Picture this. You are a 17 year old kid who got a free download for a cool new video game. You open the game, bypass the instructions (since you never read them anyway) and start playing the game. The game seems a little funky but you play it anyway. Some dumb advertisement keeps on popping up and getting in the way. You ignore it. The game is easy. Game over. You move on, but you remember the dumb ad.
Welcome to advergaming which is the insertion of a paid advertisement in a video game; the game itself can be found online via a download or a streaming video or off line in a software based game. Some advertisements have sponsors with the sponsor’s name and logo on the banner of the game. Other ads are hidden in the game itself in a subliminal fashion.
The video game industry (also known as interactive entertainment) is huge with 2005 sales exceeding $7.1 Billion. Gamers play a game for an average of 25 minutes while 42% of gamers play online video games one or more hours per week. This makes for a captive audience for advertisers.
Advertisers have set up special websites just for gamers where different online games can be played along with the advertising messages. Games have also proven to be a great tool to drive traffic to traditional websites; in this case, there is advertising to get people to play the game that has the sponsor’s advertising in the game. The US Army created a video game which was a recruiting tool and a game all in one. All is fair in the advergaming world.
Product placement is a common technique in the video game industry. Examples include a soft drink such as Coca-Cola, which could be consumed by the hero in a video game. A BMX bike race video game might feature a Kawasaki BMX bike. A skate boarding game could include the hero Tony Hawk using a certain brand of skate board as well as wearing clothes from a specific manufacturer.
Game players are 61% male with an average age of 18; this demographic spends more time playing games than watching television. This is a very sought after demographic that has high discretionary income and lots of free time. Advergaming is a perfect way to connect with this audience.
John Bradley Jackson
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