FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, September 27, 2004

Video Games: Advertising's New Frontier

Much has been made of ways for advertisers to capture that elusive young male demographic, as they appear to be shunning TV for video games and the Internet. As reported in Business 2.0, advertising agencies are viewing advertising within video games as an increasingly viable option. The "ads" appear mainly as product placements in the background... for instance, a sign on a cab or a side of a bus, or a billboard on a city street. Internet-based games could have ads that update on the fly and promote timely events, such as the premiere of a movie.

In-Game Advertising Spending (in millions)

Measuring the effectiveness of these ads, however, is difficult. Game players may react negatively, and game manufacturers must be persuaded to include the technology for "pushing" the ads in their games. There are no good studies on how impactful these ads are. Unlike advertising for other media, there's no upside for the audience; with radio and TV, at least, advertising subsidizes a "free" service. And, as with any Internet-based technology, there's always the risk for viruses. Game-based advertising, clearly, is in its infancy... but it's worth watching.