A campaign for Toyota's 2007 Yaris adds interactivity to in-game advertising for the first time. Agencies are interested, but have reservations.
Now that dynamic advertising has made its way into video games, marketers are looking for ways to improve engagement and measurability.
To that end, Microsoft-owned Massive Inc. has added a new type of in-game unit -- one with bold interactive elements -- to a 3D video game campaign now underway for Toyota's 2007 Yaris sedan. The placements are appearing in Funcom's "Anarchy Online" and several other games in Massive's network.
The ad displays a vehicle covered in a red veil. Ad copy identifies the car as the Yaris, and says "click to unveil." Clicking on the unit displays the car and invites gamers to navigate to Toyota.com.
When asked about the new units, Agencies expressed interest but said they had reservations about the approach, typical of what one might expect from a traditional banner ad.
"I question whether we want the click-ability of the ad unit to be a measure of success in a video game," said Brandon Berger, OgilvyOne's senior strategist for digital innovation. "Users are here to experience the game. When you deliver the ad into the game, you're reaching them, but if you're asking them to click through to a different experience [how does that suit the medium?]."
That said, Berger said he plans to test the unit, which he expects may perform well in laid back 3D gaming environments that allow for more exploration and downtime (versus say, a first-person shooter like Quake).
"In a game like Anarchy Online, where there's a lot of opportunity to stand around...and interact, I think there's lots of opportunity there," he said.
Dario Raciti, OMD's group director and gaming leader, also expressed guarded optimism.
"There are a few companies out there trying to figure out how to make this medium more ROI [-oriented] for advertisers and find a way to measure response," he told ClickZ News. "I'm not sure if this is the best way to go about it, but it's certainly worth trying. And trying it in a smaller game is certainly better than in a bigger title."
Toyota agency of record Saatchi & Saatchi in L.A. assisted with the creative execution.
Massive was not immediately available for comment, but Nicholas Longano, the firm's president of new media, said the following in a statement: "This new ad unit allows gamers to interact with the game environment in new ways and provides our advertisers with a powerful means of delivering a compelling brand experience to the gaming audience."
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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