Study: In-Game Ad Campaign Lifts Awareness

A joint study by Nielsen Interactive Services and Israeli-based in-game advertising firm Double Fusion found that an in-game ad campaign inserted into the downloadable game "London Taxi" increased awareness of some featured products by as much as 60 percent.

The study tested 900 European players of "London Taxi," a game where the player drives a taxi through London, picking up fares and making money. Double Fusion inserted ads throughout the virtual London cityscape on billboards, on the side of trucks, and in interactive elements within the game. For example, a new Procter & Gamble product, Flash Car Wash, featured prominently in the game play; after driving around, the player's cab gets dirty, but the driver was able to clean the vehicle by driving through the 3D Flash Car Wash bottles.

Guy Bendov, Double Fusion's executive vice president for business development, said the ads that carried the most impact within the game took the form of three-dimensional interactive objects scattered throughout the game world, like the Flash Car Wash. "In terms of experience, it was the interactive elements. It's almost a given now that interactive elements in the game ... that you don't have in real life but still go in line with the game play were extremely effective," Bendov said. "The 3D interactive objects were found to be twice as effective as billboards [in the game]."

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Roughly half of users say that in-game advertisements make the games more realistic, while 21 percent say that they make them less realistic, the study said. Fifty-four percent said that the in-game ads were attention-grabbing, while 17 percent said they could be easily tuned out.

Bendov said that Double Fusion intends to do more research, and different sorts of games might merit different types of advertising. "There's a lot to learn, and in-game advertising as a market, particularly the dynamic part of it, is in its first year," he said. "Different kinds of games--sports, first-person shooters--they do represent different opportunities, and people will have different recall rates to a billboard in a street versus a poster in a bar."

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