Tim Youngman: Mourning the death of my beloved XBox 360



I have recently suffered a great loss as my beloved trusty Xbox 360 games console died. Now you might think that at 42 I am too old to play video games but the stats would disagree. Today games players cannot be defined by a particular age, sex or social group.

The Internet Advertising Bureau has estimated that there are 33 million regular gamers in the UK alone and worldwide that equates to more that 1.2 billion. That’s a lot of people spending a lot of money. In fact a recent report from PWC estimates that by 2017 the worldwide market will be worth $89.7 billion up from $63.4 billion in 2012.

That vast audience has not escaped the attention of major brands. The last few years has seen a rise in brands trying to use “gamification” to various success. Some have even created games as a brand marketing exercise, most notably the successful Barclays waterslide app for the iPad. Other brands have embraced placing ads in actual games and not who you would expect.

It’s not the “yoof” brands that are pushing the boundaries of this type of advertising. Insurer Swiftcover, part of AXA Insurance, has placed ads in games including Pro Evolution Soccer, Guitar Hero and Tiger Woods PGA tour. They have now taken this learning to another level creating mini games inside Facebook apps.

Another long standing in-game advertiser is GCHQ. The spy agency has for over seven years used in-game advertising for its recruitment ads. They now use streaming video banners on the Xbox Live online gaming platform to try to recruit new spooks. The ads change as the player gets deeper and further into a game and so gives a guide to the spy chiefs to the skills and suitability of a player.

For every successful campaign though there have been many examples of failure. To make it work, the lessons from those that have benefited is that the experience cannot take away from the game and whatever it is; it must be as creative as the game they are trying to enjoy.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant