James Swift

1 March 2021

Strategist’s Digest: Are advertising games effective marketing tools? 

Contagious digests the most interesting and relevant research from the world of advertising and beyond, because there’s just too much to read and too little time

The Gamification of Branded Content: A Meta-Analysis of Advergame Effects 

By Zeph M. C. van Berlo, Eva A. van Reijmersdal & Martin Eisend

Give it to me in one sentence.

Advertising games are better than regular ads at improving brand attitudes and purchase intent but worse at promoting awareness.

Give me a little more detail.

The researchers conducted a meta analysis of the empirical research into advertising games (note: this did not include research into in-game advertising), using the selected 29 papers to determine when this medium outperformed regular advertising and when it did not.

The results showed:

  • People tend to feel more positively about advertising games than other types of advertising.
  • People are less likely to recognise advertising games as advertising, which may have something to do with why they often liked them better than regular ads. But this has drawbacks (beyond the question of ethics) if you believe people must recognise an ad as such in order to process a commercial message.
  • Perhaps related to the above point, people are less likely to recall a brand or product cue after playing an advertising game than after exposure to a regular ad.
  • But advertising games do appear to have a positive effect on people’s brand attitudes and purchase intent, as well as on people’s actual choices.
  • Advertising games are less effective at persuading older players.

Why is this interesting?

A good meta analysis is always interesting, as far as we’re concerned. And this one shows when advertising games are useful tools (when trying to reach people who hate regular ads) and when they aren’t (when brands are trying to improve awareness and recognition).

Any weaknesses?

The authors point out that a relative lack of data stopped them from interrogating the effects as much as they’d have liked.

Where can I find the whole report?

Here, but it’s not free.

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