In what direction is the in-game ad formats heading: display ads like on billboards, or in-game product placement?
We see the future as a blending of two worlds. That’s really the position that DoubleFusion is forging. Obviously, billboards and videos are an ad creative that are prevalent across multiple forms of media, so it’s something that people can do today.
Over the long haul, there’s tremendous value in … the interaction and the engagement that one gets with product placement, where the character or the gamer is actually using the product, or doing something more than looking at an ad message. The research we’ve done, which includes [a] study back around 2005 shows that 3D objects that gamers engage with deliver much more brand recall, and much more intent to purchase than 2D media.
We’re now working with developers on [bringing] together those two worlds, where 3D objects are used in the game, but can be served dynamically, and get all of the counting and tracking benefits that come from dynamic advertising technology.
We actually do all of those. I know that Massive recently announced 3D interactive ads inside a Funcom game, and DoubleFusion talks about it as well. We can all serve billboard ads. We can also have video streams. We can also have radio streams. And those will no doubt in my mind continue to be the main formats moving forward.
I know that DoubleFusion and Massive are talking about 3D interactive billboards. It means that somehow the gamer interacts with a billboard inside the game. I’ve not seen their example of it, but I don’t see that as being something that many publishers will want to have inside their games.
With the next generation consoles that are coming to market, you’re looking at the game development costs increasing up to 30 million dollars. Do you really want your gamer, who’s fully engaged in playing hours of the game, to stop and start interacting with an advertisement? I don’t think you do. It’s intrusive.
It’s one thing to be driving around a race track, and see a contextually relevant board there. But do you seriously want your character to be walking through an urban environment past let’s say Times Square or Piccadilly where all those billboards are, [and] then have the character stop what he’s doing as part of the game, and somehow interact with that billboard and interact with a brand?
Whilst it may be an advertiser’s dream, I don’t think the gamers want it, and I don’t think the publishers would want it either. I’m prepared to be wrong, but being a gamer myself and having 15, 20 years of advertising behind me, I just cannot see it.
They’re constantly evolving. Obviously we provide … static product placement, [but] it’s something that advertisers don’t have a preference for simply because it’s not timely, it’s not flexible, etc. What we do find is that the best option for advertisers is a combination of static and dynamic, where you can actually tag the static elements and change them as your campaigns change.
We are constantly evolving the ad units within the network. Two-dimensional billboards, or thee-dimensional billboards; that’s where we started. We’ve now got interactive ads, we’ve got audio-visual ads. There’s a whole host of changes and evolution that we’re going to continue to see throughout the industry.