A number of bloggers have noticed Barack Obama’s advertising in games. Which sparked my interest in posting about an idea I’ve been sitting on for a while: object-orientated advertising.
Exhibit A is the console game Burnout Paradise, a racing game. The game’s publisher incorporates virtual billboard advertising as players race through virtual streets, and advertisers can buy advertising time since consoles are equipped to receive feeds which can update ads. Here’s one such billboard:
Putting aside political affiliations a minute and you’ll see there’s an interactivity mechanism here which makes virtual advertising far superior to webspace or meatspace ads. Like the web, there’s no startup costs here associated with actually putting up the ad, but there’s also the ability to perhaps click on the ad and queue content in a second window for later viewing, along with serving up similar ads. Obviously Google Adsense can do this as well, but what’s really neat about advertising in game is that ads can be switched up in real time as players drive laps around the racetrack.
Yes it’s creepy and big-brotherish, but it’s coming. Free game network subscriptions are already subsidized with ads (Xbox 360 live for instance). Now consider Hulu, the online network, whose advertising revenues are stuck in the 1950’s model. That is, you have programming and you have a few ads placed around the programming itself. No consider a subtler approach for contextual ads which can be swaped in and out of programming based on advertiser purchased timeframes.
Here’s an example – it’s pretty obvious that the television show Heroes was paid some amount of money to pimp the Nissan Versa automobile, since it was all over the show and the online comic.
Now imagine hot swapping the Nissan Versa for the Toyota Prius if the advertiser changes. Neat stuff, but it mus be done gingerly of course or fans will cry foul. I personally have referred to the movie “Die Another Day” facetiously as “Buy Another Day”, because of the nausiatingly pervasive vodka, auto, and clothing advertising. If I wanted to pay for advertising aimed at impresisonable young males, I’d just pick up Maxim, thanks.
Off the top of my head, here are some advertising usage segments which we might see in the future include virtual billboards, rotate plug-in product placements in background scenery, such as cars, and programmable swap out labels for bottles a game or video personality drinks out of.
The infrastructure required to make this happen involves three things:
- A standard platform for digital film and games to incorporate programmable objects – consumables, background props, etc. Gaming is pretty much there already. I suspect television and film will follow shortly once everything is released digitally.
- A standardized method of turning ratings of games, films and television programming into advertising multipliers. For example, superbowl advertising naturally is more expensive than soap opera advertising.
- A standardized method of turn objects into advertising multipliers demand for certain shows and virtual supply of placement objects. For example, an object a character holds (bottle with a programmable label) or wears (watch with a programmable face) would be a more expensive placement than a background object (programmable banner overhead characters).
Of course all this assumes there is infrastructure in place supporting an unbiased popularity rating is in place, which isn’t the case. It’ll also spike demand for minute green screens to say the least.
As a bonus, these capabilities will probably tip the scales in the direction of digitally distributed media as opposed to CD-based media. That’s a good thing. I don’t know about you, but I’m done with physical media (et tu, Sony?)