Lessons From OMMA

To the relief of all the organizers, the OMMA conference went off this week without any major hitches, and to my enormous relief, my in-game advertising panel was well-attended and, apparently, interesting. Five major execs, two from in-game ad networks, two from agencies, and one from a professional gaming league, gave the audience a big-picture view of the challenges that in-game advertising presents, and how advertisers can get involved.

Last week, I solicited questions in this space, and sadly, I could only get to one of them, since there were quite a few audience questions, but it brought up some interesting points. One reader asked

"Do you think the amount of media attention given to in-game advertising versus more traditional forms of advertising is justifiable, or is it mostly hype?"
Obviously, asking this question to a panel of true believers prompted a chorus of support for the gaming medium as an ad vehicle. Justin Townsend of IGA Worldwide and Jay Sampson of Massive, Inc. contended that 12 to 18 months ago, when the tools to place and track ads were still in their infancy, there was some degree of hype in the coverage of in-game ads, but the industry has lived up to it.

Mike Sepso of Major League Gaming pointed out that, compared to the hype-to-ROI ratio offered by other media in the spotlight, like viral/buzz marketing, social networking, and CGM advertising, gaming stacks up pretty well as an ad medium. Unlike elusive buzz-based marketing, there's a reliable datastream to track gamers' ad-viewing behavior, and that datastream grows better as more and more consoles get connected to the Internet.

And finally, Matt Story of the agency Play, a division of Denuo, and Zack Zeiler of VPI.net, noted that there's a flipside to the attention lavished on game advertising in the media: It is still greeted with deep skepticism by many major brands and most major agencies. Despite the media hype surrounding the gaming industry, it seems that the execs who spend the budgets have yet to realize that gamers aren't living in their parents' basements, subsisting on a healthy diet of Ramen and Mountain Dew -- they command major influence and spending power in the marketplace, and ads must go where their eyeballs are.