In-Game Advertising Results

The following article has been written by a fanatic researcher that conducted research about the effects of in-game advertising. I hope you enjoy it!

Even though billions of dollars are spent on in-game advertising each year and everyone in the industry has an opinion on how to use in-game advertising, very little is actually known about the actual effect of in-game advertising. In the study for my thesis I’ve tried to find out more about what in-game advertising can actually do for the advertised brand.

It was already known that in-game billboards can have an effect on memory: if you have played a game, you can sometimes remember or recognize the brand that was advertised in the game. Though this is a good thing if you want to create brand awareness, it is not a particularly spectacular finding, especially considering that not everyone could remember or recognize the advertised brands. Far from it in fact; the results indicated that in-game billboards were usually poorly remembered and recognized, suggesting that in-game advertising is not very effective at all. This seemed to justify the current cynicism that professionals have about in-game advertising, which I encountered both in news articles  and in personal interviews.

However, in-game advertising can do more than just make you remember or recognize brands: simple billboards along the track of a racing game can also influence how you feel about a brand. A handful of studies indicated that if you let people play a game with billboard advertising in it and you ask them how they feel about a couple of brands afterwards, they’ll be more favourable towards the brands that were advertised in the game!

According to the psychological theory of Dual Attitudes people do not just have a single opinion of something, but people can have two opinions of any given object at the same time. And these two opinions (in social sciences we speak of attitudes) are not always the same: people have both a conscious or explicit attitude and a subconscious or implicit attitude. One of the best examples to illustrate this with is modern racism: hardly anyone will actually admit that they’re racist, because they know it is wrong. So when you ask them if the complexion of your skin should matter for how you’re judged on a job interview, they’ll tell you that it shouldn’t matter; racism is wrong. In practise however people often subconsciously act in a racist way – perhaps because black people are often associated with crime and educational disadvantages. This is why a black person may have less chance to be hired for a job than an equally qualified white person.

Knowing that in-game billboard advertising could actually change someone’s conscious, explicit attitude towards a brand, I wondered whether this was also true for their subconscious, implicit attitude. So I set up an experiment where I asked people to play a racing game for 5-10 minutes and complete some tests afterwards. They did not know what I was studying and they did not know that half of them saw in-game billboards with brand A, while the other half of them saw brand B on the very same billboards. I could then measure their implicit attitude with an IAT (Implicit Association Test).

In the IAT participants had to complete a series of tasks in which they had to categorize positive and negative terms and brand pictures. For example, participants could be shown the word ‘beautiful’ and if the category ‘good’ was shown in the left corner of the screen, they would have to click the left key. For parts of this test, participants had to categorize both good or bad terms and brands to the left and right corner. For example, participants could have the category ‘good’ and ‘brand A’ on the left side and ‘bad’ and ‘brand B’ on the right side of the screen. In this case, the participants would have to assign good terms and pictures that have to do with brand A to the same category (left). If you are a fan of brand A, you’ll have an easy time assigning good evaluative terms and pictures with brand A on it to the same category and you’ll be able to do so very quickly. If you are not a fan of brand A, you’ll have a harder time placing them in the same category and you’ll be making more mistakes and react more slowly. By pairing both brands with both good and evaluative terms in different parts of the test, this test can figure out which brand is the favourite.

According to the IAT, people prefer the brand that they’ve just been exposed to in the game significantly more than the other brand. In previous psychological studies, researchers have already found out that the implicit attitude can play a big role in influencing actual behaviour. Especially at times when people don’t really have the time or aren’t in the mood to think too much about what they’re doing, the implicit attitude will be the main thing to dictate what people actually do. This means that because you’ve played a game with an in-game advertisement for brand A, next time you’re in a hurry and in the supermarket and you want to grab a bottle of soda, you’re more likely to grab a bottle of brand A.

Though, interestingly, this effect only occurred for participants in the condition in which they had to play the game on an easy difficulty where they had to race three rounds, as fast as they could, but without traffic to avoid and opponents to beat. In the condition with the hard difficulty, where they had to avoid a lot of traffic and try to beat their opponents, participants were not influenced by the in-game advertising. It did not matter what brand they were exposed to, the results of the IAT indicated that they had no significant preference towards either brand.

As to why in-game advertising only has an effect on a lower difficulty I’m not sure yet. There are two plausible explanations: it could be that it requires so much attention to play the game on the hard difficulty setting that people no longer have the cognitive resources to be able to process the in-game billboards. And without processing the billboards, your implicit attitude will not be changed. The second possibility is that because participants were enjoying the game on the easy difficulty setting, they could subconsciously associate their positive experience to the in-game brands. And perhaps they did not have as much of a positive association on the high difficulty setting because they enjoyed it less, because they were more frustrated.

Encouraged by the interesting results, I am already working on a part 2 of this study. This time the focus will be more on comparing the effects of the explicit attitude to the implicit attitude and to find out which explanation of the effect of the difficulty level works best.


Joël Bosch

If you want to read more about using games as a marketing tool, download ‘A Brand New Playground’ for free!

Or subscribe to one of the 4 Gamification Workshops in 2014 

Mario in Real Life…?

Super Mario Bros. from Andreas Heikaus on Vimeo.

One Gamification & Two Serious Game projects LIVE!

I apoligize to people that visit my blog regularly… I have been so busy in the past three months that I did not have time to write new posts…

First of all I am working on a new book called ‘Playing on the Job’ – which will be about using games as a way to make work more fun and effective for employees.

Secondly I am working on a new method of brainstorming, called ‘GameStorm’ (for now)… Check the screenshot. It starts with ‘setting the challenge’ in 1 of the 4 quadrants and then starting with 4/5 people to define actions that people need to start or stop doing to achieve the set challenge, but also define activities that people currently do that are neither productive or destructive (mostly routine work). This way you can eliminate processes and ‘work’ that actually has no effect on the set challenge and optimization of profit… More about the GameStorm later…

Upcoming Monday, we (me and my many partners) will launch three projects.

1. MT Challenge – a gamification tool that improves the chance that students (freshmen) achieve all points in their first year of college

2. Serious Game to train people on a new product (a knowledge game)

3. Serious Game to train staff to listen better to their customers

So all-in-all I have been quite busy… Also I finally achieved the ‘’ url – so chances are that this address and my email will change somewhere end of this year… It will also spare me from spam I hope… 😉

For now… check out the screens and I hope I can tell you more about my book, the GameStorm and the results of the projects I mentioned above within two months…

Game On!

Tired of Liking…

Curious readers will have noticed that I predicted that Facebook will lose its relevance over time and will be gone in 2014. I said that here: (scroll all the way done and use ‘mouse over’ on Level 4)…

Of course I also said that to provoke some free publicity and poke around, but I am quite serious actually. The past six months I have noticed that not only the activity on Facebook drops but also the ‘relevance’ and this is quite easy to explain. The relevance should be provided by my close friends and family. But like I said in my book only 1 % CREATES content, 9% INFLUENCES content and 90% READ content. You can imagine that in your group of 500 ‘friends’ only 5 people actually CREATE ‘relevant’ updates like baby pictures, food pictures, kids pics and maybe one or two different topics, but that’s it… And you can ask yourself how relevant it is to see an update of new babies, different food, growing kids week after week…

Apart from this we know that 50% of all Facebook users actually log in to be able to play games…

And I guess the other 50% uses Facebook to log in to different websites, so it’s nothing else but a ‘hub’ that protects / mis-uses my personal identity…

What do you guys think? How relevant are the news / friends updates to you? Let me know #gamifiy #facebook

The Consumer Consulting Board

A new publication by Insited Consulting – the guys from The Conversation Manager and Conversation Company’. I haven’t read it yet, but the digital version is available for free right here!

Gamification Workshop Istanbul #3

The video below gives you an impression of the Gamification Workshop I host 4 times a year in Turkey (Istanbul) and soon also in Holland (Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam). The video (and program) is based on a 2-day workshop, but also comes in a 1-day and even 1/2 day format. Check the links below to subscribe to any form you like.

You can subscribe here for the upcoming events:

Gamification Workshop Istanbul #4:
This is a 2 day program. Dates to be confirmed, but expected on 28 & 29 November 2013

Gamification Workshop Rotterdam #1:
This is 1/2 day program on 27-9 2013 for € 245,-

Check out the scores here of this Masterclass

HR – The Next Level

90 minute Gamification Workshop – More information here:

Gamification Workshop Utrecht #1:
This is a 1 day program on 20-11 2013 for € 595,-

Gamification Workshop Amsterdam #1: … opening soon…

Room Racers Game

How cool is this! A virtual real racing game using the Kinect Camera and a beamer! I saw this project during the BrightDay in Pakhuis de Zwijger. Check out the vid!

Platform Mayhem: Xbox One versus PlayStation 4?

Today I got a phone call from a journalist who was writing an article for 14 local newspapers. He asked me about my opinion on the ‘battle of platforms’ and wanted a response to the quote that ‘the AAA hardcore game platforms are doomed to die’…

I wrote an item about this recently when I saw new platforms were emerging like the Ooya, the Gamestick and the Steam Box.

If you saw the release of the Xbox One (great name by the way) yesterday you know that Microsoft is trying to claim the battle for the living room entertainment with a ‘all-in-one’ content solution (music, moveis, TV, series, games, etc.) and I must say I was impressed that finally one company dares to really claim that spot. However… shouldn’t (or didn’t) Sony have taken that spot years ago…??? They have the hardware (TV, Audio sets, PlayStation), software OS, content (Sony Music, Sony Pictures, Sony PlayStation)…?? I still wonder why they never managed to make it happen….

What Sony PlayStation does is claim to make gaming social and play ‘anywhere – anytime’ on different devices (cross platform gameplay). Finally the integration of devices revolving game content! And finally ‘social connections and ‘instant share’ of ‘in-game moments! They even added a button on their controller that facilitates that. Sony PlayStation sees that gaming has truly become a ‘social activity’ and understand that gaming is accepted around the globe. Thanks to Apple of course! Because if you can say one thing about the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad…they are all game devices and Apple has made ‘gaming’ cool, easy, accessible and mainstream! I remember when people looked at me when I told them I am a fanatic gamer like: but you are not fat, hairy, smelly and eat chips and drink coke all day??? Not without rum at least… and I DO SMELL! 😉

I sincerely thank Apple that they made gaming as an ‘anytime – anywhere activity’ acceptable and that they managed to make touch screen devices work in a superior manner.

Where is Google Play by the way? Oh yes of course. Well Android is a great follower in this matter and the Ooya will bring Android games to our living room on a big screen for who ever wants that. It will be great I am sure. And as for Nintendo? I respect their choice of target group: family and children. And that’s just fine and swell.

So… back to my main question: who will win the battle of the platforms? My answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE and more…

It’s just a matter of context, target group, interface and game genre. It all depends. Example?

I love to play shooters and strategy games on PC, because I need an analogue control to react quickly in shooters and need a lot of buttons to control my armies in Shogun 2 (a strategy game). I love to play ‘The Walking Dead’ and Machineria with my girlfriend on the PlayStation 3 in the living room. I love to play Angry Brides (just kidding: birds – BIRDS) and Ridiculous Fishing on my iPhone where ever I have to wait for an appointment… so there is no ONE game console (except for the XBox One but that’s not a game console anymore, it’s a HES – Home Entertainment System, just like the PlayStation 2, 3 and 4… and Apple iPhone, iPad and Apple TV…).

This video above is a joke of course…

Verborgen geheim in boek 'Laat met je merk spelen'…

Omdat bij mijn weten nog niemand het heeft opgemerkt, ga ik nu – na drie jaar – een leuk geheim ontdekken uit mijn boek ‘Laat met je merk spelen’… klik op de video hieronder en zie het resultaat als je het boek bekijkt terwijl je de pagina’s van achter naar voren euh… tja hoe heet dat wat je dan doet…?

Decision Making in Games

I am working on some models for my new book: Playing on the Job… any comments on this model about decision making in games (and potentially in life…?).

It describes how we make decisions in games. I expect we have three basic inputs: (1) Knowledge, (2) Skills which form (3) an Emotional state. Maybe ‘experience’ is another dimension? Or is that embedded in your ‘level of skills’ and ‘knowledge’…?

However… depending on your Skills and Knowledge you come to a decision with a reasonable doubt based on an assessment of the situation and assumptions… then you Decide to either DO or DO NOT (as Yoda says)…


Please share your thoughts in a comment below or Tweet me @BartHufen #Gamification