Advergaming – New Trend in Marketing Strategy

The question of what advergaming is can be approximated in different ways. In the manner of linguistic portmanteau it is of advertising and gaming. Technically, it is the practice of using video games to advertise a product, organization or viewpoint.   As a term, it was coined by Anthony Giallourakis. Later on it was mentioned by Wired’s “Jargon Watch” column in 2001. An advergame is an online video game that has brand related images and/or themes embedded within it. As marketers have begun to catch on to the idea, websites containing advergames have been published by a diverse variety of corporations and non-profit organizations.

Advergaming - New Trend in Marketing Strategy

Besides the usages of product placement within a game, a more effective and innovative way of designing a game only for the purpose of advertising a brand or a product is recently being used by advertiser in order to reach to targets on an online platform. Advergames are such video games which are funded directly by an advertiser. Also, they usually are distributed free of charge to the consumers. The differences between the product placement and advergaming was clearly determined in the book – Changing the Game, by David Edery and Ethan Mollic, “like highly integrated product placement, well-designed advergames have the power to entertain consumers in an engaging and informative way. On the other hand, unlike product placement advergames offer business more control over the context in which the brand is experienced by consumers and saves them the possible hassle of operating within the constraints imposed by game developers.”

To sum up, advergaming is an interactive game-product created for being more well known by the customers and increasing brand equity. The core idea of advergame is receiving information while entertaining the game.

Developing an Advergame – Usage of Advergaming

Advergames are still a very new area in marketing management. With the usage of simulations, advergames aims to inform the customers about what they will experience after trying the product in real life. Advergames also have the ability to create curiosity in the minds of targets which would lead a high selling rate. One o the greatest example of advergaming is the American’s Army. The actual aim behind developing such a game was first by tempting the gamers being a solider, increasing the army population. Today, the game has more than 100.000 gamers. Similarly, in order to take attention to the hunger and starvation problem in the world, United Nations also developed an advergame called Food Force.

These two huge projects show us how much an advergame would be powerful and influential in the log run. The benefits of advergames such as; the brand image reinforcement, databases created from the advergame can be used for demographics research, targeted markets can be reached by your advertising (when the game link is emailed), visitors may spend more time on your site and increased traffic due to viral marketing.

While the usage of advergaming being explained, firstly the question of why advergames should be used has to be answered. Most of the advertisement forms cause the customers to loose their interest and patience. So therefore, advergames which has the benefits mentioned above are very welcomed as an innovative way of both advertising and advertainment. The reason is because; the high interaction attracts consumers to join the game. In the world of Advergame, the participation of game is the participation of advertisement. Interactivity, uniqueness, vitality, technology are the basic content for the question of how an advergame should be.

Secondly, the brands should care about the following points if they want to use advergames more effectively and create powerful advergames. The steps can be sorted as first, brand and target group positioning analysis (e-marketing strategy analysis) have to be done. Later, game planning and design (Market specific game planning and project plan) is needed to be completed. Third, creative design and programming (art design and art programming development) is also necessary for a strong advergame. Then, game promotion and publication (make the website promotion plan) and collection and analysis of statistics emerges. Lastly, online evaluation and suggestions are done for a complete advergame.

All in all, the usage of advergames has to be considered in two perspectives which are why a company should take advantage of advergames and how should it create a more powerful one in order to reach more customers and have more profit. In the following parts the internet effect in our lives will be considered to give a wider point of view that the advergames are the most influential and powerful tools of online advertising. Further, the in-game advergaming and viral marketing concepts which are the tools of advergaming process will briefly be explained.

The Internet Effect on Advergaming

Since reaching the most number of customers is the main aim of brands to increase their profits, in order to be being known by a wider mass, they first have to conquer the areas used by these customers. Internet is one of these fields since it is being used by almost everyone nowadays. In his article – The Ability of Branded Online Games to Build Brand Equity: An Exploratory Study, David Deal approaches the increasing usage of internet as a growing trend toward turning off the television and tuning in to the Internet is forcing many marketers to enter a relatively unexplored advertising arena where the best methods of reaching and influencing customers are as yet unknown. In the article he also argues, the studies have found that many Internet users spend their online time by playing video games. This realization, with the help of the researches leads a new mass media marketing strategy that integrates games with advertisements which is advergaming: a hybrid form of branded entertainment.

The growing use and acceptance of internet in our lives, forced the marketers to use new media rich forms of online entertainment ways where they are more interactive and incorporated than previous ones. This also results with spending less time with traditional media, especially television. The rest of the leisure time is being preferred to be spent on internet. Therefore, one of the best ways to include a marketing message which is needed to be reallocated by the companies, become internet. Furthermore, a greater portion of the internet population is getting used to the new forms of entertainment, especially with the available video games. That is actually where advergaming takes its power from.

Within the last ten years, the aim of reaching these online consumers was very crucial for advertisers. In order to discover that how much an average individual looks at a Website page, there have been several studies done. The results show less than half of all banner ads to which people were exposed, are being perceived. As a result, advertisements that people purposely avoid viewing simply do not have an opportunity to make an impression. Then the idea of forcing the consumers to look at these online ads became a new trend. The pop-ups, interstitials, and pop-ups/unders which were very intrusive, were found to be even more disliked than banner ads. One of the imported points of this type of advertising is the amount of time that the gamers spend not only by playing the game but also by interacting with an advergame and as a result being exposed to the marketing message. There are several factors determine the time interval such as age, gender, type of game, and involvement with brand or product. The duration can range from 5-7 minutes (for a typical scenario) to 35 minutes (such as for Coca-Cola’s Live the Madness game) or longer.

In Game Advertising and Viral Marketing

Advergaming can be achieved mainly by two different ways. First, the brands can prepare their own games and present to the customers. Second, they can also place the ad in to the games that already exist and have many players. The Sims or Second Life would be given as examples. The second is also named as “in-game advertising”. Moreover, beyond in-game advertising, Internet also encourages the gamers (users) to invite their friends to participate the games which could favor promotion form mouth to mouth, or viral marketing where it can be defined as a marketing technique whereby information about a company’s goods or services is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.

In game advertising is being used very commonly since it is easier and less costly for a company than building their own online game. Also, by placing their logos, brand images, or the products as a simulation into a game, which is widely being played all around the world, companies can increase the probability to reach more and more customers. It is a huge arena so that impacts will also be quite large.

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