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Keeping it real
A new generation of marketers and game developers is transforming advergaming into real-time corporate advocacy.
December 3, 2009 11:45 by Reza Ayati
A 30-something professional reaches for a cup of hot coffee while battling a galactic threat. As he pounds commands to virtual troops on his laptop, he spots the familiar logo of the very brand he is sipping in the corner of the flickering screen. He nods, pleased that his favorite coffee maker also provides his favorite after-office pastime for free.
Scenes such as these reflect the growing popularity of online gaming as a corporate advertising medium.
While companies throughout the world have spent millions to create the perfect branding experience for their target markets, the financial crisis has forced many of them to find even more effective and economical tools to improve their connection with existing and potential customers. Organizations are especially attracted to advertising solutions that support quicker and more real-time consumer feedback, opinions and behavior monitoring, and which reach a larger audience.
Around 38 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion internet users play online games. An estimated 49 percent of casual gamers are 18-49 years old, with females slightly ahead, at 44 percent. The average age of the casual gamer climbed from 33 years in 2008 to 35 years in 2009, a median representing individuals with high spending capabilities. These figures prove that internet gamers are attractive targets for corporate ads. The key is to tap the entertainment value of online gaming, building in dynamic micro-contents linked to a brand. Which is precisely what advergaming offers.
Promoting brands as part of computer gaming has traditionally been done in a passive yet conspicuous manner. Today’s online gamers, however, do not like being disturbed by ads that interfere with their game-play. Advergames, which transform online games into instruments for building up brand image, have therefore emerged.