Advergaming: Using Video Games for Advertising
A fairly new practice in the advertising world is that of using video games to promote a product, service, or organization.
The first major use of the term "advergaming" was in a column in Wired magazine in 2001. It was used at that time to describe the fairly new practice of commissioning of free online games by large companies.
Since then, the current practice of advergaming has been divided into three major categories:
In most ATL advergaming, companies or organizations host interactive video games on their website. This increases traffic to the website and more awareness of the products or services offered by the website owners. It is pretty obvious that either of these purposes can benefit from advergaming. However, in the case of product promotion, the product is often highlighted in the game in some manner.
- ATL Advergaming
- BTL Advergaming
- TTL Advergaming.
Prior to the explosion of popular use of the Internet, advergaming was still a viable method of advertising only it was restricted to the media of the day. In those days, floppy disks and compact disks were often distributed for free to promote a product.
Possibly the first advergame was handed out on a floppy disk by American Home Food and promoted Chef Boyardee. Other companies such as Coca Cola and Taco Bell followed suit with free video games advertising their products.
As technology progressed, advergames were distributed on compact disk. One of the first of these was from Chex and General Mills.
Originally pretty simple, most advergames have kept pace with technology, and today, the differences between the early videos and the current products are pretty much the difference between Pac-Man and World of Warcraft.
In BTL, rather than sales, the goal is often recruitment. Pepsi and Burger King have used this method as has the U.S. Army. This type of advergaming is often used to promote events and activities such as Formula One Racing.
Most in-game advertising has a promotional aspect buried somewhere in the game. One of the more recent evolutions has been the promotion of movies where the player can follow a script with a plot line similar, or related, to the movie being advertised. In this way, the player not only becomes familiar with the movie but gains interest.
The same methods are ofen used to offer educational information as well.
There can even be not-so-obvious advertising in many advergames. For example, in a sports-related game which is set in some sort of arena, there may be advertising panels and banners as part of the background. Some games are even partly financed for one company by offering advertising, for a fee of course, in the game.
Advergames can be expensive, and sometimes the user is charged a fee. The technique of offering advertising within the game is one way that some organizations defray their costs and lower the fee.
TTL Advergaming stands for "through the line".
This is the rarest form of Advergaming.
In this method, URL links are embedded into a game, and these links take players to web pages which have BTL Advergaming. Different methods can be used to attract the player to a particular webpage.
In once such game "Enter the Matrix", for example, URL hyperlinks are shown in the background. The player has to to click these links to learn the facts necessary to function at the next level and, at the same time, the links help to advertise the product. Normal curiosity, a desire to learn about the theme of the game, attracts the player, even though it might not be necessary to click the link in order to finish the game.
These games are often called "link-chases" as one link leads the player to another. In some of these advergames, website visitors are offered a prize to prompt them to click the URL.
Many organizations like advergaming as this advertising technique not only creates awareness among the players themselves, but also among the player's friends who arrive due to the player's suggestion. In this manner, the success of an advergaming promotion is dependant on word of mouth. This makes it a viral marketing method.
In one recent year, the advergaming industry generated around $83.6 million and involved 105 million players.
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