Advertising driven models: How much is too much?

According to an article in the Washington Post, “Game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. announced yesterday that it has inked deals with two ad companies that will stream live advertising into its games.

I’ve been intrigued with in-game and in-world (i.e., virtual worlds like Second Life) advertising for quite some time, knowing that as attention shifted away from traditional media sources advertisers would flock to the places where the attention was focused.

My teenage avid gaming son and I talked one day as he was playing Halo2. I asked him specifically about the “What if that spot over there had a Coke or Pepsi machine? Or if there were company logos slapped onto signs in the hallways?” His response was, “I don’t care as long as it doesn’t interfere with game play.

He and I were at a Vikings game on the 50 yard line last season. I swear to God the ONLY thing that wasn’t sponsored by someone was the urinal! (Though I did think when I was standing in the men’s room how funny it would be to have audio chirping, “Grab hold…let it out…feel the relief! Your urinal experience today is brought to you by Denny Hecker’s Apple Valley Ford“).

Certainly urinal support by an advertiser is ludicrous…or is it? There are SO many ads screaming at you in the Minneapolis Metrodome that to me, it truly detracts from the game itself and I tend to tune them out…but I know where my attention is when I’m at a urinal. Advertisers are constantly on the hunt for ways to differentiate themselves, place their message where they’ll be seen, and especially in places where there is little else to do. It wouldn’t surprise me to find it when I’m at the next game in mid-September.

Baseball has become too boring and football games — with the constant clock stopping to allow TV advertising — is quickly making the latter boring too. To me, the Vikings are allowing too much advertising and even my son was turned off since the Metrodome and TV advertising interfered with game play and, especially, the overall experience.

My advice to the game companies, Web 2.0 startups and others pushing to garner eyeballs so as to monetize their offerings with advertising: be careful and make sure you don’t interfere or take away from your core value proposition.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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