Advergaming has been around for years, but it’s never been more popular than right now—and for good reason. More and more, consumers congregate online for shopping, research and entertainment purposes. While tactics such as banner ads provide an opportunity to target online, they fail to engage consumers the way advergames can.
“If you can engage somebody from five to 10 minutes, that’s a huge feat,” says Dan Ferguson, founder and vice president of interactive services of Blockdot, a Dallas-based interactive entertainment and advergaming technologies studio. “But through game play, especially effective game play, we’ve seen people who can spend 45 minutes to an hour in one instance playing a game and then getting that same person to come back five to 10 times.” The longer people play, Ferguson adds, the more it impacts brand recognition and purchase intent.
Jessica Rovello, president of New York-based advergaming provider Arkadium, agrees. “With traditional online advertising like banner buys or even video ads, you’re not really entirely sure if people are looking at it or paying attention to it,” she says. “With advergaming, whether it be an ad shown before your game or your brand integrated into a game, you know that people are concentrating on your brand message because they’re concentrating on the game.”
Is Advergaming Right for You?
A common misnomer, according to Rovello, is that advergames only appeal to youths and 18- to 25-year-old males, which is not the case. “Sometimes people … think games, and they think youth—action or shooting games, but that’s not the full spectrum,” she emphasizes. “One of our most popular games is solitaire … games targeted at older audiences.”
The truth is advergaming works for just about any marketer. In fact, both Rovello and Ferguson say they’ve yet to find a brand that it’s not appropriate for. Arkadium and Blockdot have done games for companies from American Airlines and Universal Pictures to feminine hygiene products manufacturers and pharmaceutical firms. The key is “to be smart about integrating your brand into the game,” says Rovello. “It sounds obvious, but even if you know that sudoku is, say, the most popular game online right now and you’ve got a car company, it maybe doesn’t make sense to do that. It’s got to make sense with your brand.”