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Study Indicates In-Game Ads Actually Work 78

Posted by Zonk
from the subliminal-videogaming dept.
The Next Generation site is running a piece discussing new findings about in-game advertising. The results of collaboration between an ad firm and a research company show that ads in games are actually having an effect on players. Double Fusion's involvement in the study throws the results into question. Take these statistics with a grain of salt: "75% of gamers engage with at least one ad per minute across most, but not all, game types; 81% of gamers engage at least every other minute. Less-cluttered ads are three times as effective at garnering gamer notice than ads that are either cluttered or within cluttered environments. While both contribute positively to ad engagement, placement of the ad in the primary camera plane (eye-level) is more important than large size ads. Not all ads are created equal - dynamic billboards, around-game interstitials, sponsorships, and interactive product placements all offer different levels of user engagement and pervasiveness in the game" Eidos certainly thinks so; Kotaku notes that they've signed up with the same company featured in this study.
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Study Indicates In-Game Ads Actually Work

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  • The study doesn't say what games they've played, only that it included racing and sports games, the genres most likely to include ads. FPS, action, RTS or RPG games generally don't have ads, and if they do, they'll be either subtle (A can of branded soda on a table) or rare (Billboards).

    That being said, I wonder how effective these ads actually are. Billboards on the road might work, but when you're driving at over 200 kph, you have significantly less time to check the scenery.
  • Engagement... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday July 23, 2007 @07:09PM (#19963091) Journal

    75% of gamers engage with at least one ad per minute across most, but not all, game types; 81% of gamers engage at least every other minute

    And it goes on.

    So my question: How does this justify calling them "effective"?

    I realize that marketing thinks that no PR is bad PR, but in the real world, I'm not convinced. That gamer might be "engaging" with that particular ad by firing rockets at it, "teabagging" it, or otherwise using it to vent their rage at that particular product, or at the very idea of sticking an ad in the middle of a game.

    But seriously, I want everyone to go back and think about those "Punch the monkey and win!" web ads from the 90's. Do you even remember what it was an ad for? What about the popups for... some Internet camera? It's certainly not going to make me go out of my way to buy the product. It MAY make me subconsciously more likely to notice the product. But if it ever gets conscious -- if I ever see a physical product, for example, and remember it having something to do with "punch the monkey" -- I'll probably punch the product. Maybe physically -- right there on the supermarket shelf.

    In other words -- I strongly suspect the lighter ads are much more likely to be things we'd want to buy. If you create a giant, animated, flashing billboard and stick it in the middle of a medieval dungeon, then no, that's where I take the game back to the store, claim it "wouldn't work on my computer", and ask for my money back.

    In another study, parents are more likely to "engage" with children who say "Are we there yet?" every five seconds than children who shut the fuck up and look out the window.

    • In all actuality, you might see certain companies embrace this.

      I can honestly say that the "Will It Blend" people would be totally open to sponsoring a game development initiative where one of the bosses was a big blender monster that constantly screamed "WILL YOU BLEND!"

      The trick is to advertise in a self depreciating manner. If you know that players might respond negatively to your ads being all over a game, you could easily attempt to have an element of the game be created for purposeful abuse that had y
      • by chrish (4714)
        AW CRAP, it's already taking over my brain. I totally saw "... but Red Bull vs. Blue ..." there.
    • ...paid you for that teabagging comment, didn't they? I think I'll go have a mug of hot tasty Lipton's tea now.
    • Marketing for beginners 101.

      Product recognition... which brands do you recognize... this leads to comfort and purchases when there are two competing products.
      Misplaced quality belief... when you see Tide vs No-Name which makes better detergent?

      These things are produced with advertising, not with customer education... that is marketing effectiveness and yes it's totally fking evil.
      • What I don't get is why they think it's effective. For example:

        Misplaced quality belief... when you see Tide vs No-Name which makes better detergent?

        If I don't care (and I don't), then whichever is cheaper. If I do care, then whichever actually performs better. If I don't have the time to test myself, I go read Consumer's Reports.

        I'm unusual, I know, but I really have to wonder if anyone actually consciously says "Oh, that's Tide, it must be better."

        Product recognition... which brands do you recognize..

  • ...lower the prices of games? With new games costing $90-$110 here in Australia I'd love to see that pushed down, and I'll accept in-game ads to do it.

    The cynic in me says it won't happen though, and none of teh savings will be passed on to consumers.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      $90-$110 for a game? Wow, that's crazy. Just about every Wii game I've seen is $CDN 60. XBox360 and PS3 are $70. According to the exchange rage on xe.com, that comes out to $AUD 64.83 and $AUD 75.65 respecitively. You guys are getting majorly ripped off. Even accounting for the extra shipping costs, I could not see those prices making anywhere close to sense. Sometimes I wonder why AU and EU get so screwed over on prices of tech products. It's not like they have no population, or interest in the prod
      • by Profound (50789)
        Back in 2000 when our dollar was 0.50 US$ a $50US game = $100 AU. Our price-point was set.

        Now with the US dollar in free-fall, we're close to 0.90 US but our games are still at $100, meaning we're paying US $90 for a game.

        I guess the importers are keeping the profit from the US dollar tanking, whereas that in theory should be passed onto consumers.
        • Don't think it's much different in Europe! EUR:USD is close to 1.4:1 now, but we still pay the same for games as we did a few years ago when it was closer to 0.8:1.

          Fortunately, the UK are just 'round the corner, and while the GBP didn't change much towards the EUR (still about 0.6:1, while being about 2:1 to the USD), surprisingly there games can be dirt cheap (got current games from play.com for about 30-40 EUR, compared to the 50-60 they cost here a significant difference).

          Why should globalization only wo
        • by chrish (4714)
          We've got the same problem in Canada; today $1 CAD is about $0.96 US, but books (for example) are still priced 33% - 50% higher than the US price. For example, the omnibus edition of His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman (chosen because that's what I'm reading now, and because it was released recently) lists for $21.99 US on amazon.com, or $27.99 CAD on amazon.ca... at a proper exchange rate, it would be $22.81 CAD. When the Canadian dollar goes above $1.00 US again, nobody's going to adjust their pricing
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            However, when they are selling to the American people, they are getting less per copy ($10 five years ago is worth more than what $10 is now). I don't think the price of books in the US has gone up lately, even though their dollar is tanking. As far as games go, aren't many/most games companies (apart from EA/MS) located in Japan? I think the Yen is doing pretty well, so that might explain why the US dollar seems to have no effect on the price of games. Then again, we all know that game prices are based
      • by Talgrath (1061686)
        You forget, they're shipping to a place that has far fewer people buying products, from talking to my Australian buddies, almost every luxury product is more expensive than in other countries. That being said, video games in particular get boned by Australia by their draconic video game laws, which often involve jumping through a lot of hoops just to get permission to sell your game in Australia.
    • by typidemon (729497)
      Let's assume that a game has at least 10 hours of entertainment on average. That means each hour of entertainment costs you about $10/hour.

      Considering that many games have far more than 10 hours of entertainment - I've probably got about 500 hours logged on Dawn of War, City Life. Hell, I'd have thousands (if not tens of thousands) of hours in Quake and Tribes - that makes it a pretty cheap form of entertainment.

      • Last night I bypassed my small collection of games purchased new and instead picked up my copy of Sneak King. As a sad reminder to how cheap I can be, the "Used" sticker was still on the case of this one. After 4 hours of play, I only powered off because I had work today and someone has to be here to read slashdot. Even if I never put in that game again, I'm satisfied with the $2.99USD that I spent on the game.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday July 23, 2007 @07:10PM (#19963103) Homepage
    Of course an ad agency is going to get a study that says their ads work, even if they had to pay for a dozen first that said they don't.

    All I really care about is the pervasiveness of ads in games, and from that standpoint the veracity of these numbers is much less important than what the people putting them in games think. And I'm not convinced that even if a dozen studies came out saying in-game ads don't work that they'd actually stop. There's a lot of vested interest in putting ads in games, and while they will surely embrace this study, they'd probably be highly skeptical of a study that said the opposite. How many studies have shown that people tend to completely ignore web-based ads, not even registering their existence a lot of the time? And are there less web-based ads? No, because the reality is that they probably do work overall, and certainly the people putting ads on websites aren't going to take the risk of stopping.

    Which I guess makes my only point "more ads are coming regardless of what studies say".
    • How many studies have shown that people tend to completely ignore web-based ads, not even registering their existence a lot of the time? And are there less web-based ads? No, because the reality is that they probably do work overall, and certainly the people putting ads on websites aren't going to take the risk of stopping.

      Everyone playing the game knows the score. Web ads don't work if you don't do your due diligence. Certain demographics respond differently to web ads. Techies hate shotgun ads, the less enlightened really love them. B2B ads perform much better than B2C ads, if only because business people are actively searching for an answer to a problem while organic results give consumers the references they need.

      I've never heard anyone complain about an ad they liked. Just ads that weren't relevant.

  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Monday July 23, 2007 @07:10PM (#19963105)

    When I play games, I notice the ads. How can you not? When my secret agent runs head first into a Comcast van, how does one not notice?

    So yes, I have no doubt that 81% of players or whatever notice their insipid ads. The question is, do gamers care, and are they more likely to purchase an advertiser's service due to the ad? There is such a thing as bad publicity.

    Personally I've never made a buying decision off an ad in a game. In fact, they annoy me, and when I see the product/brand in real life I am reminded of that annoyance. I would say I'm *less* likely to choose a product over its competitor because of the annoyance it has caused me while I'm trying to relax.

    Secondly, are in-game ads really worth it for game developers? My ire towards in-game ads are less directed at the advertisers than the game companies responsible for producing the mess in the first place. My opinion of EA and Ubisoft is decreasing very rapidly due to their rampant participation in this money grab. I am less likely to purchase their games, and in fact I have stopped purchasing EA games completely as a matter of principle. How much are advertisers giving them, and does it balance out with loss of customers like myself?

    • by lazyl (619939)
      It's about brand awareness. For markets in which there are few differences between competing products (as far as the customer is aware) then the more exposure consumers have to a brand the more likely they will be to choose it when facing a decision between a bunch of options that they have no way to otherwise evaluate. Like what brand of hard drive or memory to choose (unless you've had experience with different brands there's lots of conflicting opinions out there about which is best). Doesn't have to b
      • by p0tat03 (985078)

        I agree. I always do my research for large purchases, but for a bottle of hand soap I certainly don't spend hours going over studies and papers and whatnot. That being said, I do feel a negative response when I see products that have been advertised to me in an extremely annoying manner, whether it's through flashing banners on the Internet, in-game ads, or merely a poorly conceived ad that annoys me to no end every time I see it on TV. For small products that don't need research, and where I am faced with

  • by eln (21727) * on Monday July 23, 2007 @07:10PM (#19963109) Homepage
    Sure, they used eye tracking software to note that the players actually looked at the ads, but they didn't use microphones to record the players cursing at the ads as they looked at them. If an ad clashes with the scenery, it's going to draw my eye. That doesn't mean I am thinking positively about the ad or its content, and it certainly doesn't mean I'm going to buy any of their crap.

    They should compare these ads to just flashing random brightly colored crap on the screen, and see which one gets more "engagement".
  • by bigtangringo (800328) on Monday July 23, 2007 @07:14PM (#19963135) Homepage
    I blocked the ads in 2142 at the firewall before I even finished installing the game. I'm sorry but you're not advertising in a game I bought, on which you maintain a stranglehold with ranked servers, EA.
  • STUDY (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    people are greeedy money grubbing asshole shit eaters, fuck people
  • Battlefield 2142: (Score:2, Informative)

    by mikeasu (1025283)
    Been playing BF2142 since January - remember the controversy with the in-game billboards for this one? Honestly, in this game, since the IGA started, I think I've noticed the ads twice. Just too much going on for me to take note of the ad. Maybe it'll work subconsciously or something. Maybe it says something about the game - I'm paying enough attention to what my squad is doing, trying to work as a team - I think the game does work well as far as encouraging teamwork - so well I don't have time to read
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, this survey is good for something.

    If 81% of all players see ads every other minute, 19% of all players are campers!
  • Eidos certainly thinks so; Kotaku notes that they've signed up with the same company featured in this study
    Doesn't look much like a scientific objective perspective. But anyway I never heard anyone talk about commercials that didn't affect people. The annoying ads might as well sell beter.
    Sure, in-game advertisements can be annoying, but as the price of game development grows and the game-playing audience expands, the practice just makes more and more sense for everybody involved
    Come on, as if the gam
  • >See advert in game

    >Take notice of product

    >Remember the basic principle of if the advert gets me to buy the product I'm validating the technique and therefore causing more ads in the future

    >Makes note to avoid in any reasonable way buying that product

    I know my thought process isn't usual, but if more people thought like me and tried to actively avoid products that were advertised in places they didn't like to see adverts, then the adverts would start to disappear or lessen. Apparently trying to
    • You are not alone. When confronted with an annoying ad in a piece of software I actually paid for, I avoid the product like the plague. However, I can't help but patronize Ammu-Nation when playing GTA3. They seem like a reputable purveyor of fine firearms.
    • The problem is, it's like spam.

      In other words, you don't matter, because even if your attitude was the usual one, they probably need less than 1% of the people looking at these ads to respond in order to justify what it's costing them.

      Now, what does work is, boycotting the game. Here, if they sell 20% less copies, or 50% less copies, even if the other 50% are buying Coke/Pepsi/BonziBuddy/Viagra/whatever like mad, the game company itself might decide to stop selling ads -- whereas even if your method worked,
    • I respond like that aswell. If an ad annoys me I try and avoid the product. Most people don't get that if they keep giving money to something/one the annoying something/one (commercial, store, begger) will keep coming back for more. Then again, maybe most people do understand, but just can't control their impulses.
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7NO@SPAMkc.rr.com> on Monday July 23, 2007 @07:55PM (#19963545) Homepage
    They mention 75% "engage" in-game advertisements, but dont define what engage is. If I'm playing a baseball game and hit a ball to the wall, I may be "engaging" the advertisement on the wall but I'm watching the ball. In racing games I "engage" billboards as a way of knowing where I am on the track (2 more turns and I finish the lap, etc). Maybe I am atypical but my memory of the advertisement is usualy more trained to its big square and blue than what it actaully says. How effective they are is questionable at best, advertising that I "notice" to the point of remembering the product usually affects me negatively, I will generally go out of my way to avoid it. That said, real billboard and signs in racing and sports games can add to the realisim, id much rather see a powerade ad than a Slurm soda one (unless im playing Blurnsball) I find fake ads more distracting than real ones.
  • All the games with ads should be modded to allow graffiti. Cover them up.

    Here's another thought. Let's see if Adbusters can get some ads in these games...
  • In other news, no Pointy Haired Bosses actually believe that anyone is actually viewing any in game ads 'cuz there's no Alexa plug-in on any consoles [slashdot.org]
  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Monday July 23, 2007 @08:30PM (#19963869)
    ... or cost $10 max. Don't piss me off by putting ads in a game that I paid $40-$50 for. Any in-game ad in an expensive game will make me want to avoid the product they're advertising.
    • by rob1980 (941751)
      Any in-game ad in an expensive game will make me want to avoid the product they're advertising.

      Not to mention the game itself...
    • by Achromus (810984)
      Remember kids, if you watch ads, you should get free stuff! - Morgan Webb
  • I read Cmdr Taco's rant an hour before lunch today and all I could think about was wanting to eat tacos. He should get an endorsement deal with Taco Bell. The other ads on slashdot don't really hit home. I've never clicked on them, but if there was an add for savings from taco bell or some kind of food, I'd be much more likely to. Think about it, all nerds have to eat. And just about all nerds want to eat quickly to resume what with the coding and such. He could even endorse a line of Taco accessories. Thin
  • I'm amazed at all of the posts suggesting that ads don't work. An advertisement is successful even if it only makes you ever so slightly more familiar with a product. You don't even have to read it, and whether you want to or not your brain is going to remember something seemingly insignificant about the ad like color or general shape. And the next time around your brain will remember a tiny bit more, and so on. Then you'll see the product somewhere else in the 'real' world and your brain is gonna make the
    • by Gregb05 (754217)

      Those PEPSI ads won't get me.

      An advertisement is successful even if it only makes you ever so slightly more familiar with a product.
    • by MarkAyen (726688)
      I'm not at all surprised that they work. Remember, the average Slashdot reader is not the typical gamer/Internet user/consumer. Think for a moment about spam. The reason spam is so common is that it works. Clueless clods actually buy the crap they're selling, which leads to more spammers and more spam. And everyone hates spam! The same logic holds for in-game advertising. Maybe 95% of gamers won't be influenced by in-game ads (or will be negatively influenced), but a small but significant number will
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:30PM (#19964775)
    First of all, I can't help but think the companies releasing these studies aren't doing much more than ensuring future business for themselves.

    What exactly constitutes exposure to advertising? Let's take any EA game plastered with marketing crap. Even menu screens are promoting one product for another. Let's take one of the FIFA games. I decide I want to customize my players so I spend a few minutes equipping my players with some sneakers. Those sneakers happen to be Adidas or Nike sneakers. Does this count as exposure? Suppose I'm camping a spot in an FPS and there just so happens to be a billboard facing my direction. Does that count as exposure?

    The point is that the marketing company could care less. What they want are metrics that look good. They don't care how effective the marketing actually is, nor is there any real way of knowing. But on paper it looks good and so developers fall for it. Not that they care, because it's extra advertising income for them.

    Less-cluttered ads are three times as effective at garnering gamer notice than ads that are either cluttered or within cluttered environments.


    I find this particularly troubling. Does this mean we're going to get less realistic environments? We can't have overly detailed environments if there's a risk of advertising blending into the background. I predict, however, we're going to end up with the gaming equivalent of pop up banners. Advertisers will just have these big crap banners floating around in mid air. And I expect the quality of these ads to be utter crap. In all the years of advertising on the web 95% of it still looks like garbage. We're going to be stuck with LowerMyBills banners in our games.

    I also think it's naive to think that the cost of our games will drop once advertising is introduced. Developers and publishers aren't looking to introduce advertising in order to make the same amount of money they make now. This will be like cable and satellite television. You'll pay as much, if not more than you pay now AND you get the added bonus of advertising. Advertising will only become more intrusive and unlike browsers there will be no way to block any of it. And lets not forget that our games are going to be sanitized and inoffensive, in order to appease advertisers. And games will be compromised in order to appeal to desired demographics.
    • by HBI (604924)
      Logically, the end result of this is another 1984-style video game crash.

      It couldn't come soon enough.
    • by Alex777 (1113887)
      I think dev studios (maybe not publishers; EA, I'm looking at you) are aware of the impact poorly placed ads have in their game, and try to avoid it. I just can't see in-game advertising reaching the level of saturation that you describe.

      Whenever an otherwise fine game ships that is significantly hampered by advertising, the resultant uproar (and consequently, poor sales) will cause others to think twice about selling out for a relatively small advertising check. The lost sales probably won't make it
  • Because every game featuring ads will be pirated!
    Since you publisher-fellows have obviously chosen to make your revenue via an alternative method, I'm sure you won't mind that I refuse to pay for your games that have ads in them.

    Thanks! They really do work!
  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Monday July 23, 2007 @11:12PM (#19965089)
    An interesting twist is that Transformers has in-game ads by Helio. Now, they're static ads - in fact, in the copyright page, they list Helio as a trademark.

    The uselessness of it is that if you're not in the US, wtf is Helio? I can't buy a Helio phone here in Canada, and I'm sure, neither can anyone else outside of the US. Sure the largest market will understand it, but it sure will date itself quick when the phones they advertise is gone. The only reason I know who Helio is was from the million posts on sites like Gizmodo. So no matter how much "eye time" Helio gets, it's for naught...
    • An interesting twist is that Transformers has in-game ads by Helio.

      Damn. And I was so looking forward to playing it, since it's the only way I'll get to hear Frank Welker as Megatron.

    • Sure the largest market will understand it, but it sure will date itself quick when the phones they advertise is gone.
      But in the end, that doesn't really matter. Most of the playtime for the game will be in the first month or few after the release. As long as the ads are relevant during that time, they work well enough.
  • by PhoenixOne (674466) on Monday July 23, 2007 @11:16PM (#19965111)

    If you honestly hate in-game advertising so much that you stop buying games with it, then the big publishers will just make more games that people who don't hate ads like (Bejeweled-7 and The Sims 19).

    I don't know much about marketing, but I wonder if this is the reason why 99% of all broadcast TV sucks (too hard to advertise to people who like smart TV).

  • by cliffski (65094) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @03:57AM (#19966557) Homepage
    Yet another study, funded by an ADVERTISING company saying that adverts work. They trot one out every 3 months or so. Its bullshit. And the facts remain gamers do not want ads. I will not buy any game with ads in, and skipped on BF 2142 as a result. When will the guys in suits get this into their thick skulls?
  • It's been discussed here that people hate in-game ads and how much, and how those numbers just reflect awareness but not how much said ads are intrusive. That's actually very critical.

    An intrusive ad is a negative experience. Now, with more and more brands trying to sell with the "feel good" message instead of trying to convince you they're the better product (i.e. the "value" you get from us is based on you being cooler and better, or just that we make you feel better than the competition), it is outright
    • I agree that most advertisers have been pushing the lifestyle message. However, I completely disagree that they're trying to convey a "feel good" message. Most aren't trying to make us feel good, they're trying to make us feel inadequate so that we rush out to buy their products. And most advertising isn't anything but obnoxious insistent. Marketing people are constantly trying to devise ways to cram more advertising down our throats, what makes you think it would be any different in games?

      What these compan
      • Tough cookie that game, but games in the future have one advantage over games in the past: The ad you want to place could have been there before and the media used to present them are now, in a world where resources are scarce, reused. I.e., how about creating a shelter from an old ad billboard? If you have a catchy ad jingle, some old tape you find could have the information you use right after a few seconds of the jingle that was taped as well when the information was taped.

        There could be a derelict movie
    • My first exposure to in-game advertising was WipEout XL / 2097 on the PS1. The game had ads for Red Bull alongside the track.

      Did it work? Hell yes. I mail ordered some Red Bull before it was commonly available in the USA, because I was intrigued to find out what it was, and the game was so cool.
  • Yeah, they actually work great.... at annoying me
  • In game ads are as effective as billboard ads that you drive by on the streets.... which is not very on the surface. But anyone in marketing knows that product/brand recognition makes a difference. How often do you consider looking at/buying a product you've never heard of? Not as much as a product/brand you remember seeing before.
  • Remember back when people used to provide "cracked" copies of Kazaa with the spyware removed and the IP addresses of their ad servers blocked? I expect the warez groups will start doing that sort of thing too. As well as a no-CD patch, there will be a no-ads patch.

    Ads in games worked for about five minutes when it all first started. The first Tony Hawk's game had a descent soundtrack, with interesting and less well known bands that suited the game. The last FIFA/Need For Speed games had a load of manufactur

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