From niche roots, gaming has grown into a colossal industry that’s now bigger than the film and music industries combined. By 2025, it’s set to bring in revenue of $256.97 billion.
Of this revenue, a big chunk can be attributed to advertising of different sorts. There’s big potential here for brands that are looking to attract new customers. But, like any ad, the most successful ones are the ones that grab the customers’ attention in new ways.
In this blog post we’ll run through the different types of advertising in games, especially advergaming, and explain its potential for businesses.
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The majority of in-game advertising comes in the form of banner ads or pop-ups. They’re found in all types of games, but by far most often in mobile games.
Mobile game ads have been perfected into a fine art, with many different formats of interactive, finely tuned ads which have been designed to be as enticing as possible.
When it comes to console or PC games, in-game pop up ads are much less common. Instead, brands advertise their products with in-game ads on billboards or game menus, or even through sponsored product placements.
But there’s another way brands blend advertising with gaming, known as advergaming, that we’ll look at today.
Rather than advertising brands through in-game ads, advergames involve building an entire game around a specific brand as a means of advertising. Building a game around a brand helps develop brand personality and create a link between positive emotions felt when playing a game, and the brand that created it.
Advergames have progressed from the earliest days of video games, through many different eras and types of console. Now, almost all advergames are mobile games. There are a few different reasons for this.
Mobile games are:
They’ve become a popular alternative to conventional advertising and marketing campaigns because they reach a wider audience and are typically much more engaging than conventional video- or social media- based campaigns.
Another marketing technique that’s often confused with advergaming is gamification. There’s an important distinction between the two, but both play their own important role in modern digital marketing.
Advergaming: “Building a game around a brand to encourage interaction with new and potential customers”
Gamification: “Building elements of games and gaming into other parts of the brand and customer experience to make them more enticing”
Singapore-based ecommerce giant Lazada is well known for its heavy use of gamification throughout its app and shopping experience.
While building your own mobile game may sound like a waste of resources, advergames have a lot of potential benefits for brands. They can help with sales and customer loyalty in many cases, but the primary objective of all advergames is building brand awareness.
When it comes to brand awareness, the ultimate goal is to get your advergame to go viral. There’s a significant amount of luck involved in this, but good, simple game design is essential. Social sharing features can also help build momentum when your game reaches a certain level of popularity.
In many cases brands choose to build advergames around specific products as part of their initial advertising campaigns.
Advergames typically follow a simple format, and build their target brand into the game in a conspicuous way. Ultimately the purpose of an advergame is to serve as an interactive ad.
KFC Shrimp Attack is a simple mobile game where players have to protect the KFC base from attacking shrimp sticks by swiping.
Players could record their high scores and share via social media. It proved highly popular, bringing in 800,000 players, so many that KFC had to stop the game half way through the campaign because they ran out of the shrimp strips it was built to promote.
Hyundai Chop Shop was a hugely successful advergame launched by Hyundai in collaboration with AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ TV series. The game allowed players to modify Hyundai cars with hundred of different zombie killing add-ons and weapons.
Hyundai had already secured a lucrative product placement in the series with the Tucson SUV. Hyundai chop shop was downloaded millions of times and it did a lot to increase brand awareness at the time.
Advergames aren’t appropriate for all businesses, but they’re a great option if you’re a consumer-facing brand with an accessible product lineup.
As with all ads and marketing campaigns, it's better to be creative and original. The ultimate goal is to get your advergame to go viral because it will maximize brand exposure.
Building relevant promotions into your advergame can help you make it more attractive to customers and help directly increase sales.
If you’d like to find out more about gamification, download our Gamification White Paper.
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