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What is In-Game Advertising? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Angela Carollo

Angela has her M.B.A. in marketing and has spoken at numerous conventions across the United States. Areas of focus include social media, branding, advertising, sales, media, marketing, and management.

Learn the basics of in-game advertising in this lesson. Includes definitions and examples of the different approaches used by advertising companies and game developers.

In-Game Advertising

You're playing the newest baseball video game on your favorite gaming system. Although this is just a game, you are aware that the players and ballparks represent real people and stadiums. The graphics have gotten so detailed that you might notice that the billboards along the outfield in the ballpark are similar to advertisements in real life. The difference between these advertisements and players, however, is that some of the advertisements don't just represent real life, they are in fact real. Paid promotions such as a sponsorship or advertisement built into video games are referred to as in-game advertising or IGA.

Types of IGA

There are three basic types of in-game advertising including static (ads that are not changeable), dynamic (changeable ads), and advergaming (a game built as an advertisement). We'll get more into detail on these later in the lesson. Within these three categories are several different approaches or executions to IGA such as incentivized (ads that reward the gamer), selective (advertising that the gamer chooses), and ad gating (ads required to view before continuing the game) to name a few. We'll go through some examples of these approaches also.

History of IGA

In-game advertising has been around since 1978 when it first appeared in Adventureland. It was groundbreaking to have an ad programmed into a game, especially an ad promoting a new game. Today, it's difficult to find a game without some form of in-game advertising. In these early years of IGA, the ad couldn't be changed once released to the public. This is referred to as static in-game advertising. The advertisements along the ballpark fence in the game Major League Baseball 2K8, for example, are static in-game advertisements because they have no way of being changed once the game was put on a CD and sold.

Dynamic In-game Advertising

Now, technology is much more advanced and many games use or require an internet connection. Because of this, advertisements can be dynamic, or changed even after the game is released. Although additional programming is required, dynamic in-game advertising (DIGA) has many benefits. For example, the number of times an advertisement is seen can be tracked and the advertisement can be changed to something that is more relevant at the time. Let's say that the newest baseball game has DIGA. While playing, you might notice that one of the billboards is an advertisement for the release of a new movie. When playing the game again many months later, this same billboard could now be advertising the release of a newer album.

An example of in-game advertising
iga game

Advergaming

What makes advergaming different from static and dynamic in-game advertising is that the entire game exists as the advertisement. For example, Chipotle Scarecrow is a game that was funded by and built for Chipotle. Instead of creating a game for entertainment first and using ads to help fund the game, advergaming exists as a branding strategy first with entertainment as a second priority.

Approaches to IGA

Incentivized Ads

There are many different approaches to in-game advertising. For example, incentivized ads, or advertisements that require you to do something in order to receive some sort of reward, can be found in games. Incentivized ads are usually dynamic and are popular among games that are free to play or download, or freemium. After using most your gold coins on an online game, for example, an advertisement takes over your screen asking you to watch a commercial to receive 100 new gold coins and continue. This would be considered an incentivized ad because you had to watch the commercial to receive the 100 gold coins.

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