Should Brands Opt Out of Primetime Ads for Social Games?

Author: Chris Davis

It is hard to deny it – the adoption of social games across Facebook, as well as mobile and many other platforms has become widespread. With over 1 billion registered users on Facebook, the environment is ripe for social gaming. This is certainly no secret and companies like Zynga have exploited it with great success.

Numbers Tell All

The “virtual goods” market is a 6 billion dollar global market, with over 8 billion dollars of spend forecast by 2015. Currently, advertising represents 40% of this revenue, and is forecasted to continue growing. What most people do not realize, however, is that consumers spend over 40% of their time playing social games on Facebook, and over half of all Facebook users have engaged with social games on the platform. This type of environment represents the perfect scenario for companies to successfully integrate their brands. Where else on the web can you get such time spent, interaction, and engagement? The potential for consumer facing brands, provided they incorporate ads in the proper fashion and make them contextually relevant to a consumer’s experience, is enormous. In fact, there are studies to suggest that social games from a pure “reach” standpoint are more popular than the most commonly watched television shows during “primetime” (source: The demographic closely aligns to primetime television, adults between the ages of 18-49 and social games have a slight female skew.

Seamless Integration Finds Success

When organic environments can be created for brands to advertise their wares to consumers, third party research suggests “brand lift” in all metrics measured. Most of these environments involve some sort of “value exchange” (the process of awarding consumers something of value for interacting with ads as part of the gaming experience). In essence, you are making the advertisement part of the gaming experience (and not interruptive), since it is closely aligned to the consumer experience and overall game play. As mentioned above, with proper targeting, this environment can represent even more benefit since interruptions to the gaming experience with annoying pre qualifying questions or interstitials between levels of game play are never advised. The same brand favorability in an interruptive and non-elective environment would be very difficult to achieve.

Pitfalls associated with social gaming advertisements run slim, again provided it is incorporated in the right method (which we will examine further in Part II), as well as with proper targeting. More and more Fortune 1000 companies are becoming familiar with the space, and realize its benefit in reaching their target consumer. For now, it is safe to say that brands have significant potential to take advantage of very premium content within a high quality environment.

This is part one in a Social Games & Advertising series. For Chris’ second post, tune into our blog next week.

About Chris

Chris is the VP of Brand Sales for TrialPay. Chris is passionate about working with brands to create unique marketing campaigns that help tie their Web and offline digital objectives together. He has been at the forefront of the social digital world for more than 12 years, including almost a decade-long run as VP of Ad Sales at MTV Digital Networks’ NeoPets. Currently, Chris heads Brand Sales at TrialPay, where he helps brands connect with Facebook’s 300+ million social gamers through premium, in-game brand engagements.

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