NEW YORK: In-game advertising should appeal to a player's self-image and help enhance their status, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research.

Ina A. Tran and David Strutton - both from the University of North Texas - examined this subject in their paper, "What Factors Affect Consumer Acceptance of In-Game Advertisements? Click 'Like' to Manage Digital Content for Players".

A decade ago, according to Tran and Strutton, in-game advertising (IGA) seemed almost a vanity play - an imaginative add-on that might engage young consumers. But it has now become a vital part of cross-platform constructs.

"The imperative many advertisers face to engage more effectively with gamers exists, in part, because the generally youthful audience often may be disinclined to watch television," they argued.

"And even if they watch traditional broadcast media, gamers' adroit digital-video-recorder skills and declining interest in print media make reaching them increasingly difficult."

Based on a study featuring 578 participants, the authors outlined how marketers can best use in-game advertising (IGA) to pull consumers' attention towards their products and services.

To capture the attention of youthful gamers, they suggest, ads should deliver content that directly addresses players' self-image.

"When consumers perceive IGAs are compatible with their self-concepts, they appear more likely to share focal messages with others," Tran and Strutton said.

"Moreover, gamers likely respond more intentionally by passing along informative or entertaining IGA if they believe the acts will elevate their status in the eyes of important others."

Such work is effective only to the degree that it continues to entertain users - even as it pulls them away from their principal attraction and provides them with some sort of follow-up that, again, respects their self-perception while providing them with "needs-based" information.

The paper also cautions advertisers about messages that are too intrusive: "Should these same gamers perceive their privacy has been violated, they likely will be unreceptive to in-game advertising."

And, in extreme cases, "intrusive or off-putting advertisements can prompt online gamers to prematurely abandon their games or respond negatively to advertisements."

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research/Warc