Microsoft shuts its Massive in-game ad sales operation after four years

Talk about zagging when everyone else is zigging, just as rival Google is eyeing driverless cars of all things and on the day Twitter has announced it will offer local ads next year, Microsoft is to close its Massive in-games advertising division six months after its main customer Electronic Arts created its own in-game ad operation.

This is becoming embarrassing for Microsoft, a couple of months ago it pulled its ‘social network’ phone Kin after selling just a few hundred in the US despite a massive social media campaign through Interpublic.

Microsoft bought Massive back in 2006, a system that could update in-game advertising even after the particular game copy was sold. But it has clearly failed to build on this useful ability even at a time when much new research testifies to the huge audiences and effectiveness of in-game advertising.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came to London last week and wowed his audience with a presentation about what ‘cloud’ computing meant for Microsoft’s future (basically everything is done via the internet, not through Microsoft software you shove into your PC).

Don’t fear, said Ballmer, we’re on top of this one. Well he might be but at the nuts and bolts level Microsoft is clearly struggling to turn its ideas into commercial reality.

Here’s a clip of Steve going crazy:

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.