Activision and Nielsen Entertainment have announced the results of a pioneering study into the effectiveness of in-game advertising, including findings that suggest players believe ads can enhance the gaming experience.
A total of 1350 male gamers aged 13-44 took part in the survey, and were randomly assigned to one of nine control or test cells. Those assigned to one of the four game test cells were exposed to varying levels of integration and pervasiveness of products and brands in games such as Tony Hawks Underground 2, NHL 2K6, MTX Mototrax and Need for Speed Underground 2.
Those assigned to the test cells played the same four games without any integrated products or brand placement. Three further cells incorporated traditional television advertising, product placement and no advertising, respectively.
According to the results of the study, a majority of participants felt that in-game advertising enhanced the gaming experience where the product was relevant to the game. What's more, the vast majority of respondents who recalled a product felt it fitted with the game they were playing and a higher number showed a positive change of opinion of the product after playing the game.
Activision chairman and CEO Robert A. Kotick, stated: "All media can claim to drive some level of awareness, but until now, no other media type has been able to reliably prove its ability to change consumer opinion. As this study shows, video games are a powerful ad delivery medium. But the challenge for the industry has been to develop a pervasive unit of measurement that will enable advertisers to accurately gauge the effectiveness of in-game ads. With this research, we have taken a major step in that direction."
Andy Wing, Nielsen Entertainment president and CEO, added: "Measurement drives efficiency in any business exchange; especially in advertising. Therefore, as video game play successfully emerges to define a new paradigm for targeted interaction with consumers, the need to establish accurate measures becomes even more critical; for both advertisers, who have finally found a pipeline into the 18-34 male sweet spot, and the video game publishers sitting in pole position to monetize that audience.
"With 18-34 year old male audience premiums of 6-7 times the average prime time television CPM, it's easy to see why measurement has become such a huge priority for the industry."
Activision and Nielsen Entertainment initially studied various examples of product integration within video games. During the course of their research, however, they noticed that positive movement of the marketing metrics did not always correspond to increased integration.
Both companies have attempted to rank this problem, factoring in elements of pervasiveness and persuasion to create a new brand integration structure based on unique objects and game elements, and brand presence from billboards, signs etc.