In-Game Advertising: Can we break the TV paradigm?

I’m ToutSuite a fake troll poster from Caltrops blah blah blah

Okay, I know in-game advertising is unpopular with some people here on Qt3 (including, I believe, Tom, at least in its present form). I’ve been thinking about it recently from the point of view of the advertiser, not so much the consumer, though there is a bit of overlap in what I’m asking in this thread.

Put simply, it appears the current model of in-game advertising hews somewhat closely to the way network TV advertising works. That is to say, advertisements for content (ie. other shows) tends to be limited to what is offered by the network on which the advertising appears. If you’re watching a ABC show, chances are you’re not going to see an ad for the new CBS sitcom. Any shows advertised are going to appear either on ABC or one of its cable outlets (Disney, EPSN, etc.). This makes good business sense, and generally the networks have enough like-minded shows that it’s not too much of a marketing stretch, and besides the demographics support whatever cross-promoting might go on (ie. advertising NFL football coverage during “Two and a Half Men” makes sense - the products are different, the audience largely the same).

From what I’ve seen, in-game advertisements of other games are limited to what the publisher of game being played has to offer. If you’re playing an EA game, the billboards (when not advertising non-gaming products) will most likely be advertising additional EA games. Again, this makes good business sense (free marketing of your products), but I wonder if the potential for crossover is lessened. Are we still at a point in our industry when gamers can be approached so homogenously that it makes sense to advertise the latest football game in the environment of a first person shooter? Sure, there are some people out there who ravenously play a wide range of genres, but I’m guessing most people are like me: I’m married, I have a kid and a full-time job, I have to squeeze in my game time where I can. I guess in some people’s mind I might be considered a “casual” gamer, but that’s not really accurate. I own a PS3 and a better-than-decent PC rig, I spend over $100/month on games, I develop games for a living, the games I develop are (largely) aimed at the hard core gaming audience. But I just don’t have time to play every game that comes out.

And most people don’t. When I talk to friends outside the games industry, most of them own XBox 360s and most of them play Halo and not much else.

Now, obviously Halo doesn’t need much more advertising. But the audience you can reach in Halo is massive. But if Microsoft puts in billboards for… I dunno, Crackdown?.. is that really targeting the average Halo player? Sure, that person is a “gamer,” to some degree, but what if you could put up a billboard for Crysis, or whatever its XBox360 incarnation will be? Microsoft would laugh if you came to them with that proposal, but it makes better business sense to both studios in the long run, as you can keep players who favor particular genres pointed to the next major product from a number of publishers, not whatever genre games are due to be released by a single publisher in the next quarter.

It’s well-known that games tend to go stale after three months, at which point people begin looking for the next similar but improved model of what they’re playing now. I’d like to think we could capitalize on this by keeping the audience loyal to the genre, rather than the hopeless quest to keep them loyal to a publisher.

I’m not sure how to get this to work, but I’m guessing it would involve the newer model of a third-party advertising broker who solicits buys from any number of publishers and charges appropriately to place them in a competitor’s product.

Anyway, thoughts appreciated.

How about… NO ingame advertising?

That would be my choice.

Again, I will stipulate many people on Qt3 are against it (it’s the first non-disclaimer sentence in my post). I will also stipulate that in-game advertising is here. Is it possible to proceed with the discussion from this point?

“Well, no, I’m vehemently opposed to the idea of the park being replaced with a strip mall and overflow parking. But if it were, I guess I’d like to see ample elbow room in each stall and a nice west-facing patio by the Starbucks and…”

Okay, I know baby rape is unpopular with some people here on Qt3. I’ve been thinking about it recently from the point of view of the rapist, not so much the rapee, though there is a bit of overlap in what I’m asking in this thread. We may disagree with raping babies and even find it distasteful, but clearly it’s here to stay. Is it possible to proceed with the discussion from that point?


Haha wow, stusser.

Stusser, in no way does that coordinate with the thread, but it was awesome nonetheless.

If in game advertising led to cheaper, better games (much as TV adverts led to cheaper, better TV), I’d be in favor of it.

But since I don’t impulse buy games, I’m not the target audience of most advertising.

I’m not knowingly buying any games with advertising in them. I might play them if they were great and free. As to how the advertising works – I don’t think I would have an opinion. Insofar as possible, I would ignore the advertising.

Well, I think it’s well-estiablished where Qt3 falls on the yay/nay vote of in-game advertising (though personally I think stusser’s post says more about the way his mind works than how he feels about any particular issue, which is, you know, cool and all… just stay away from my kid, okay?).

I’m not sure in-game advertising is aimed at impulse buyers. Most advertising isn’t. Impulse buyers respond to in-store advertising, point-of-sale displays, etc.

Here’s another example, and one of the reasons I was thinking about this today during the endless cycle of feeding, playing, walking, and naptimes (I’m on kid duty today): last night, Wifey and I sat down to watch some of season one of Heroes on DVD, as we both had been intrigued by the ads during the season but somehow missed the boat on actually watching it. The first disc started with the (by now usual) advertisments for other NBC shows available on DVD. However, there was also a spot for the new Bionic Woman show airing this coming fall. That’s sort of a new spin - it assumes the majority of people watching the DVDs are doing so now, not a year from now, and will be interested in another sci-fi show. It turned out to be right on the money - I was intrigued, my wife was too (not bad, NBC, considering she’s hardly a sci-fi girl).

I know a lot of people hate the ads on DVDs, but in this case, they worked. I’m not saying we’re setting the TIVO and making it a must-see night, but we’re aware of it when we weren’t before, and we’re both interested. I personally am happy they were able to tell me about it while watching Heroes, instead of assuming I’ll be watching NBC over the summer and can reach me that way.

Again, I know the networks won’t cross-promote, because they don’t have to. If you like Heroes, NBC can throw Bionic Woman (a different kind of superhero), Journeyman (time-traveling reporter), and Medium (some sort of mind-reader or talks to the dead or something? I’m not sure) at you. That’s just on the primary channel - I’m sure they have content on other outlets that would appeal just as much.

I’m not sure game publishers have that kind of lattitude. If you play GTA, how many GTA-like games can Take Two advertise in it? Why not let Activision put True Crime (I know, it’s done, I’m just giving it as an example) on GTA, in exchange for which when True Crime comes out, it has billboards for GTA: Vice City in it? Similar games, ultra-targeted audience, why not?

Those DVD ads aren’t “in-show”, though. Would you have been as interested if a character in one of the episodes said “Well, I’ll get back to that after I watch The Bionic Woman, next Thursday on NBC!” Or even if it had just been a billboard within an episode, would that have piqued your interest in the same way?

The delivery method has to work for the medium, and I’m not sure there’s even any consensus on that yet when it comes to games, let alone what and who should be delivered.

Bionic women are a crime against nature!

And I wouldn’t complain about adverts while my game is starting up, or during set up screens or something. I just expect that those adverts will result in a decrease in the price of the asset I’m buying. Adverts + standard game price = no way in hell. Adverts + 1/x(game price), where x is a number greater than 1, sure.

I’ve played a couple of ad supported freeware games and I didn’t find it that disturbing.

However, if, when I load my gun, I get told that Cheetos are leveraging their assets into my mouth, I’ll be pissed.

Maybe ads just let them put more production time into a video game while charging you the same amount. I don’t know. I don’t think the current model is very effective anyways, and I don’t know how to fix it, but I’m pretty sure it’s sticking around pretty much forever.

That’s the only choice.

You’re taking the perspective of the advertisers. They’re the bad guys. As gaming enthusiasts, it’s our duty to oppose any changes not intended to produce superior games.

Your thread was all about further monetizing gaming ads through savvy targeting, promotion, and brokering, and keeping them as inobtrusive as possible. That’s not something that I care about; if it’s a valid business model the market will find a way, and it won’t be me doing it. What we should be discussing is how advertising can actually lead to better games. Because if it doesn’t lead to better games, it’s babyrape.

Does advertising in games even work? In order to have a measurable impact, I’d think they’d need to be as intrusive as billboards in major sporting events. There is just no way to package them properly in this medium.

Again, I’m not really arguing the placement of ads per se. I’m talking about which ads. In the case above, I think NBC choosing “Bionic Woman” as the show to push before Heroes was a good move.

But I don’t think game publishers generally have so much leeway in deciding which of their own products to tie in with each other. Is it possible to reach out to other publishers?

That’s a fair assessment, though I never said anything about keeping them inobtrusive.

Well, feel free to start your own thread about how advertising can make better games, where you can talk about raping babies to your (weird) heart’s content. :)