July 13, 2006, 12:00 AM

In-game ads give retailers a new way to engage a broad audience

Games are no longer the province of primarily young, male consumers, Jupiter Research found. Nearly one in four online consumers—split evenly between men and women—play advergames and 80% have entered online sweepstakes.

Although retailers may dismiss game marketing as irrelevant, games can be a fresh way to approach and engage a wide range of customers, according to a new study from Jupiter Research Inc.

Games are no longer the province of primarily young, male consumers, Jupiter found. Nearly one in four online consumers-split evenly between men and women-play advergames and 80% have entered online sweepstakes. An average of 46% of online consumers between the ages of 30 and 59 play online games while half of consumers ages 65 and over play online games and 71% enter online sweepstakes.

In addition, nearly one-third of video game players say they notice ads in games. Consumers also view in-game ads more favorably than online ads, according to Jupiter. Only 35% of online households say they’re annoyed by branded messages in video games compared with 85% that dislike pop-up ads.

“Consumers aged 13 to 34 are a particular sweet spot for prospective game marketers,” said Shar VanBoskirk, the Forrester analyst who authored the report. “These consumers represent a critical mass of purchasing power that notices, and doesn’t mind, in-game ads.”

Jupiter also found that two-thirds of consumers who play online video games on their own say they play more than once a week. Similarly, 50% of multi-player video gamers and 42 % of advergamers do as well. Because of the concentration required in game playing, recall rates ranged between 30% and 40%, compared with less than 10% for TV ads.

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