Gamers Ready to Run With In-Game Ads

The growth of in-game advertising spawns the question of whether gamers respond to ads placed in the games they play. The first installment of a quarterly study, “The Players,” released by comScore Networks, looks at all segments of gamers to determine their attitudes toward the emerging practice of in-game advertising.

The bulk of gamers fall into the 18 to 44 year-old age group, with 17 percent in the 18 to 24 group and 23 percent in the 35 to 44 year-old group. Both segments appeal to marketers. Twenty-five percent of gamers are considered hardcore, or heavy, gamers. This group plays 16 or more hours per week across any one gaming platform — PC, Xbox, PlayStation, GameCube, or handheld device — or 11 hours or more per week spread across more than one platform. Light or medium gamers, who represent 75 percent of the overall segment, are characterized by playing less than 16 hours per week on only one platform. Typical gamers have disposable incomes; 20 percent report annual incomes over $75,000 per year. Most gamers have engaged in video games for about nine years and have been online for about eight.

About half of heavy gamers and one-third of casual gamers have heard of in-game advertising; attitudes toward the concept vary, but most are agreeable. In-game advertising acts as a deterrent for 15 percent of heavy gamers and 21 percent of casual players. Thirty-three percent of the hardcore crowd say they are likely to play titles with advertising, and 52 percent say advertising has no impact on the choice of games they play.


Familiarity With In-Game Advertising, February 13-27, 2006 (%)
Heavy Gamers (%) Light/ Medium Gamers (%)
Very familiar 23 11
Somewhat familiar 31 22
Vaguely familiar 24 37
Never heard of 23 30
Source: comScore Networks, 2006


Likelihood in the Next Three Months Will Play Game That Advertises or Promotes a Product or Service, February 13-27, 2006 (%)
Heavy Gamers (%) Light/ Medium Gamers (%)
Likely (top three responses) 33 23
Neither likely, nor unlikely 52 56
Unlikely (bottom three responses) 15 21
Source: comScore Networks, 2006

More active gamers are more likely to respond to the advertising in games. Seventeen percent of respondents say they consider buying a product or service after seeing an ad in a game, compared to nine percent of casual gamers. Previous studies have shown that in-game advertising increases brand recall.

While heavy gamers, who respond more to advertising, comprise one-quarter of the gaming audience, it is a valuable segment. “This is a very important 25 percent of the market,” said Erin Hunter, SVP of comScore entertainment solutions. “They are influential, and hard-to-reach otherwise. While a smaller segment, they cannot be overlooked in a smart media plan to this type of audience — and demographic group.”

Forty-six percent of gamers are resigned to the idea that advertising in games is inevitable, 39 percent of light and medium gamers also see in-game advertising becoming more prevalent. Execution is crucial to a media buy in a video game. Most gamers, however, don’t see ads as interruptive or bothersome. Thirty-five percent of heavy gamers think in-game advertising doesn’t get in the way of game play.

“Ads cannot be interruptive and the creative must be well-thought-out and integrated appropriately into the game,” said Hunter.


Heavy Gamers’ Agreement With Statements About In-Game Advertising, February 13-27, 2006 (%)
Heavy Gamers (%) Light/ Medium Gamers (%)
These ads make me consider buying the product/service 17 9
This type of advertising is inevitable and will be in all or most games of the future 46 39
Source: comScore Networks, 2006

Gamers tend to be more aggressive Web users, spending an average 53 hours per month online, versus 24 hours spent by most other Web users. Heavy gamers also tend to go online about 24 days per month, while the typical user goes online 17 days per month. Game Web sites offer an alternative to in-game advertising but reach much of the same audience. Game sites reach almost half of the Internet universe. In April, the category of sites represented 76.9 million consumers.

Data from the study were compiled using comScore’s dual-mode methodology. It combines passively observed online behavior and attitudinal information for the same consumers. Data were collected from 800 gamers in February.

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