What Are the Different Types of Online Advertising in Games?

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen
Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Millions of people across the world play online video games every day, and online advertising in games is a popular method for a product or service to gain exposure. There are several different methods of advertising in video games, including product placement within the game and banner ads in the same browser but not the actual game. Some companies even develop video games that completely revolve around a specific product, making the entire game an advertisement.

Graphic banner advertisements surrounding the game window were once the most popular choice for online advertising in games. In this type of advertising, game play typically takes place in a smaller frame within the webpage, and ads are placed throughout the rest of the browser’s space. While this form of advertising is still beneficial, especially when newer players visit the website, those who have been playing the game for a longer period of time tend to stop noticing the ads, so other forms of advertising must be employed to gain their attention.

Another variation of online advertising in games using banner ads involves interrupting game play to present the advertisement. Some gaming websites offer both free and paid memberships; free accounts are sponsored by different companies. The player can typically play the game for a set amount of time before being forced into a brief intermission, during which times ads are displayed. Like ads surrounding the game screen, long-time players may ignore these and use that time to perform other online tasks. If the duration of the intermission is short enough, however, players may just wait until the game restarts.

Product placement is a good type of online advertising in games to catch the attention of players who no longer notice external ads. Companies are inserting their names into video games through many different methods. Some opt for the blatant approach by having a virtual billboard featured in the middle of the game, while others take a slightly more subtle approach by having a character use their product. For example, in a racing game, the player’s character may drive a car with a specific manufacturer’s logo prominently displayed.

Video games that revolve completely around a specific product are the most blatant form of advertising, as this makes the entire game into a clever ad. This form of online advertising in games typically works best for well-established companies with a large following. Toy companies and children’s television shows often create games to accompany their product. With this type of advertising, companies can cross promote by including special codes in packaging that enable players to unlock new levels or gain special items for their characters.

Online advertising in video games will likely continue to expand in scope as more options become available. Studies already indicate that this form of advertising is holding its own in the competition with television ads, and may actually be more effective in the long run. Companies can use this to their advantage by staying on top of emerging trends in the online video game industry and embracing new opportunities that arise.

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      Woman doing a handstand with a computer