a one-stop solution?  It’s possible.   If next I see news that they are interested in Spotrunner, a small company that helps businesses place local television ads, than I’ll up my assessment to definitely. Until then, this analyst, will remain diplomatically neutral.

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