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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.