Turning Play Time Into Sales Time

As Young Twenty-somethings Abandon Television for Video Games, Advertisers Struggle to Find Ever More New Ways to Keep Their Attention

News | P.C. Prebensen | October 2006

Advertisers have over the last couple of years been collectively scratching their well-groomed heads.  Their ability to reach certain demographics have been shrinking as the information age has progressed and the young have turned away from traditional media outlets to populate the virtual world of digitized domains.  How do you reach a person who spends most of their time inside the action packed world of video games, download their TV shows commercial free, and purchase music and podcasts online instead of listening to the Radio?

The answer was always rather obvious.  The concept of in-game advertising has been around for a while.  The Playstation One (PSX) gaming console, launched on the mass-market in 1994, revolutionized gaming in many ways, including being the first system with in-game product advertisement, pioneered in the title Wipeout 2019, which was sponsored by Red Bull in its entirety.

Since then in-game advertising has been a more or less common phenomena in gaming.  The problem for advertisers, until recently however, was that the advertisement had to be written into the program code and so was unchangeable, therefore earned the name static advertising.

In recent years consoles and PC’s have gone online and, according to a survey by comScore Media Metrix, 84% of gamers have broadband Internet access. Therefore gamers tend to stay online throughout the gaming experience, so suppliers have developed ways to deliver advertising during game play. Called dynamically delivered advertising, it translates into ever-changing game play as even your older games will constantly be updated with fresh advertising content.  In theory the ads could change with every time you play.    That’s the idea anyways.

Even though 37% of heavy gamers (people who play more than 11 hours per week) seem to think in-game advertising make the games reflect the real world better, only 27% of lighter gamers (people who lay less than 11 hours per week) seem to think advertising has a positive impact on the gaming experience. When 75% of gamers are of the lighter variety it might be questionable how much impact dynamic in-game ads will have.

Mitch Davis, CEO of in-game advertiser Massive Inc, feels differently; "video games are increasingly seen as an important way for advertisers and marketers to reach the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, a group in which many have switched off television" he said.

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