Advergame Advertising

Army of One Advergame developed by the Armed Forces as a recruiting tool.


Advergames can be described as an electronic game used to promote a certain brand or product. Many companies are currently using this form of advertising to expose their products to consumers in a fun and hands on way. An example of this would be a brand of children’s cereal creating an online website where visitors can play a game in which the cereal’s mascot has to collect the shapes of cereal. Not only is the visitor being constantly exposed to the brand image, but frequency and reach are also being used to a maximum, given that Internet users from basically anywhere are able to access the website. This is very effective way of advertising in the fact that a consumer learns about the website and pays it a visit, increasing brand awareness. It can be seen as a way to attract people’s attention in a more creative way than the typical television or radio advertisement.
Dunkin' Donuts Advergame

Types of Advergames

There are three typical categories of advergames. The first grouping is online and casual games that are generally placed on a company website or gaming site sponsored by the company. These games attract visitors and tempt them to stay on the site longer. The more time a consumer remains on the web site, the more time the company's message is exposed to them. A second type of advergame is similar to the traditional commercial video-game designed, created and sold for use on gaming consoles or computers. The difference with this type of advergame, however, is that it is developed with a particular intention in mind. For example, the United States Armysponsored a game for PlayStation2 called "America's Army" made specifically to try to increase recruitment. The third group of advergaming is product placement. This can also be referred to as in-game advertising where the product is actually a part of the game. An example of this might be placing a BMW driving along the virtual streets in the game.


Advergames have been created to advertise for all types of brands from food products, fast food chains, soda companies, feature films, car companies, clothing stores and even as a recruitment tool for the military. These companies use advergames for multiple reasons. The widespread use of electronic media has greatly increased especially in today’s youth with students spending at least one-third of their day using electronic media (Anderson & Escobar, 2008). It only makes sense that companies would use mediums such as the Internet to attract attention to their product. With the use of Internet advergames, companies have found ways to advertise their products other than pop-ups and spamming. “Given that internet users are finding ways to avoid pop-ups, flashing banners and spam, putting advertisements into games is an obvious way to reach them. Perhaps surprisingly, gamers seem to feel positive towards in-game advertising” (2005).
Redbull Advergame

Advergaming Effectiveness

Another reason why advergames have been so popular within the past few years is the advantages is has over television and radio. The time that consumers are exposed to advergames is much greater than that of a television or radio advertisement. As described in the Ottowa Citizen journal, “Television commercials last about 30 seconds; print ads are often seen for a fraction of that time. But with a video game, potential consumers could be interacting with a product for seven to 10 minutes at a time” (Weir, 2007, p.F7). This prolonged exposure to a product by playing advergames definitely has its benefits. As reported in Brandweek Magazine, ”Overall, 42% of advergamers play more than once a week. And, 18% of them say that ads help them decide what to buy” (Hein, 2006). What makes advergaming even more effective is the cost to create post an advergame on a website.

Yoplait Advergame
College Advergame

Advantages and Costs

A major advantage that advergaming has on television advertisements is the price to develop these games. “A 30-second prime-time slot on American television can cost half a million dollars, whereas an advergame rarely costs more than $50,000 to develop and can be posted on the internet for months or years” (2005). Using advergaming greatly enhances reach and frequency, expanding to audiences who are available to computer and internet access. With such a cost effective way using advergaming companies not only reach many consumers through the internet but saves extra money to spend on alternate advertising classes. Advergames are also free to users on the web.

Advergames have been so successful that companies have been putting an increasing amount of money into this type of advertising year by year. In 2004, the United States alone spend $118 million on advertising with videogames. By the end of the decade the US is expected to exceed $800 million dollars according to a Boston research firm, Yankee Group (Weir, 2007, p. F7). This trend will continue to increase throughout the years with advances in electronic media such as iPods, computers and videogame consoles.

Monopoly Advergame

Limitations and Threats

Advergaming faces very few limitations due to protection under the First Amendment. There are however many threats opposing the development of advergames advertising unhealthy food products towards children. This poses an ever bigger threat to childhood obesity. Candy companies, fast food chains, and cereals brands have all been targeted. With television ads encouraging children to get online and play an advergame, kids are unknowingly being exposed to the use of unhealthy foods.

According to the Yale Law Journal, these appeal to children for four main reasons. The first reason is advergaming is a cost effective way of advertising opposed to traditional advertising. The second reason being the amount of time children spend on the internet makes it easy to attract and hold attention. The third reason is the relationship between the interactive aspect of a child playing an advergame and retaining information. The final reason is that advergames are generally viral. It’s very common for children to play an advergame and send the link to a friend, increasing reach (Grossman, 2005).
Fruity Pebbles Advergame

Dove Advergame

Big Names in Advergames

Many of these large companies that appeal to children have been using advergaming for around twenty years. Although advergames has gained most of their popularity through the Internet, companies like Pepsi, Domino's Pizza and Coca-Cola have been in the advergaming business a long time. Dominos released an advergame in 1990 for the NintendoEntertainment System called “Yo!Noid” where levels in the game featured references to Dominoes Pizza commercials. McDonald's also developed a game for the NES system called “M.C. Kids” in 1991 which contained various references to McDonald’s products. Almost twenty years later, these companies have not lost step with advergaming.

With such an advantage advergaming has on many other mediums of advertising, the industry is bound to grow year by year. Jeep, Kellogg, Nike, Burger King, to basically any big name brand offer various advergames on their websites. In general advergaming offers consumers a free, interactive and easy way to learn about products without having a monotonous message being tossed at them. Consumers utilize advergames on their own time, being exposed to products for multiple minutes, and retain the information well over the ability of television, radio, and print media. Advergaming will continue to be an alternate type of media with a very effective strategy.

Google AdSense for Games: In-Game Advertising

An example of an Advergame provided by WebMD

Additional Examples and Information

What is an Advergame?

SIA Interactive - Advergames - English

DirecTV HD soccer advergames BTL booth @ Pinamar 2010

Colgate Plax - Advergame

Telecom 3D Advergame controlled by bottle Gesture Capture


Anderson, C., Escobar, S. (2008). Media and Risky Behaviors. The Future of Children, 18,p. 147. Retrieved October 24, 2009, from

Grossman, S. (2005 ). "Grand Theft Oreo": The Constitutionality of Advergame Regulation. The Yale Law Journal, 115,p.227-236. Retrieved October 24, 2009, from

Hein, K. (2006). Advergaming Attracts Large A-List Players. Brandweek, 47(33), 15. Retrieved October 22, 2009, from

Weir, W. (2007). Marketers embrace 'advergames': Companies design video games to advertise products to consumers. The Hartford Courant, p. F7. Retrieved October 22, 2009, from

(2005). And now, a game from our sponsor. Economist, 375(8430), p. 3-4.