Activision, Inc. and Nielsen Entertainment have released the results of a study on the effectiveness of in-game advertising that incorporates different levels of product integration.
The study was conducted among 1350 active male gamers ages 13 to 44. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of nine test or control cells. Respondents who were assigned to four game test cells, featuring the games MTX Motortrax, Tony Hawk's Underground 2, Need For Speed Underground 2 and NHL 2K6, were then exposed to brands and products at various levels of integration and pervasiveness within each game.
Participants assigned to two game control cells played the same games without any products integrated or placed in the game. Moreover, three other groups of respondents were assigned to television test cells that incorporated traditional television commercials, product placements and no advertising, respectively.
According to the companies, the research results also found that a majority of study participants said that when the product is relevant to the game, advertising enhances the experience, and that the vast majority of gamers who recalled a product in a game felt it fit the game they were playing. In fact, in discussing a Cingular advertisement placed in NFS Underground 2, 69% of participants recalled seeing the ads, according to the survey.
However, this result presumably depends on how well the ads were integrated in the particular games that those surveyed were playing, someting Activision and Nielsen recognized, noticing that positive movement of the marketing metrics did not always correspond to increased integration. The companies have begun to try to rank this problem using metrics in categories such as 'Unique Object and Game Elements' and 'Brand Presence'.
"All media can claim to drive some level of awareness, but until now, no other media type has been able to reliably prove its ability to change consumer opinion," said Robert A. Kotick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Activision. "As this study shows, video games are a powerful ad delivery medium. But the challenge for the industry has been to develop a pervasive unit of measurement that will enable advertisers to accurately gauge the effectiveness of in-game ads. With this research, we have taken a major step in that direction."