Google's Game Face

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) wants to get into the game. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that the paid-search giant is looking to acquire in-game advertising specialist Adscape.Media. Sources told the paper that a deal could be inked as soon as this week.

The move itself makes sense. Google has already branched out beyond online advertising. It has experimented with print magazine ads. It acquired radio advertising specialist dMarc Broadcasting last year in a move to matter in audio pitches. Why wouldn't it want to get into the booming potential of video game sponsorships? More importantly, how could it not make a play in this niche, after rival Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) acquired in-game marketing pioneer Massive?

If in-game advertising is a new concept to you -- or if you just don't see the allure -- read on. Now that all three of the next-generation video game platforms (and both handheld systems) are connected on home networks, companies like Massive can serve up dynamic ads. You no longer need to have the same static ads when your video game character walks past a cinema marquee or enters a watering hole.

Back in November, Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) CFO Warren Jenson explained that the company's Need for Speed: Carbon racing title has 180 virtual billboards that can be rented out by marketers. The software leader was looking to generate at least $4 million in advertising for the game in the most recent quarter alone.

Getting into the game is no longer just an EA Sports tagline, especially for paid-search firms who want a slice of this lucrative market. Whether Google is successful in snapping up Adscape, or eventually rolls out an in-house solution, video game advertising is part of Google's inevitable destiny to matter anywhere that ads are being present.

Guy on the corner with a sandwich board? Your days are numbered, my friend.

Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation, and Electronic Arts is an active Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Whatever your investing style, we have a newsletter that's right for you. Try any of them free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a huge fan of Google and it would be his homepage if it weren't for taking up that piece of real estate. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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