IGA: Most Gamers Are OK With In-Game Ads

NEW YORK The vast majority of gamers are fine with seeing ads placed within video games, and those ads pack more punch for brands than messages appearing in traditional media, according to a comprehensive new study released by top vendor IGA Worldwide.

IGA, which works with game publishers such as EA and Activision to insert both permanent and rotation ads within video games played via Internet connections, last year tapped Nielsen BASES and Nielsen Games to conduct an in-depth six-month examination of the impact of in-game advertising using traditional brand effectiveness measures such as awareness and recall. (Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.)

The report, “Consumers’ Experience With In-Game Content & Brand Impact of In-Game Advertising,” includes responses from nearly 1,300 gamers surveyed using IGA’s proprietary software while playing games in their homes, with participation from advertisers Taco Bell, Jeep and Wrigley.

Eighty-two percent of respondents found games to be just as enjoyable if ads were present, according to the study. Of the respondents that claimed to be most opinionated on the subject, 70 percent said the ads made them feel better about the brands involved.

In fact, the brands that participated enjoyed a litany of encouraging results, says IGA. The survey found that advertisers running in-game campaigns saw a 44 percent average increase in brand recall when compared to their awareness levels prior to their game exposure. In addition, participating brands enjoyed an average 33 percent increase in positive associations.

According to IGA CEO Justin Townsend, the research confirms many of the commonly made assumptions about the in-game ad industry. “Gamers like in-game ads when done in a contextually relevant way and there is no arguing that,” he said.

But do in-game ads really work? Chris Morf, IGA’s director of corporate development said it was important that IGA examined campaigns in multiple games for multiple brands, rather than presenting a single case study. Plus, because the study matched survey data with real game play, IGA was able to drill down to see the drop-off in effectiveness for ads that received minimal exposure during actual games vs. ads that received a large amount of impressions.

Townsend believes that the results reflect the medium’s power as a branding vehicle. “One of the key things for any new industry is to have research like this out there,” he said. “We’ve delivered results that are unheard of in traditional media. This is something that media buyers can take to decision makers and given them the comfort they need to start increasing budgets and frequencies.”