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on: July 23, 2008, 11:32:29 PM

To Boldly Logo: In-Game Advertising in MMOs

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In-game advertising in MMOs is a subject that tends to attract a lot of vitriol. Anecdotally a lot of players appear to enjoy the fact that their media consumption of choice doesn’t have that many ads. Of course, if you ignore the banner ads on fansites, the viral ads that get sent around of Mr. T hocking World of Warcraft, loading screens that talk about the new expansion pack, the advertising that occurs around the borders of some ‘free-to-play’ games and all the other ads that surround MMOs, then you can safely say that the current crop of MMOs is pretty ad-free. Especially while playing the MMO – there are typically no ads within subscription-payment MMOs at this point in time

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Reply #1 on: July 24, 2008, 03:25:58 AM

tl;dr  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?

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Reply #2 on: July 24, 2008, 07:12:45 AM

It's only a matter of time before capitalism ruins gaming entirely, as it does with most things. Well, not entirely, there's always going to be little cool dev houses that might get one or two games out before being devoured by EA Vivendi.

But srsly, fuck ads. That was the end of the Battlefield series as far as I'm concerned (though the gameplay has been declining for a few titles now). Does in-game advertising promote brand awareness? Sure, people have soft minds. Anyone who is swayed by a fucking advert should be sterilized, the world would be a better place without that kind of gullible ignorance.

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Reply #3 on: July 24, 2008, 07:46:05 AM

It's only a matter of time before capitalism ruins gaming entirely, as it does with most things. Well, not entirely, there's always going to be little cool dev houses that might get one or two games out before being devoured by EA Vivendi.

But srsly, fuck ads. That was the end of the Battlefield series as far as I'm concerned (though the gameplay has been declining for a few titles now). Does in-game advertising promote brand awareness? Sure, people have soft minds. Anyone who is swayed by a fucking advert should be sterilized, the world would be a better place without that kind of gullible ignorance.

Agreed 110%. 

An ad on a splash screen is enough to piss me off, meaning one more thing I have to click through to get to play.  Some of the newer games have literally 8 or 9 screens to click through (GH3, anyone?) 

If adv generates 1-2 bucks per box, then I'll write a $2 check to the developers myself just to keep that shit out of the games.  Money well spent. 

Orcs with Nikes, jesus fucking christ. 
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Reply #4 on: July 24, 2008, 08:22:38 AM

I often wonder what kind of 'brand awareness' companies like Coca-Cola or Nike get from advertising. Are there really people who can be reached via ads who aren't aware of those brands already? I see a Coke ad and the first thing that pops into my head is certainly not 'Hmm that sounds like an interesting take on carbonated beverages. Coca-cola you say? I'll be sure to look out for that next time I'm in a store.'

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Reply #5 on: July 24, 2008, 10:03:02 AM

I often wonder what kind of 'brand awareness' companies like Coca-Cola or Nike get from advertising. Are there really people who can be reached via ads who aren't aware of those brands already? I see a Coke ad and the first thing that pops into my head is certainly not 'Hmm that sounds like an interesting take on carbonated beverages. Coca-cola you say? I'll be sure to look out for that next time I'm in a store.'

For a company like Coke, brand advertising is mostly all about keeping the Coke brands top of mind. About 95% of people could indicate they'd heard of Coke before, but it's the first brand that comes to mind in mature categories that is important.

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Reply #6 on: July 24, 2008, 10:12:53 AM

I work in the publisher side of advertising (ie: the place the ads are shown), and I still think it's all smoke and mirrors. There's no concrete ROI, just a buncha theories and possibilities. I do think it's important for brands to remain 'active', as dormant brands tend to be usurped by newer shinier more active brands - and some folks are willing to pay a *lot* of money to make sure that doesn't happen.

Most ads are paid by CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per impression) or both, so where Coke would be more than happy to pay by Impression, someone like Hilton might be more interested in paying when someone clicks the ad to go to their hotel booking site.

In an MMO, only a CPM model would really work which limits the brands that would be interested to begin with. Unless there was some in-game way to take the user to the advertiser's branded area/website/etc, there's no way to get a CPC model working. (Pizza ordering in Everquest is an example of this, sorta).

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Reply #7 on: July 24, 2008, 10:26:42 AM

I think right now it is the impression side of things that suits fast-moving consumer goods (ergo: deodorant) and fashion (ergo: shoes, mobile phones) which will see most appearances initially in in-game MMO advertising. And computer stuff, and possibly other computer games.

I should point out that B2142 has used the system to promote updates and provide hints of new content, while CoH/V will allegedly (since they haven't yet) put up player-developed ads. It wouldn't be worth building a system to do it just for that, but to use in-game advertising for other purposes is an option. I think I read that EA has used the in-game advertising to track where players get stuck in a level based on any surprisingly odd impression counts from particular ads.

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Reply #8 on: July 24, 2008, 10:34:00 AM

I don't care about in game advertising.  Frankly, I'm amazed it has taken them this long. 

This extra bag slot brought to you by Coca-Cola. 

OH THANKS COCA-COLA!  I NEEDED AN EXTRA FOR ALL THESE RAT TAILS.

But nerd rage over game ads for the sake of unwanted infringement of your fragile sensibilities?  Come on.  If you hate advertising that much, you clearly hate America.

Anyone who is swayed by a fucking advert should be sterilized, the world would be a better place without that kind of gullible ignorance.

This is true enough.  But like, who cares?  I don't have to pay attention to ads.  It's like a magic power I have.  I've even developed this power to include ignoring people who are gullible and ignorant.

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Reply #9 on: July 24, 2008, 10:37:59 AM

It only takes 1% of the population to be 'affected' by ads to make a difference. 1% of 2 billion is a lot of potential sales each month.

Edit:

OK, so not 2 billion. Comscore says there were 190 million unique persons served ads in May 2008 (table 4). If only 1% of those persons click an ad and buy something (or go buy Coke at the grocery story, whatever) that's 1,900,000 persons moving money to these brand's pockets.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2008, 10:44:23 AM by Viin »

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Reply #10 on: July 24, 2008, 10:39:06 AM

I feel fairly certain that if in-game ads become much more commonplace then so would user-developed mods to remove said ads.

I don't watch any TV that isn't on a DVD or downloaded, I use a fully ad-blocked Firefox for all my intarweb needs and I hardly read any newspapers or magazines (and most of the ones I do read don't carry adverts anyway). I've even trained myself to not read billboard ads when I'm driving. Sure, maybe they reach me subconsciously anyway, but at the end of the day my advert intake is pretty low.

I also know a lot of other people who treat ads the same way - they avoid them as much as possible. If ads started appearing in games in ways that couldn't easily be blocked then there's a large chunk of consumers that would react very negatively in response. I know I'd struggle to continue playing games if they had lots of obtrusive adverts. Christ, if I have to use someone else's PC and get internet ads inflicted on me I *hate* it!

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Reply #11 on: July 24, 2008, 10:45:27 AM

You know if you keep ignoring ads they are going to find ways to make it even *more* obnoxious and intrusive.  swamp poop

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Reply #12 on: July 24, 2008, 10:50:26 AM

As I remember it, Planetside and Anarchy Online have had in-game advertising for a while now, and Anarchy Online was using it to support the costs of free play (you could turn the ads off by subscribing).  Google gives me this article on GameSpot from 2005, but no followups.

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Reply #13 on: July 24, 2008, 11:04:36 AM

Anyone who is swayed by a fucking advert should be sterilized, the world would be a better place without that kind of gullible ignorance.

In that case, the world is going to be a very cold, lonely motherfucking place. Everyone is swayed in one way or another by adverts, that's why they are used.

I work in advertising. I see the kind of soulles shitheels that thrive in this business. That said, if this makes the developers a little more (or even some) profit, bring it on. Note I said developers and not publishers. EA can suck on the tailpipe of a running truck for all I give a shit about.

Ads without click-thru capability have no real hard ROI measurements. It's all soft impressionist shit, and as such, I hope the brand owners aren't overpaying for this shit. Having played BF2142 pretty solidly the last two months, I can safely say I've not read one ad there.

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Reply #14 on: July 24, 2008, 01:26:16 PM

It's only a matter of time before capitalism ruins gaming entirely, as it does with most things. Well, not entirely, there's always going to be little cool dev houses that might get one or two games out before being devoured by EA Vivendi.

But srsly, fuck ads. That was the end of the Battlefield series as far as I'm concerned (though the gameplay has been declining for a few titles now). Does in-game advertising promote brand awareness? Sure, people have soft minds. Anyone who is swayed by a fucking advert should be sterilized, the world would be a better place without that kind of gullible ignorance.

You've never once, in your entire life, seen a movie trailer and thought to yourself "hey, that looks pretty good"?

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Reply #15 on: July 24, 2008, 01:54:54 PM

You've never once, in your entire life, seen a movie trailer and thought to yourself "hey, that looks pretty good"?

That's happened to me many, many times. But 999 out of 1000 of those times the actual movie has, in the end, turned out to be fucking rubbish. I hate adverts with good reason, not just some irrational kneejerk reactionary stuff.

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Reply #16 on: July 24, 2008, 04:22:17 PM

Ok, how do you go and buy...anything...ever? Just pick up products at random?

Don't be retarded. I'm not a huge fan of ads either, but until they disrupt my actual gameplay, I don't care.

I've seen the Nike ads in CoX...they work fine, don't change the gameplay at all, and hence do not bother me one bit.

And hey, it's making just a bit more money for that game, so who cares?

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Reply #17 on: July 24, 2008, 06:19:14 PM

Quote
This is going to change. It is inevitable. Why? Because in-game advertising is being shown to work and it’s money for nearly nothing on the development side.

I don't think so - unlike typical games mmorpg developers already have direct source of revenue. Charging 100$ monthly fee is also takes nearly nothing on the development side, yet you don't see many people thinking this is inevitable. Unless you see advertising somehow increasing appeal of the title for the mass audience, that is you think people LIKE ADDS, you won't see them as a part of mainstream mmorpg business model.

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Reply #18 on: July 24, 2008, 06:20:42 PM

That was the end of the Battlefield series as far as I'm concerned

I had all BF titles+expansions up until they put adds in. Fuck that shit.

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Reply #19 on: July 24, 2008, 06:24:33 PM

I often wonder what kind of 'brand awareness' companies like Coca-Cola or Nike get from advertising. Are there really people who can be reached via ads who aren't aware of those brands already? I see a Coke ad and the first thing that pops into my head is certainly not 'Hmm that sounds like an interesting take on carbonated beverages. Coca-cola you say? I'll be sure to look out for that next time I'm in a store.'

You think rationally about irrational decision making process. Minority of our decisions are made rationally, often one or another cognitive short-cut kicks in and later if we have to question this decision we use rationalization and denial to justify our actions.

When was last time you felt passionately about your beverage at lunch time? This is where cognitive shortcut kicks in, your brain picks first association with drink and this is how you end up with a Coke.

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Reply #20 on: July 24, 2008, 10:00:22 PM

Quote
This is going to change. It is inevitable. Why? Because in-game advertising is being shown to work and it’s money for nearly nothing on the development side.

I don't think so - unlike typical games mmorpg developers already have direct source of revenue. Charging 100$ monthly fee is also takes nearly nothing on the development side, yet you don't see many people thinking this is inevitable. Unless you see advertising somehow increasing appeal of the title for the mass audience, that is you think people LIKE ADDS, you won't see them as a part of mainstream mmorpg business model.

Charging $100 a month for a MMO would cut out a lot of players so you'd have to offer something very good to attract them. Charging $15 a month and showing ads for free that earn the dev an extra $2 per player cuts out a lot fewer players and is a safer financial model.

It will increasingly become part of the mainstream business model. As long as Blizzard keeps charging $15 a month for WoW, other competitors are going to have a tough time increasing their revenue by increasing their sub fees (is WAR still threatening to charge $18 a month?).  Which leaves devs / publishers looking for ways of increasing revenue that aren't associated with direct sub fees. Indirect revenue from ads is a simple way to go and it appears to work.

The expectation of MMO players keeps going up. The cost of MMO development appears to also be going up. Taking in ad revenue is a way of reducing the financial risk. Very few players actually really care about ads provided they meet those guidelines the research paper listed (i.e. mainly, don't be interruptive). Hence: inevitable, moving forward.

... unless it really turns out that EA is using adware to learn your credit card number. In which case, there would be fallout.


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Reply #21 on: July 24, 2008, 11:52:48 PM

You know if you keep ignoring ads they are going to find ways to make it even *more* obnoxious and intrusive.  swamp poop

This is why I rage against advertising. They've got annoying people down to a science. Down to the goddamn decimal places.

But it's a necessary evil. I tolerate advertising because there's really nothing I can do about it being out there.

I will say that your company and product can go eat a bag of flaming cocks everytime I have some retarted dimbulb screaming about how this stinky ass piece of shit deodorant is going to get me laid by a supermodel. So fuck your advertising right in the goddamn ear. I'll go buy whatever shit I was going to buy in the first place, and put your ineffective shit advertising on "mute" whenever my show's taking a break.



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Reply #22 on: July 25, 2008, 12:04:46 AM

Ads, whatever. If they're annoying I'll turn them off. If they're too annoying I won't play the game.

However I don't think that the differences between TV and Games means there won't be problems due to advertisers in games of the future. Film is a much better comparison to MMOs given the production cycles.

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Reply #23 on: July 25, 2008, 12:39:49 AM

I will say that your company and product can go eat a bag of flaming cocks everytime I have some retarted dimbulb screaming about how this stinky ass piece of shit deodorant is going to get me laid by a supermodel. So fuck your advertising right in the goddamn ear. I'll go buy whatever shit I was going to buy in the first place, and put your ineffective shit advertising on "mute" whenever my show's taking a break.

I will agree about the Axe ads sucking balls. But... they work, and there is one sure way to know they work.

You're still seeing them. Ads that don't work get shitcanned really really quickly. They don't get sequels. Those Axe and Tag and whatever else lying ass advertising? They must be doing something, because a whole lot of dumb fuckers are paying money to smell like musk oil from the anus glands of an oversexed vole.

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Reply #24 on: July 25, 2008, 04:44:09 AM

I don't want ads in the middle of my books, but from some of the attitudes here publishers are fools for not including them.  I feel the same way about games.

I won't purchase a game with in-game ads.  Line in the sand.  If you're thinking this means I eventually stop playing games, you're wrong.  I have old machines and virtual machines for my vast library of old games that I still enjoy.  "Shitty" graphics or not.

Also, if you think this dime is going to devs you're sadly mistaken.  You know in your heart it's going to the publishers and is part of the contract for their 'graceful' and beatific grant of money for the game to be developed.

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Reply #25 on: July 25, 2008, 06:52:01 AM

I would like to think that developers having access to alternative revenue streams would allow thenm a bit more freedom to take more risks on gameplay, but I know generally the world doesn't work that way.

It aslo took me all of thirty seconds to think up big billboards in Orgrimmar shouting out 'Thrall refreshes himself with Crossroads Opaque Krazy Elixer"  I'm sure some highpaid advertising firm could think up a better coke acronym and most people would think it a normal blizzard Haris Pilton joke rather than a sponsered ad.  So I don't think people should have hope for fantasy MMO's to be safe from in game ads.
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Reply #26 on: July 25, 2008, 08:14:33 AM

Ok, how do you go and buy...anything...ever? Just pick up products at random?

Don't be retarded.
Yes, I'm retarded and just stroll through the store swiping shelves into my cart.

Or possibly I read labels for market products and research big purchases via non-ad supported sources.

One of those.

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Reply #27 on: July 25, 2008, 03:44:00 PM

I will agree about the Axe ads sucking balls. But... they work, and there is one sure way to know they work.

You're still seeing them. Ads that don't work get shitcanned really really quickly. They don't get sequels. Those Axe and Tag and whatever else lying ass advertising? They must be doing something, because a whole lot of dumb fuckers are paying money to smell like musk oil from the anus glands of an oversexed vole.

Dunno. Maybe I've been blessed to run in social circles of at least average intelligence people who buy things for reasons other that "That guy on television said Coca-Cola would give me a huge penis!"

Axe is a great example. I've never even tried it, Because I actually talked to the women in my life, and every one with an opinion on the subject said Axe smells like shit. That was good enough for me.  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?



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Reply #28 on: July 25, 2008, 07:15:23 PM

But you knew the brand name, and so did those women. Which means as shitty as those ads are and the products they advertise, the ads worked. They got the product name out there. Advertising isn't just about making you buy something. Sure, that's the ultimate goal, but just getting you to consider the product when and if you need a product like it is enough for the branding ads to have been successful.

And Sky? Those labels you read? Advertising. From the size of the font to their placement on the product, some designer at an advertising or marketing firm likely got paid to make those things readable.

We are an advertising-soaked culture. It's infilitrated into everything we do and see.

As for ads in fantasy MMOG's, there are so many great ways to do those sorts of things, both subtle and over-the-top satirical like Wasted was talking about.

In a perfect world, the ad revenue would go to the developers to develop better games without publishers. In fact, I'd recommend game developers go begging for ad revenue before their publisher forces it on them, just so they can get the money. Because you KNOW that if the publisher gets a chance to open up a new revenue stream, they will whether you like it or not and that money WON'T be going to the dev.

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Reply #29 on: July 25, 2008, 08:23:00 PM

Charging $100 a month for a MMO would cut out a lot of players so you'd have to offer something very good to attract them. Charging $15 a month and showing ads for free that earn the dev an extra $2 per player cuts out a lot fewer players and is a safer financial model.

"A lot", "an extra $2", and "fewer" are all speculations on your part. I suspect "a lot" is not as big as you want it to be, "fewer" is much larger than you expect and "an extra $2" will hardly be more than 10c.

Key difference between TV and mmorpgs is demographics. TV largely appeals to Joe 6pack aka Oprah watcher, mmorpgs at this point appeal younger and better educated demographic that will tolerate a lot less, having a lot more choices in leisure activities.

MMORPGs right now are premium content, advertising will not become mainstream until this status quo changes. There aren't any Jerry Springer the MMORPGs out there, and there won't be for at least another decade. The same goes for advertising.


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Reply #30 on: July 25, 2008, 09:41:06 PM

Premium content in advertising terms MMOG's are. But that means that the advertisers can TARGET the ads to that particular audience more than television ads, for a lot less money. That kind of specific audience targeting is what makes all Internet advertising such a great buy for marketers, the ability to more accurately provide messages their audience wants to hear.

The key to making it work is to make it less intrusive. Don't annoy the customer. And believe it or not, there are a lot less "I'll never play an ad-supported game" than there are people who don't give a shit so long as the game is good.

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Reply #31 on: July 25, 2008, 10:57:45 PM

But you knew the brand name, and so did those women. Which means as shitty as those ads are and the products they advertise, the ads worked. They got the product name out there. Advertising isn't just about making you buy something. Sure, that's the ultimate goal, but just getting you to consider the product when and if you need a product like it is enough for the branding ads to have been successful.

But I never considered the product. The conversation (paraphrased) went something like this:

Me: "I need some cologne for tonight, help me pick something out."

*Cut to store's smell-nice aisle*

She: "Oh, don't get Axe, it smells like crap."

Me: "Wasn't planning on it."

I suppose if you count would never buy to be consideration... then maybe.



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Reply #32 on: July 26, 2008, 12:01:29 AM

Absolutely I'm still influenced by adverts - it's impossible to avoid them all, they're ubiquitous. Packaging, in-store promotions, adverts people wear on the clothing they buy, etc. Brand awareness is unavoidable for many reasons.

And yes, I appreciate some of the skill, artistry and effort many adverts are made with. There's a lot of iconic design that's gone into ads.

However, my point was that despite all of that I still have a strongly negative view of advertising. It's a highly visible symptom of the thing that I see as the root of pretty much everything that's wrong with the world - rampant capitalism. If adverts start becoming obtrusive and unavoidable in games then I, and many other people, will react very negatively to that, most probably by taking our entertainment £$€ elsewhere.

No amount of justification is going to change my feelings about adverts - much needed revenue, don't really notice them in games, who cares, etc etc. I play EVE and WOW and those games are, for me, the MMO's the currently best fit what I want from MMO's, but they're not sooooo amazing that I wouldn't ditch them both in a heartbeat if they were stuffed with Coke & Nike ads.

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Reply #33 on: July 26, 2008, 12:56:56 AM

However, my point was that despite all of that I still have a strongly negative view of advertising. It's a highly visible symptom of the thing that I see as the root of pretty much everything that's wrong with the world - rampant capitalism. If adverts start becoming obtrusive and unavoidable in games then I, and many other people, will react very negatively to that, most probably by taking our entertainment £$€ elsewhere.

I work in advertising and I have a very negative view of it as well. Most people do. Ad men are almost as hated as lawyers and dentists. The key part of what you said is the obtrusiveness of it. GOOD advertisers understand that and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. The obtrusiveness of television ads is one of the things that has made time-shifting devices like Tivo so much more attractive to consumers. Yes, if you just start shoving Axe ads into video games with no regard to context, you will piss people off and they won't buy your games. But again, I see (and was a bit part in) the haterade around BF2142 when the ad program was mentioned. But as I said, the ads have never been obtrusive to me... shit, I've never noticed them. I'm more annoyed by the unskippable logo animations that the game is saddled with. Now THOSE things piss me off. Same with those TV ads they are putting in front of the trailers on movies these days. THOSE really piss me off.

Like most things, ads in games are all in the execution. The concept is sound.

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Planes? Shit, I'm terrified to get in my car now!


Reply #34 on: July 26, 2008, 03:18:32 AM

I work in advertising and I have a very negative view of it as well. Most people do. Ad men are almost as hated as lawyers and dentists. The key part of what you said is the obtrusiveness of it. GOOD advertisers understand that and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. The obtrusiveness of television ads is one of the things that has made time-shifting devices like Tivo so much more attractive to consumers. Yes, if you just start shoving Axe ads into video games with no regard to context, you will piss people off and they won't buy your games. But again, I see (and was a bit part in) the haterade around BF2142 when the ad program was mentioned. But as I said, the ads have never been obtrusive to me... shit, I've never noticed them. I'm more annoyed by the unskippable logo animations that the game is saddled with. Now THOSE things piss me off. Same with those TV ads they are putting in front of the trailers on movies these days. THOSE really piss me off.

Like most things, ads in games are all in the execution. The concept is sound.

Agree totally. If I don't notice the ads then.. well.. I won't notice them  smiley

Oh wait, I don't agree with everything you said. I like my dentist.

"Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism" - Rosa Luxemburg, 1915.
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