Home Gaming Benefits of Advertising on Video Games

Benefits of Advertising on Video Games

by admin
164 views

Abstract

Brand Supremacy is undeniably the major distinguishing factor among today’s corporations, as each company strives to set a class apart from the rest in the branding of its product. A global brand name has become the most sought after weapon for directors of leading companies to lay any competition to rest and achieve international success. However, building a brand that can withstand the test of time and retain its undisputed position among the consumers is not an easy task. As human creativity, coupled with technological advancements, is on a constant inclination, companies face challenges from all sides. Companies are always pushed to the extremes of being the leaders of the global market than mere survivors. The concept of ‘blue ocean markets’ has now become a cliché as every market sector throngs with more and more companies with the relentless aim to carve a niche market for themselves. In such scenarios, strategic companies go beyond the textbooks of brand equity and charter the new areas. One such medium that possesses promise, to loft almost every brand today is the Video Gaming arena.

The human brain has always been looking for newer aspects in the various categories faced in life. As the consumer’s vision of gaining information over the radio and television has drifted to the newer and faster technologies like computers, there was a necessity to hire new methodologies to reach out for them. The best method to involve the consumers of all age groups was to focus on the advertising aspects through Video Games.  

This paper mainly aims at studying the factors involved and the prospective benefits that advertising through video games brings about. As a part of its endeavor to answer the primary question, the paper also presents several insights into the world of brand equity. The research also concentrates upon various intangible factors related to the brand of a company that differentiates it’s product in the market. It presents the importance of strong brand value, its importance in modern marketing, and the various factors that carve a brand for a product. For a better understanding, we also study the pattern of advertising video games right from its evolution. Finally, it also throws light on the lesser-studied world of video gaming, the enormous prospects it holds, and how it can act as a boon to a company. The results of various research works are analyzed based on consumer perceptions, the effect of product placements, and so on. The research is conducted basically to try and understand the tangible results that advertising through video gaming provides. 

Advertising Through Video Games     

Introduction

Research has proved that the consumer’s perception has a direct relationship to a brand’s market value and consequently, the success of the business. Attitudes and perceptions of consumers build the overall brand equity for a particular product. Marketers of various companies invest large amounts of money and time into molding consumer perceptions about their goods. As for some clients, a brand of a product is a matter of prestige and pride; it is easier to set a mark on such mindsets. It is undeniable that, if the consumer is satisfied with the claims made by the company, he will join the company’s clientele and remain there as long as the company backs out of the initial promise. A brand is considered as a promise made by the producer to the consumer about the various features embedded in the product. It mainly intensifies the quality of the work. Advertising has been the oldest and yet thriving means to shape the attitudes and perceptions of consumers about the product of a company. The advertising mediums have been taking various shapes based on time and technological aspects.

IPSOS ASI, a leading advertising research company, conducted a study comprising of products from 40 different service categories. In the process, they conducted 12000 customer interviews. The results of their analysis led to a term known as Brand Health, which denotes the goodwill enjoyed by a particular product (Walker, 2002). They identified three main factors that create brand health for a product: ‘Brand Equity Perception’, ‘Consumer Involvement,’ and ‘Price Value Perceptions’. Brand Equity further depends upon five significant factors: ‘Relevance’, ‘Popularity’, ‘Quality’, ‘Uniqueness,’ and ‘Familiarity’.

Figure: Brand Health (Walker, 2002)

Of all the various dependant variables, brand equity is the most important one, and companies are willing to invest any amount of money and time on building good brand equity for their products as positive brand equity would affect the sales of a product and extensions of other brands about a company.

The two core issues for any company wanting to scale global heights are, ‘how to get there?’ and then ‘how to stay there?’ This has prompted companies to become creative in their approach. Previously, advertising was carried out on a few selected media such as televisions and radios, but today those media may not be as effective anymore. The best way to attack the mindset of consumers is to adopt new technology and new ideas that would set them apart from the usual tradition of branding their products. As the societal trends are drastically changing, companies are shifting their focus from conventional measures to newer and ‘off-the-textbook’ measures to advertise their products. One such media for advertisements is Video Gaming.

‘Advergaming’ is the usage of video games by companies to advertise their products/services, their position, and viewpoints. The term ‘Branded Entertainment’ (Deal, 2005), is being used as the collective name for the genre of entertainment that intrinsically aims at promoting a product or an organization. The ‘advergames’ collectively represent the games that are specially commissioned by the Advertising or the Marketing departments of an organization to brand their product.

Video games are an excellent media for advertisements. They provide all the features necessary for a company to promote their goods to the consumers. Primarily video gaming is considered to be one of the prime activities of people of all ages across the globe. Studies show that nearly 75% of households play computer/video games (ESA, 2005).

In the following sections, I present a brief overview of the various terms that demanded the solution, such as Advergaming and also the results of my endeavor in analyzing product placement in video games. The study aims at understanding the amount of receptiveness of gamers to advertisements embedded in games. The paper also presents the conclusions that I reached, which relate to the factors needed in both advertising and the game to make the advertising a success based on the research questionnaires.

Literature Survey

A ‘brand’ can be defined as an attribute that differentiates a product produced by the producer in the market environment. The brand is usually in the form of a name or a logo that represents the producer of the specific product. A producer must always remember that the brand name usually speaks volumes about the various factors associated with the product, such as quality, performance, compatibility, etc. A brand is utilized to begird the work, which in turn accentuates over the company’s stands in the global economy. It is of at most importance that any brand has its individuality to be distinct to set a clear impression over the consumer’s perception. This form of uniqueness is usually attained by the adapted different logo, signature, slogan, or a particular style of presentation with a blend of color and typeface. These simple factors are the ones that guide the consumer over the path, filled with numerous products to purchase the desired result with confidence. Let us deal with the various attributes related to a brand and its effect on the market economy.

Brand Equity

A Product is always affected by its brand and consumer perceptions. Brand equity is considered as an intangible factor that associates with consumer perceptions based on the brand of a particular product (Netmba.com, nd). Brand equity can result in a positive value or a negative value. This differentiation can be initially identified based on the product meeting the consumer expectations. The following factors can identify positive brand equity:

  • Increase in cash inflows: when a consumer is willing to pay an extra amount for a branded product that features the same quality of an unbranded product, it results in increased cash inflows. This is usually a result of an experience that the consumer had with the work of the company that provided enhanced features with excellent quality.
  • Launch of other products: a brand that already has a positive acknowledgment from a consumer is always the most preferred brand for newer product purchases. This sort of optimistic mindset usually eases the extensions of various other products related to the specific brand.
  • Cut down on expenditures: If the brand equity is positive, then a newer product does not claim for high spending on its promotion. It’s not easy to alter the consumer’s prejudice over a branded product because of the experience; this indeed reduces the cost of advertising expenditures of a new product. It is also an added advantage to extend the brands related to the existing brand with a positive acknowledgment.

On the contrary, negative brand equity signifies consumers claiming for a discount on the purchase of the product. On the other side, if a negative brand equity acknowledgment is acquired, then it results in a sale scheme to be placed by the producer. This brings in a tremendous amount of loss rate over a particular product that might be carried forward on other different products also.

Building Brand Equity

To avoid in-depth repercussions, a brand must be strongly built, keeping in mind the promotion of various other products based on brand equity. Peter H. Farquhar outlined the three phases that play a crucial role in building a strong brand as a brand image is anything and everything that influences the perceptions of consumers against the brand or the company.

  • Introduction: When a product is launched, a strategy must be followed by concentrating on the quality of the work such that it supports product promotion with ease in the future. If the consumer has a reasonable opinion, then he would prefer to purchase the products made by the specific company only.
  • Enhance Promotion: A product must be promoted so that the consumer remembers the quality of performance it provides. This will build a positive prejudice against the brand of the product. This prejudice acts as a cost of free advertising from the consumer to other consumers.
  • Fortify: The brand image should be consistent such that it builds a special relationship with the consumer. It should draw the consumer’s attention towards the various products, thus saving on the advertising expenditures. An optimistic perception registered in the consumer’s mind helps in fortifying brand extensions related to the specific category of products.

A stronger brand can be utilized as an alternative method for extending the brand names of products that fall in the same category—consistent brand equity results in few benefits that need to be maintained. For example, a premium brand should always concentrate on the quality it provides, dynamic delivery and help systems, promotional campaigns involved in building strong associations with the consumers, thus enabling it to stabilize its position in the market.

Role of Brand Equity in the Modern Market

The intangible assets are the crucial issues that decide the fate of a company. One of the most important intangible assets is the loyal customer base, which comprises of the consumers who strike a deal with the company sporadically based on the products available. The other intangible assets include the company’s brand, its image, and perception, identity, awareness, attitudes (Kapferer, 1997). All these intangible assets, when combined with the trademarks, patents, customer relationships, form the brand equity of a company.

Brand Equity has become such a significant reason for a consumer to be loyal to a particular brand. In this fast-paced world, a consumer is always looking for a product with a good Brand Equity that indeed assures complete satisfaction by meeting all his requirements (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000). If all the features present in the product functionally intensify the consumer’s satisfaction, then the consumer will always stay loyal to the brand. If by chance, the brand fails to do so and acquires negative brand equity, the consumer will look elsewhere for the products in the future.

In today’s modern world, a company needs to adopt certain strategies that would enable it to secure its position in the global market by firmly establishing itself, followed by burgeons expansion carried out on a large scale. A company can prosper only if it can invest its money in the extendable departments with confidence. The directors are always engulfed with the situations wherein the company does not acquire the predicted returns and attains a massive decline in the market share (Keller, 1998). This can be avoided if a company possesses a strong brand that assures the predicted cash inflows. This is a huge asset for any company to establish itself in a higher position to monopolize the global market.

A five scale approach of analyzing the brand equity in the modern market has been listed below (S-M-A-R-T. com, nd):

  • The premium price of a brand: A brand should always have a suitable tag price that assures its quality. If the product is of premium category featuring excellent quality and performance, then the price should also be apt to avoid competition from other brands.
  •  Brand impact on consumer’s preference: If the Brand Equity is positive, then the consumer stays loyal to the brand by considering it as his first preference for the set of products.
  • Brand replacement price: This comprises of the cost associated with the replacement of a particular brand and its effect on the brand in the market environment.
  • Stock Market position: It presents the position of a brand in the stock market based on its performance over some time. This is the best way to get a view of all the top brands, which will effortlessly mold the consumer’s perception.  
  • Strength of a brand: Brand Equity decides how strong a brand is and its powerful capabilities over other competitors. IF a brand is hugely influential, then it need not struggle to gain a leading position in the global economy.

These factors affect the brand of a product, which internally shapes the market environment. Brand Equity is the only weapon that acquires a position for a specific brand in the market economy (Calderón, Cervera, and Mollá, 1997). If a company possesses strong brand equity, then it attains stability in the market share by girthing the loyal consumer base. If at any point in time, the brand fails to live up to the expectations of a consumer, it drastically affects the market economy. Brand Equity has become a crucial factor that builds and breaks the market economy (Lassar, Mittal, and Sharma, 1995). If the consumer base is affected in a negative aspect, then the market economy has to undergo some drastic changes that would sometimes catastrophically affect the share market by altering the trends in various businesses. Such situations generally open up new opportunities for competitors to replace the position for the top brands. It also forces the specific brand to retain its position with extreme measures undertaken to regain the confidence of its consumers and to build a strong brand.

Different Media for Advertisements

A considerable competition arises when high-quality products emerge in the form of mass advertising on various media to shape consumer demand. Consumer’s decisions are also affected by the perceptions they gain over some branded products. The advertising industry is responsible for shaping the thoughts of consumers (Professor William O. Hennessey, nd). The advertising media used to promote the business must be influential and impressive such that it acts as an eye-catcher. At the same time, the advertising media should project a believable picture regarding the product to gain the consumer’s loyalty to purchasing the goods. The most critical aspect of advertising is to attain a greater target of audiences for lower expenditures.

The advertising industry supports numerous economic activities in the economy, which comprise of the various media implemented for advertising. Different media types can be categorized as printed material such as pamphlets, newspaper, magazine, audio media such as radio, e-mail, banners on the websites, television, telemarketing, direct sales, yellow pages, etc. based on such a wide range of media it is of at most importance that a company picks the right form of media for the advertising aspects concerned with its products if a company makes the wrong choice then it will not result in the predicted cash inflows (My Professional Advertising.com, nd). A realistic budget would be the apt factor that enhances the decisions over the specific media form to be implemented in the campaigning issues. An appropriate advertising media will enable the company to convey the right message to the consumers at the right time.

Different media formats have been designed to serve the different purposes of a producer for building a strong brand of a product. The various media types and their issues are addressed below.

  • Newspapers and journals: Excellent sources to gather a vast target audience. It is all most all read by everybody and is believable. This scheme costs much low and returns immediate responses from the audiences. But it is a source of extreme competitiveness, hardly containing the space for ads. Difficult to target a specific category of audiences in a short life span.
  • Magazines: Excellent photo quality is utilized to lure the masses of targeted audiences. Returns a set of loyal readers and a long life span. It provides good opportunities for selecting various audiences. It does not deliver the message instantly and no option of frequently repeating the information. Its expenditures are high and might not cover the local audiences.
  • Radio advertising: Though it might cover a lesser percentage of audiences when compared to the newspapers, it comes with the option of categorizing the targeted audiences. The availability of placing an ad is much higher and easy to format. The costs are low to reach a set of exclusive audiences. This is limited to audio format and might be avoided by channel switching. The life span of this form is concise as the message expires after an announcement.
  • Television trends: This particular medium adds to the quality of repeating the ad sporadically. This media format is the source that conveys the message to a large set of target audiences. It has a very high impact on the audiences as it can stimulate the senses of the audiences by an audio-video format. Costs of this format are a bit high when compared to the former ones and also depend on audiences’ choice of channel.
  • Electronic mails: Extremely selective and has the highest response rate. It is easier to adapt and has excellent control over the quality of the presentation. This medium provides flexibility for creative ideas and a high personalization factor. It has a long life span and is not cluttered advertising (Sass, E., 2006). The mails sent for the various set of audiences can also be customized to convey the right message concerning the product. The market gets saturated with a high amount of e-mails received by a single consumer, which may also result in a large number of junk mails. Thus this medium is a costly affair.
  • Direct sales: the best reachability options and dependant on the neighborhood selectivity. Low on expenses and potentially offers a high impact rate. There might be some image problems based on the locality selected, and the results are hard to measure. The initial costs might be high.
  • Yellow pages: adds on to the high percentage of new consumers with a constant rate of active consumers. It is the second-best media for believability, having the longest life span. Has high advertising clutter with extreme costs to be spent for competitive positions.

Based on the requirements and expenditures that a company can afford a set of media mentioned above can be utilized for productive advertising purposes.

Evolution of Video Gaming Industry

The users of media for recreation have been drifting to a high digital format of media entertainment. The user focuses more on an interactive medium rather than a stand-alone media. This specific demand for interaction has been attaining greater importance from the users’ point of view. One such forum to provide interactive digital entertainment is Video Gaming (De Meyer, Malliet & Verbruggen, 2001). A recent study proves that more than 90 percent of the consumers under the age group of 25 prefer to adapt to video gaming entertainment. This is a result of dramatic leaps attained in the entertainment technology that highly influences how consumers choose their mode of entertainment.

Video games have a higher grip over the consumers when compared to other media such as television for entertainment purposes. Surveys found that the consumers habitually adapted the video gaming industry over other forms of entertainment media. “In the UK, BBC1’s share of viewing on Christmas Day fell from 42% to 32% in a year, and ITV1’s share of viewing fell from 32% to 20% last year” (Jens Uwe Intact2006). This trend is growing with the numerous youngsters adapting to this newer technology. Presently there is around 5 percent of gaming consoles under extreme utilization. Still, sooner there will be a higher range of gaming consoles engulfing the masses of consumers in fantasizing online worlds. 

The average age of our gaming consumer is considered to be 28, and a maximum of 15 percent of games designed today are adult-oriented. The demand for such games might increase many folds based on the quality and satisfaction it provides to the consumers. The gaming industry is also shifting towards the large variety of gaming entertainment to be offered based on the wide choice of the consumers (Baer, R., 1999). This is not an easy task and needs a high rate of responsibility to address all the requirements to the wide range of consumers of all ages.

The most important aspect of the video gaming industry to be the preferred choice of consumers is the security provided along with rich quality entertainment. A video game comes in with the customizing features embedded in interactive media. These factors add on to the fun factor, thus obtaining the favorite position among the various choices provided to the consumers (Morrissey, B., 2006). Another best quality is that the game can be played at any point in time, which is an asset when compared to waiting for a specific time to watch your favorite show on television. The speeds at which technology is advancing brings along the innovative ideas to be embedded in various categories of games based on consumer choice that is not possible in the other fields of media. The consumers are thrilled with the real-time experiences provided by the video games and are assured of a better quality and features when a revised version of any game is launched.

Major Players of the Video Gaming Industry 

The gaming industry has been on such a constant inclination that it might overtake the film industry and any other media of entertainment by its vast returns. The video gaming industry has been thriving in providing an interactive entertainment hat involves the consumer in developing an excellent experience that is hard to get over with. The industry is going to be flooded with newer generation consumers taking up the challenges of creating newer and improvised versions of the games with high innovative percentages (Gloria Goodale, 2005). The major players of the industry, such as Sony and Microsoft and Nintendo, are facing a threat of coming up with innovative ideas in developing a set of new games that might cost up to $10 million.

Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), states that they are always looking for new stories with complex characters that interest the consumer to inevitably think about the various choices made by the consumers during the play. It is difficult for a maker of video games to bring in newer ideas when the games based on movies such as Harry-Potter, Spider-Man, King Kong tend to dominate the market economy. Such a situation results in the development of video games through innovation implemented on powerful hardware rather than creating new games. Playstation 3, X Box 360, and Revolution form the upcoming generation of new hardware that contrasts the computing power of the Pentagon with their particular set of innovative ideas implemented for better performances.

The online community of gaming has the power of reaching out to the masses over borders and building a global community, which is an essential asset for the software components’ future development. Thus the significant players in the gaming industry tend to rule the enormous masses of consumers.

What Makes a Good Video Game?

The video gaming industry has been under such an increasing demand for new concepts in games that it is not an easy task to come up with a good video game just overnight. The pressure of a good video game is intensifying over the period (Raessens, J. & Goldstein, J., 2005). The maker of video game has to keep in mind that the investments related o the development of new video game has to be the crucial decision to overcome the competition of video games that are based on the movies.

The most vital aspect of any video game is the Gameplay. It is the experience gained by a consumer by interacting with the game. A game is considered to be of good quality if it involves the consumer to great extents within no time. It must be easier to learn, and the visual appearances must be appealing to the human eye. If a consumer is immersed in the game, he would always be thinking of the issues that he might face when carrying forward the game based on the decisions he made in the past (Game Player data, 2006). This is a sign of excellent Gameplay and the best way to measure the quality of a video game. An example of a video game with good Gameplay is Pong. It was a simple and straight forward game that kept the consumers immersed in the experience.

Another critical aspect of a good game is the graphics effect. Graphics are the best way to capture the attention of consumers and lure them into starting playing that game. Excellent graphics quality with good Gameplay is the best solution for an outstanding video game. Graphics usually have significant effects of capturing the attention of new users with perplexing appearance along with impressing the consumer so that the game turns out to be the favorite entertainment factor (Juul, Jesper, 2003). A developer has to remember that any small aspect of the game that turns out to be unappealing might result in catastrophic to the entire video game performance. Hence all the minute detailsmust be taken care of before the testing and implementation.     

The aspect that gains a superior position over human senses is the sound effects. A good video game must possess excellent audio and sound effects that would give real-time experience to the consumer. The sound effects intensify the action scenes on the screen. This is an enriched quality for a good video game. A good sound effect begirds the user in the situation present on the net.

Finally, a good storyline in the specific field can easily attain the user’s attention. The user’s choice is the fundamental element to build an excellent storyline that would interest the user at higher rates. 

The story should always have powerful characters that involve the user in complex situations, and a high suspense rate would generally keep the user interested. An urge to know more and solve the issues in the gaming environment will always have loyal users. Based on all these aspects, a good video game can be designed to gather masses of targeted audiences.

Why Video Games can be an Excellent Medium for Advertisements

The value obtained by advertising on the traditional media sources is not up to mark claim the advertisers (Ilya Vedrashko, 2006). As the technology of video gaming has undergone a transition of concentrating on teenage boys to involving the consumers of all age groups, the advertisers and marketers strike deals for new advertising plans. The new methodology of advertising the products in video games is known as “Advergames”.  

The process Advergames is carried out by implementing product placement schemes in the video games. The various products categorized according to the respective fields are placed as the elements in the gaming arena (Nelson, Michelle R., 2002). For example, a brand of products related to the Sedan family can utilize the video games that feature car racing and advertise about their products during the game.

Advergames are the most preferred media of advertising as they have numerous advantages. The advertisements that are usually avoided by the customers by switching channels is not possible here. This does not mean that it is a hindrance to the user who wishes to play the game (Exit Games. Com, 2006). The brand of the particular product is embedded in the gaming feature such that the character makes use of the branded product. This also gives real-time experience for a teenage user of driving a sports car without the permit to drive. Such concepts are enriching gaming quality.

Advertising through video games is a strategic process that is well planned, and it does not result in a situation wherein there is a shortage of space to place an ad. It does not require the rescheduling of marketing issues (Jupiter Research. Com, 2004). The expenditures about the advergames are optimum based on the product and its performance. This does not arise over budget issues wherein other schemes have to be compromised to obtain sufficient revenues. The life span of the Advertisements in the video game is the longest of all media. As long as the consumer utilizes the video game as an entertainment factor, the advergames are saved. Every time the game is played, it results in the ad being repeated frequently. This has a great impact on consumer perception by impressing the consumer over and over by presenting the complete details of its excellent quality and, in turn, building a strong brand. Thus advergames are the best solution for advertising the brands associated with numerous products.

Research

Now that it is quite clear that video games are on the verge of becoming the main drivers of carrying the advertisements for a product, it is essential to investigate further the extent to which people are receptive to the promotions they are shown while they are playing their favorite games. It is necessary to identify whether product placement in video games affects the gamer’s decision about the product being advertised. It is also essential to understand what makes a good embedded advertisement and to what extent is the quality and type of game itself is responsible for building a good acceptance for the product.

Considering the type of research that was intended to be carried out, the merits of various methodologies were studied in detail, and I zeroed in on the method of ‘Participation Observation’ as the central methodology. This methodology is a type of Qualitative Research Methodology in which a group of participants is selected from domains related to the research field, and their responses are collected. Hall suggests that this form of sampling is particularly useful when it is not possible to identify the complete set of people who might fall into the project’s category of interest (Hall and Hall 1996). To consolidate further on the observations, another research was carried out. Using the analysis obtained from the outputs of participation observation, an online questionnaire was created, and responses were collected and analyzed to bolster the primary research results.

Methodology

A group of 60 people was selected to take part in the participation survey. No particular strategy was planned to decide this sample. However, it was ensured that the selection covers a wide array of people. Fig.1 limns this sample of people who were used for the research.

Gender Quantity %
Male 38 63%
Female 22 37%
Total
Nationality
UK 16 27%
USA 20 33%
Japan 15 25%
India 9 15%
Age Group
Less than 18 years 20 33.33%
18-30 years 20 33.33%
30 years and above 20 33.33%

 

The principal methodology that was adopted was to allow the participants to play selected portions of three very popular video-games in a natural gaming environment. The levels/portions of the game to be played were ones that had the advertisements embedded in them. At the end of the gameplay, each participant was presented with a computer-generated questionnaire regarding the ads that were embedded in the game. The questions were designed to analyze the amount of receptiveness the participants showed towards the advertisements they had seen.

 

The quality of the video-game is not the solitary feature that affects the interest levels of the gamer. Several other external factors play an essential role in it. To emulate the perfect gaming experience, the room in which the research was intended to be conducted was set up to provide a total gaming experience to the participants. The lighting in the room was ensured that it compliments the graphics and color contrasts. Provision was also made for the participants to be served with refreshments. Comfortable couches were used to aid entertaining gameplay.

The games used for the research and a brief description of each are enumerated in the coming section.

 

FIFA 2006 by EA SPORTS (Game 1): This game is considered as the landmark game in the lineage of the products released by Electronic Arts. Since its predecessors had earned a good reputation among gamers, FIFA 2006 with its enhanced features such as interactive gameplay, enhanced options and modes, and a comprehensive database of players hit the top spot very easily. This game provides a thorough simulation of a football game.

Many prominent companies made strategic tie-ups with EA Sports and placed their advertisements in the game. The feature of the game that acted as the vehicle for these organizations was the provision of billboards across the perimeters of the grounds. The visible advertisements are ‘Adidas,’ ‘Fly Emirates,’ ‘Hyundai,’ and ‘Mc Donalds.’

 

TRUE CRIME New York City by Luxoflux Corp (Game 2): This first-person shooter game allows the gamer to take control of the streets of New York as a cop. The game provides advanced 3D graphics with excellent background tracks and easy to understand gameplay (Activision, nd).

The advertisements embedded in the game are in the form of banners and signboards across the streets of New York. The prominent products placed in the game are ‘Motorola’ and ‘Puma.’

 

NBA Inside Drive 2004 by Microsoft Corp (Game 3): Gamers and game testers across the world consider this game to be one of the most graphically mature games created by Microsoft (IGN, 2006). The game allows the player to choose his favorite NBA team and complete it in virtual basketball tournaments.

To make this game online, Microsoft entered into a strategic alliance with ‘XSNSports.’ In return, ‘XSNSports’ has embedded its advertisements on a billboard in the game. The other prominent product placed within this game is ‘AIR CANADA.’

 

At the end of the gameplay, all the participants were presented with a Computer Adapted Questionnaire. This questionnaire had been programmed to include specific questions, answers to which would aid in analyzing the primary research questions. Radio Buttons, Check Boxes, Submit and Reset Buttons and Text Fields were programmed using JAVA Programming Language. The questionnaire was programmed such that once a response has been registered, the participant can not revisit the same question. The back end of the program was connected to a database that would store all the answers in an easily understandable format. Another essential feature of the questionnaire was that it was Computer-Adaptive, because of which the questions that appeared to a particular participant were based on the answers provided in the preceding questions.

 

The questions that were presented to the gamers are enumerated below.

 

Question 1: Name all the companies or products/services of companies you remember seeing while playing FIFA 2006.

 

Question 2:  Name all the companies or products/services of companies you remember seeing while playing TRUE CRIME in New York City.

 

Question 3: Name all the companies or products/services of companies you remember seeing while playing NBA INSIDE DRIVE 2004.

 

Question 4: Select all the companies/products mentioned below that you recollect observing while playing any of the three games.

 

  • Adidas
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Reebok
  • Nike
  • Mc Donalds
  • Chrysler
  • Gatorade
  • Air Canada
  • GameSpot.com
  • Hyundai
  • Motorola
  • Puma
  • Sony Ericsson
  • Fly Emirates
  • Rolex
  • XSN Sports
  • Nokia

Question 5: Select the game from the three mentioned below, which you enjoyed playing most.

 

  • FIFA 2006
  • TRUE CRIME New York City
  • NBA Inside Drive 2004

 Question 6: Rate the following games based on their Game Play, Graphics, Options, and Story Line.

 

  • FIFA 2006
  • Best game ever
  • Very nice game
  • It’s Moderate
  • Can be bettered
  • Not good
  • Worst game ever
  • TRUE CRIME New York City
  • Best game ever
  • Very nice game
  • It’s Moderate
  • Can be bettered
  • Not good
  • Worst game ever
  • NBA Inside Drive 2004
  • Best game ever
  • Very nice game
  • It’s Moderate
  • Can be bettered
  • Not good
  • Worst game ever

Question 7: Select your favorite brand among those mentioned below.

 

  • Adidas
  • Reebok
  • Nike
  • Puma

Question 8: Select your favorite brand among those mentioned below.

 

  • Nokia
  • Motorola
  • Sony Ericsson
  • Samsung

Question 9: Select your favorite brand among those mentioned below.

 

  • Hyundai
  • Chrysler
  • Mercedes
  • Ford

Question 10: Select your favorite airlines among those mentioned below.

 

  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Fly Emirates
  • British Airways

 Results and Analysis

 The set of responses obtained from the conducted research was utilized to analyze the impact if at all, the embedded advertisements had on the gamers. All the 50 participants responded to the post-games questionnaire, and the results for each of the question is presented with analysis in the next section.

The first four questions were primary questions and aimed at reaching an empirical conclusion on the level of recollection the games possessed at the end of gameplay. The advertisements that were embedded in Game 1 were ‘Adidas,’ ‘Fly Emirates’, ‘Hyundai,’ and ‘Mc Donalds’. The statistical representation of the responses obtained from question 1 is shown in figure 4.1.

 

Adidas Fly Emirates Hyundai and Mc Donalds

It can be seen that a large percentage of the participants recollected the presence of Adidas advertisement in FIFA 2006. This can be attributed to the fact that football is a loved sport in many countries across the globe, and Adidas has remained to be a prominent sports brand. Furthermore, the fact that 85% of the participants who recollected Adidas were from the age group less than 30 years bolsters the previous idea. Moreover, Adidas is present prominently across the advertisement boards in the game; therefore, it is quite possible that a player can see the advertisement very clearly.

The advertisements embedded in Game 2 were ‘Motorola’ and ‘Puma.’ The statistical representation of the responses obtained from question 1 is shown in figure 4.2. The amount of recollection for this game was found to be very minimal. Less than 10% of the participants could recollect either of the advertisements embedded in the game. One reason that can be eluded to this is the placement of ads in the game was not very eye-catching. The advertisements were placed on billboards across the virtual city at obscure locations. Another factor is that the competition is very intense; the gamer might get too engrossed in the gameplay that he may miss the presence of a subtle advertisement.

Motorola and Puma

Finally, the advertisements that were embedded in Game 3 were Air Canada and XNS Sports. The responses to the third question are shown statistically in figure 4.3.

Air Canada and XNS Sports

The statistic clearly shows that a large percentage of people recollected XSN Sports. This can be attributed to the fact that many gamers play this game online. XSN Sports is a company that allows online gaming for this game. Since some of the players may have previously already played this game, they must have registered with XSN Sports Company. Therefore they must have been aware of the company and its products. It can also be seen that Air Canada enjoys a high percentage of recollection levels as well. The advertisements are visible across the game as they are placed at strategic locations.

Other quantitative assessments that were derived from the results to the first three questions are enumerated below

Game 1

  • Three participants (5%) could recollect all the four advertisements.
  • None of the participants of the age group ‘<18’ could remember all the four advertisements.
  • One participant of the age group ’18-30’ could remember all the four advertisements.
  • Two participants of the age group ‘>30’ could remember all the four advertisements.

Game 2

  • Only one person could recollect both the advertisements.
  • None of the participants of the age group ‘<18’ could remember both the advertisements.
  • One participant of the age group ’18-30’ could reflect both the advertisements.
  • None of the participants of the age group ‘>30’ could remember both the advertisements.

Game 3

  • Eleven people (18%) could recollect both the advertisements.
  • Two participants of the age group ‘<18’ could reflect both the advertisements.
  • Six participants of the age group ’18-30’ could reflect both the advertisements.
  • Three participants of the age group ‘>30’ could reflect both the advertisements.

At the outset, although the sample of participants chosen for the research might seem small, this type of ‘snowball sampling’ has indeed proven to be an effective methodology to arrive at objective conclusions.

The results obtained for Question 4 are of particularly high importance since it suggests a general gamers’ inclination towards certain brands. The set of brands covered in the choices included a wide array of relatively popular brands. The following outcomes were derived from the responses received for Question 4.

The top 4 brands that participants assumed to be present in the game

  • Nike – 41
  • Nokia – 38
  • Gatorade – 27
  • Gamespot.com – 17

It was found that some participants who could not recollect the advertisements present in games on the first three questions were able to remember some of the brands upon seeing the choices in Question 4.

The brands which received additional hits are presented below

  • Adidas – 4
  • Fly Emirates – 1
  • Mc Donalds – 2
  • Motorola – 1
  • Air Canada – 3
  • XSNSports – 6

Based on the results obtained from Question 4, it can be observed that certain brands have healthy brand equity. Although brands like Nike, Nokia, Gatorade, and the services of Gamspot.com were not included as advertisements in the games, participants assumed these advertisements to be present. This is primarily because of premiere branding adopted by these companies.

Furthermore, it can also be observed that some brand names are common among people. Although brands like Adidas and XSNSports were not recollected by the participants initially, upon looking at the brand name, they could remember them.

Although the first four questions provide us with an objective assessment of consumer receptiveness towards subtle advertisements in games, certain other factors must still be considered for an analytical conclusion. The next set of questions aimed at analyzing the importance of the game itself in affecting consumer’s recollection.

Question 4 was drafted to understand the popularity of the rounds among the participants. The results obtained for Question 4 are statistically shown in figure 4.4

FIFA 2006 True Crime NBA ID

The results obtained for Question 4 were quite surprising at first, but further analysis supported the findings. Although only one person could recollect both the advertisements embedded in TRUE CRIME, a massive 53% of the participants claimed that they enjoyed playing TRUE CRIME the most. This proves that not just the game itself but other factors such as placement play a significant role in building the mindset of a consumer. Another reason that can be alluded to this finding is the ‘Game Intensity.’ Since TRUE CRIME is considered to be one of the most fast-paced action games, the subtle advertisements embedded in the game might be quite easily missed during gameplay. Another finding that bolsters the previous analysis is the result obtained for NBA Inside Drive 2004. Although NBA Inside Drive 2004 received very little popularity, a substantial percentage of people recollected both the advertisements present in the game. It can also be seen that FIFA 2006 enjoys decent popularity of around 33%.

 

Questions 5 and 6 were reverse coded to observe if the participants’ responses for both the questions complemented each other. The findings proved that the participants’ responses to both questions did compliment each other. For example, the participants who selected Game 1 as their favorite in question 5 went on to give a high rating for it on question 6. This was observed to be true in all three cases.

 

Questions 7 to 10 were drafted to trace the existence of any bias in participants’ minds in their responses. Some of the observations made for these four questions are presented below.

  • Nike got the highest response (75%) for Question 7.
  • 66.66% of the participants who selected Nike for Question 7 recollected the presence of Adidas in Game 1.
  • Motorola got the highest response (80%) for Question 8.
  • 4% of the participants who selected Motorola for Question 8 recollected the presence of Motorola in Game 2.
  • Chrysler got the highest response (40%) for Question 9.
  • 16% of the participants who selected Chrysler for Question 9 recollected the presence of Hyundai in Game 1.
  • Air Canada got the highest response (50%) for Question 10.
  • 70% of the participants who selected Air Canada for Question 10 recollected the presence of Air Canada in Game 3.

Results of Questions 7 to 10 show that bias does not affect the level of reception of consumers. For example, although most participants selected Motorola as their favorite brand, only 4% of them could recollect the presence of its advertisement. Similarly, although Nike was chosen to be the famous brand of most participants, 66.66% of them could remember the company of Adidas advertisement.

 All the empirical results obtained from the primary research were used to arrive at certain analytical conclusions. These results were also used to develop a 15-bit questionnaire that was posted on an online blog. The analysis of the questionnaire and logical conclusions are presented in the sections to follow.

 

Questionnaire

 

Based on the participation survey results, a 15-bit questionnaire was developed and posted on an online blog. The questionnaire aimed to gather information on prevalent trends and mindsets of people. It was an open questionnaire; anyone could take part and post their responses. Before the questions were presented, demographic information was collected about the participants. The attitudes were tested on a five-point scale which consisted of the following choices:

 

1 = Strongly Disagree

2 = Somewhat Disagree

3 = Neutral

4 = Somewhat Agree

5 = Strongly Agree

 

The questions that made up the questionnaire are presented below.

 

Question 1: Advertisements accurately describe the quality of a product.

Question 2: I make my decisions to buy or ignore a product based on its advertisements.

Question 3: Advertisements are entertaining.

Question 4: I hate watching advertisements on television.

Question 5: Visual advertisements are always better than non-visual advertisements.

Question 6: I skip channels frequently to escape watching Advertisements.

Question 7: Video games are an excellent medium for advertisements.

Question 8: I do not like the idea of promoting goods through video games.

Question 9: I change my image of a brand depending on its advertisements.

Question 10: I prefer playing games that do not have advertisements in them.

Question 11: The quality of the game plays a role for me to decide whether the brand is good.

Question 12: I prefer advertisements in games than on television.

Question 13: The genre of the game must be complementary to the product category for it to succeed in its advertising.

Question 14: I generally do not remember any advertisement I see, a few minutes after gameplay.

Question 15: I buy products whose advertisements I see in video games.

 

Some of the conclusions that could be arrived at based on the response to the questionnaire are presented below.

 

  • Approximately 45% of the people were negative about advertising in general.
  • Around 33% of the people were optimistic about advertising in general.
  • The remaining 22% of the people were neutral about advertising in general.
  • 53% of the people were negative about advertising in games.
  • 27% of the people were optimistic about advertising in games.
  • 20% of the people were neutral about advertising in games.

 Although the big picture might suggest that many people did not appreciate advertising in games, and in-depth analysis suggests otherwise. From the same test, it was also observed that 85% of the people who were negative about advertising, in general, were also negative about advertising in games and nearly 75% of the people who were optimistic about advertising, in general, were positive about advertising in games. This finding is significant because it was a snowball sampling. Since the majority of people who took part in the questionnaire were against advertisements in general, many of them did not appreciate advertising in games as well. This suggests that people who view advertisements with detest do not differentiate between the media in which the ad is carried. However, from the sample of those people who like the concept of ads, a large set of people also like advertisements in games and consider it as an effective media.

Furthermore, a large majority of people also claimed that the quality and the genre of the game itself play a significant role in their decision to buy a product.

 

Conclusion and Areas of Further Research

 The research carried out answers several questions but also presents several other problems to be analyzed further. The following sections show the conclusions reached and areas of research that are further needed.

 

Conclusion

 The study carried out dispenses four outcomes that are of great relevance to the marketing gurus:

 

Prevalent attitudes towards advertising play a significant role: Firstly, the research carried out suggests that the attitudes of people towards advertising in general play a significant role in their attitudes towards product placement in games. It has been observed that those who like the concepts of advertising in general also like the idea of ‘advergames.’ The prevalent attitudes towards advertisements are, to no small extent, an intangible quantity and have no certain means of measurements. No substantial studies are existing to prove that certain sections of societies might have a certain attitude towards advertising. Since this is mostly random, there are not many companies that can do to address this issue. However, the study suggests that people who like advertisements are, to no small extent, receptive to the advertising message or at least to the product or company that is displayed within the game. This is a very positive finding for any company that might want to consider advertising through video games.

 

The game itself plays an important role: This factor is essential to consider while advertising through video games. The study carried out proves that two aspects of games play a critical role in determining the success of the product advertised through the game:

  • Genre: It has been seen that gamers tend to like products that complement the genre of the game in which it is being advertised. For example, advertisements for sports accessories are bound to be well accepted in a sports game. Therefore companies must identify the right games and vendors to advertise their products in.
  • Gameplay: The study proves another crucial aspect that the gameplay affects the visibility of the advertisements. The study very clearly showed that although people consider a game to be of excellent quality, they might fail to observe the subtle advertisements embedded within the game. This is mainly because the intensity mandated by the game is too high in some cases that it is straightforward to miss some promotions. Therefore advertisements are better received if they are placed in games that have opportunities of reduced intensity in between.

 Product placement is critical: Finally, the position of the advertisement itself is essential in the success of the brand. The studies prove that ads that are eye-catching and spread across well are bound to receive observation. Therefore companies must ensure that their advertisements or products are prominently visible in the games.   

 

Already known products will benefit more: Finally, the studies prove that well-known products are caught by the consumer’s eye much more easily that new products. For example, if a company is a sponsor for a particular sports tournament, their advertisements will work better in games that emulate that specific sport. Thus video games provide an effective medium to alter or enhance brand health instead of building new brand awareness.  

 

Areas of Further Research

 Although the research carried out offered a lot of empirical knowledge, it is still necessary to understand that it has been conducted under some constraints. Mainly, the sample considered for participation survey is a snowball sample. Therefore some room must be allocated to uncontrollable variables that might have had affected the research in some indeterminable way. 

Further studies are mandated that would recruit a larger sample for data collection so that statistical analysis can be performed. Studies are also needed that can empirically identify the factors that affect the attitudes of people towards advertising in general since it has a significant impact on their attitudes towards advertising in games as well. This would consequently lead to an analysis of whether targeting a match to a particular demographic location makes a better impact on the receptiveness of players to the advertising message. Further research is also needed on specific aspects of the features of a game that can boost up the advertising message. It is essential to analyze as to what constitutes an excellent game to understand better those portions of a game where an advertisement can be embedded.

 

Appendix

Snapshots of Games with embedded advertisements

FIFA 2006 {Advertisement: Adidas}

FIFA 2006 Gillette & Philips

FIFA 2006 {Advertisements: Gillette & Philips}

PGA Tour 2003 Nike

PGA Tour 2003 {Advertisement: Nike} (Gamespot.com)

Cricket 97 Beam and Melbourne House

Cricket 97 {Advertisements: Beam and Melbourne House}

NBA Inside Drive Air Canada

NBA Inside Drive {Advertisement: Air Canada} (Gamespot.com)

Prominent Companies that Advertised in Games:

  • Nokia
  • Samsung
  • Blackberry
  • Motorola
  • Air Canada
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • EA Sports
  • Nike
  • Adidas
  • Puma
  • Philips
  • TigerFC
References;
  • Dave Walker (2002), “Building Brand Equity through Advertising”, Research Article 5, IPSOS-ASI Journal Database.
  • Deal, David (2005), “The Ability of Online Branded Games to Build Brand Equity: An Exploratory Study”, paper presented at DIGRA, June 2005, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.
  • ESA (2005), “Essential Facts about the Video Gaming Industry”, Entertainment Software Association Publication.
  • com, nd. “Brand Equity”, article by the Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Inc. found at: http://www.netmba.com/marketing/brand/equity/
  • Farquhar, Peter H. (1989). “Managing. Brand Equity,” Marketing Research: A Magazine of Management &. Applications, 24-33.
  • Kapferer, J.A., 1997. “Strategic Brand Management: Creating and sustaining brand equity long term”. Second Edition, Kogan Page, London.
  • Aaker, D.A. Joachimsthaler, F., 2000. “Brand Leadership: Building Assets in the Information Society”, New York, the Free Press.
  • S-M-A-R-T. Com, nd. “Brand Equity and Image Assessment”. Found at: http://www.s-m-a-r-t.com/Exp_brandequity.htm
  • Keller, K.L., 1998.  “Strategic brand management: building, measuring, and managing brand equity”.  Prentice Hall, New Jersey.
  • Calderón, H., Cervera, A., and Mollá, A., 1997.  “Brand Assessment: a Key Element of Marketing Strategy”, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 6, No. 5, pp 293-304.
  • W., Mittal. B. and Sharma. A., 1995. “Measuring Customer-Based Brand Equity”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol 12, No 4, pp 11-19.
  • Professor William O. Hennessey, nd. “The Role of Trademarks in Economic Development and Competitiveness”. Franklin Pierce Law Center.
  • My Professional Advertising.com, nd. “Using Advertising Media More Effectively: How to Pick the Best Media. Found at: http://www.myprofessionaladvertising.com/Using%20Media%20More%20Effectively.htm
  • Sass, E., 2006. “Outdoor system puts advertisers in the driver’s seat” – literally. Media Daily News. Found at:http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=40350&Nid=18743&p=280433
  • De Meyer, Malliet & Verbruggen, 2001 cited in “The History of Video Game”, Handbook of Computer Game Studies 34
  • Jens Uwe Intat, “The Future Digital Economy Digital Content – Creation, Distribution and Access”. Presentation based on Session 4b: New user habits and social attitudes
  • Baer, R., 1999. “How video games invaded the home TV set”. Found at:http://www.ralphbaer.com/how_video_games.htm.
  • Morrissey, B., 2006. “Marketers wary of emerging media”. Ad Week. Found at: http://www.adweek.com/aw/iq_interactive/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002576716.
  • Gloria Goodale, 2005. “Video-game industry mulls over the future beyond shoot-’em-ups”. Found at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0603/p11s01-stct.html
  • Raessens, J. & Goldstein, J., 2005. Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Cambridge: MIT Press 31.
  • Game player data, 2006. “Entertainment Software Association”. Found at: http://www.theesa.com/facts/gamer_data.php.
  • Juul, Jesper, 2003. “The Game, the Player, the World: Looking for a Heart of Gameness”. In M. Copier (Ed.), In Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceedings (pp. 30-45). Utrecht: Utrecht University.
  • Ilya Vedrashko, 2006. “Advertising in Computer Games”. Submitted to B.A. Business Administration, American University in Bulgaria.
  • Nelson, Michelle R., 2002. “Recall of brand placements in computer/video games”. Journal of Advertising. Research, Vol. 42 Issue 2, p80-92.
  • Exit Games, 2006. “In-game advertising goes mobile”. Press release. found at: http://www.exitgames.com/BaseCMP/documents/9077/Exitgames_-_Ingame_Advertising_goes_Mobile.pdf
  • Horwitz, J., 2004. “Advertising and cross-promotion”. Found at: http://www.jupiterresearch.com/bin/item.pl/research:concept_print/111/id=95647/
  • Activsion (nd), “Game Review of TRUE CRIME New York City”, found at: http://www.activision.com
  • IGN (2006), “Game Review of NBA Inside Drive 2004”, IGN Forum, found at: http://www.ign.com
  • Pictures by Gamespot.com, http://www.gamespot.com

related articles

Leave a Comment