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Microsoft’s Massive Partners With comScore To Prove In-Game Ads Work

Microsoft’s Massive Inc. unit is on a mission to let you know that its in-game ads work. The business is partnering with comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) to measure how gamers respond to its ads. Specifically, Massive says it wants to figure out “which in-game ads motivate gamers to visit Web sites, conduct brand-related search queries and engage in other online actions” — all of which it says were previously not measured. And, unsurprisingly, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) says that “preliminary research” from the collaboration shows that gamers are more likely to do all three once they see an in-game ad.

The initiative comes as Massive is trying to battle perceptions that it — along with the in-game ad category at large — has faltered.

The unit was disproportionately hard-hit in Microsoft’s recent layoffs (28 percent of Massive’s staff was let go)-and we had heard that Microsoft was shopping Massive and was willing to sell it for just a fraction of the $200 to $400 million that it had paid for it three years ago. As for the in-game ad business overall, it has not met heady projections for its growth.

Last month, Massive GM JJ Richards went on the offensive, saying that there had been “wild speculation” and “inaccurate information” about his business, adding that Massive had seen “double-digit year-on-year revenue growth,” despite the recession.

Still, Richards acknowledges in a series of interviews he granted around this announcement that Massive still needs to win over advertisers. “This is about making it more and more like other media on the Web,” he tells Mediaweek. And, in an interview with Venturebeat, Richards says, “Until now, we didn’t know the correlation between in-game ads and consumer action. We needed to cross this bridge.”