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In-game advertising garners further industry support

The rapid growth of the in-game advertising sector looks set to continue unabated, the latest publisher support coming from Korean-based MMO publisher Webzen and casual games specialists RealNetworks.

The rapid growth of the in-game advertising sector looks set to continue unabated, with the latest publisher support coming from Korean-based MMO publisher Webzen and casual games specialists RealNetworks.

Webzen has partnered with in-game ad firm Massive Inc, to implement targeted adverts in two of its forthcoming massively multiplayer online games: Huxley and All Points Bulletin.

Massive was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year in a deal estimated at US$ 200-400 million. The new partnership with Webzen marks the company's first entrance into Asian markets.

"Massive's network represents the best global content in the industry," commented Nicholas Longano, Massive's president of new media.

"We're thrilled to work with Webzen to bring dynamic in-game advertising to the Asian market for the first time."

Meanwhile, RealNetworks has partnered with digital marketing and technology firm Eyeblaster - announcing plans to incorporate video advertising in its forthcoming games from brands including Honda and Hasbro.

Michael Schutzler, RealNetworks' SVP of games, commented: "Effective advertising in casual games requires an added level of sensitivity to the consumer experience, ensuring the ads are not overly disruptive or intrusive."

"By leveraging our experience in online games and ads, we've created an approach for downloadable games that blends into the gameplay and is also very effective for advertisers."

The adverts will be included in pre and post game screens, during the loading of new levels and in areas around the playing screen. RealNetworks will aim to create targeted campaigns with as little intrusion as possible to the gameplay and overall consumer experience.

Recent research from US analysts The Yankee Group has pointed to a rapid growth in in-game advertising, which could reach US$ 732 million by 2010 as publishers seek new revenue channels to offset next-gen development costs.

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