This year, ad:tech New Yorkwill be examining advertising in video games, one of the explosive new advertising mediums to hit the global scene this past year. Games have been around since the 1970’s. But they are no longer confined to dark video arcades or the living rooms of teenagers agape with the latest in 8-bit graphics and sound.
“I think we’re at the point where asking who a gamer is now is sort of like asking who is a moviegoer. It’s everybody,”states Jennifer McLean, senior director of marketing for in-game advertising company Double Fusion.
Double Fusion inserted the Jeep brand into game Tomb Raider: Legend. Tomb Raider players experienced at least 10 hours of game play, during which they interacted with virtual versions of the Jeep Commander and the Jeep Rubicon. 10 hours is short for a typical mainstream game.
While gamers do tend to be affluent early adopters with a high percentage of broadband penetration, the demographics of “who is a gamer” is a remarkable pastiche, with different targetable variations depending a game’s platform and genre. Console gamers tend to be younger and mostly male due to how consoles are marketed and the selection of games available. Console-based casual gaming platforms like Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo’s upcoming Wii console, which will be aiming for the family market, may eventually affect that audience. Casual gamers tend to engage a higher percentage of women and that audience tends to be a little older. The audience for PC games varies more widely by genre than console games, with MMO players evenly split 50/50 males to females, but generally to skews male.
It’s important to look at the gaming market holistically, according to Brandon Berger, partner and senior strategist for digital innovation at OgilvyInteractive. Since you can reach everyone from teens to moms, and in-game branding can include everything from in-game banners and sponsored content to sports sponsorships, advergames, and downloadable content, in-game advertising needs to be objective-driven. There’s such a breadth of marketing areas and targets to reach within the gaming market that Berger prefers to call it the “gaming universe.”
The variations in the gaming audience allow advertising to be targeted “psychographically,” according to McLean. Rather than aiming at the generic 18-34 year old male stereotype of yesteryear, advertisers need to choose their audience by picking the right games to associate with. For a manufacturer of consumer goods that will almost certainly mean seeing in-game advertising as a demographic buy like Jeep’s Tomb Raider campaign.