If it’s getting harder to reach your target market with TV and online ad campaigns, it’s likely because your audience has left the building. Or it could be they’ve entered another world – a virtual world. But not to worry: you can still connect with them.
Two emerging media platforms are addressing the major shifts in consumer behavior: mobile advertising and in-game advertising. These two mediums offer advertisers new ways to reach their customers when they’re not surfing the Internet or sitting in front of their TV sets. And both mobile and in-game platforms provide the accountability and measurability of Internet advertising.
MOBILE: REACHING THE MASSES ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS
Audiences are becoming more fragmented as the number of entertainment and information channels increases. But as audiences change their behaviors and attitudes, one thing has become abundantly clear: the mobile phone has become one of those rare things that people simply can’t live without. With audiences and their mobile devices becoming more and more inseparable, mobile has emerged as the media choice that every media planner is scrutinizing and every chief marketing officer (CMO) is following. Why is this tiny device winning such a prominent place in more and more media plans the world over? Three reasons: lifestyle, reach and personalization.
Last year, TNS Research conducted a U.S. survey of the 14-to-29 age-group, asking what they would do with 15 minutes of free time. The first two activities they selected – before TV or Internet – were communicating via mobile phones and social networking. For advertisers, this represents a significant shift in media consumption.
Analysts predict that by 2011, 50 percent of the world’s mobile subscribers will use their mobile devices to browse online. And since mobile phones are also multimedia-capable interactive devices, users can now connect with their favorite brands in a very intimate way. They answer polls, post comments and videos, download goodies and share them with their friends. They get directions, view maps and – yes – make phone calls.
Mobile is the fastest growing communications technology of all time. According to the global trade association GSM Association, the billionth mobile user was connected in the first quarter of 2004, just a dozen years after the commercial launch of the first mobile networks. The second billionth mobile user was connected in the second quarter of 2006 – just 2-1/2 years after that.
Today, nearly 3 billion people – or almost half the planet’s population – use mobile devices to communicate and connect. And with that number projected to reach 5 billion by 2015 – in Western countries as well as emerging areas – mobile boasts a mass reach rivaling that of TV and far exceeding that of the Internet.
Television is a medium the whole family gathers around. The one who holds the remote is the one who controls the program. The mobile phone, however, is a very personal medium. Most people don’t like lending their phones – even to family members – because they contain all of their personal data: agenda, contacts, photos, videos and games.
Since the medium is so uniquely personal, marketers are able to create highly targeted mobile campaigns to reach their audience by age, gender, time and day, handset, revenues, behavior or any user profile criteria. Perhaps the most powerful targeting capability enabled by the mobile device is the ability to target users by their precise locations. In this regard, the mobile device is essentially a point-of-sale marketing channel that never leaves users’ sides, no matter where they go.
IN-GAME ADVERTISING: HIGHLY ENGAGING TARGETED MARKETING
Video games represent another emerging media platform that offers marketers a unique yet effective way to connect with their splintering audience. Games complement the media mix by delivering brands a highly engaged audience in a uniquely “lean-forward” medium.
Video games are a key segment of the online entertainment market. In fact, analysts believe video games may become the fastest growing media segment in the world, with more than 100 million people playing online games in the United States alone in the next few years. Trends are similar in Canada, Europe and Asia. The majority of households in the United States have a PC and a video game console, both used for gaming. Industry data shows that video game activity peaks in prime time TV hours, indicating that households with active video gamers are shifting their behavior and prioritizing games over TV usage.
What does this mean for marketers? Video games offer highly immersive and interactive experiences, and for young adults, games are their preferred form of entertainment. Marketers need to evaluate video games as a new medium that enables them to reach and engage young adults in a way that is highly relevant to them. Being relevant to this hard-to-reach audience is critical to making a connection that will positively impact their perceptions of your brand, products and services.
The dynamic in-game ad technology allows marketers to buy advertising in video games much as they do in other media: they can choose the demographic, geographic targeting, content and timing of the campaign to meet their objectives.
REAL-WORLD RESULTS FROM IN-GAME ADVERTISING
Marketers across a broad range of companies – including Pontiac, McDonalds and Paramount Pictures – have leveraged the unique marketing capabilities of in-game advertising to extend their reach in their core demographics and to connect and engage with hard-to-find audiences. Consider the results of one closely analyzed in-game campaign. General Motors Canada advertised the Pontiac G5 across leading game titles in Microsoft’s Massive in-game network, targeted to Canadian gamers. (The network consists of more than 70 game titles across PC and Xbox 360 video game platforms.) Nielsen Research then conducted an extensive study on behalf of Massive and Pontiac, which showed that brand familiarity with the advertised vehicle increased by 100 percent among those exposed to the in-game ads. The study also found that brand rating increased by 79 percent and purchase consideration for the Pontiac model increased by 68 percent. Marketers in many categories have seen consistent double-digit increases in these key hard-to-move
THE BOTTOM LINE
Most of the largest advertisers have long recognized that their audiences are getting more difficult to find as consumers divide their attention and rely on more and more channels for information, communication and entertainment. Both mobile and in-game advertising provide ways for marketers to reach an audience that has turned off the television and tuned out the Internet.
Advertisers have also begun to realize that they can no longer rely on a single medium to convey their brand message. They need to construct media plans that are as dynamic as their audiences. In this context, mobile and in-game advertising can become key ingredients in the marketing mix. As advertising mediums, these platforms are as accountable as the Internet and represent key components of the lifestyles of today’s audiences. And along with other digital media, they provide measurable touch points in the series of engagements advertisers have with their audiences along the road to sales.