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In-Game Ads Far Less Effective Than Presumed

by Rainier on Feb. 27, 2007 @ 6:12 p.m. PST

While its last study focussed on sports titles, behavioral research consultancy Bunnyfoot decided to take a closer look at other studies and uncovered that in-game advertising effectiveness is far less than initially reported. Most studies use participants knowing the objective, thus score faily high (87%), while an unsuspecting audience scored far lower (15%).

Previous studies into in-game advertising effectiveness have shown that product integration helps drive awareness and recall, in addition to identifying a new variable, ‘brand pervasiveness’. One such study showed a staggering 87% of participants to remember seeing a ‘highly integrated brand’ during game play. Thus, concluding that the combination of product integration and pervasiveness result in increased brand persuasion.

However, recent research conducted by Bunnyfoot demonstrates otherwise, suggesting that current advertising models are ineffective at optimising such brand impact measures; highlighting that actually only 15% of participants show true brand-engagement during interaction.

Such disparity between results becomes clear when understanding the recruitment and analysis methods used throughout the research in this area. Previous studies have relied upon traditional market research recruitment techniques, such as ‘panels’; people who have ‘opted in’ to be involved in market research. This may induce bias into the sample by including participants who are informed about market research and the types of information market researchers are interested in finding.

“Once a consumer is aware of the ‘testing’ purposes, or is cued into the idea of market research, the validity of their data is greatly diminished” commented Dr Jon Sykes, head of eMotion Laboratory, Scotland.

To understand player behaviour and engagement a more suitable system of recruitment, and user experience testing, is required.

Bunnyfoot never recruit gamers from a pre-existing panel and never reuse a gamer for an in-game advertising study. Bunnyfoot’s approach focuses specifically on the individual and their game play. In contrast to ‘panels’, this method is targeted towards gamers, identifies their game exposure and preferences, and establishes their motivational reasons for taking part, i.e. their participation is not a result of an income source from multiple research activities.

Moreover, the consultancy’s unique methodology test what gamers actually do, rather than what they think they do, or think they may do. Their technique focuses on the behavioural aspects of consumer interaction and validates the observations they see through a series of correlated measures. This allows Bunnyfoot to gain statistically significant results with samples as low as 30.

To understand a deeper level of consumer engagement, Bunnyfoot uses their extensive experience in eye tracking to measure visual interaction during gameplay, and biophysiological measurements to understand emotional response and behaviour. Finally, they incorporate the Post Experience Eye-tracking Protocol (PEEP) which is used as a retrospective memory cue to probe users’ thought processes and feelings.

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