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Adsense for games goes beta – a lifeline for casual games companies?

By on October 8, 2008
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Google today announced the launch of Adsense for Games, claiming that this will fuel the growth of the online games sector.

Given that video advertising is the sector that is still holding up in these trouble times, this is a timely shot in the arm for the finances of the casual/free games sector.

Initial partners include many of the darlings of the VC community including social network games businesses Playfish and Zynga, as well as major advertisers Esurance, Sony Pictures and Sprint.

The mockup and video below show how carefully Playfish has thought about integrating advertising into their mix. The video ads fit elegantly into the playing experience and Playfish is not coy about the advertising: the in-game character who supports you through the game says “And now a word from our sponsors” as the ad runs. My feeling is that not only will this approach generate higher click-through and engagement rates, users will support it. I think that it will feel “fair” to watch a 15 second ad after 2-4 minutes of high-quality gameplay.

Geo Challenge from Playfish with an embedded Sony Pictures ad

Around the industry, I hear that entertainment-led video ads are generating CPMs of anywhere from £10-£30. If a casual games business can maintain ad rates at this high level, the kind of level usually reserved for targeted, aspirational websites, that will change their business very substantially for the better.

So great news for casual games companies that Google has launched this service, and kudos to Playfish for not only designing their games to benefit but for being chosen by Google to showcase the service.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com