It seems that the computer video game screen is now firmly becoming a new, but rather offbeat, location for billboard advertising.
One of the driving forces behind this real and virtual billboard synergy is Posterscope, which announced back in March an agreement with IGA  to run in-game billboard ads simultaneously with outdoor billboard ads.
Through that agreement, Posterscope were to place adverts in over 80 video games represented by IGA, including Race Driver Grid, Guitar Hero World Tour, Track Mania Nations Forever and the first of some of these has recently come to fruition. The ads of course are being placed in contextually relevant locations in those games.
Essentially, these kinds of blended campaigns are designed to increase exposure for outdoor billboard ads.Posterscope recently ran a blended real and virtual billboard campaign for the U.K. government’s COI (Central Office of Information,) which was designed to discourage people from driving under the influence of drugs.
According to James Davies, board director of Hyperspace/Posterscope, Posterscope began exploring the idea of blending real and virtual billboards “7-8 years ago due to the similarities between real world and virtual billboards.”
However, that kind of synergy wasn’t really feasible at the time, because of the “long lead times for getting advertising into a game,” which was obviously not consistent with the lead times for outdoor advertising.
But Posterscope felt that the synergy constituted “an interesting principle,” and “pursued discussions with IGA and Massive Incorporated.”
Finally, Posterscope decided to proceed with this kind of effort 18 months ago for a number of reasons: –
- in-game advertising is similar to real world advertising, considering that posters in games are similar in shape and size to real world ads
- in-game ads are consumed in much the same way as real world ads
- the creative execution of ads in games can be fairly similar to that for real world ads
- James Davies also notes that “game audiences are complementary with audiences for real world ads, affording an obvious synergy in that regard he says
- In addition, measurement of the number of people viewing game ads parallels that for real world ads*
*Ad impressions generated by such campaigns conducted by Posterscope and IGA will also be monitored through the Internet connections of gamers exposed to those campaigns
Davies stresses that Posterscope is careful not to divert money away from agencies devoted to game advertising, but to “add incremental revenue” to the mix in the process of running blended real and virtual billboard campaigns.Their whole objective is to “make this concept appealing to a broader range of advertisers.” and it’s not difficult to see that this approach is now compelling, given that it’s easy to incorporate “the in-game proposition into the existing outdoor proposition.”
Research conducted by Posterscope relating to blended real and virtual billboard campaigns found that “game players welcome seeing real advertising within games,” – a whopping 66% of gamers surveyed said that “advertising in video games makes the game more realistic”.
According to Davies, Posterscope’s blended real and virtual world billboards are targeted at a variety of audiences…
- The primary audience for these campaigns is composed of hardcore gamers, whom are essentially 15-24 year old males that he describes as “midmarket.”
- The secondary audience which is “much broader and mainstream,” ranges from 15 to the 40s and is both “upmarket and downmarket,” with a definite bias towards males though it does comprises “plenty of females.” as well. Davies “sees increasing integration between real and virtual billboards, but there is no perfect pitch yet for these kinds of campaigns” he tells us
The proposition for such campaigns needs to be refined, and “more data is required” to validate the value of those campaigns. Overall, blended real and virtual billboard campaigns must gain “more momentum,” contends Davies.
He emphasizes the need for “more trials” and research to understand better this kind of integration.
Some interesting statistics from the recent ‘Drug Driving’ campaign showed that In Game Advertising delivered the same attribution levels (14%) as broadcast online social networking portals like facebook – very impressive especially when you think that IGA is not (really) a broadcast platform.
Perceptions of in game advertising are also incredibly good – 91% of gamers agreed that they welcome the drug drive message in a game (as previously stated this is we believe because they like that it makes the games more realistic).
Although such blended real and virtual billboard campaigns are still at an early stage, their appearance is yet another indication of the increasing integration of the in-home and digital out-of-home advertising market, and of the need for the digital out-of-home market to expand beyond its traditional environment.