An in-depth US study of advertising in video games claims a high level of effectiveness.

The Nielsen Entertainment report, carried out with games publisher Activision, indicates that ads embedded in games can have a powerful effect, giving players a positive opinion of the product.

This conclusion moves the debate along from previous studies which have shown that static ads in games, such as a billboard or blimp, or integrated advertising, can improve awareness of a brand in the same way as a 30-second TV spot.

Says Nielsen svp Michael Dowling: "There's a whole new variable here."

Now, game makers are trying to come up with a way to measure the impact of in-game ads so they can charge for them in the same way other advertising is sold.

Nielsen's study included 1,350 male gamers aged 13 to 44. They were split into four groups that played games with ads and two groups that played the same games without ads. Three other groups watched TV shows, some with traditional ads, some with product placements and some with no advertising.

The study found that when ads were relevant to the game, the ads could remain on screen longer and resulted in a high percentage of brand awareness. Players surveyed after 20 minutes of game playing also said they would be highly likely to recommend an advertised product to a friend.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff