Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gamers Represent a Potentially Attractive Segment for Internet Marketers

comScore Networks, a digital media measurement company, announced its first-quarter results of “The Players” study, which examines the behavior and attitudes of all segments of Gamers. The cross-platform study examines Gamers’ attitudes towards the emerging practice of in-game advertising and shows that the Internet is a potentially effective way to reach Gamers who play on all types of platforms.

comScore Media Metrix data show that Game sites reach almost 50% of the Internet universe, representing 76.9 million consumers in April 2006, up from 71.6 million in April 2005. The Players research found that 25% of Gamers are Heavy Gamers, playing 16 or more hours per week across any gaming platform, or playing 11 hours or more per week and playing on two or more platforms. Light/Medium Gamers - those that play less than 16 hours per week on one platform - represent 75 percent of Gamers. Approximately 17 percent of Gamers are in the hard-to-reach age group of 18-24 years old, while another 23% are in the advertising sweet-spot age segment aged 35 to 44 years old. One-in-five (20 percent) have an annual income over $75,000 per year, and the typical Gamer has been gaming for about 9 years, has been online for about 8 years. Gamers are equally split along gender lines.

Gamers are also avid Web users, spending more than twice as many hours online per month versus the norm (53 hours per month versus 24 hours for the average Internet user). Additionally, Heavy Gamers go online more frequently during the month, averaging 24 days compared to the average Internet user who typically goes online 17 days per month.

Gamers Not Opposed to In-Game Advertising
According to comScore’s survey, more than 50 percent of Heavy Gamers and one-third of Light/Medium Gamers are at least somewhat familiar with the concept of in-game advertising i.e. the contextual placement of brands or products within games.

In-game advertising is an innovative way to reach Gamers, but some worry it might be considered an intrusive form of advertising that could alienate an audience. However, while some Gamers are offended by in-game advertising, the results of comScore’s survey suggest the positive effects outweigh any negative consequences. Specifically, when asked about their attitudes towards games with advertisements, only 15 percent of Heavy Gamers claimed they would be “unlikely” to play games that included such product placements. In contrast, more than twice as many Heavy Gamers (33 percent), said they would be “likely” to play those games, while fully 52% of Heavy Gamers and 56% of Light/Medium Gamers stated that the inclusion of advertising would have no impact on their likelihood of playing a game.

While poorly integrated in-game ads may have the potential to diminish the quality of game-play, 35% of the Heavy Gamers disagreed with the statement “these ads interrupt my play and bother me”. Importantly, nearly half of heavy Gamers felt that in-game advertising was an inevitable part of the future of their play. When asked if the ads would make them consider buying the product or service, heavy Gamers were actually more receptive (17 percent) than light/medium Gamers (9 percent).

The Players study is conducted using comScore’s unique dual-mode methodology that combines passively observed online behavior and attitudinal information for the same consumers. Wave I of the survey portion of the Players Study collected attitudinal information from 800 Gamers from February 13 - 27, 2006. Additional waves will be fielded throughout 2006.

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