Throw a grenade at that ad!
I'm a gamer. I love to play whenever I can fit it in to my busy
schedule. It's my little escape from reality. A few years back I
had my first taste of overt In-Game Advertising. My initial
reaction was one of mild shock and disappointment. I so badly
wanted to throw a grenade at that ad. Overt product advertising had
made its way into my own personal downtime and my life would never
be the same. So much for that escape from reality.
However, advertising and product placement is already
semi-ubiquitous in many other entertainment industries like those
of movies and music, so I understand that it was just a matter of
time. Besides, In-Game Advertising is not new by any means, but it
has recently come into its own as a viable industry, which is
expected to reach $1 Billion (USD) by 2014. Video games are not
just for kids anymore. With the average age of gamers being 35 with
40% of those being female, the industry will only continue to offer
up more value to brands as marketers start to figure out the
landscape and its true potential.
Over the past couple of years my view has changed as I've
experienced some of the new and creative ways in which advertisers
utilize this newer medium to speak to consumers on both passive and
overt levels. I have to say that I'm quite impressed and sometimes
blown away with some of the thought that goes into these
Here's one such example: Old Spice worked with Xbox Live to
sponsor a contest in which it challenged a community of amateur
game developers to create original arcade games - based on and
utilizing one of four Old Spice products. The entire campaign took
place within the Xbox Live community. The winner was decided by the
masses of Xbox Live members who play and download these types of
games on a regular basis. This overt initiative not only worked in
favour of the brands impression, but it also managed to give back
to the gamer community on a grassroots level.
A more passive example is a game like Zygna's Farmville Facebook
app, in which you complete tasks or quests. This quest will often
involve having to use or interact with a brand or product to
complete the quest, thus giving the user a virtual brand
interaction and possibly some idea as to how that product would
benefit them in real life. Often these branded virtual goods have
to be acquired via payment with real-life money, thus increasing
their perceived value in-game and in reality.
On the other hand there are some less creative and more mundane
forms of in game advertising. Which appear to be more apparent in
sports video games where ads are virtually posted in-game on score
boards or arena boards. Just as with real life, there's nothing new
or exciting here, save for that these ads can be geo-targeted. Thus
allowing advertisers to essentially plan a media strategy within a
video game based on the geography of the user.
Ultimately, the key goal of any In-Game Advertising scenario is
essentially brand recall or impression. That being said, some
people are doing it well, while others are not. In-Game Advertising
is an exciting opportunity and one that opens up a whole new arena
for us to play in. One where the rules and boundaries are still
being established. The difference lies in how creative advertisers
can get and how seamless they can make the experience for gamers.
As a Creative, I can only hope we keep pushing the envelope to keep
this medium fresh and exciting.
I'm going to put the pin back in the grenade now.