The massive global gaming industry – with over $57 billion in revenues according to DFC Intelligence – is becoming an important focus for media planning agencies. Recent research shows in-game ads increased purchase intent, brand recommendation, brand rating and engagement metrics all across the board. The studies were conducted by a company known as Initiative that looked at 3 case studies and information was also derived from Avenue Razorfish’s 2010 Outlook Report. Read more after the jump.
Social and mobile media marketing are becoming key parts of media planning budgets but it is important to note the difference between developing mobile applications and mobile media marketing spend. According to an Outlook Report by Avenue Razorfish, in-game advertising in casual, console and social games, can be incorporated with mobile and other forms of marketing to create cross-platform campaigns. In-game elements and separate platforms can be unified – examples of which can be seen on Facebook as most social games use Facebook as a core platform and can quickly link to their fan pages. Maturation of the gaming markets, specifically social games, will allow for in-game advertising to be integrated with other efforts and not treated as a separate silo.
Apart from increasing brand awareness and purchase intent, in-game ads trigger users to more readily engage with sponsored media. According to 85 studies from Microsoft’s in-game ad serving company for PC and Xbox 360 called Massive, in-game ads were found to increase purchase intent by 24%, brand recommendation by 23% and overall brand rating by 32%.
Initiative’s recent report on the global gaming phenomenon analyzed its use of in-game advertising for 3 of its clients’ campaigns: Kia Soul, Dr Pepper, and the Lionsgate’s family film: The Spy Next Door. Kia Soul has sleek design and gadgetry and Initiative’s plans to position the car as a young and different car culminated with the production of branded mobile apps for iPhone and Android, Facebook presence and in-game advertising. Ad deals with games like NBA Live 09 lifted purchase intent by 33 percent and combined with Xbox LIVE dashboard the result was a staggering 96 percent. The results are stunning and in stark contrast to the Auto-related average of 18%.
Dr Pepper’s goal to target gamers ages 18 to 24 was met by serving in-game ads for a week in Skate 2. Likelihood to purchase went up 10% despite strong metrics in this space anyways. Lionsgate, on the other hand, had a unique goal of engaging child and parents to promote its family film ‘The Spy Next Door’. Intiative found an online world called Poptropica with over 75 million registered units to be a proper destination for the film’s advertising initiatives. Instead of taking a traditional approach to billboard related in-game advertising, Initiative created a branded house on the Island as well as quests that integrated with game play. This campaign also saw great results and performed 30% better than average entertainment advertisers on Poptropica.
What does this mean for social games? We have seen examples of non-profits working with companies like Zynga to launch virtual goods initiatives on Farmville for raising money for Haiti. Asides from branded virtual goods, there are also opportunities for brands to incorporate within the gameplay such as RPG shorelines. How brands will work with social gaming companies to create unified campaigns that leverage in-game interactivity, social recommendations and virtual goods remains to be seen. What other ways do you guys see in-game advertising working in social games?