Are Advergames the Future of Digital Marketing?by@max-albert
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Are Advergames the Future of Digital Marketing?

by Max AlbertDecember 16th, 2022
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An advergame is a video game that is designed to promote a product, service, or brand. These games are often created by advertising agencies and are used to increase brand awareness and engagement. Advergames are typically described as “mid-funnel” marketing tools.

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Once thought to be impossible is now possible. Companies can create their own video games for advertising purposes.

My game studio specializes in creating advergames for ad agencies and brand managers. Often, our games are rated quite highly as consumers love the experience. Sometimes they even top the mobile charts.

I’m here to answer the questions I receive most often from ad agencies looking to learn about the space.

Question: What Are Advergames?

An advergame is a type of video game that is designed to promote a product, service, or brand. These games are often created by advertising agencies and are used to increase brand awareness and engagement.

Advergames are designed to be fun and engaging. They can take many different forms, including mobile games, browser games, and even console games. They are typically distributed online, through social media, or on a brand’s website, and they can be played for free.

Another key characteristic of advergames is that they don’t contain programmatic ads or other forms of monetization such as in-app purchases.

Question: What Are The Advantages of Advergames?

One of the key advantages of advergames is that they allow brands to connect with consumers in a more interactive and engaging way.

Unlike traditional forms of advertising, which can be passive and easily ignored, advergames provide an immersive experience that can hold the player’s attention for longer periods of time.

This makes advergames an effective way to increase brand affinity, product recall, and intent to buy.

In one landmark case study, leveraged game marketing to increase brand affinity by 46% and intent to purchase by 26% of a snack company.

In addition to promoting a brand, advergames can also be used to educate consumers about a product or service. For example, a game could be designed to teach players about the benefits of a new car or to explain the features of a financial service in an engaging and interactive way.

Advergames are typically described as “mid-funnel” marketing tools. However, they can aid with lower-funnel objectives such as driving site traffic and even sales.

Quite often, advergames will include an incentivized call-to-action which will offer players in-game and physical rewards for following a link to the brand’s site. Studies suggest that these incentivized CTAs can have click-through rates as high as 43%!

Question: What Are Some Examples of Advergames?

  • Chipotle Race to Rewards,” an advergame created by Chipotle in 2016. The game challenged players to collect ingredients and build burritos as they race through different levels. The game helped to increase brand awareness and engagement for Chipotle, and it also encouraged players to visit Chipotle restaurants to redeem rewards and prizes.

  • Pepsi-Man,” an advergame created by PepsiCo in 1999. The game featured a humanoid character, Pepsi-Man, who ran through different levels and collected Pepsi cans while avoiding obstacles and enemies. The game helped to increase brand awareness and engagement for Pepsi and its products.

  • Chex Quest,” an advergame created by General Mills in 1996 & revived in 2020. The game featured characters from the popular Chex cereal brand, who were tasked with exploring different levels and defeating enemies in order to save the galaxy. The game helped to increase brand awareness and engagement for the Chex brand and to promote the benefits of eating whole-grain cereal.

  • Mortgage Race,” an advergame for Mortgage Hero in 2022, is designed to help first-time homebuyers learn about the complexities of obtaining a mortgage. The game provided a brand lift to Mortgage Hero and served as a lead generation. 82% of survey respondents were better able to describe the Mortgage Hero product offering after playing their advergame.

Question: What Are the Challenges with Producing a Successful Advergame?

There are a few things to consider before creating an advergame:

  • Be Genuine, Novel, & Fun — If the game isn’t fun, it’s not going to be successful. Creating a game that is both fun and engaging, while also effectively promoting a brand or product, can be difficult; as advergames need to balance entertainment value with promotional objectives.

  • Gather Data — Advergames need to be evaluated in terms of their effectiveness in promoting a brand or product and in terms of their impact on consumer engagement, brand awareness, and sales. This can require sophisticated tracking and analytics tools.

  • Market the Advergame — Just because you built an advergame doesn’t mean that gamers will naturally find it. Ensure the game has a marketing catalyst so the advergame winds up on the top iOS/Android/Steam and garners organic growth. My recommendation is to leverage influencer marketing, however, programmatic marketing on social media or fantasy IP will also work!

  • Think About Upfront Cost and Activation Time — Advergames tend to have competitive eCPM pricing to other forms of marketing. However, they tend to require more upfront costs to build the game and market the game. They also tend to have slightly longer activation time than other channels, though game studios that specialize in advergames have experience shipping quarterly.

Question: How Does Marketing via an Advergame Compare to Traditional Game Marketing Methods Such as Programmatic, Metaverse, and Sponsoring an eSport team?

Creating an advergame has several advantages over other forms of game marketing.

First, creating an advergame allows a brand to have complete control over the content and messaging of the game. This ensures that the game is brand-safe and consistent with the brand’s image and values.

In contrast, programmatic advertising and sponsored eSports teams do not provide the same level of control, and there is a risk that the brand’s message could be diluted by other content.

Second, advergames are inherently engaging, as they provide a fun and interactive experience for players. This can help to increase consumer engagement with the brand and its products or services, and it can also foster positive associations and longer-term loyalty.

In contrast, programmatic advertising and sponsored esports content can be less engaging, and they may not provide the same level of interaction or immersion.

Third, advergames can be used to educate consumers about a brand or product, by incorporating informative and instructional elements into the game. This can help to increase consumer awareness and understanding of the brand and its offerings.

Lastly, advergames come with really great data. Because the brand owns the game, they’re able to measure everything they would like. Impressions, click-through rates, and what products received the most in-game attention.

Conversely, other gaming activations can be more limited in their data gathering. For instance, McKinsey found that eSport activations often only reached a fraction of the audience that was advertised by the vendor.

Question: Why Are Mobile Advergames Set to Take Off?

Advergames are taking off on mobile due to the recent advancements in low-code technology, which have significantly reduced the cost and effort required to develop and deploy these games.

Low code technology allows for the creation of complex, interactive games with minimal coding and development resources, which has made it much more accessible and affordable for brands to create and distribute advergames.

In addition to the cost savings provided by low code technology, mobile advergames are also benefiting from the tremendous traffic that the Apple App Store and Google Play Store receive on a daily basis.

These app stores are the primary distribution channels for mobile games, and they provide a massive audience of potential players for advergames.

The sheer volume of users and downloads on these app stores makes them an attractive platform for advergames, as they can reach a large and engaged audience with minimal effort and cost.

Furthermore, advergames are well-suited to the mobile platform, as they can provide a fun and engaging experience for users while they are on the go. Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the primary means of playing games, and advergames can capitalize on this trend.

I do expect advergames to completely dominate the iOS/Android top 100 free games list in the next decade as they provide a better experience to the consumer than freemium games currently on the market.

The population of 3 billion active mobile gamers are getting sick of programmatic ads in games. They’re looking for an experience that’s more genuine, and ad agencies need to activate campaigns where their consumers are.

Looking to create your own advergame? Get in touch!

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