Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advergaming and In-Game Branding

Advergaming is a fast-growing area for marketers. Most target children, although brands from Oreos to Jack Daniels have tried their hand at advergaming. is a wealth of free games for their thirty or so brands integrated with classic games such as Mahjong and Chess. The interactive nature makes them highly effective. They bring about repeat visits and viral expansion with competitive children. In a survey, Nabiscoworld recently asked its visitors what they did after school. The responses were: 44% for "Starving! Got to eat!"; 12% for "out with friends"; 12% for "Sports! Time for practice" and 32% for "Get online.”

The messages are delivered in a cost-effective manner. There is no cost to put up an advergame on an already existing brand Web Site. Visitors play free of charge, but walk away with dozens of brand messages in their head. A typical 30 second television spot can cost advertisers $7-30 per thousand versus an estimated $2 per thousand for an advergame audience.

In-game branding is the use of computer and video games as a medium for advertising messages. As consumers’ attention is increasingly harder to get, marketers are looking to a variety of places to bring their messages. “Everyone recognizes that audiences are fragmented and consumer mindshare is limited given interaction with multiple forms of media at the same time,” says iMedia contributor Julie Shumaker.

Some in-game advertising is subtle, such as billboards in the background of the game scene. Some are less subtle, such as in 2005 when Sony introduced Everquest II. Players can order a Pizza Hut pizza without ever leaving their game. One thing is for sure, and that is that video game based advertising is growing at a rapid pace. There are firms that specialize in this type of marketing. Google (of course) has developed its own technology for in-game advertising.

Many people have issues with the ethics of advergaming and in-game branding with some referring to the former as “junk food games”. Researchers claim that children under the age of eight cannot differentiate between advertisement (persuasive content) and information. Some claim that this is only going to make the fight against childhood obesity worse. Brand representatives maintain that the key to fighting obesity is leading an active, healthy life – not the elimination of advertisement. Valid argument? You decide.


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Jonathan said...

Obama used it! I do question marketing to people who stereotypically never leave the couch. I guess they can always let they guardian know what to buy. lol