Respond to Ads
36 percent of gamers who see marketing
messages take action
September 15, 2008
NEW YORK Just how effective is that Burger King ad in
the game NFL Street? Marketers have often wondered.
Considering that more than a third (36 percent) of
gamers actually bought, talked about or sought
information about a product after seeing an ad in a
videogame, per Nielsen Games, a case can be made that
they are very effective.
Not long ago, advertising within games was looked upon
as an exciting new venue to attract a "lost boys"
demographic that had stopped avidly watching TV.
However, the excitement wore off for some as the ROI for
such a unit was difficult to prove.
Looking to get a temperature check among today's gamers,
Nielsen Games polled 534 active videogame players last
month on Brandweek's behalf (both are units of Nielsen,
as is Adweek). Of those surveyed, 11 percent said they
purchased a brand that was advertised in a game. Some 19
percent said they talked about it after seeing an ad and
10 percent said they recommended the product. Eleven
percent said they sought more information. (While no
direct comparison rates were offered against other forms
of media, 1 percent of consumers exposed to direct
response advertising eventually buy the advertised
Coke was most recalled by the Nielsen panel, then Nike,
Burger King, Axe, Pepsi and Pontiac. "Burger King's goal
is always to engage gamers in the BK brand through a
medium they love," said Brian Gies, vp, marketing at
Burger King. "Throughout, it's been about knowing the
target audience [young adult males] and finding relevant
ways to reach them through great consumer experiences."
Burger King isn't using games to sell Whoppers, but to
pursue what it calls "extended brand interaction." The
fast feeder has advertised in top sellers like "NFL
Street," provided players hidden codes to access the
"Burger King Challenge" in "Need for Speed" and inserted
the King into "Fight Night." The creepy King served as a
corner man that players can pick for their fighters. The
company also creates its own proprietary games for the
Xbox. Activision's Guitar Hero series was the most
popular game among participants who remembered specific
advertisers, followed by Need for Speed, the Madden
football series, "Grand Theft Auto" titles, the NCAA
Football series and Tony Hawk games.
Global spending for in-game ads is hovering below $200
million, per the Yankee Group, Boston. It will approach
$1 billion by 2011. This figure matters to the videogame
sector, but is chump change for a $3 trillion ad
In-game ads primarily have been a brand awareness play,
but recently publishers have cast the medium as a
direct-response vehicle. Electronic Arts is working to
add more interactivity to its PC games. For example, a
player could click the space bar to stream a trailer of
a movie advertised within a game.
"Marketers want consumers to buy their products, that's
why they're in the advertising model to begin with,"
said Manny Anekal, EA's global director of ad
Still, the medium serves mainly as an awareness-builder
versus a trigger to buy, said Goodman. "You have to
recognize where the consumer is at that point of time.
They're not looking to buy a Coke or fast food," he
But with males 18-34 spending 15 percent of their time
playing, in-game ads are an opportunity that can't be
ignored, said Justin Townsend, CEO of New York in-game
advertising agency IGA. "It's not supposed to be
directly in your face for advertising purposes; it's
trying to be part of the consumer's experience every
day," he said.
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