Advertising matters and In-game advertising – Brands interest increasing

Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV) has smashed all records to become the world’s biggest video-game launch, shifting more than six million copies since going on sale in one week. As an 18-rated title with themes of violence and crime, GTA IV is not an advertiser’s dream. However, the scale of its sales shows there is potential for brands to join the party.

More people are now splashing out on games, rather than going to the cinema, buying DVDs or downloading music. GTA IV has overshadowed Microsoft’s Halo 3, which had held the record for the sum earned in a day by an entertainment product, raking in more than 84 million pounds in sales within 24 hours of its launch last year . GTA IV is one of few new games not to offer in-game advertising opportunities, allowing only fictitious brands within its virtual world. However, other top-selling series including Counter Strike, Splinter Cell and Pro Evolution Soccer feature in game ads that can reach millions of consumers worldwide.

The success of GTA IV is the clearest sign yet that video games are going mainstream. They are now capable of challenging the box-office takings of Hollywood blockbusters.

In-game advertising is also emerging as big business: e-Marketer estimates that the sector will grow by 23% a year to be worth more than 1billion pounds globally by 2011. Several top brands have experimented with the platform. Ford supported the launch of its Fiesta ST model with ads in racing games Need for Speed: Carbon, TOCA 3 and Track Mania Sunrise, while Nike, Samsung and Unilever have run test campaigns in shoot- them-up titles. Burger King partnered with developer Blitz Games last year to create three titles for the Xbox 360, which it distributed through its US outlets.

Head of media futures at Manning Gottlieb OMD, also stresses the potential. Forward-thinking advertisers know that video games will emerge as the biggest entertainment platform. Games based on films already make more money than the films themselves.

The range of in-game ad opportunities on offer is extensive, but the most popular formats are the simplest. Most brands use virtual billboards and shop fronts that can be dynamically updated. Marketers are also starting to set in their products in the game. However, this approach can have drawbacks. There’s no point putting a Coke logo on a virtual vending machine if it’s going to have a zombie’s brains splattered all over it.

Consumers are highly receptive to in-game marketing messages, with research from CNET Networks UK and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) showing that gamers accept that ads do not spoil their experience, provided they are placed sensitively.

Brands can track in-game behavior, identifying what gamers see, from what angle and for how long. This means marketers pay only for the impressions they receive, making campaigns highly cost-effective.

Coming to the ad agencies competition and their clients’ getting upset as well here is a write up,
Put it down to the nature of the competitive beast, but ad agencies hardly ever pass up an opportunity to play little games of one up manship. A couple of weeks ago Ogilvy Mumbai finally moved to their new office and in keeping with the agency’s trademark pomp and circumstance, hoardings sprouted in many parts of the city announcing the move north.

But early last week, a new hoarding popped up roughly a kilometer away from one Ogilvy hoarding that had a One Show pencil pointing the way to their office in a northern suburb of Mumbai. The new hoarding had a gold pencil pointing south, with ‘The Real Advertising Show’ written on the pencil. The hoarding belongs to Lowe.

While on O&M, we’ve learnt that one of the agency’s pet accounts, Kotak Life Insurance, a business that O&M helped launch, is up for pitch. Senior sources at the financial group inform us that the business, valued at Rs 12 – Rs 15 crore, has been thrown open to nine agencies, all having previous experience in the insurance market.

The Hanes ads controversy may have shaken the foundations of McCann Erickson and IPG globally, but it turns out that it wasn’t the only instance of McCann India releasing an ad without the client’s permission. McCann released an ad for BPL Mobile in the Free Press Journal, without the client’s consent/knowledge.

This peeved BPL Mobile later demanded a written apology, which the agency promptly offered, attributing the error to a ‘young creative team’. Now if that sounds familiar all you need to look at is the defense McCann mounted when the Hanes issue threatened to get out of hand. Sure looks like it’s time for ‘permission advertising’ to be taken a lot more seriously.