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The New Ad Game

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  • The New Ad Game

    Source and more reading (two more pages)
    Last summer, while tracking some of the world's most notorious cyberterrorists through Southeast Asia, Adam Warner noticed something peculiar: the soft neon glow of a Coca-Cola machine. In everyday life, Warner wouldn't have given the vending machine much thought. But this wasn't everyday life. He was a secret agent on a reconnaissance mission—in the videogame Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. He chuckled at the cinéma vérité, then slunk back into the murky world of international espionage. The encounter lasted just seconds, but what Warner, a 26-year-old graphic artist, considered a cool new design element, Massive Inc. counted as an ad view.

    There are at least 132 million gamers 13 years and older in the United States alone, says a Yankee Group report. That's a lot of eyeballs. And they belong to some of advertising's most coveted consumers—men aged 18 to 34. According to ratings giant Nielsen, young men play an average of 12.5 hours of videogames each week (compared with less than 10 spent in front of the TV). Last year the market for advertising to those gamers inside their virtual worlds totaled about $56 million. Now—thanks to new ad-serving technology, next-generation gaming consoles and new metrics to measure both—Boston-based technology research and consulting firm Yankee Group projects the in-game market will explode to $733 million by 2010. It's a mix of demographics and technology that has the likes of DaimlerChrysler salivating. The company has launched ads in games like Lara Croft's Tomb Raider Legend and will do the same in the coming "Desperate Housewives." "Will it lead to a sale?" asks Vanessa Kelley, manager of Cross Brand Gaming for DaimlerChrysler. "We don't know yet. But we want to find out."

    In-game ads have been around for nearly 20 years, but two problems kept the market from growing very large. Before 2005, ads were "static," meaning they were built into the code when the game left the factory and couldn't be changed or updated. Game makers were missing out on at least 50 percent of ad dollars that came from time-sensitive promotions for products like new movie releases. The second problem was metrics. How would advertisers know if a gamer ever proceeded to level 10 and actually saw the ad they had paid for?
    I don't know about other people, but when I'm racing down the streets at 120mph, I rarely (if at all) see the ad for Cingular (in the NFS:MW PC game).
    How'd I get so white and nerdy?

  • #2
    Re: The New Ad Game

    Here's a Star-Bulletin piece on the racing game previously noted, which is partially set in Hawaii and includes ad placeholders (despite Hawaii's billboard law). And the piece you reference (syndicated from Forbes) notes in its lead graf that Hawaiian Airlines is one of the brands buying virtual ad space.

    I think, right now, advertisers are just jumping at any new opportunity to reach new (or, rather, previously lost) eyeballs, and will take raw numbers over demographics. Obviously gamers aren't just kids in their parents' basements, and can be folks with more attractive stats... but while advertising another game or piece of technology would make sense, and even Coca Cola, I'm not so sure travel services or Lexus automobiles are the best match.

    I like this quote, explaining how ads won't work in all games:
    "There is a lot of swordplay in Dungeons & Dragons games, but you won't see us putting a Remington sword in there," sniffs Wim Stocks, an executive vice president at Atari. "D&D fans would react violently."
    Last edited by pzarquon; July 24, 2006, 08:06 AM.


    • #3
      Re: The New Ad Game

      Originally posted by pzarquon
      [...]I think, right now, advertisers are just jumping at any new opportunity to reach new (or, rather, previously lost) eyeballs,[...]
      This isn't directly aimed at gamers but during bathroom breaks gamers can take aim at these ads! Male gamers, that is! Too funny!