Playing the Ad Game

Posted on 12th Sep 2011 by Scott Goodson in Blog

Where did you see adverts today? In your newspaper? Magazine? TV and radio? Whilst surfing the net?

How about when you play the latest video game on your console or games app on your mobile phone?

There are over 1.5 billion gamers across the world today, and that is set to double over the next five years to three billion – amazingly, about half the world’s population.

These stats were used by manufacturer Electronic Arts recently at the Ad Age Digital conference, to point out that in terms of reach, gaming is far bigger than any other media. And in terms of social media and mobile, such as Facebook, iPhone, iPad and Android, the number one category in applications is games.

So why aren’t more advertising dollars directed towards games and games apps rather than TV or print if people spend so much time on them above everything else? Mainly because in-gaming advertising is still very new. EA says that many game makers are reluctant to work with advertisers because developers don’t want to see the game cluttered-up with adverts. But EA have incorporated adverts into their games successfully in the past, and you’ll often see product placement within games on the market.

It seems that success or failure largely depends on how the advert is executed. Someone playing a game won’t want it interrupting or distracting them, but if it’s part of the game itself and blends in – so something in the background of a role-playing game, or a product placement, then it gives a sense of realism in a virtual world.

And if it’s timely – for example EA ran an ‘Obama for President’ advert in some games during the 2008 elections, the first time in history a presidential candidate campaign bought in-game advertising – it gives the game a current up to date feeling.

There’s no question that in-game advertising – whether social gaming or console gaming - is a massive growing market for advertisers and brands. Particularly when the 18-34 male demographic is becoming increasingly harder to reach through traditional means. Gaming could be the right way for brands to play.

In fact, we’ve just completed a great new game for one of our P&G clients. But to really get gaming going, the gaming industry needs to lead.

In my opinion, the gaming industry should use opportunities like the Cannes Lions to showcase to the industry best practices, it should hold workshops for creatives on how to create games and it should help fund research to prove that creating games as a media platform is more effective than traditional.

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