Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In Game Advertising

The concept of In Game Advertising (IGA) refers to the usage of computer/playstation games for promotion of brands and products. It is similar to the product placement we have already seen in movies. According to reports, the total budget of IGA in the year 2005 was $56 mn, but is expected to grow to a figure in excess of $700 mn by the year 2010. As these numbers suggest, it might be a nice thing to venture into. It is obviously targeted at the gamers who are increasingly spending more time playing games than watching television. Also, there has been criticism of this technique calling it "pervasive and greedy", as it reaches the customers at a point when they do not want to be reached.

Static IGA
These are messages which are hard coded into the game and cannot be removed or altered. They can appear as billboards within the game, posters on the walls or even as obstacles to overcome (In Splinter Cell:Chaos theory a glowing AXE deodorant ad comes as an obstacle for the player to overcome). Especially useful in single player role playing games (in the league of Tomb raider or GTA etc.), these advertisements are assured of a prime position and sufficient time in front of the player.
Sprite in Splinter Cell

Dynamic IGA
This is a new innovation in the field of advertising within games, wherein the geographical location, date/time of the game being played and key events occurring around the world at that time decide which advertisement to place in a particular location. It is prevalent in online games wherein the cookies will send over the geographical location and the date and time to the game engine located on the internet. On one hand, this might be termed as pervasive but on the other hand it is especially beneficial to the companies making these games. "If a person is standing infront of a brick wall looking at advertisements, then we know for sure that the level was made too hard" says a game developer in THQ.Dynamic IGA in SWAT 4

Online Presence
Permanent online games (like Ragnarok, Second life, World of Warcraft etc) can persistently have advertisements in various parts of the game. These games get a major chunk of their revenues from this kind of advertising, as people registering for the game is deliberately kept cheap so as to ensure maximum popularity. They have all the properties of Dynamic IGA but a lot more flexible as the concept of the game is such that advertisements can even be placed on personal choices (like google ads).
Seether T-Shirts in Second Life

Good or Bad???
I as a person, owuld be horrified if I came to know that the kinds of games I play, the duration of me playing them etc is the kind of information which the game designers can have at their fingertips. Don't ask me why, there're some things which people like keeping close to themselves, as private!
But being a marketing enthusiast, I can appreciate the ingenuity of this new medium of advertising. No wonder, various games are looking out for sponsors to be placed in their games. World favorites like FIFA, GTA, NFS etc are selling their spots at a premium ensuring a prime spot to the companies in front of a large audience. Moreover, these companies get a chance to be seen by a huge chunk of gamers across the globe who are (increasingly) turning away from television.

All in all, In Game Advertising is here to stay, and you better get used to it!!!!