Monday, May 21, 2007

Hath no one an itch to bitch about the pitch?

I have no idea what in-game product placements are going for in triple-A game titles these days. However, the Freakonomics blog points us to this interesting Businessweek post about the cost of product placement in TV shows like Martha, Oprah, etc, that may point to a high point for us to shoot for.

Stewart’s syndicated NBC show, which airs daily at 4 PM, is currently lagging in the ratings and can only charge advertisers about $10,000 for a 30-second spot, as opposed to $18,000 for The View or a staggering $100,000 for Oprah. But if an advertiser spends at least $250,000 total on ads during a season, the money also buys a special “branded segment” on the show, along with mentions in Stewart’s magazine and radio broadcast.

It seems the idea is working: airtime for Martha Stewart Living is sold out through the 2007-08 season. Latecomers or advertisers who don’t want to invest the full $250,000 can also buy a “one-time in-show oral mention with product close-up,” as BusinessWeek calls it, for $100,000, while a two-minute segment that “works in an advertiser’s talking points” starts at $250,000.

A couple things to observe related to gaming:

  • The article seems to hint that product placements are being sold in packages along with commercial spots. Most of the game ad stuff I've seen seems to be selling one or the other, not both packaged together (though I'm not sure. I'll have to check what our guys do on MSN Games).
  • Not that I've watched a lot of named-for-first-name TV shows, but the product placements are pretty clearly paid-for, and yet the audience doesn't seem to question Martha's cred. Hath no one an itch to bitch about the pitch?

1 comment:

Aurelio said...

Mind you, I've never seen even an entire segment on the show (I swear!), but I think the audience is more accepting of the product placement because it's relevant. If Martha is baking cookies or somethin, and uses pam spray oil to grease the cooking sheets, it's completely relevant, yet she just directly advertised a specific brand instead of some generic spray oil (what I usually buy).

If in the middle of the show she suddenly started talking about a new makeup product or woman type hygiene products, it may appear semi-relevant (since I assume the majority of viewers of her show are women), but many more people would take offense and object since the show is _not_ about hygiene, it's about food preparation.

I think in games it's much more difficult to target your advertising. Google appears to be pioneering some new kind of in-game advertising where the characters will actually ask you if you like a specific product and might want to hear more. Other games I've heard will actually track the amount of time you're spent looking directly at a (literal) billboard ad in their game so they can gauge it's effectiveness.

What needs to change to make ads relevant in games is that the marketers need to stop trying to stereotype gamers and saturate them with useless ads (they already drink Mountain Dew, so stop it!), and act as if they are actually helping the consumer to identify a product they may have been missing from their lives; e.g. "so I notice you sit a lot and play games, maybe you'd like a more comfortable chair?" - ok bad example, but hopefully you get my drift.