CAMPAIGN INTERACTIVE: PERSPECTIVE

Not that you’d know it from most of the coverage given to ’new media’ in the UK press (these pages, I confess, notwithstanding), but the digital revolution is about a lot more than the internet and digital TV.

Not that you’d know it from most of the coverage given to ’new

media’ in the UK press (these pages, I confess, notwithstanding), but

the digital revolution is about a lot more than the internet and digital

TV.



Sooner or later all media, even posters, will be available in digital

format. And platforms that hitherto have been on the periphery of media

plans will assume far greater significance. One of these will be video

games. Of course, advertisers have been toying with this option for

years now, but the process is still in its infancy and it needs to

develop considerably in order to be truly effective.



The problem, as ever, is that people conceive of ’advertising’ in the

new medium in the same narrow way that they see it in the old one. So

the notion that video games are an advertising medium leads them to

think they should place their ads, quite literally, into the game. Only

last week, I received a press release from Infogrames, Europe’s largest

video games company, offering advertisers the ’historic’ opportunity to

show their TV or cinema commercial in a game.



Hmmm. Now don’t get me wrong: it’s fine to approach new media in terms

of existing media. What’s daft is to assume that the spot-and-space

advertising model will still occupy centre stage. Other approaches -

already defined but little used in traditional media - are set to come

into their own in new media, if only because they are far more cost

effective in this arena.



Take advertiser-supplied programming, for example - which, in this

instance, means developing your own game. But not so you can cram it

full of your product. As long as the game is good and people know it’s

supplied by you, it is a classic branding device. After all, what are

most TV ads if not attempts to ingratiate the viewer by entertaining

them in the name of a brand?



Some brands have already twigged this - like Adidas with its Power

Soccer game, an association which was brokered by just about the only

company specialising in this field in the UK, Microtime Media. But if

Microtime is unique, Adidas is rare among advertisers in its willingness

to adopt this approach.



The sponsorship of an existing game - which Adidas has also pioneered

with the market-leading FIFA football game - delivers similar benefits

(minus the revenue from the game’s sales). The fact that people own

games and, if they enjoy them, feel a real affinity with them, makes

them a far more potent sponsorship vehicle than a TV programme.



Then there’s product placement - a far more subtle device than ads if

used properly in this ’medium’.



This is not rocket science. It merely demonstrates what we already know:

that ’advertising’ in the digital world is changing - why else would we

have established all these new approaches and come up with terms to

describe them? Unfortunately, it seems, we are a little reluctant to put

our theory into practice.



Soon, the next generation of games consoles, complete with web access,

will be on the market, presenting advertisers with even more exciting

opportunities. We know this too. But how quickly and effectively will we

exploit it? I’m afraid the omens are not good.



Edited by John Owen Tel: 0181-267 4894 E-mail: john.owen@haynet.com.