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In-game ads pivotal in changing perception of games business

Few people recognise ads convinced global brands that games aren't just for kids, says Bartlett

Ed Bartlett, the outgoing European VP of IGA Worldwide, believes that the in-game advertising sector has been pivotal in changing mainstream perception of the maturity and diversity of the games-playing public.

In an exclusive interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Bartlett said he found it frustrating that many in the games business have failed to recognise the role in-game advertising has had in convincing everyday brands that consumers weren't just an isolated, young audience.

"Aside from the tens of millions of dollars of new revenue it's brought into the industry, I think that collectively the in-game advertising companies have done a huge amount, possibly more than anyone else in fact, to challenge media misconceptions about gamers and the games industry," commented Bartlett.

"That assertion might cause a few raised eyebrows, but the fact is that the success of the entire in-game advertising industry hinged upon convincing the world's leading consumer brands that the gaming demographic was no longer made up of 12 year-old boys in their bedrooms.

"Part of the strategy for that was also educating the press across multiple categories, and getting them to write positively about the industry. Between IGA, Massive and Double Fusion we pretty much turned that perception on its head in a remarkably short space of time, which has ultimately led to much broader and more even-handed coverage of the industry as a whole."

"Probably my biggest single frustration is how few industry people even know or recognise that," he added.

Bartlett also offered some ideas on where the in-game advertising market can continue to grow, in particular alongside videogame business models that have evolved to become services.

"I think there is scope for some interesting stuff around transactions, particularly as game's transition to a more service-based model. Brands could help subsidise costs and services, which would be received very positively by gamers."

"The industry is much more stable now. There is a standardised common currency for advertisers and agencies, a good understanding from developers and publishers on what is required regarding inventory generation in their games, and the market continues to make headlines and break records which gives brands confidence that they are involved with something which has longevity and reflects positively on their products."

Having left IGA Worldwide this week, Bartlett hinted that he is considering a move back into game development, after spending his days before in-game advertising as business development director at UK studio The Bitmap Brothers.

"I can't say too much except that I plan to get back closer to my roots in development again," he commented.

"It's been incredibly inspiring working with so many of the leading developers and publishers, however it's hard sometimes not to get frustrated with the missed opportunities. I also still really miss the buzz of putting out a new game."

The full interview with Ed Bartlett can be read here.

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Chris Buckley

Sales Manager

Chris Buckley joined GamesIndustry in January 2010, now based in BC Canada, Chris is a veteran of the global games industry. Starting out in coin-operated amusement machine (arcades) trade publishing in 1995, for Centaur Communications ‘AB (Amusement Business) Europe’ magazine, Chris made the leap into consumer games and joined MCV Media in February 2000, where he quickly became head of sales looking after a number of entertainment brands and sales staff, before immigrating to Canada in 2008. Chris now handles all commercial sales activity for GamesIndustry.biz, and sponsorships for GamesIndustry’s trade events like the GI Investment Summit.