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Massive has tapped JJ Richards to head the in-game advertising agency and bolstered its client list, landing deals with publishers Activision and Blizzard Entertainment.

Announcement comes as the Microsoft-owned shop hosts its first upfront for in-game advertising, encouraging marketers to broker deals with videogame publishers for titles that hit store shelves next year.

Naturally, the event will likely benefit Massive the most, whose in-game ad network secured deals to oversee ad sales for titles from Electronic Arts and THQ this year as well.

Throughout the year, it placed ads for Barack Obama in 11 games, a first for a presidential candidate; created destructible ads for brands in “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames”; launched an in-game scavenger hunt in Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2,” requiring players to look for promos; and created a text message campaign for Subway.

As part of its new multiyear deals, Massive will serve as the exclusive in-game ad provider for 18 Activision titles, including “Guitar Hero: World Tour,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Tony Hawk,” while for Blizzard, Massive is overseeing ads on the Battle.net online game service in several territories, including the U.S., Europe and Australia.

Richards heads Massive as general manager of platform services for the advertiser and publisher solutions group at Microsoft.

He was most recently general manager for Xbox Live, responsible for that division’s digital ad platform that serves advertisers, publishers and ad networks.

“What was met with skepticism and resistance just a few short years ago has now become a key part of a media mix and an essential way to reach a crucial demographic,” Richards said.