I remember reading a Stephen King novel a few years back and getting to a point where one of the characters in the book grabbed a coke to quench his thirst. There was no reason to mention a brand name in the story – it didn’t add to the plot, it didn’t make the story seem more realistic, and it felt like the novelist only included the brand name of the soft drink because he may have been paid to do so. I have no idea whether or not that’s actually the case, but it really lessened my appreciation of the novel.
In the world or universe of a game, someone driving down a freeway might see billboards on the side of the road that contain actual advertisements. Storefronts may carry signs, and recognizable buildings and logos products may appear within games during play. I wrote about some of the possible implementations of games that Google discussed in a patent filing they released on in-game advertising in a post titled Google Games Patent Filing on Targeted Advertisements.
A new patent filing from Google discusses how they might track and measure “impressions” of ads actually placed within a game.
Google does provide some information about advertising that they have shown within games on their pages, such as video, image, and text ads, and give us a case study on their help pages that show a character from a game introducing a video ad during a brief hiatus from gameplay. But they don’t seem to offer advertising within a game during actual gameplay. At least not yet.
The new patent application describes how a game impression might be measured:
The present specification describes a solution in which all impressions of a given type, e.g., a virtual billboard in the game, are consistently measured for all impressions within the same game, for all players of the game, and on all platforms on which the game is played. This provides advertisers a realistic measurement by which they can compare impressions and better understand their ROI for a given ad or campaign.
This is valuable to advertisers and their agents who seek to grasp the value of their efforts and their advertising expenditures. Additionally, the ability to understand and optimize ROI translates to greater advertising efficiencies, potentially leading to overall savings for advertisers.
The patent filing is:
Invented by Daniel Willis, Michael Doiron
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20090144140
Published June 4, 2009
Filed November 30, 2007
The act of actually defining what an impression might be for in-game advertising placement may be the first step towards Google running such ads.
What kinds of things might be looked at when defining what an impression might be?
The things that may be considered could include:
- Impression length,
- Percentage of screen occupied by the ad,
- Percentage of ad occlusion,
- Quality of the ad impression, and;
- Angle of vision.
Impression length – the number of continuous screen frames in which a player observes any part of an advertisement. Examples of minimum and maximum values might be 30 and 100 frames. If the frame rate might be based on a frame rate of 5 frames per second, if any part of an ad is observed continually for a minimum of 6 seconds and a maximum of 20 seconds, the impression length criteria will be deemed to be satisfied.
Percentage of the screen occupied by advertisement – An advertisement must cover a certain percentage of the screen to count as an impression. An example might be 25% of the screen.
Percentage of ad occlusion – The percentage of an ad hidden, possibly by another game object. As an example, if an ad is more than 35% occluded or hidden, it might not be counted as an impression.
Quality of ad impression – This could include things like the degree of interaction with an ad.
For example – if the advertisement is an actual object like a beverage that has a recognizable brand due to its “color, name, shape, trade dress, or the like,” the quality of the ad impression may vary based on whether or not a player or actor within the game interacted with it, or it was just visible within the game. If a game player “spills it, grabs it, drinks it, and the like,” that would be considered a higher quality level of interaction and may count as a higher quality ad impression.
Angle of vision – the perceived angle from which the advertisement is viewed. Is the ad in direct view of the game player, or at an angle to it, or looking away from it completely?
Many advertisers do provide the opportunity to present ads during gameplay, and even an Obama for President billboard was seen last year in an Xbox game.
Will Google start offering in-game ads that are integrated into actual gameplay sometime in the future?
How might game players react to such ads? Will they feel the same way that I did while reading that Stephen King novel and coming across what appeared to be a paid placement for Coca-Cola? Will they ignore the ads? Will they consider the ads unavoidable and the cost of playing a game for free or low cost?