Direct response becoming normalized in video game ads

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Purina has several branded online games
Purina has several branded online games

Many brands are looking to leverage the passion and enthusiasm that consum­ers — especially males age 18–34 — have for video games, with campaigns both in and around game play.

“Right now it's primarily a branding medium, so we're selling on CPM, not on any sort of performance metrics,” said Alison Lange Engel, marketing director at Massive, an in-game advertising company purchased by Microsoft in 2006.

Many of the ads found in video games are simply virtual representations of real- world billboards. Despite worries about interrupting the gaming experience, some clients are willing to experiment with campaigns in which gamers inter­act with the game to get a promotion, Engel added.

“We're getting closer to interactive ads. We have new forms of ad creative that pro­vide gamers with sponsored cheat codes,” she said. The codes enable, for example, additional weapons or extended health.

Massive primarily works with Micro­soft's Xbox 360 console and Xbox Live online service and Windows-based PC games. The connectivity built into these platforms allows for more marketing flex­ibility, Engel said. “We can do an ad for a movie opening one week and six weeks later start promoting the DVD release of that same movie,” he added. “We also do geographic targeting.”

Michael Dowling, CEO of Interpret LLC, which helps advertisers plan, test and measure in-game strategies, said that as in-game advertising gains trac­tion, brands and game makers alike are becoming more savvy when it comes to positioning messages within games.

“We found that optimized placements of billboards in a racing game has actu­ally made a lot of these programs more effective,” he said.

But gamers are more than the hardcore variety playing Halo. Jonathan Epstein, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Double Fusion, said that building performance-based direct response is much easier in the casual gaming space.

Double Fusion is currently running a program for Purina's Friskies brand on several casual gaming sites where players are cats swiping at butterflies. “The real key is that the brand does not interfere with game play, so we're seeing dramatically high click-through rates,” Epstein said.

Epstein said there may be bigger oppor­tunities with games — for example, in online lobbies, where people find oppo­nents with whom to compete.

Direct response becoming normalized in video game ads

Many brands are looking to leverage the passion and enthusiasm that consum­ers — especially males age 18–34 — have for video games, with campaigns both in and around game play.

“Right now it's primarily a branding medium, so we're selling on CPM, not on any sort of performance metrics,” said Alison Lange Engel, marketing director at Massive, an in-game advertising company purchased by Microsoft in 2006.

Many of the ads found in video games are simply virtual representations of real- world billboards. Despite worries about interrupting the gaming experience, some clients are willing to experiment with campaigns in which gamers inter­act with the game to get a promotion, Engel added.

“We're getting closer to interactive ads. We have new forms of ad creative that pro­vide gamers with sponsored cheat codes,” she said. The codes enable, for example, additional weapons or extended health.

Massive primarily works with Micro­soft's Xbox 360 console and Xbox Live online service and Windows-based PC games. The connectivity built into these platforms allows for more marketing flex­ibility, Engel said. “We can do an ad for a movie opening one week and six weeks later start promoting the DVD release of that same movie,” he added. “We also do geographic targeting.”

Michael Dowling, CEO of Interpret LLC, which helps advertisers plan, test and measure in-game strategies, said that as in-game advertising gains trac­tion, brands and game makers alike are becoming more savvy when it comes to positioning messages within games.

“We found that optimized placements of billboards in a racing game has actu­ally made a lot of these programs more effective,” he said.

But gamers are more than the hardcore variety playing Halo. Jonathan Epstein, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Double Fusion, said that building performance-based direct response is much easier in the casual gaming space.

Double Fusion is currently running a program for Purina's Friskies brand on several casual gaming sites where players are cats swiping at butterflies. “The real key is that the brand does not interfere with game play, so we're seeing dramatically high click-through rates,” Epstein said.

Epstein said there may be bigger oppor­tunities with games — for example, in online lobbies, where people find oppo­nents with whom to compete.

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