Advertisers move to in-game advertising as a new medium

Gaming has always been an attractive leisure activity for the masses, and the recent popularity explosion of flash based games isn’t an exception. With the popularity widening to different demographics and the increasing capabilities of mobile media devices, it creates an untapped goldmine for advertisers to place ads.

According to the marketing research company comScore, over 25 percent of Internet users play online games every week, which amounts to over 200 million users worldwide. That amounts to about two thirds of America’s population being submerged in a relatively uncluttered advertising medium. According to another research company Yankee Group, in 2005 in-game advertising spend was at $56 million and is estimated to increase at least 10 times by 2010.

If that isn’t enough to get your mining hat on and mining pick in hand, Google has been running a relatively new platform called AdSense for Games. This enables marketers to place ads in flash-based games, giving the ability to make millions of impressions on potential customers.

In-game advertising isn’t a new concept; games over a decade ago started featuring in-game advertising on virtual billboards. However, these ads are static – that is, they are programmed directly into the game and can’t be changed. The last few years have created a dynamic advertising environment that gives timeliness and relevancy to each ad that is placed. One of the most recent and unique uses of in-game advertising was by the then U.S. Presidential candidate Barack Obama, with his ads appearing in the game “Burnout Paradise.”

Google’s in-game advertising platform allows you to place the ads either before, during or after game play and can be published in select flash games. And evidently gamers don’t mind in-game advertising as long as they’re relevant and not in the way. Marketers currently using their services are Sprint, Sony and eSurance.

Other companies such as Microsoft’s Massive Incorporated have also entered into the mix with its own version of in-game advertising.

Whether the gaming industry will become a prominent advertising medium is unclear, but it’s definitely made other mediums jealous by receiving a lot of attention by major advertisers. Sorry, traditional; better luck next time.