Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Channel 4 Gives Advergames a Kicking

...But also confirm they work?

Earlier this week Channel 4 decided to give the advertising industry a bit of a kicking by alleging that they create games that market junk food to kids and, to ram their point home they paid a visit to a couple of digital agencies and secretly recorded them discussing a fake brief to market a soft drink product to the under 12s.

You can check out the show here:

Having just watched the show, and having made a few Advergames myself over the years, I think it's worth making a few points:

  1. Advergames definitely aren't solely or even primarily aimed at kids - we've built over a hundred over the years and the only one that was aimed at the under 18s was for Historic Royal Palaces to advertise an exhibit at the Tower of London.
  2. As in any industry - there are some dodgy dealers in adverting.
  3. In my opinion - Koko Digital aren't one of them. They're a small company who produce fun games on tight budgets - largely for the love of it. They were clearly a bit naive in the meeting, I really hope this doesn't hurt their business.
  4. It might be worth pointing out that most of the games they actually featured (for example the ones for Coca Cola) are also a bit crap and actually haven't been particularly successful.

Interesting though... they key thing that came out of the show for me is that the academics confirm that Advergames work - not specifically for children, but generally. During the show Dr Jennifer Harris from Yale stated:

"Advertising really is most effective when people don't think of it as advertising - When they're thinking of a game they're playing then they won't activate their defences and the advertising will be more effective."

This is a very good point and, whilst I'd agree that in the context of marketing to kids this is a concern, it's good to know that there's some point to all this! I think it's also worth pointing out that Advergames are not the only medium to exploit this phenomena - ever wondered why Google is so rich? Because their advertising works in an almost identical way - by placing advertising around your search results in a similar style your defences are lower and you're more likely to click on the advertiser's links.

Anyway - thanks Channel 4 and Yale for telling us that Advergames work and - for the record - although we've definitely never made an Advergame aimed at the under 12s we did once make one for Roy Chubby Brown and, frankly, that is a shame that I will carry to the grave.

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