NeoEdge Debuts Overlay Ads for Casual Online Games

Casual gaming on the Web has grown over the past year or so to become a fairly substantial revenue generator. Of course, 2007 figures pegged the burgeoning online market at $2.25 billion to the Halo and WoW-enriched $20 billion for console and PC titles and the like. So, relatively speaking, online games rank somewhat on the small side. But entirely Web-based creations do appear to be worthwhile pursuits all the same.

Billions of dollars are hard to ignore, after all. The question consistently on the minds of online entertainment developers remains one of how best to grow. NeoEdge, an ad network specializing in the field of casual games, feels in-game overlays may be one lucrative way to proceed.

The company has introduced today what it calls “Brand Overlays.” These in effect deliver floating advertisement spots in a portion of a window during gameplay for up to 10 seconds that, at the choosing of a marketer and game developer, can be situated in any of the four corners of the screen, or, alternatively, within slivers of real estate at the top or bottom of the screen. Call them header or footer banners, if you like.

The purpose for these overlays is to attract more advertisers to the online gaming world who otherwise may sense that spaces around a website are not as engaging as things seen within games. Brand Overlays might be thought of as a halfway point between a literal external marketing drive and so-called product placement within the dimensions of a gaming environment; not so sly as to become part of a 2D or 3D realm, but neither completely disconnected from the interactive process.

For simple aesthetic propriety, I myself would argue that NeoEdge’s option to market items in a corner of the screen is significantly less appealing than the seemingly more common approach taken by a cross-window banner. It’s what Web users know, so to speak. But the objective for each is the same, and the choice of options may prove a better bet for NeoEdge in certain settings. Much depends on the when and where parameters for a particular stage, as well as the general graphical layout of a game. So far, NeoEdge claims “high click-through rates and no decrease in (gamer) satisfaction levels” in preliminary tests.

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