EA Makes Absurd Generalizations About In-Game Advertising With Nielsen's Help

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Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts had Nielsen conduct a study of some of Nielsen's Homescan panel households to determine the efficacy of EA's in-game advertising. Not surprisingly, EA's conclusion was that everyone should purchase in-game advertising... with EA. Read on for details and to learn why Halo players will soon be purchasing more needlers.
Nielsen's Homescan households include around 100,000 households, thought to be representative of the U.S. population, scan in the UPC barcodes of entertainment products they purchase (such as games). Combined with surveys, this allows Nielsen to make suppositions about how certain products impact consumer behaviors.

In the case of EA's games, Nielsen looked at households that purchased at least one of six EA Sports games (NHL '09, NHL '10, NBA Live '07, NBA Live '08, NBA Live '09 and NBA Street Homecourt). What happened is this: EA introduced Gatorade branding into these games, and Nielsen compared the Gatorade purchasing behaviors of those who purchased the game before and after ads appeared in the games with the Gatorade buying of those who didn't purchase the game.

EA's conclusion was that "in-game advertising increased household dollars spent on Gatorade by 24%" and that each dollar spent on advertising returned $3.11. That's obviously ridiculous. Just because the data can be presented in that way does not make this a general reality concerning in-game advertising.

One of the biggest problems with advertising that it's hard to quantify the payoff on money invested in advertising. EA's Senior Vice president of Global Media Sales Elizabeth Harz said "For the first time, advertisers are able to link the value of their in-game marketing or sponsorship to actual sales." Nielsen's Director of Media Product Leadership Gerardo Guzman said, "In this case the story is simple - dollars put into video game product placement result in more retail dollars."

We respectfully disagree. We won't argue that game advertising dollars are wasted, but this quantification is absurd. If it isn't, Nielsen or EA should release more information on the study methodology, sample size and results. We understand that Nielsen makes its money from this data, and is reluctant to release its methodology, but this is akin to a tobacco company declaring with authority that "smoking isn't bad for your health."

There are so many reasons this doesn't necessarily mean anything not the least of which is that those purchasing sports games are more likely to already be inundated with branding for sports drinks, whereas introducing Gatorade advertising to, say, Farmville is unlikely to return $3.11 for every dollar spent. This is foolish stuff.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 14, 2010 10:22 PM.

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