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Advertising and Games Opportunities, Pitfalls, and Competition David J Edery WW Games Portfolio Planner Microsoft, Xbox Live Arcade Blog: Upcoming book: “For Fun and Profit: How Video Games are Transforming the Business World”

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Advertising and games l.jpg

Advertising and Games

Opportunities, Pitfalls, and Competition

David J Edery

WW Games Portfolio Planner

Microsoft, Xbox Live Arcade


Upcoming book: “For Fun and Profit:

How Video Games are Transforming the Business World”

(Not sponsored or endorsed by Microsoft)

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Research Challenges

  • Avoided studies funded by the game industry

  • Most university studies are problematic

    • Focus on a single genre (i.e. racing)

    • Focus on static billboards

    • Very specific population (i.e. college students)

    • Small sample sizes (i.e. 10 to 50 respondents)

    • Small play times (i.e. one 15-minute session)

    • Focus on brand recall, not subconscious effects

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Research Challenges (cont.)

  • Therefore, I’ve partially relied on:

    • More general psychology research

    • Research specific to film/TV product placements

      • Placements date back to 1940

      • Research is, as a result, more prevalent and thorough

    • A few good, independent, game-specific studies

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Psych 101 forAds in Games

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Integral vs Non-Integral Ads

  • Ads are highly integrated (or not) with a game

  • Integral ads:

    • A car you drive (gameplay)

    • A camera used to solve missions (gameplay & plot)

    • A brand prominently featured in cutscenes (plot)

  • Non-integral ads:

    • Typical billboards alongside a road

    • Soda machines that aren’t part of a puzzle or plot

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Implicit vs. Explicit Memory

  • Explicit memory:

    • Triggered by high-involvement stimuli

    • The result of conscious processing

    • Integral ads usually get stored here

  • Implicit memory:

    • Triggered by low-involvement stimuli

    • The things you “miss” when focused elsewhere

    • Non-integral ads usually get stored here

    • Note: gameplay is generally “high-involvement”

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Implicit Memory

  • Influences our behavior w/o conscious recall

    • “Mere exposure effect” and “priming”

    • MEE: Japanese ideographs (1)

    • MEE: polygons displayed for imperceptible durations (2)

    • Priming: words associated with the elderly (3)

  • Leads to increased brand affinity

    • Mars Pathfinder spikes the sales of Mars candy (4)

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Explicit Memory

  • Storage in explicit memory equals:

    • Conscious brand recall

    • Comprehension of product & brand attributes

    • Increased brand affinity, if ad well-implemented

      • The opposite, otherwise!

  • Examples of integral ads “done well”

    • Sony Ericson phone placements in Splinter Cell

    • E.T. and Reese’s Pieces … saved the candy (1)

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Persuasion Knowledge

  • People recognize and resist persuasion (1)

  • Good placements aren’t seen as persuasion(2)

    • Except possibly outside of the game, which is OK (3)

    • Goldeneye and BMW Z3 … “$100m exposure”

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Fit / Congruence

  • Incongruent ads increase recall and PK

  • Negative effects demonstrated in TV study (1)

  • Resist temptation to stand out in unnatural ways:

    • i.e. Don’t put trucks on a skii slope as “obstacles”

    • i.e. No ads for “current” products in distant future

    • i.e. Don’t fill a city with billboards for a single brand

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What Gamers Say(Integral & Non)

  • 2007 study: GameSpot + Internet Ad Bureau (1)

  • 73% did not mind in-game advertising

  • 14% thought in-game ads spoil the experience

  • Key: this is all predicated on ad recognition

    • The whole point is to eliminate recognition

    • Study revealed confusion as to what constitutes ads

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Mood & Other Associations

  • We have associational brains

    • I.e. happy TV & film = greater ad effectiveness (1)

    • Avoid sad portions of a game

    • i.e. Don’t put baby products in a bloody shooter

    • i.e. Don’t put Dasani on the side of a filthy truck

      • They should request “clean textured" locations only

  • In short, congruence alone is not enough

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Summary: What Works When?

  • Integral ads (done well):

    • Increase brand recall

    • Generate positive press

    • Can convey useful brand/product info

    • Increases purchase intent, even for serious purchases

  • Non-integral ads (done well):

    • Increase brand affinity, but not recall

    • Can be employed cheaply and dynamically

    • Can’t convey complex meaning

    • Particularly good for impulse purchase decisions

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Enough About Ads-in-Games,What About Other Things?

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Advergame Research

  • Little research exists on this topic

    • Preference to handle tech prior to purchase (1)

      • Laptops, camcorders, PDAs, etc

      • Opportunity to outperform non-interactive ads

    • Increased preference w/ children & Froot Loops (2)

      • 65% preference over other cereals vs 35% control

      • Ineffective before age 7; potential ceiling effects

    • High brand recall rates(3)

      • Sadly, marred by small sample & other issues

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Demonstrative Advergames

  • Exploring educational & persuasive games

    • Ian Bogost’sPersuasive Games

    • MIT and U. Wisconsin Madison’s Education Arcade

  • Examples:

    • Fiskars Prune to Win

    • Yoshinoya

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SponsorshipsThe Lost Video Art?

  • NA spent $14.9b on sponsorships in ’07 (1)

    • Double-digit increases for the past several years

    • Greatest percentage: sports, NASCAR, etc

    • What happened to sponsored video content, i.e. soaps?

  • Classic psychology: create desire to reciprocate

  • Potential: old retail games, casual games, etc

  • Sponsored virtual currency

    • i.e. WildTangent + AdventureQuest

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The Coming WavePromogames / Burger King

  • 40% increase in profit for the quarter

  • 3.2m games sold

  • Many millions of hours of brand exposure

  • This is only the beginning!

    • More companies will get in

    • Budgets will rise as companies fight for mindshare

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The Coming WavePromogames / Webkinz

  • 1m+ Webkinz sold in two years (1)

  • Longer visits than Facebook or MySpace (2)

  • Already being emulated:

    • $5 to $10m budget per virtual Disney property (3)

    • Mattel launched $59 Barbie mp3 / virtual world

  • Promotion? Revenue? Enhanced engagement? Expect to see a lot more of these…

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Suggested Books

The Psychology of Entertainment Media: Blurring the Lines Between Entertainment and Persuasion

L. J. Shrum, 2004

Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames

Ian Bogost, 2007

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Suggested Articles

Experiencing Interactive Advertising beyond Rich Media: Impacts of Ad Type and Presence on Brand Effectiveness in 3DGaming Immersive Virtual Environments.

Grigorovici & Constantin, Journal of Interactive Advertising, 2004

The Effectiveness of “In-Game” Advertising: Comparing College Students’ Explicit and Implicit Memory for Brand Names

Yang, Roskos-Ewoldsen, Dinu & Arpan, Journal of Advertising, 2006

More than meets the eye: Investigating the hidden impact of brand placements in television magazines

Matthes, Schemer & Wirth, Intl Journal of Advertising, 2007

The Effects of Playing an Advergame on Young Children’s Perceptions, Preferences, and Requests

Mallinckrodt & Mizerski, Journal of Advertising, 2007