Google Acquires Adscape Media: Interactive Online Gaming Advertisement and Gaming System Developers

According to news reports, Google has completed a deal to acquire Adscape Media (link now dead), a company located in San Francisco which has developed ways for advertisers to show fresh and changeable (dynamic) advertisements within video games which can be shown without interrupting gameplay.

The company (in an earlier incarnation) also has developed patented technology for an online gaming system.

Adscape Media has its roots in a company started by Adscape Chief Technology Officer Dan Willis in Ontario sometime in 2002, under the name BiDamic. The company opened a headquarters in San Francisco in 2006 after being joined by a couple of former very experienced game industry executives. They appear to have developed a fair amount of intellectual property.

I was able to locate 22 published patent applications for Adscape Media, and a number more (8 patent applications, and 1 granted patent) for BiDamic, which show a thoughtful and rich history of development. Google is said to be paying $ 23 million for the company. It’s impossible to tell if all of the intellectual property associated with both companies (Adscape and BiDamic) will be part of the purchase.

Interrface to select different ad locations for images, music, and video.

The picture above, from one of the patent applications, shows a potential interface which could be used by advertisers to insert ads in different parts of games.

It’s possible that if Google decided to use this advertising method to allow people to advertise in games, that they would probably develop an interface that looked a little more like their Adwords offerings.

However, there is some speculation that this deal points to Google building a virtual world game, along the lines of Second Life with Google Earth as part of the virtual landscape.

There’s a nice interview with CEO Chris Gilbert, of Adscape Media, Inc. that provides some nice insights into the game advertising company’s abilities and goals:

Adscape Media knows that the future of in-game advertising transcends relatively simple billboarding. Our interactive RVG technology brings a new level of interactivity and bi-directional communication opportunities into and out of the game.

Patent Filings

I located 22 patent applications assigned to Adscape Media, and 8 patent applications and a granted patent assigned to BiDamic. In addition to covering a large number of advertising methods, these include an actual set top gaming system, and a granted patent for an interactive online gaming system.

First the Bidamic patent documents, then the Adscape Media patent applications.

BiDamic Patent Applications

Autoconfiguration method for interactive on-line gaming systems
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: September 3, 2002
Published: March 4, 2004

An interactive gaming system comprising a gaming console and a gaming service provider is disclosed. The gaming console contains a storage medium, on which data relating to a configuration of the gaming console are stored. The gaming console further contains a processor in communication with the storage medium for retrieving data therefrom and executing the data, the data relating to the configuration of the gaming console. A gaming service provider provides instruction data to the gaming console, and a connecting network enables a connection between the gaming console and the gaming service provider. Further, a gaming client is stored on the gaming console. The gaming client establishes a connection between the gaming console and a gaming service provider and controls events taking place on the gaming console. The configuration of the gaming console is established by the gaming client according to messages sent to and received from the gaming service provider and to messages stored within a personal profile.

Gaming system emulating a set top box
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: September 3, 2002
Published: March 4, 2004

A gaming system is disclosed. The gaming system includes a gaming console, which comprises a processor and a storage medium, and is in connection with a network, a monitor and a sound system, the method. First instruction data are received from an external storage medium read by the gaming console. These instruction data and include one of set-top instruction data for receiving and decoding digital broadcast data and set-top applications when executed on the gaming console, and communication data for use in retrieving via the network the set-top instruction data for receiving and decoding digital broadcast data and set-top applications when executed on the gaming console. The set-top instruction data are executed on the gaming console, and encoded digital broadcast data is received via the network. The received, encoded digital broadcast data are decoded and displayed on the monitor and on the sound system. The gaming system is therefore functioning as a set-top box.

Gaming service provider advertising system
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: September 3, 2002
Published: March 4, 2004

A method of advertising for use by a Gaming Service Provider providing a customer gaming console in connection with a wide area network is disclosed. The method includes the steps of providing an identification from the customer gaming console to a Gaming Service Provider downloading an advertisement out of a plurality of advertisements to the customer gaming console, initializing the customer gaming console for playing a game and for displaying the advertisement, playing a game on the customer gaming console, and displaying the advertisement on the customer gaming console, when the game is not being played. Alternatively, the steps of the method are not initialized by the Gaming service provider, but from the gaming console site. Further, certain games played on the gaming console incorporate advertisements into their gaming environments.

System and method for a gaming console offering multiple services
Invented by Daniel Willis and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: December 20, 2002
Published: June 24, 2004

An interactive gaming system for allowing for multiple user definitions is disclosed. Multiple user definitions for example enable multiple personalities and multiple services to be associated with one gaming console. The interactive gaming system has customer located equipment and a gaming service provider, the customer located equipment being connected to the gaming service provider through a broadband access network, and including at least one gaming console. The gaming console comprises a flat memory space for storing gaming software, a restricted kernel for running the gaming software on the gaming console, and for making hardware of the gaming console accessible to the gaming software, and a memory in contact with the restricted kernel for storing a gaming client on the gaming console. The gaming client establishes a connection between the gaming console and the service provider, and wherein the gaming client establishes one out of a plurality of possible multiple user services.

Peering system for gaming service providers
Invented by Daniel Willis and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: December 20, 2002
Published: June 24, 2004

A distributed loosely coupled unified on-line gaming system comprises a central service provider, gaming service customers providing gaming service customer located equipment connected to the central service provider through a broadband network, and gaming service providers connected to the central service provider through the broadband network. The different gaming service costumers are connected to different gaming service providers. A method for providing a distributed loosely coupled unified on-line gaming service comprises the steps of connecting a plurality of gaming service customers and a central service provider through at least a broadband access network, connecting gaming service providers and the central service provider through a broadband access network, establishing a connection between gaming service customers and the plurality of gaming service providers through the central service provider, and establishing multi-customer interactions between the gaming service customers through the central service provider

Digital television set with gaming system emulating a set top box
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: February 11, 2004
Published: August 19, 2004

A gaming system is disclosed. The gaming system includes a gaming console, which comprises a processor and a storage medium, and is in connection with a network, a monitor and a sound system, the method. First instruction data are received from an external storage medium read by the gaming console. These instruction data and include one of set-top instruction data for receiving and decoding digital broadcast data and set-top applications when executed on the gaming console, and communication data for use in retrieving via the network the set-top instruction data for receiving and decoding digital broadcast data and set-top applications when executed on the gaming console. The set-top instruction data are executed on the gaming console, and encoded digital broadcast data is received via the network. The received, encoded digital broadcast data are decoded and displayed on the monitor and on the sound system. The gaming system is therefore functioning as a set-top box.


Advertising on video event display systems

Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: February 11, 2004
Published: August 19, 2004

A method of advertising for use by a Gaming Service Provider providing as set-top box in connection with a wide area network is disclosed. The set-top box functions as a customer gaming console. The method includes the steps of providing an identification from the customer gaming console to a Gaming Service Provider providing an advertisement out of a plurality of advertisements to the customer gaming console, initializing the customer gaming console for playing a game and for displaying the advertisement, playing a game on the customer gaming console, and displaying the advertisement on the customer gaming console, when the game is not being played. Alternatively, the steps of the method are not initialized by the Gaming service provider, but from the gaming console site. Further, certain games played on the gaming console incorporate advertisements into their gaming environments.

Advertising on video event display systems
Same as above, but different file number.

BiDamic Granted Patent

System and method for interactive on-line gaming
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: February 11, 2004
Granted: March 8, 2005

An interactive gaming system includes customer located equipment and a gaming service provider. The customer located equipment is connected to the gaming service provider through a broadband access network, and includes a gaming console. The gaming console stores gaming software, runs the gaming software and stores an ultra-thin. The ultra-thin client establishes a connection between the gaming console and the service provider, controls game events according to messages sent to and received from the gaming service provider, and provides an adaptive platform for a consistent gaming environment. Further, a method for providing an interactive gaming system service includes connecting customer located equipment and a gaming service provider through a broadband access network, establishing a connection between the gaming console and the service provider through the ultra-thin client, and controlling game events according to messages sent to and received from the gaming service provider.

Adscape Media Patent Applications

Peering system for gaming service providers
Invented by Daniel Willis and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: September 19, 2006
Published: January 11, 2007

A distributed loosely coupled unified on-line gaming system comprises a central service provider, gaming service customers providing gaming service customer located equipment connected to the central service provider through a broadband network, and gaming service providers connected to the central service provider through the broadband network. The different gaming service costumers are connected to different gaming service providers. A method for providing a distributed loosely coupled unified on-line gaming service comprises the steps of connecting a plurality of gaming service customers and a central service provider through at least a broadband access network, connecting gaming service providers and the central service provider through a broadband access network, establishing a connection between gaming service customers and the plurality of gaming service providers through the central service provider, and establishing multi-customer interactions between the gaming service customers through the central service provider.

Method and system for enhancing video games and video game systems
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: May 17, 2006
Published : December 21, 2006

A system making use of video games and data communications external to video games is used to provide advertisements, prizes and other benefits to gamers. The prizes relate to either of real world products and services as well as content for use within the video game environment. During a video game session an advertisement is provided to the gamer. When the gamer interacts with the advertisement the video game software acts to facilitate a transaction between the gamer and the advertiser.

Method and apparatus for remote reporting of impression data using log files
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: April 5, 2006
Published: October 5, 2006

A system and method for generating log files that store information regarding the presentation of advertisements in video games is described. The log file is copied to a server when a suitable network connection is available. The log file comprises a public portion and a private portion. The public portion comprises information that is used to route the log file to a suitable destination. The private portion contains optionally encrypted to complicate unauthorized access thereto.

Method of routing and managing advertising feedback data
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: April 5, 2006
Published: October 12, 2006

The action of impressing an advertisement within a virtual environment of a video game is stored in a log file. The log file has a public portion and a private portion. The log file is provided to a server that determines an appropriate destination for the log file based upon data within the public portion of the log file. The private portion of the log file is optionally encrypted using a unique identifier to complicate unauthorized duplication of log files.

Method and system supporting audited reporting of advertising impressions from video games
Invented by Daniel Willis and Gordon Freedman
Filed: April 5, 2006
Published: October 5, 2006

A variety of processes for certifying the reporting of advertising impressions provided via video games are described. These certification processes optionally take advantage of automated techniques for verifying that when advertising data is provided a corresponding advertisement is provided within the video game. In addition, as software patches are often provided for video games, a recommended process for certifying patched software is also described. Reporting data associated with advertising impressions provided from uncertified video games is considered suspect and optionally discarded.

Method and system for automatically managing a content approval process for use in in-game advertising
Invented by Daniel Willis and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: December 20, 2005
Published: June 22, 2006

A method for approving data wherein a request for approval of advertising content for being impressed upon video game players within a known advertising spot within a known video game is provided. Based on the advertising spot and the video game a system determines at least a party for approving of the advertising content. Then, the system automatically transmits a message to the at least a party requesting their approval of the advertising content for being impressed upon video game players within the known advertising spot within the known video game.

System and method for automatically enabling and disabling advertising in video games
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: June 22, 2006

A method for automatically enabling and disabling advertising in an advertising enabled gaming environment includes providing a video game in execution on a gaming platform having communications with a communications network. In addition, a server is provided within the communications network for delivering of advertising content to the video game. To this end, the advertising content is retrievably stored in at least a storage location for access by the server. According to a set of rules, delivery of the advertising content to the video game is selectively disabled. Such disabling is performed absent disabling of a network connection between the gaming platform and the server and absent deleting of the advertising content from the at least a storage location.

Method and system for providing location specific advertising content within mobile platforms
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Mark Lafreniere
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: June 22, 2006

Advertising content is delivered to gaming platforms in dependence upon a location of the mobile platform. The platform provides location data either from a user of the platform, determined by the platform, for example using GPS, or through network data provided from the platform during network communication. Advertising content is then selected based on the location so determined. For mobile platforms advertising content is also distinguished based on its applicability to home address separately from the determined location.

Traffic forwarding and conversion for supporting multiple advertising providers in video game advertising
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: July 27, 2006

The present invention relates to a method and system for providing advertising content. A request is received for first advertising content according to a first advertising content request protocol. The first advertising content is then requested according to a second other advertising content request protocol. The first advertising content is received according to the second other advertising content request protocol and provided according to the first advertising content request protocol. The invention enables a game to communicate with a plurality of Ad Servers using different Ad Server Protocols, allowing a game publisher to mitigate the business risk by present ads from a plurality of advertising services.

Proxy advertisement server and method
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: June 29, 2006

A system and method for supporting the storage of advertising data used for providing advertisements in video games relies upon a proxy server for storing the advertising data. Specifically, in a video game device that supports a network communications and does not support a large non-volatile memory suitable for storing advertising data a storage media external to the video game device is identified and a portion of the storage media is reserved for storing advertising data. During a video game session an opportunity to provide an advertisement is detected and suitable advertising data is identified on the storage medium and transferred to the computing device via the network.

System and method for managing advertising content delivery in an on-line gaming environment
Invented by Daniel Willis, and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: June 22, 2006

A method for managing advertising content delivery in a gaming environment that is in execution on an online enabled platform includes initiating an instance of a game, and fetching a piece of advertising content from an advertising service provider via a communications network. During a gaming session, at least one impression for the piece of advertising content is provided. At a time, the game instance provides an indication of the at least one impression to a server of an advertising broker site via the communications network. The advertising broker site updates a current impressions count based on the provided indication.

Method and system for delivering advertising content to video games based on game events and gamer activity
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: June 22, 2006

A method for conditional enabling of advertising spots within an advertising enabled game includes receiving data from an advertising enabled game. In particular, the data relates to each of a plurality of actions in isolation performed by a particular gamer while playing the advertising enabled game. Based on the data, a characteristic relevant to advertising is determined for the particular gamer. In dependence upon the determined characteristic content for being displayed to the gamer is selected.

Method for advertisement service provider wholesaling
Invented by Daniel Willis, and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: July 27, 2006

A method for managing advertising content delivery in a gaming environment includes associating a plurality of advertising spots of an advertising enabled game with a first advertising service provider (ADSP). In particular, the first ADSP is in communication with a communications network, such as for instance a wide area network. Using an encryption key, advertising content data is secured from tampering. Then, via the communications network, the secured advertising content data is provided for being impressed within one of the plurality of advertising spots associated with the first ADSP.

Method and system for cataloging advertising spots of an advertising enabled game
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: July 6, 2006

A method for cataloging and populating advertising spots of an advertising enabled game includes using a catalog to select an advertising-spot of the advertising enabled game. For instance, the catalog is a catalog of itemized advertising spots for the advertising enabled game. An image is displayed including the selected advertising spot, in the context of the advertising enabled game. Advertising content is inserted into the image at the selected advertising spot, so as to produce a preview image that is representative of the advertising content when being displayed at the selected advertising spot during actual game play.

Caching and reporting system for accelerating combined computer gaming and advertising
Invented by Daniel Willis and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: December 19, 2005
Published: June 22, 2006

A system supporting the presentation of advertisements within video game is described in which a memory cache stores advertising data that is used to provide the advertisements. The memory cache is managed via instructions provided by an external server via a network data connection. The management of the cache supports the storage of a variety of advertisements for a single advertisement opportunity. In addition, the cache management system is designed to supports numerous different video games on a same computing device.

Video game feedback system and method
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Victor Lonmo
Filed: December 15, 2005
Published: June 15, 2006

In order to track the behaviour of a gamer with a virtual environment of a video game, the virtual environment is provided with a set of predetermined objectives. The completion of the predetermined objectives is monitored and recorded. This information is then provided to a game developer. In addition, comparing the record of the predetermined objectives with current game assets associated with the gamer serves to inhibit authorized duplication of game assets.

Method and system for displaying of transparent ads
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 15, 2005
Published: June 15, 2006

In order to enhance visual representation of an advertisement within a video game optical characteristics of the advertisement are specified. Specifically, downloaded data corresponding to an advertisement is used to provide an advertising image within a virtual environment of a video game. The advertising image is displayed having a portion that appears to be at least one of transmissive and reflective. In this way, advertisements are displayed in a fashion consistent with the appearance of a corresponding advertisement in the real world.

System and method for managing advertising content delivery in a gaming environment supporting aggregated demographics serving and reporting
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 15, 2005
Published: June 15, 2006

A method of in game advertising wherein in game advertising spots are registered from different video games having similar demographic characteristics. The in game advertising spots are then grouped together into an aggregated community of advertising spots. An advertising campaign then delivers advertising content to the group of advertising spots as if the group were a single advertising spot.

Post-deployment spot creation
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 15, 2005
Published: June 22, 2006

A thin client is for detecting a video game in execution. The video game does not support dynamic in game advertising. The thin client changes the video game content of the video game during execution thereof in order to provide in game advertising within the first video game in execution.

Online video game advertising system and method supporting multiplayer ads
Invented by Daniel Willis, Dhananjay Godse, and Gordon Freedman
Filed: December 13, 2005
Published: June 15, 2006

In a video game session supporting a set of gamers participating in the game from a variety of different locations, an opportunity to provide an advertisement is presented. The content of the advertisement is chosen based upon specific criteria such as data relating to one of the gamers, for example, the location of the gamer. The chosen content of the advertisement is provided within an advertising spot of the video game.

Broker system for combining computer gaming and advertising
Invented by Daniel Willis and Dhananjay Godse
Filed: February 11, 2005
Published: August 11, 2005

Disclosed is a broker mediated advertisable gaming environment. The gaming environment communicates with a broker or a server, the broker or server site maintains an inventory of characteristics of registered games, the characteristics relevant for advertising. When a broker is communicated with, the system has gaming sites and advertising sites connected to an access aggregation network and the broker site is connected to the access aggregation network for registering games provided from gaming sites and for licensing registered games for advertising to advertising sites.

Method of interactive advertising
Invented by Daniel Willis
Filed: February 11, 2005
Published: August 11, 2005

A method of interactive advertising is provided, according to which the display of the interactive advertisement does not disturb an entertainment event during which the interactive advertisement is displayed. During a process of entertainment, the entertainment relating to an entertainment event other than an event centered around a shopping experience, an interactive advertisement for a product or service is displayed, and data indicating an interest relating to the advertised product or service are received and stored. Upon near completion of the entertainment event, an individual is provided with an indication of the interactively advertised product or service for which he ro she has expressed an interest. Further data are received from the individual relating to the interactively advertised product or service. In connection with the method for interactive advertising there is also provided a method for selling a product or service within an entertainment environment.

10 thoughts on “Google Acquires Adscape Media: Interactive Online Gaming Advertisement and Gaming System Developers”

  1. There is no misunderstanding; Google will come with a virtual world like SL based on Google Earth. Where SL get lots of criticism for their complexity Google will give every company on the planet the oppurtunity to start a virtual company at the very same place they are in real life…

    They will do it really good too. It will be their new search engine…

    Dirk

  2. Hi Dirk,

    I don’t know whether to be more impressed with the number and variety of the patent filings involved, or the fact that employees of the company have executive level experience with companies like Sega and Sony, but it looks like a good start for Google whether they offer an online virtual reality game or sell advertising in video games or both.

    I don’t know if it will be their new search engine, but I could see Google’s Local Search and Google Earth merging together in the future, and this acquisition may hold some keys to that happening as well.

  3. Pingback: Google Runs Adsense In Your Videogames? - MikeBogo on Marketing and Monetizing
  4. Gidday , did really enjoy what ive just read , but need a few ideas of how to begin the process of putting together an idea of virtual game advertising thats in the infant stage of development that has the potential to lure a ready made market of up to 70 million starters per week
    interesting ??????
    Gerard O

  5. Very interesting, Gerald.

    Some of the patent applications above begin describing an advertising system like that. If Google were to enter into that market, they would probably put their own unique twists upon it, integrating an ad purchasing and tracking system that is similar to what they already have – tracking purchases, impressions, and so on.

    There seem to be a few principles that would transend being patent protected, like the idea that for most ads, you don’t want to interrupt game play in such a situation.

    If you can create the virtual reality of other aspects of life, adding things such as changeable billboards, and product names onto other objects should be within the ability of what you can handle. Giving companies that ability to create or sponsor featured locations could be another approach (think perhaps of a virtual reality version of Disneyland, for instance.

  6. Very interesting read, thank you. Been researching a similar subject myself, haven’t found any related patents to the following Agreement, (which would interestingly predate Willis), was wondering if you could relate the two, or perhaps be more successful:

    http://secfilings.nasdaq.com/filingFrameset.asp?FileName=0000950134%2D95%2D000131%2Etxt&FilePath=%5C1995%5C02%5C08%5C00%5C&CoName=ACCLAIM+ENTERTAINMENT+INC&FormType=SC+13D&RcvdDate=2%2F8%2F1995&pdf=

    ITEM 4. Purpose of Transaction

    TCI Technology Ventures, Inc. was formed to invest in
    companies and joint ventures engaged in developing and providing programming
    for new television and telecommunications technologies. TCI is involved in the
    ongoing development of a new, interactive TV set-top box and believes that,
    once developed, it will be a significant platform for the distribution of games
    and other interactive entertainment software over cable television systems and
    other networks. Based on this belief, TCI approached Acclaim to explore the
    creation of a joint venture that would be poised to exploit the market for the
    electronic distribution of interactive games and other entertainment software
    once the set-top box was deployed. As referred to in Item 3, TCI and Acclaim
    entered into an agreement of limited partnership on October 19, 1994 for the
    purpose of (i) producing, developing, acquiring (including by purchase or
    license), merchandizing, owning and investing in games and other interactive
    entertainment software, (ii) selling, licensing, distributing, or otherwise
    transmitting interactive entertainment principally to or through electronic
    means, (iii) developing, providing and merchandizing interactive entertainment
    programming for broadband distribution and (iv) promoting a standard for
    broadband network gaming to be incorporated into advanced set-top boxes. TCI
    is acquiring the Acclaim stock for investment, based on its belief that the
    electronic distribution of interactive software will be a principal market for
    interactive software publishers such as Acclaim in the future. Acquisition of
    the Acclaim stock will permit TCI to further participate in that market through
    its investment in the Acclaim stock.

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