In the wake of the financial meltdown, analysts slashed their 2009 forecasts for ad spending on “experimental” mediums — including campaigns in and around video games. But execs at the GamePower Conference @ CES said they’re actually banking on an increase in ad spending this year, and here’s their argument:
— Gamers like ad-supported content: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) launched its new Xbox Experience in mid-November, and since then, two of the most downloaded items have been backed by ads: Doritos’ Dash of Destruction game, (which has amassed almost a million downloads) and The Guild, a Sprint-sponsored series focused on online gamers.
— Success metrics go beyond just ratings points or impressions: While ratings of SpikeTV’s Friday night game show GTTV are “solid,” Spike’s Geoff Keighley, executive of game publisher relations, says gamers are watching the show on the Web, downloading it on iTunes, and even paying $3 an episode for it through the Xbox Live marketplace — and that’s with the regular TV spots or sponsorship ads included. “They can see the show on TV for free, and yet they pay to get it on their console,” he said. That adds up to more revenue for SpikeTV, but also more face time with their target audience for advertisers.
— Other options for reaching the young male demo are slim: “If [advertisers] are targeting that core gamer market of 18-to-24 or 18-to-34 year-old males, it’s hard to access them in other spaces,” said Michael Herst, EA’s director of entertainment development and programming. Cisco Systems (NSDQ: CSCO), for example, is a prime sponsor of MTV Games’ Rock Band 2. That sponsorship includes a call to action on the game box (telling gamers to check out a special Rock Band 2/Cisco documentary), and the series is showcased on both the game’s and Cisco’s websites.
The rest of our coverage is on our CES 2009 channel