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Does gaming hold potential as advertising medium?

James Burke

Senior Associate Director, Custom

Digital 10.07.2015 / 11:11

Gaming Experience Map

Gaming has the unique ability to hold attention and drive interaction. Marketers need consider two dimensions when integrating brands into any game.

Gaming is a unique medium, in terms of its ability to hold attention as well as drive interaction. So, what is it about gaming that makes it so engaging? And does it really hold potential for brands as an advertising medium?

In a whitepaper by Kantar Media, we share the findings of original research conducted to answer these questions. The consumer research behind the paper used innovative hybrid approaches, including: qualitative, quantitative and biometric observations (GSR, facial coding and eye-tracking). The paper shows there are two key dimensions for marketers to consider when integrating brands into any game: Realism and Ownership.

Realism: The more true to life a game appears, the easier it is for real-life brands of all types to integrate into it. When this is done well, it helps add to the immersive experience of the game. For example, in FIFA 15 as with real football our gamers expect to see brands as part of the environment making them a welcome inclusion as long as they hold category relevance. Whereas, with Grand Theft Auto V, the environment is hyper-real and includes parody brands rather than real world ones. To simply switch all of the parody brands to real ones risks alienating gamers.

Ownership: The more public the space across the whole gaming experience, the more welcome brands appear to be. So for example, the start-up home screen is a very personal space and the sight of an ad might feel like an intrusion. Whereas, areas like the 'What's New' screen can be considered as a retail environment and therefore advertising was not deemed out of place.

The report also maps out the two dimensions, to show that opportunities that fit in the top right quadrant are the most favourable for brand integration. Click on the image on the right hand side to expand the Gaming Experience Map (GEM).

Finally our gaming experts have identified three types of brand integration with potential:

  1. Exposed: This approach is comparable to internet advertising via overlay and pre-rolls and is transactional in the sense that the viewer/gamer exchanges their attention for an opportunity to play or free content. The less interactive the moment, the more room there is for overt advertising like this. Our gamers didn't mind this kind of advertising on YouTube and Twitch and felt that it has its place in mobile gaming, but rejected the idea of it on console games where they have often paid to play in a more personal space.
  2. Embedded: This type of brand integration can be seen as beneficial to the gamer. If done well, it enhances immersion in the game and therefore brands become a welcome part of the environment. Brands with a strong pre-existing association with the scenario cannot be changed where Realism is an important characteristic of the game, but generally brands can be embedded into games if they have reasonable category relevance/authenticity.
  3. Enhanced: Going beyond simply embedding, the brand can add something more to the gaming experience while the game can bring a new meaning to the brand. Enhanced integrations could be sponsorship of tournaments within games, added features or unlockable items.

If brands can understand the different roles and rules, and find ways to create unique value for the gaming audience, then gaming really does offer a special opportunity to them. Read more by downloading the GameON report below, or visiting the Kantar Media website.

Source: Kantar Media


Editor's notes

To properly understand gaming's potential for brands we needed to better understand the gaming experience for players. Quantitative research gave us a broad understanding of gamers and their views. We conducted qualitative research to dive deeper into gamers' conscious views and feelings, combining this with implicit biometric techniques (eye-tracking, galvanic skin response and facial coding) during gaming sessions to understand the unconscious physiological reactions to gaming.

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