Get Your Ads in the Game

Last week, I played my first game of Words with Friends. As a non-Smartphone user, I had never before understood the hype over the game and couldn’t figure out why people like Alec Baldwin were getting in trouble for not shutting it off.

Last week, however, I finally understood.

The game was addicting, it was fun, and it gave my Dad and I something to do while sitting in a waiting room for two hours. These addicting, enjoyable, time-wasting games are spreading fast and causing a whole new community to form within the Smartphone world. From Draw Something to Bejeweled Blitz, users are actively engaging in these activities and heightening the already high dependency on technology.

From a personal perspective, I can’t help but wonder if our society is going to turn into one in which people are incapable of sitting in silence, without feeling the need to waste the time playing yet another round of Scramble with Friends. However, from an advertising perspective, these games are genius and offer a platform to take advantage of.

Last year, AdAge reported that the game Angry Birds alone attracted users for 200 million minutes per day. The global information management company, SDL, also reported that there were 30 million downloads, 1 billion drawings, and 15,000+ social mentions in one day of Draw Something,and Temple Run was ranked as the number one iOS free app as of December 2011. These numbers show how engaged consumers are and prove the importance of advertising in the Smartphone realm.

There are multiple ways brands can get their foot into the door of Smartphone applications. One way is through the simple pop-up ads that appear during the downloading or switching of users during a game. These ads make users actively click out of them before going back to their game, forcing the consumers to see the advertisement whether they want to or not.

Another way a brand can partake in mobile game advertising is through the creation of its own application. AXE did this by launching the game Pogo Xtreme, a multilevel game that encompasses a signature move known as AXE Deodorant Bodyspray Double Pits to Chesty, which involves a spray under the arms and across the chest. The game also has various AXE affirmations between different levels of the game.

The drawback to a brand creating its own gaming application, however, is that the games can be costly to create and involve a high level of technological expertise. There’s also no guaranteed that a high volume of users will download the game, as the game itself will still need to be marketed.

In order to combat this drawback, many brands are setting out to establish integration between their product and an existing application. According to MobiAD News, Coca-Cola did this by signing a partnership with the LA-based mobile games publisher, GAMEVIL. This partnership had Coke ads dispersed throughout the virtual baseball stadium of the iPhone game Baseball Superstars, a game that has been downloaded by over 30 million players worldwide.

While there are many ways a brand can enter into the world of Smartphone advertising, the importance lies in the fact that they do enter it. Just as I can’t ignore the number of iPhones in use in the minutes before a class begins, marketers should not ignore the large advertising platform that games offer. They are consistently being developed, used and shared, creating a new culture where we spend countless hours as Fruit Ninjas and Angry Birds.

Allison Sirica is an intern in the Account Services department. She is a Senior Communication major and Business Studies minor at SUNY Geneseo and will graduate in May 2012.