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Expand Your Brand With Advergames

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If you know all there is about effective advertising, GREAT! I thought I did too, until I heard of Advergaming. There’s a huge buzz around this medium so I decided to do my own research and find out why so many companies are using it to reach potential customers. I remember seeing my favorite soft drink on a billboard in one of the games on a friend’s PSP but little did I know that it’s called advergaming. The game world is becoming much more real and is keeping up with our daily reality.

Introduction To Advergaming

Advergaming refers to advertising and entertainment that takes the form of video games. A video game is specifically custom-made to advertise a particular brand or product. It makes use of technological devices that bring the individual in contact with an increasingly interconnected world of communication.

Who Is It Targeting

You’ll be surprised to know that it is not just the technologically savvy teenagers who are playing video games these days. According to Nielsen’s, 30.5% of online game audiences are between the ages of 35-49 compared to the 16.6% of gamers between the ages of 25-34 and surprisingly a 14.3% are between 12-17 years of age. Many marketers were faced with a challenge when targeting the younger target market because they just skip the ads and close those ad flaunting windows as soon as they pop up. However advergaming gave marketers an innovative way of entering the lives of those hard to reach younger audiences through gaming. According to the Entertainment Software Association, women over the age of 18 make up a greater population of game players than boys 17 years and younger. In the gaming population 41% is made up of women.

Trends In Advergaming

Social Gaming, according to www.gamasutra.com, Facebook has about 500 million users and over 200 million of them are mobile users. 94% of iPhone users download apps, especially games, on a regular basis.

Games such as Farmville are played on a regular basis. There are 29,237,458 people on Facebook who like this game.  Farmville on Facebook

Mafia Wars is another one of those well-known games on Facebook, Yahoo and My Space. Mafia Wars on Facebook

World wide social gaming is an effective and engaging form of entertainment. The expanding user population and emergence of mobile gaming will increase popularity of social advergames in terms of reach and game play mechanics. When executed properly social advergaming can create customer loyalty even with those recently recruited target audiences.

Psychological Effects of Gaming

Gaming is one way to relax after work or during work breaks. Having the latest videogame in some cases boost an individuals self-esteem and status, it makes the gamer popular amongst their peers and also encourages others to go get that particular game for themselves.

It is also a popular method among advergame creators to include an element of competition in the actual game itself. For example the winner of a particular game being played will get a discount on their next purchase of the product. This is a strategy that should get gamers going and enthusiastic about playing for longer in order to get that discount.

A study by Neo Edge Networks (Agaming Advertising Network) showed that video advertising within online games is more effective than T.V advertising. T.V is losing most of its audiences to the vast activities happening online, gaming included. Consumers are most likely to positively perceive a brand using advergaming as a medium with pre, mid and post-roll video advertisements inside web-based games.

Major companies like Sony are eyeing advergaming and for good reasons. Depending on which research organisation you trust, the Yankee Group and Massive Incorporated predicts that spending on Advergaming will grow to between 732 million and 1.8 billion by 2014.

There Are Three Different Types of Advergames

The first is an advergame that will be placed on a company’s website or a special site that the company sponsors. This will attract visitors to stay on the site longer than they probably intended.

The second is your traditional advergames that are played on computers and game consoles such as your XBOX and PSP. These games have a slightly different purpose which involves attracting and recruiting a new target audience.

The third is called product placement, also known as advertising in a game, whereby the product is part of the game. Some of these games are completely free online or simply played as a commercial on a game console.

Advergaming vs In-Game Advertising

Okay! This would be confusing to somebody who just learnt about advergames. Advergaming is not the same as in-game advertising. Here’s how to differentiate the two. Earlier in the article I mentioned how advergaming was defined as a custom-made branded game.

Example: Wii Games’ Smack Down vs. Raw video games promotes the WWE brand and the game revolves around the one brand.

In-game advertising is placing an advert in one of those custom made games. The advertiser will reach it’s audiences through in-game placements such as billboards, banners or with limited time deals that are offered to the customer when starting the game.

The McDonalds logo is seen in the well-known Farmville game. However, according to simplyzesty.com, this advertisement didn’t sit well with some Farmville fans. Apparently they found it very intrusive.

Different Forms Of ‘In-Game Advertising’ Are Used:

  • Dynamic In Game - When vending machines or posters are the elements within a connected game itself.
  • Interval Ads - Displays or digital video ads shown during natural breaks in the game play e.g. between levels and between rounds of play.
  • Pre-Game - Ads shown before the game begins or while the game is loading.
  • Product Placements - Intergrating brand messaging, sponsorship or products into a game e.g. beverages and mobile phones.
  • Sponsorship - When the advertiser owns 100% share-of-voice around an existing game such as sponsorship of a tournament or sponsoring the release of exclusive content associated with a game.

Before it gets too confusing, let’s get back to advergaming. These are some examples of platforms used to play advergames.

Platforms

A game called Ultimate Fan was launched on Facebook. It lets football fans predict game scores and take quizzes on their knowledge of various NFL teams. You don’t need to be a sports or entertainment company to create your own social game.

Other Platforms Include:

  • Mobile apps like iphones & ipad
  • XBOX 360
  • PSP & PS3
  • Wii Nintendo DS Games
  • Arcade Kinect, Biotic Video game
  • Mac OS, Microsoft Windows

Benefits To The Advertising Industry

  • It cuts through the clutter in the advertising industry.
  • It’s a medium which offers information, fun and gaming experience at the same time.
  • In the gaming industry advergaming is seen by developers as the mainstream to grow development costs.
  • It gives designers an opportunity to challenge their creative ideas and take risks in game play.
  • It is a fun and memorable advertising strategy designed for consumers to engage with the advertiser’s brand.
  • Increases Web Traffic.

According to Mashable, this makes the industry have a dynamic nature because we are most likely to see new game publishers burst onto the scene.

  • It provides new possibilities for presentation of a company’s marketing messages. These Include: Sound, video, graphics and macro flash.
  • It is efficient and a faster way to reach a brand’s audiences through gaming.
  • The web-based games allow the users to play the game instantly on any computer without the need to download and install the game program, and eliminate the loading time compared to the traditional PC games.
  • Businesses can generate more profit after using game placement on the Internet as it drives more click-through rates.
  • It offers game developers the opportunity to analyze user reaction to the games, sales directed to the customer and it offers a customer relationship, allowing developers an opportunity to determine what their audiences like or dislike.

After my research on advergaming, it’s platforms, benefits and influence on social websites, plus the positive contribution to the advertising industry, I realised I was clueless as to how social networks, gaming and advertising could all be put into one sentence. But now I’ve learnt that if a really great advergame is created and gets the audience’s approval via word-of-mouth (viral marketing) it will play a huge part in increasing sales for the brand.

Advergaming is a clever way to expand your brand and it’s proven to me that advertisers should take more risks with it. With regards to advergaming those risks have paid off for many brands, providing them with better knowledge and direct insight on their audience’s activities and preferences. The opportunities in advergaming are endless and it’s benefits to a brand result in growth. It is by far the most memorable advertising strategy I’ve heard of.  It was an enlightening experience for me to learn all the new information about advergaming. Being so passionate about the advertising industry I wouldn’t have wanted to be the ‘ignorant intern’ to such an awesome advertising platform.