ComScore's director of gaming solutions Edward Hunter tells Gamasutra that the ad-supported online game category may be providing an attractive free alternative for consumers in an economic downturn.
As the online advertising market in general is perceived to be declining overall, online games are attracting more display ads, Hunter adds.
"This means a few things," Hunter suggests. "First, it means that agencies and ad-planners are ‘getting it’ with regards to the power of the engaged gamer. Second, he believes that it means they will soon demand the same ROI and effectiveness measurements that they demand in traditional media.
More visitors means more ad exposures, and the number of views in 2008 grew 29 percent to 8.6 billion in November, even while the average player's frequency of exposure remains constant.
This doesn't equate to more ads cluttering up online games, ComScore maintains -- the number of ads per page view is actually down 17 percent, meaning advertisers are getting more eyeballs and more exposure in online games for fewer total ads.
So not only do gamers seem to be accepting advertising more, advertisers are seeing the value in supporting online games, Hunter explains.
"It also means that we will probably start to see a shift in the monetization model," he predicts. "This will be hugely underscored by 2008 technology developments allowing full-blown immersive 3D in the browser."