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In-game advertising: another step towards the omni-presence of brands. McDonald's, Nokia and Brawls are showing the way.

Opportunities

Whether all of the tech savvy and often highly opinionated gaming community will happily welcome the invasion of real world brands and products into their virtual lives remains to be seen, but with big brands moving into this space, and the number of gamers still increasing rapidly (for example: Nielsen reports more than 6 million Europeans visited an online gaming website in January 2003, more than double the number a year ago), developing your company’s in-game advertising strategy is time well spent.

In-game advertising: another step towards the omni-presence of brands

Professional marketing managers would love to establish an omni-presence for their brands and products, which means exposure in both the real and the virtual world. Hence the never-ending parade of experience stores, TV commercials and web site banners. From now on, add online games to the mix as well. Driven by better games and more broadband connections, 11.1 billion minutes are spent each month by consumers on playing online games, which represents a massive but largely untapped market for intimate in-game product placements. How does it work? Sims Online (by Electronic Arts) shows the way. A virtual city in which participants lead virtual lives, Sims has long been immensely popular as a CD-Rom based game. By moving into the online arena, entirely new doors are opened for players and advertisers alike. McDonald’s and Intel are already spending more than $2 million on their virtual presence in the Sims community. Players can not only buy a virtual Big Mac, but can actually become McDonald’s franchisees. They will use Intel branded PCs in their virtual homes and offices. Nokia, meanwhile, has opted for ‘Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer’ (an Activision game), which will show the main character using a Nokia cell/mobile phone (sources: NYT and Internetnews.com). Another Activision game, ‘Street Hoops‘, will feature the Sprite logo on billboards and passing buses, earning Activision $100,000. Vivendi Universal’s game ‘Run Like Hell’ promotes ‘BAWLS’, a caffeine-shot drink. The game will feature BAWLS soft drinks and vending machines located strategically throughout the game. Nick Connor’, the main character, can drink the beverage as a ‘power-up’ to sustain his health and endurance.

Opportunities

Whether all of the tech savvy and often highly opinionated gaming community will happily welcome the invasion of real world brands and products into their virtual lives remains to be seen, but with big brands moving into this space, and the number of gamers still increasing rapidly (for example: Nielsen reports more than 6 million Europeans visited an online gaming website in January 2003, more than double the number a year ago), developing your company’s in-game advertising strategy is time well spent.

Website: www.thesimsonline.com/, www.activision.com/

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