Casual Game Ads Lift Brands

NEW YORK Ads on casual gaming sites lift brand awareness and recall substantially, according to a study sponsored by NeoEdge Networks, a Mountain View, Calif., company that runs ads in those environments.

Unsurprisingly, the study found that ads NeoEdge ran for Zappos resulted in 56 percent of users having a favorable impression of the brand for enabling their game play. As a result, users had a three to five times increase in awareness of Zappos’ new offerings in men’s clothing.

“There is a receptiveness to these type of ads because [consumers are] getting to play the game for free,” said Peter Manickas, director of research at Frank Magid Associates, which conducted the study on behalf of NeoEdge. “It really improved people’s impressions.”

Magid collected responses from 2,000 participants who were shown a total of 1 million ad impressions. The study, which began Jan. 5, is ongoing and wraps up in a week. Nearly 75 percent of the respondents were women — typical for the casual gaming audience that skews heavily female. NeoEdge runs ads on gaming sites like Yahoo Games and iWon.

Per NeoEdge, the research validates its claim that casual gaming ads are more effective than TV advertising. For instance, when Zappos showed video spots before, in the middle and after game play, it generated a 500 percent lift in unaided brand awareness, compared with results seen in TV ad effectiveness studies. NeoEdge reached the conclusion by comparing the results of the study to results of similar research in TV. While the samples are different, Manickas said such comparisons could sometimes be made accurately.

“Most of us in the marketing world realize the last category that has yet to move in full force to the Web is brand advertising,” said Ty Levine, vp of marketing for NeoEdge. Casual games, he hopes, is a category that can change that.

The study found that when Zappos had full sponsorship of a game, its ads performed better than run-of-network placements (where the company didn’t have full sponsorship). Frequency, however, did little to lift recall. Video ads by far outperformed display ads in recall, beating display ads by a wide margin inside the game.

RELATED: “Q&A With Zappos CEO ony Hsieh”