| by Click Consult

Increase your ad’s wanted level

Increase your ad’s wanted levelIncrease your ad’s wanted level

In-game advertising (IGA) has existed since the late 80’s, but its perceived lack of value continues to be the subject of much scrutiny. However, both Sony and Microsoft announced recently that their next generation consoles would focus heavily on ‘social gaming’, Sony in particular touching on how the console would ‘get to know gamers’. This makes the potential for ad targeting within gaming titles so much greater.

In July 2013, Reloaded Interactive launched ‘a dynamic in-game advertising network’, using familiar characteristics that we are used to when dealing with display advertising. Ads can now be geo-targeted, scheduled and reported on as part of a CPM model. What is now missing is how to really pinpoint your targeting.

Imagine playing the new GTA V that will have the interactive capabilities on Facebook and Twitter of the new PS4. Advertisers could then target you in the game world with specific creative ads based on recent likes and tweets. For example, billboards advertising the next episode in a show you tweeted about, or the website you visited on your console, now advertised on your character’s smartphone. It’s all part of ‘the experience’, though in essence your character is being remarketed to on your behalf.

We could even go the other way. If your character buys a car in the game, it’s because you chose it, so then let’s remarket that vehicle, or related track days, to you outside of the game based on your in-game activity. Cross-device tracking just got interesting. Think of the visitor path:

Tablet > IGA Mobile > Desktop > IGA Billboard > Tablet > IGA Shop Front > Direct

So, how does this relate to search? Well in GTA, for example, apart from the usual clichéd, but enjoyable, storylines of thug-done-good, there is another theme throughout the genre. The protagonist has a mobile phone. In the original GTA game back in 1997 there were pagers. By GTA3 in 2001, these were replaced by texts, but it wasn’t until 2004 that you were able to make your own calls. In 2008 you had a camera-phone but now, in futuristic 2013, we find the character has upgraded to a cutting edge smartphone.

My first thought as a search marketer was “I wonder if there are ads on it?” Clearly I need to get out more, but it got me thinking. Display advertising in games is about to take a giant leap forward, but can search adapt with it?

The smartphone, as we all know, has been pivotal to the rise of search, with mobile search expected to overtake desktop by 2015 and similar to us humans, game characters depend more and more on these devices in gameplay. The question is what will users search for whilst in the game?

One possibility is help with completing ‘missions’. The new PS4 has a share option between friends who can complete these on their behalf through the aforementioned social integration, but gamers are proud people! Instead of risking the stigma of asking friends, gamers could search for someone to complete it anonymously, in exchange for payment – virtual or otherwise.

This obviously doesn’t limit itself to phones. There’s no mock-mobile in a Formula 1 game, that’s just dangerous. It is realistic to expect that users could search for new titles within one game and download them in the background whilst continuing with gameplay, (as a result of seeing the display ad earlier in gameplay).

Perhaps whilst playing the latest FIFA you decide to buy the shirt of the AC Milan team that is humbling your eleven. Searching in-game for kits and purchasing means it is easier to act on impulse without swapping devices. Similarly, you decide that your current controller no longer cuts the mustard. A quick in-game search and within minutes you’re back to it, knowing that tomorrow it will be in your capable hands.

The improvements for display are unquestionable, but bringing search to the forefront of gaming has yet to be explored in a way that makes CPC bidding viable.

A genre that previously targeted based on average characteristics of every user now becomes a personalised experience. Whilst debate hangs over the intrusion levels of display, search marketing should be ready and waiting to assist a gamer in need.

Marc Spear
Click Consult

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