Gamers Too Busy Actually Gaming To Notice In-Game Advertising

from the Is-Shaq-eating-Doritos? dept

In-game advertising is a booming market, seemingly validated by Microsoft’s recent purchase of in-game advertising network operator Massive. Some studies have suggested that advertising in game is not only an “unusually persuasive” way of cultivating warm-fuzzy feelings about brands, but it can also help make the game more realistic — assuming they’re presented in non-annoying ways. Of course many early studies simply consisted of white-coated technicians asking gamers whether they suddenly had a hankering for Cheetos, making it questionable how effective the ads really were, or how exactly consumers perceived them. Last month a company came out with a method of studying effectiveness by tracking gamer eye-movement and physiological data during gameplay. The results of their first study are in, and it looks like sports gamers in particular couldn’t care less about in-game ads — likely because they’re too busy trying to drive, grab a rebound, or pummel their opponent senseless. If the measuring tool is accurate, it looks like in-game marketers will have to go back to the drawing board with an eye for innovation — since just slathering the basketball court with Burger King ads apparently isn’t cutting it.

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Comments on “Gamers Too Busy Actually Gaming To Notice In-Game Advertising”

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Mike says:

Players are Players...

After a practice in a stadium we had some marketing wonks come and ask us about the ads that were all around and which ones caught our eye and stuff. I remember that except for the kicker not a single one of us even noticed the new electronic doohickeys and advertisements all over. when asked to describe the area, I missed all of blinking light sign boards and what nots.

A few years later while driving dirt sprint cars, a friend of mine crashed and afterwards a buddy asked me if he hit near the coke board or the pizza one. I had to stop and look twice cause I didnt even realize that was on the wall at all.

Watching a movie is one thing, but concentration and focus will nullify any in game placement 9 out of 10 times.

Bernard Swiss says:

Of course, the could try actually measuring...

… whether or not the gamers were subsequently more likely to choose product ‘A’ (advertised in game) rather than products ‘B’ or ‘C’ (eg. softdrinks and snacks available/supplied at a game-meet), than they were before playing a few rounds, or otherwise find some meaningful way to measure unbiased, actual, behavioural changes rather than ask inane marketing-type questions about what players consciously noticed and remember about the in-game adverts.

Hidden Force says:

In-game Advertising

I don’t know… I’ve seen the Air Force ads in The Matrix Online and the AutoZone and Axe ads in the Need for Speed games, but they didn’t affect any purcasing decisions in any way.

To wit: First, I was in the Navy, so the Air Force ads are neat, but I’m not interested; second, I go to AutoZone anyways (even before seeing the in-game ads), but only because it’s the closest auto parts store to where I live, not because I saw an ad in some game, and third, I’ve never bought Axe and have no interest in ever doing so. So, it seems that their advertising dollars are rather wasted on me (especially since I can only remember these three advertisers).

I don’t mind them being there, as long as they fit within the context of the game, which, in the cases of the games I mentioned, they do. Putting an auto parts store ad in EverQuest or World of Warcraft, however, would not be acceptable.

Bob says:

Fitting In.

I agree that most ads in games go unnoticed. I do, however, remember some older games with posters on the wall about fake companies and having somewhat humorous slogans. I also remember reading that games would have ads tailored to them. So futuristic games would feature today’s products but with a futuristic twist. I think doing this while going for humor would be the best way to make it stick. People might go out of their way to move in game to read an ad if they think it’s worthwhile. However, in sports/racing games where they just blend into the background without anything giving us incentive to look at them, well, that’s useless.

MxO Player says:

Ingame Ads Are Not That Big Of Thing, The Only Ones In MxO (The Matrix Online) Anyone Ever Notices Are The Wendy’s Ads and thats because they are video and the blast “Stuck In The Middle With Youuu!!!!!!”. I Dont Mind The Picture Ads But Video Ones Like The Wendy’s One Just makes Me not buy their product.

link to a discussion about the wendy’s commercial

haywood says:

I actually like the in-game ads in driving games. i remember a patch that changed the commercial vehicles in GTA3 to real company logos, like making the trucks into FED-EX trucks etc. It seemed to make the virtual world a little more like home. We live in a deluge of signs in reality, it becomes part of the din. When the signs are changed to something fictitious, they stick out more.

Andrew D says:

How do ads work?

If you look at regular advertising you’ll realize that most people don’t consciously think about the content of most (not all) ads, regards of the delivery mechanism. Why the heck would polar bears make me prefer Coke to Pepsi?

Yet, advertising works. This has been proven out time and time again. Established products have seen sales go in the dumper when they let up on the advertising – and this is with an established client base!

There’s no reason to believe brand awareness isn’t a powerful effect, even if gamers don’t stare at or consciously think about the ads.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ads do not make you wanna buy something. Ads keep the product in your mind the next time you are trying to think of something to buy. Many times I have walked down the isle of the grocery store only to see something I had not seen advertised in a long while and assumed they had gone out of business. Seldom, if ever, has an ad made me want to buy something.

xeoron says:

sometimes it is not

Sometimes ads have more of an effect when they are consumed on a subconscious level…thus turning them into subliminal suggestions that influence what we think or want when we are hungry or or have some other need. So not noticing ads in games while playing does not matter, because it still is seen and festers in other ways…

xeoron says:

sometimes it is not

Sometimes ads have more of an effect when they are consumed on a subconscious level…thus turning them into subliminal suggestions that influence what we think or want when we are hungry or or have some other need. So not noticing ads in games while playing does not matter, because it still is seen and festers in other ways…

haywood says:

Re: Ads reinforce wha????

“although it would be sweet to see ads for companies you hate in GTA et al… would force the rage I’d imagine.”

I love to run across Mark Horowitz living in his Nissan Sentra in GTA, I,m sure the rocket launcher would be entirely too kind. Maybe hook on to him with the tow truck and drag him all over the map before hitting him with the flame thrower. Too bad there isn’t a cargo plane, you could load him up and push him out at 20,000 ft.

PhysicsGuy says:

sometimes it is not

i can’t pull any off the top of my head. the most subliminal influences have to offer is those while under hypnosis and even then that is a state that is only possible by those willing to be influenced by it. had i more interest in psychology than i do i’d give you some specific studies. they were mentioned in class but i can’t recall them. all i recall is that the typical subliminal messages, those shown in movies and such like a flash of popcorn to get people to buy popcorn, were statistically ineffective. they did not regularly get people to buy popcorn during shows. while you occasionally got a higher number of popcorn, overall it did not effect popcorn sales and occasional spikes in popcorn sales is expected.

there is evidence that shows subliminal messages work while under the influence of hypnosis. that’s a very sketchy area though. not everyone is susceptible to hypnosis. it’s why show hypnotists preselect candidates to go on stage, not everyone is susceptible to the suggestions of others. in turn there are people who are susceptible to the suggestion of others to the degree that hypnosis is possible. this however doesn’t say much for subliminal messages for these people.

sorry i can’t clarify things more for you. i’d say take a college psych coarse or two. you’ll learn about actual case studies there…

Old Guy says:

Re: sometimes it is not

“With regard to the original goals of the investigation, the results of the experiments indicate that when a message is added to a television commercial in such a way that the viewer fails to detect its presence, either it does not increase the viewer’s intention to purchase the product, use the service, or agree with the idea advertised, or it increases his or her intention by a tiny amount compared with the same message when it is detected by the viewer.”

From Effectiveness of Subliminal Messages in Television Commercials: Two Experiments
Kirk H. Smith and Martha Rogers

The whole paper is at

notenslaved says:

and then there's piracy

In-game advertising isn’t worth paying for. Games that have in-game advertising should be pirated and distributed.

Whether or not a game has in-game advertising will influence whether or not I pay for that game, or obtain a pirated copy of it.

If I notice ads in games, I go out of my way to not patronize those businesses.

All gamers should do this, and discourage this ridiculous practice. If these marketing fools think for a second that in-game advertising generates a penny of revenue, they will pollute everything they can get their filthy little rat claws on.

Overcast says:

People are simply getting immune to advertising. Commercials, Pop-Up ads – like anything else, eventually people will just learn to ‘phase it out’, and ignore it

Wanna sell stuff? Try making quality stuff at a good price, 90% of my purchases are made because of someone else’s recommendation, not some ad anywhere. I’m far too cynical of Ads.

Take food purchases, for example. The Arby’s up the street served me some rotten garbage with gave me a stomach ache for 3 days – think I’m EVER going to buy anything from them again? No way, even the sight of the place makes my stomach turn now.

They outta try paying their employees a bit more, spending a bit more on the raw goods required to make the product, and then I’ll buy. Instead of dumping millions into advertising. It may have worked for a while, but anymore, it’s all the same crap the only thing that seperates goods is the quality and the service. We’ve all, already tried all the crap they’ve advertised.

Overcast says:

And to that – even a ‘subliminal’ ad for Arby’s would only serve to make me sick – that crap only works to the point of just bringing the thought to one’s mind. If it repulses a person, that’s the reaction a person will have. Still, I’ve seen drink ads on TV for Coke and I go grab a Mountain Dew – in effect, Pepsi benefits from Coke’s Advertising Money. I’ve seen a beer commercial and go buy a 5th of Jim Beam. I’ve seen a commercial for a Ford and it reminds me of how the next car I want is a Malibu MAXX.

Again, it doesn’t matter what they throw in my face, I’ll buy the goods I personally prefer and where I think I’m getting the best bang for my buck.

Go ahead, run that Playstation Commercial and I’ll go up to the PC and play more PC games.

It’s all about the GOODS themselves, not some commercial.

Neal says:

Buy us

If advertisers want in game ads to work they should buy us with them. Make them an interactive part of gameplay and provide ingame or real world rewards. Mortally wounded your character stumbles into a dark alley to hide from his persuers. He searches for nourishment and finding empty Coke and a Pepsi cans he retrieves the Coke and tries to drink. Suddenly he’s illuminated by a brilliant light. Above him the avatar in a Coke billboard comes to life, climbs down, and shares a Coke (providing health) and a smile. As the avatar ascends skyward and dissipates into thin air he whispers “Your reward is greater” and a short url and unique code is briefly illuminated on the billboard. Later the player visits that url and is rewarded with free Coke, game credits, a two-liter of Coke power-up in game, or other. Positive reinforcement of the brand if nothing else. Of course if the player chooses the Pepsi then a flaming Michael Jackson moonwalks into the alley, touches him inappropriately, and turns him into bubbles the chimp. The Coke reward can be experienced by a portion of plays, the Pepsi reward by all.

Some Joe says:

My 3 cents

The only adverts that seem to work with me are with new products I may be intrested in. For example: If I see a new sandwich at Subway that seems tasty, I may forget about it. But after seeing that advert many many times and I’m trying to decide what I want for lunch, it may pop into my head, “Oh Yeah, how about I try that new sandwich at Subway.” Usually by that time it’s not the new sandwich anymore but I still try it anyways. If it’s a winner I’ll go back another day.

I don’t think in game adverts can work this way unless they are constantly updated. I do hate adverts but sometimes they may work in my favor by bringing a new product into public view. I don’t mind adverts in games unless they are annoying!

phule (user link) says:

Ads That Work

Ads that work are funny period not stupid or silly just plain funny that always works. But I do have to remark that the one ad that I will always remember and yet never got the product was the ad with the hamster being shot at a hole missing the hole and hitting the wall I have never forgotten the ad I laughed so hard i never heard what it was for had it played for more then the super bowl i might have actually remembered what it was about some dot com of some sort I think

PhysicsGuy says:

sometimes it is not

as much as i appreciate you finding a case study, wtf is the point of that case study. i haven’t bothered to read it but from what i can tell from the quote: it’s a completely inconclusive study. granted, this does have implications overall but damn… i’d feel shame were i apart of a study whose conclusion was that of your quotation.

Big Deloris says:


I think that this page is bullshit and I think that it should be all about cheese!! Cheese is exciting unlike this web page. Im in a web designing class and Ive never done this before but we make web pages useful. UNLIKE ON THIS WEB PAGE! So actually do something with your pathetic life and make some half decent pages. You are PATHETIC!! STOP IT NOW!!

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