Non-intrusive in-game video ads prove popular
The US-based online media company RealNetworks and digital marketing firm Eyeblaster have reported on the initial success of Real's in-game streaming video advertising platform for casual internet-based games.
Having placed streaming video ads in its downloadable games, Real reports that the concept has driven increased revenues per game download, as well as high click through rates. Real and Eyeblaster launched a test of the new business model in June 2006, and Real has served more than 1.5 million in-game streaming video ads to more than 500,000 unique users since the trial began.
Coveted demographic The streaming video ads in casual games such as ShapeShifter, Mah Jong Medley and Super Collapse 3!, are enabled by an in-games solution by Eyeblaster, and provide advertisers with the chance to reach the coveted online audience of women aged 30+.
Early results showed that click through rates are consistently higher than 20%, demonstrating the value of casual game ad placements for both brand and direct response advertisers. This compares to click through rates on traditional browser-based ads of only 2% - 3%.
Perfect timing Moreover, more than 50% of the video ads shown were played to completion, a testament to the seamless integration of advertisements into popular casual games. Consumer feedback has been positive too, partly because the ads are placed in natural breaks and don't create an interruption or intrusion into the game play itself.
According to Michael Schutzler, RealNetworks' senior vice president of worldwide games, "With these first results of our tests, we can now see that this model serves consumers, game developers, and advertisers equally well. We are very happy with the initial progress we have made."
How it works Real is currently offering twelve ad-enabled games, providing either extended free trials or free unlimited play as a reward for customers playing those games. Streaming video ads generally appear before the first level, and then every ten minutes or so (during natural level breaks).
By integrating interactive ads into its puzzle game, ShapeShifter, Real has noted increases in revenue per game download by more than 200%, compared to the previous model (which did not benefit from advertising revenue at all). As a result, Real aims to extend the programme with the help of its top game developers by sharing the new revenue stream with them.
According to Paul Jensen, president for game developer Mumbo Jumbo, "We are always looking for more ways to drive incremental revenue in the emerging casual games space, and we feel in-game advertising is the next vehicle to drive significant revenue growth."