James is Director of Media and Internet Research at BDRC Continental in Holborn, London where he has worked for the last 11 years.
He has particular experience of international broadcast and online gaming research – where he has worked closely on projects assessing the profile of online gamers, the impact of in-game advertising and the role of brands within social games.
Read the full biography here.
Advertisers console yourselves and play the game
Hitting the consumer where he lives
23rd August, 2011
Well we all love compelling creative, that’s obvious, but where should we place the ads? The task for planners has become infinitely more complicated as media has (to use an over-used word) fragmented.
The holy grail has generally been to find (ideally affluent) people who spend a lot of time on, and are heavily engaged with a trusted media, that is uncluttered by competing advertising. Time, Engagement, Trust, Clutter (lack thereof) – remember that…
However, in a world of short attention spans, multi-screens and multi-tasking, many bemoan that this nirvana is hard to find. Luckily, amidst the multiplying media there does seem to be a ray of hope for the frustrated planner…..step forward the Games Console.
The current generation of consoles means advertisers can expect to reach a relatively young, affluent and engaged audience who game for long sessions on their consoles. It is a strange fact of life that the advertising industry, whilst bemoaning the fact that many people now have short attention spans, often seems to overlook the sheer amount of time many people spend gaming.
Console gamers spend enormous amounts of time consuming their preferred medium; individual gaming sessions of many hours are commonplace – respondents in our focus groups talked of one gaming session that lasted for 48 hours ‘or as long as my eyes can handle’.
This is partly because console games are incredibly engaging. Even now, most non gamers are probably not fully aware of quite how diverse, sophisticated, stimulating, and yes, even artistic, many modern games are.
Games such as LA Noire (right) have received lavish praise for both their attention to detail, and the sense of mood and atmosphere they can generate.
Modern games allow gamers to fly, play gods, make moral choices, foul Wayne Rooney, fight for good (or evil if preferred), beat somebody on the other side of the world at tennis, tell them how rubbish they are, then help the same person defeat an army of zombies. Gamers can out-dance each other, be a guitar hero, let their grandma beat them at bowling (then thrash her at something else – an important point I’ll return to) and then do a spot of getting fit with their own personal trainer. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
‘If it is engaging, I will engage’ seems then to be the motto of many gamers. In recent years we have witnessed a deluge of discussion about the Web 2.0 phenomenon, whereby media is no longer just consumed passively, but users also interact and even become participants in the media. Gamers, however, have NEVER been simply passive consumers. Gaming preceded Web 2.0 and has now evolved with it.
Further proof, if needed, of gamers engagement is the passion they have for gaming. Passion is an over-used term, but for gaming it is relevant. The blogosphere is full of discussion on new games, and the launch of a new game often meets with the kind of fanfare that is more traditionally reserved for a Hollywood blockbuster or (going back a bit) a Transatlantic Liner.
So, the audience is engaged and spending a monstrous amount of time with the media – the interactive nature of gaming means there is less potential for another screen distracting the gamer from their purpose – but what else does advertising need if it is going to cut through? Well a lack of competing advertising clutter and a trusted environment helps.
Here again console gaming does well. The console is a controlled environment – not any old advertiser will appear – only a small number, of specific, targeted, approved campaigns. There are simply not the large quantities of competing advertising that are a feature of so many websites. Furthermore the fact that the environment is controlled means that advertisements for Viagra and breast enhancement are conspicuous by their absence.
Family-orientated motion detector peripherals are now a standard feature on the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, encouraging party games for all the family. Consequently, games consoles have moved out of the bedroom and into the centre of the home, reinforced by their increasing capacity to access entertainment beyond Games: movies, TV on demand, internet radio, Facebook, Twitter, IM and even video chat.
Gaming it seems has finally escaped from its ghetto. Increasingly non gaming companies are looking to emulate the success of the games industry in engaging their customers. This is often called gamification, and has been employed successfully by companies like Groupon, as a technique for making perhaps fairly routine tasks more stimulating.
But nothing better illustrates the growing influence of gaming than a couple of
anecdotes I have heard recently about people who are moving house who are actively looking for ground floor flats (so the players can jump around) with large living rooms as it would enable to use their Kinect more freely. COMING SOON to a high street near you: estate agents talking about flats that are perfect for gaming.
Looking forward, as games consoles increasingly become the heart of home entertainment – we expect them to become an ever more significant, and central platform for advertisers to reach a wider demographic.
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