Bartlett: Advertising is misunderstood by most developers
"In-game advertising will actually promote creativity in games, not reduce it", says IGA Worldwide co-founder
Ed Bartlett, co-founder of IGA Worldwide, has defended the use of in-game ads as a means for monetising free-to-play games.
Speaking in reaction to comments made by Eutechnyx's Todd Eckert that advertising stifled creativity in early television and could do the same to games, Bartlett told GamesIndustry.biz that developers have understandable "suspicions and misunderstandings" around in-game ads. However, he was keen to point out that advertising had evolved significantly since the early days of TV.
"Although most developers now know that in-game advertising exists and is a relevant business model, and many are actively engaged either directly or via publishers, it's not their area of expertise and therefore it's inevitable that there will still be certain suspicions and misunderstandings," he explained. "We can't expect people to become advertising experts overnight, and indeed it's not necessary for them to be as that is what we are here for."
"The issue of creativity is always going to be a sensitive one, but the key message here is this: 'It's absolutely no different for the advertiser'" he said, adding: "It is simply unfair to compare the early dawning's of the TV industry with the advanced, highly savvy and creative beast that is the modern advertising world."
Bartlett dismissed comparisons to early US TV advertising, during which each programme would have one advertiser that could threaten to pull sponsorship if it disagreed with the episode's content - effectively limiting creativity.
"That just isn't how in-game advertising works," he said. "We don't have one brand sponsoring each game, we have an aggregated audience of users across many different games and genres from which advertisers buy space according to the demographic, timing and territorial sensitivities of any given campaign."
He further explained: "In the same way that advertisers buying a spot in a TV show ad break have absolutely no input or impact on the content of the show itself, the people buying dynamic ads in games are simply trying to reach an audience created by people playing games."
Creative in-game advertising, Barlett asserted, could be more of a help than hindrance to game development.
"There is so much emphasis on creativity for most brands today that I would argue that in-game advertising will actually promote creativity in games, not reduce it," he explained.
"You also need to consider the realism aspect of in-game ads. The games in network are all set in environments where you would expect to see advertising in real life; racing, sports, city-based games and so on."
"The simple fact is that it would detract from the experience if you had made up brands around a race track or a sports arena, and historically developers would have to go and source permission from these brands to feature their logos. Not only do we take that headache away, we are monetizing it for them and in some cases completely subsidising the cost of the game to the consumer," said Bartlett.
"Sadly, some people will never be convinced that the intentions of in-game ad companies are honourable..."