Will In-Game Ads Keep Delivering Brand Lift?

In-game advertising networks continue to conduct third-party research to assess ad effectiveness and deliver brand metrics to specific advertisers. Microsoft’s Massive recently commissioned Interpret to carry out such research for four brands advertising on its network of game ads, and the results indicate consumers like the ads and remember them.

The study evaluated separate campaigns for Adidas, a fast food restaurant brand, a global candy bar company, and an entertainment studio advertising a DVD release.

Massive continues to see lift across all client categories and game genres, said Alison Lange Engel, global marketing director at Massive. In cases where the ads are relevant to the game experience, gamers are inclined to view the integrations as a good thing, she said.

With Adidas, 73 percent of respondents agreed the ads enhanced the realism of the game “Major League Baseball 2K7” from 2K Sports. In Electronic Arts’ “Need for Speed Carbon,” gamers agreed it made the environment feel more interactive.

Research reinforces the medium for advertisers. “We’re seeing that play out in key facets of the market. We have 270 global ad clients, and have seen clients increase the levels of investments following the research,” Lange Engel said.

Measured lift could be due to the nascent quality of the channel. “We’re seeing higher brand lift within [in-game ads] than other mediums. However it is hard to say whether these are higher than the brand lift [enjoyed] early in the development of other mediums,” said Ali Rana, an analyst at Dynamic Logic, a Millward Brown company.

The brand effectiveness of digital advertising has not fared well over time, according to Dynamic Logic data from earlier this year. In the space of three years, from Q4 2004 to Q3 2007, the lift in “brand message association” the company measured for all online ads fell from 4.3 percent to just 2.5 percent. The same downward trend has accompanied a more generalized metric: “brand awareness.”

Dynamic Logic is currently conducting research on in-game advertising, but was unable to provide an overall average for the brand effectiveness it’s measured for the category.

Massive has also had its impression count audited by Interactive Media Services group (ImServices), a move that aims to grant assurance to advertisers. The audit verifies the soundness of Massive’s process for measuring ad impressions. Impression counting in the in-game space has not been standardized, but a cumulative 10-second exposure to an ad at a viewable angle has become accepted among most ad networks.

The audit process took about a year. Massive granted ImServices access to its servers and data logs.

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