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September 5, 2001
More Than Just a Game
Online games packed with advertising and brand messages are showing up all over the Web

As online consumers continue to ignore traditional Internet advertisements, many companies have been forced to devise new ways to get their messages across. Some companies are sponsoring content sites, others are embarking on innovative e-mail marketing campaigns and recently some began creating ad-filled online games, also called advergames.

Advergames come in many forms. Some are simple, quick diversions and others are more advanced and addictive. At Nestle's Wonka.com, kid-at-heart candy lovers can play Willy Wonka's version of Tetris and air-hockey as well as some new games – all of which are filled with images of Nestle's candy products. Advergames have also begun invading online gaming sites, such as MSN's gaming center. One advergame at MSN is Dodge Speedway, an online racing competition where all the cars and background scenes are plastered with Dodge logos.

It's not hard to understand why companies are beginning to spend money on advergames. Game sites are the most popular of all online entertainment sites, and research company IDC says 40 million households will play games online by 2004. As long as the games are fun and the advertising doesn't get in the way of the game playing, most consumers don't mind the advertising. In fact, the New York Times reports companies using advergames say the games are well received and effective.

Games can do more for companies than just deliver brand messages. Adding a game to an online shopping site can give shoppers another reason to keep coming back to the site and maybe buy more. Plus, if the game is good, players will tell others about the site, and that can mean more shoppers and more sales.


- by Julia M. Duncan