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The Price Is Right for In-Game Advertising

By Ran Cohen | Published May 01 2008 01:10 AM in Business

game in-game advertising #8211 games price players play video
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[Ed Note] The following article is a brief foray into the in-game ad realm. Please share your thoughts on additional and expanded content in this area in the comments

Introduction

As the physical and digital landscapes grow ever more ad-saturated, the search intensifies for uncluttered real estate with engaged audiences. Advertisers are discovering that the next frontier
may be filled with fun and games. In-game advertising promises highly-engaged, ever-expanding audiences that, are extremely receptive to brand messages.


And the results are noteworthy: in-game ads outperform standard ads astronomically. A recent Eyeblaster study found in-game video ads achieving an 8.8%
click-through rate, versus a .3% CTR for standard web video advertising.


This success can be attributed to the unique relationship between the advertising unit and the game content. Unlike pre-roll video ads, which delay content , in-game units are served during breaks
in game play and act as a natural transition between levels of play. This tight integration allows players to seamlessly interact with the ad – and even click-through – without losing the
momentum of their game.


A Growing Appeal

As in-game advertising continues develop, the dynamics are shifting. Parks Associates found the typical casual gamer was a married mom in her early 30s. The demographic is 68% women, 67% married,
over half with children. However, this is primed for a major realignment.


Casual gaming was originally a try-before-you-buy model, where a limited, “trial” version of games was available to players for free, supported by advertising. Conversions to this
model were skewed heavily toward married females with kids. So it was a no brainer for game developers to create titles that appealed to this audience. But as casual gaming comes into its own, the
ad-enabled full game model is taking precedence as a legitimate revenue model, where conversion from trial to purchase is unnecessary. This fact frees developers to create engaging games for a wider
spectrum of players.


As the demographic balances out with more members of the family participating – children, teens and adult men – we expect to see this ad inventory tapped by an even broader range of
advertisers. So don’t expect this growth spurt to end anytime soon.


Come On Down!

One new release that leverages this growing audience as well as demonstrates the convergence of advertising innovation and user appeal is the casual-gaming release of the television favorite The
Price Is Right.


The Price Is Right video game is as much a product-placement revolution as the televised game show was. Nearly every second of play is ad inventory, resulting in new opportunity for
advertisers.


The Price is Right video game is consistent with the feel and environment of the original, including the iconic “Come on Down” sequence to get the players into the show spirit, the
Price Is Right Wheel, a dozen of the most popular TPIR games – including Plinko, Cliffhangers, Hole-in-One and Punch-A-Bunch – and a wide selection of 3D avatars to represent all types of
users. Players can play in Single Player mode or challenge friends in the Party Game mode.


As in the televised game, all prices and prizes are based on real-life products currently on the market, and can be dynamically updated for an extended replay value. Where the standard in-game
advertising opportunities are passive and environmental – in-level videos or static billboards embedded into the scenery that do little to drive brand awareness and recall – The Price Is
Right features brands and products tightly integrated into the game play.


More Titles; Bigger Audience

What we see in The Price Is Right is in-game advertising really coming of age. Parks Associates recently estimated a compound annual growth rate of 33%, on pace to surpass $2 billion by 2012.
Parks Associates found the lion’s share of this advertising took place in online gaming portals, like the ones represented in Eyeblaster’s study.


The Price Is Right is just one title that is indicative of the surging increase in high-quality casual games. Just this month, Eyeblaster’s roster of ad-enabled casual games surpassed the
60-title mark.


This is an exciting milestone, but it’s not just good news for Eyeblaster, it signals a very exciting trend for the entire industry. Recent estimates see 12 new downloadable games being
released each week on major U.S. gaming sites. For gamers, this means more high-quality games; for agencies, more inventory of remarkably well-performing ad formats, for advertisers, an audience that
is growing exponentially, and for game developers, a steady and growing revenue stream.


Tips for Successful In-Game Advertising

  • Plan Your Attack. A thorough media plan is a great asset – plan your media buy and use in-game as a tool in your larger arsenal
  • Learn the Lay of the Land. Know the difference between console, in-browser and downloadable games, and which one fits your needs the best
  • Choose Your Weapon. Ensure that the game is aligned with your message and speaks to your audience






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