Build Game Ads Better, and They Will Come

LOS ANGELES Advertising agencies are likely to become more involved in online games as the sophistication of the in-game ad space increases, said the co-founder and evp of Double Fusion today.

“Agency involvement is key here,” said Guy Bendov at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) here. He added that with Double Fusion’s introduction of rich-media (j-pegs, Flash movies, 3D, music, animation and video, rather than static billboards), agencies still handling game ads via third parties or with small interactive offshoots (or clients staying in-house) “are proving they’re still in their infancy.”

The Jerusalem- and Los Angeles-based company signed Procter & Gamble to pioneer the use of rich-media game advertising for a yet-unnamed car-care product in two titles, Data Design Interactive’s London Taxi Rush Hour and Team6-Games’ Taxi3: eXtreme Rush.

Citing a Yankee Group survey, Bendov said the young, male demographic is spending as much time on the Internet as playing games, yet the yearly ad spending, $8.5 billion versus $50-70 million, respectively, is disproportionate.

“There’s a huge opportunity,” Bendov said. “We’re providing a system that provides the technical infrastructure as well as acting as brokers between the advertisers and the game companies in order to find and create relevant campaigns.”

Bendov said he is unconcerned about the potential backlash from gamers as unobtrusive billboards, such as those introduced by Massive Inc. in its online game network, become more like traditional commercials. He said ads have become skillfully integrated “to become part of the game, so it is closer to product placement. If Castrol, for example, had [labeled] oil cans in a game, hitting them would make the car go faster.”

P&G “understood that billboards don’t have the effectiveness anymore,” Bendov said. “They wanted the interactivity. That has an enormous impact on brand recall.” Double Fusion panels demonstrate that gamers more easily accept sophisticated forms of media, he added.

“That clients and agencies have been very careful to avoid overly excessive exposure in games is helping us a lot,” Bendov said. “They’ve learned a lesson from online, interactive and even TV media, and are approaching the game space with care.”

Bendov said the response from game developers at E3 has been positive, from big companies “and especially small ones, where the ad revenue can really change their bottom line.”