It seems to me that the key to in-game advertising is to simply think outside the box, and then put everything in context for the environment its in. One thing I can totally agree with is that content is everything. In today’s wiki-world, the end-users are the drivers–and the end users want more content.
Context is king
If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying a thousand times. Context is probably the single most important aspect of planning a successful in-game advertising campaign and should be the first and last thing you consider, be it for a dynamic network buy or, in particular, for a full-blown interactive product integration.
In-game advertising is fairly unique in media terms in that gamers actually want to see real brands and advertising where appropriate, as it adds a further sense of environmental and contextual realism within these increasingly photorealistic virtual worlds.
However, that enhanced user focus has the potential to work against you if you try to force your presence where it does not belong or if you provide clumsy creative treatment.
Pay close attention to individual title demographics, game genre verticals and environment types when planning your campaign and consider adapting your creative to better fit the different advertising formats, where possible.
You can’t take any shortcuts either.
In the same way you wouldn’t run the stock same creative for all your media targets across print, outdoor and online, gaming should be no different. Gamers will not react positively to seeing internet banner ads on 48-sheet outdoor poster sites!
Right now, this sort of advertising is for the younger demographics, but I would propose major companies need to practice and get good at this sort of marketing approach, because games like Second Life are making this medium more than just a game. I suspect we will begin to see more and more adults engaging in “game” environments for more than just play.
As consumers become ever more media savvy, going out of your way to engage with them on their terms and at their level is increasingly the Holy Grail for advertisers. In-game allows you to give that personal touch, yet on a mass-reach scale and with unrivalled ROI resolution.