Online gaming platforms of deceiving players partly by failing to clearly distinguish marketers’ promotional “advergames” from regular gameplay. But the dispute highlights the growing pains of videogames as an advertising medium. Investors are funneling money into companies looking to turn videogames into a marketing platform that can compete with television commercials and online ads.
But proponents of in-game advertising still need to clear significant hurdles, including murkiness around when an ad is viewable to players, how ads are appropriately marked in a medium where they can blend with gameplay and media buyers’ preconceptions about who plays games in the first place.
The frustration was reiterated earlier this month when almost 700 advertising executives convened in Midtown Manhattan to watch a series of presentations from companies selling in-game advertising space.
A new space for ads
Advertiser interest has increased as the number of people world-wide who play videogames at least once every six months grew to 2.96 billion in 2021 from 2.03 billion in 2015, according to gaming analytics firm Newzoo. They can also buy ads that let players unlock small in-game boosts, gifts or other extra content in exchange for watching, or create entire branded games of their own.
Another Anzu investor, NBCUniversal, is already using the in-game advertising technology as part of its sales pitch to advertisers. But advertisers still are not flocking to gaming in droves. advertisers spent $52.2 billion on automated online video ad buys in 2021, up 48.3% from the year prior.
It is also more difficult for advertisers to measure how many people viewed their ads than it is in other established channels such as television and streaming, for instance, they added. Those guidelines are now outdated in the face of technical developments in the videogame and ad-tech sectors, and incongruent with how advertisers measure digital advertising across other media in 2022. The organization plans to release its first draft of the new standards later this year, said Zoe Soon, vice president of the IAB’s Experience Center, a division that helps advertisers understand emerging platforms.
Corrections & Amplifications
The trade organization for the online advertising industry is the Interactive Advertising Bureau. An earlier version of this article incorrectly called it the Internet Advertising Bureau.