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Feature: 'Emerging Issues in In-Game Advertising'

In-game ad deals can benefit both game developers and advertisers -- and experienced game lawyers Boyd and Lalla discuss business and contextual considerations for in-game
In-game ad deals can benefit both game developers and advertisers -- and experienced game lawyers Greg Boyd and Vejay Lalla discuss business and contextual considerations for in-game advertising in a new Gamasutra feature. One of the most critical deal points that developers and advertisers should consider when pursuing in-game ads is placement -- both groups need to deliberate together not only over which games to advertise in, but over whether the placement will be fixed or dynamic as well: "The game itself is the first critical choice. For instance, brands traditionally associated with sports advertising are most appropriate for sports games. Certain youth brands may aim at skateboarding, platforming, or similarly themed games. Advertisements are intended to create brand awareness for the target demographic -- but if the audience feels the brand is out of place in the game, the advertisement may have the opposite effect. Aside from the choice of game, there are still many more decisions to be made. Is the advertiser looking for static advertising or dynamic advertising? Static advertising is a fixed placement in the game at launch and stays in the same form after release of the game indefinitely. This type of advertising does not rely on an internet connection to broadcast the images into the game -- but it also cannot be changed after launch. The disadvantage of dynamic advertising is that it requires an internet connection to be broadcast into the game -- but it also has some particular advantages. It is a flexible branding image where elements can be interchangeable. It also provides advertisers an easy method to measure and collect valuable advertising data on consumers -- and potentially even consumer behavior based on impressions, keywords, clickthroughs, and other kinds of information." The two parties should also think about whether or not the placement will be exclusive to the advertiser: "Clearly, an advertiser can be the only advertiser in a game -- but this type of exclusivity is often prohibitively expensive. If advertisers are looking for a thematic approach, as is being seen with television and film -- where the product placements are conceptually intertwined in the story of the game -- rather than pay for exclusivity as the only advertiser in the entire game, advertisers typically should consider asking for category/industry exclusivity as an option. This means an advertiser may be in a game with other advertisers, but it will be the only representative of its consumer category or industry. An example of category/industry exclusivity would include being the only soft drink promoted in a game. When defining this type of exclusivity in the contract, both sides should be careful to spell out what is included in the brand's category for exclusivity purposes. While a game company may want to narrow the category -- for example, to soft drinks, in order to bring in more advertisers and dollars, a major advertiser in the soft drink category like Pepsi would also want to ensure it shuts out brands in related categories such as juices, sports and energy drinks, and even teas and water products." You can read the full feature, which goes into further detail on the current state of the in-game advertising market, payment concerns, the approval process, and how to measure results (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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