Well, now you can - or you’ll be able as early as next year.
According to Dentsu, an average person sees over 4,000 ads per day - that’s a 700% increase from the ’70s. This overinflation of ads has also created the race for the most coveted metric of all: Attention.
And no other media is as effective at grabbing and keeping our attention as video games.
So, let’s start with the basics.
Attention-based marketing does not demand any action from the player. No clicking anywhere, giving email addresses or visiting a website. And that’s probably going to be a hard pill to swallow after a decade of ROI-obsessed digital marketing.
But as media gets further fragmented, attention is something you’ll need to think long and hard about as you set your advertising budgets.
As Xaxis’ Michael Manning explained in an interview with Digiday,
”ROI isn’t something that we think is going to be necessarily useful in the context of in-game, because if you’re talking about gaming environments, it’s difficult to ask a gamer to stop gaming, click, or engage with a piece of advertising, go through to somewhere away from their game, and buy something.”
Advertising within video games can still be effective, as this study from Lumen and Frameplay shows:
Ad-impressions during gameplay successfully captured 1.4x more attention of the gamers than the norm, performing significantly higher than Lumen’s comparative norm of mobile display.
The results indicate that In-Game Advertising performed similarly to social in-feed video and outperformed every other social, web, and mobile format, including a social in-feed image.
Game developers are the new media owners.
Metaverse and social gaming are the reason why brands are so confident in the future of advertising within video games - as opposed to in-game ads we’re all used to on our smartphones.
And platforms like Roblox and Fortnite are leading that shift.
Advertising in the metaverse has yet to be proven effective but many advertisers are already using in-game purchases to bring their brands into the platform.
Fortnite is the undisputed champion of in-game purchases e.g. they made $50 million selling skins through a partnership with the NFL. And on Roblox, some players are willing to pay thousands of dollars for branded merch.
And who wouldn’t want to get that kind of engagement and attention?
This leads us to the reason I started writing this email.
Roblox Corp is planning to launch 3D ads next year.
A couple of weeks ago Roblox announced that it’ll be bringing 3D ads (aka immersive ads) to the platform.
With the COVID peak slowing down, turning Roblox into an ad server will also help the company diversify its revenue stream beyond in-game purchases.
Roblox will start testing this new format with selected developers by the end of this year.
I know what you’re thinking, “But my kid plays Roblox? Are they going to be bombarded with ads?”
Roblox has promised that immersive ads will be shown only to players over 13. But as of right now, the US Federal Trade Commission isn’t too enthusiastic about it and believes that§,
“Roblox has failed to establish any meaningful guardrails to ensure compliance with truth in advertising laws.”
The company is also confident that its platform is attracting more 17-24 year-olds. So, for now, they want us to focus on the already successful collaborations they’ve had with brands like Gucci Town and Spotify Island and a virtual Chipotle restaurant.
At the Roblox Developer’s Conference, Dave Baszucki explained that the new ads system is a way for brands to advertise across Roblox through interactive billboards, posters, and other surfaces.
The new ad system will allow creators to drop 3D ads into their own experiences and get a cut of the ad revenue.
Besides user-created experiences, brands will also be able to have “portals”, taking players to a new branded area in Roblox like a shoe store or a coffee shop.
But as this article from Bloomberg explains,
“In other online immersive worlds, like Decentraland, branded spaces are relatively unpopular. However, in the popular game Fortnite, integrations such as branded costumes from popular names like Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel have been a hit.”
So, there is a way to get immersive advertising right.
Roblox is paving the way to turn metaverse platforms into ad servers. And you can bet your favourite pen that Meta would be bringing similar features to Horizon World VR. Both to save their seat in the metaverse and the billions already sunk into its VR project.
Digital worlds transforming social norms is nothing new.
And it always takes a little time.
As Wunderman Thompson’s Emma Chiu explains,
“In terms of scale, I would say it’s in a three-to-four-year timeframe, […] Some of the factors at play are the fragmentation of entertainment, especially in the U.S. marketplace. And then the fact that the IAB Playfronts occurred is a really useful signal that more people are thinking critically about this place.”
Let this email be a reminder to see what your audience and media selection will look like 5 years from now.
Where will they spend their time? And in which media will you need to continue building mental and virtual availability?
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