DIGITAL GAMES LURING AWAY MORE TV VIEWERS

But Panel Questions if Advergame Medium Works for Package Goods

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Advertising is increasingly expanding beyond the 30-second TV commercial to games operated via console, online and through wireless devices, said executives
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at today's AdWatch: Outlook 2004 conference at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers here.

One reason is the cost of entry into TV is higher and higher, said Tim Hanlon, senior vice president and director of TV 2.0 at media agency Starcom MediaVest Group, part of Publicis Groupe. "Fewer people are playing this crazy upfront game every year," he said, referring to the broadcast and cable TV's ad buying bazaar.

Embedded brands
Marketers are turning toward embedding their brands in games and to "advergames."

The biggest request is for product placement within an actual video game, said Julie Shumaker, director of sales for online and in-game advertising at Electronic Arts.

The demographic of people passionate about games has changed over the years, too. They are older than the teenage male that was video gaming's early adopter 15 years ago, said Ms. Shumaker. The average age for a console gamer is 28. And 43% of online video gamers are women, the majority of whom are over 35.

Because they are not children, they have money. The average Sony PlayStation 2 gamer plays nine games a year at $50 each, Ms. Shumaker said.

System is not important
Does it matter what device people play on? Not really, said executives on the AdWatch panel, which dealt with emerging technologies. Game players leap between console, online and mobile devices, said Dave Madden, executive vice president of sales, business development and marketing at WildTangent.

"Mobile gaming is going to explode in the next two years," Ms. Shumaker said.

Though opportunities are going to increase, packaged goods marketers will have the steepest trail to fit their product messages into the gaming platform, the panelists said.

"At the end of the day, it's very challenging to get a Pampers box into a video game," Mr. Hanlon said.

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