Nielsen, IGA, Omnicom Agencies Study In-Game Ads

Nielsen Entertainment and IGA Worldwide have aligned with a team of industry partners, including two Omnicom agencies, to conduct a major study on the effectiveness of in-game advertising.

The analysis, focused on some 2000 PC-based video game consumers, will examine variables such as ad clutter, frequency and elapsed exposure time by combining BASES/Nielsen Entertainment's research methodologies with IGA Worldwide's data collection technology.

With insight from game publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision, along with support from Omnicom Group's Organic Inc. and PHD, the study is aimed at providing advertisers with clear performance benchmarks for in-game ads.

According to eMarketer, in-game advertising in the U.S. will top the $1 billion mark this year--up from almost $700 million last year. But agency insiders say the lack of research-supported effectiveness metrics represents a key factor that currently limits a greater influx of advertising dollars.

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"It's one of the biggest impediments our clients have toward using an in-game ad campaign," said Chad Stoller, executive director of emerging platforms, Organic. "They want measurements that go beyond 'how long their ad was on screen' or 'how many users bought the game,' and they want them to be consistent across networks."

Last year, Nielsen launched GamePlay Metrics, aimed at providing player demographic data to game developers and advertisers alike, but this new study aims to quantify ad effectiveness as well as to provide an industry-wide standard for optimization.

While full-scale advocates like IGA Worldwide and Microsoft's Massive measure in-game ad impressions the same way, the "optimum" figures for ad size and duration still vary. "The whole point of this research is to say, here is what's right for the advertising client--independent of what any of us want," said Justin Townsend, CEO and co-founder, IGA Worldwide. "And then it's up to the networks to agree upon a common standard."

"Some companies have been really successful at integrating their ads into the gaming experience, but others haven't," said Stoller. "We hope to use this research to help our clients achieve their goals--but more importantly--deliver an exceptional experience for the gamer at the same time."

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