Advertisers Want To Manipulate Minds Via Social Gaming

Social games such as Farmville and its ilk suck in loyal, engaged followers, making advertisers salivate.

Mashable insists free, addictive and accessible gaming is the next great frontier for advertisers, who are seeking to tame the savage beast into a cash cow.

The story says social games are potential advertising gold because they encourage engagement and interactivity in a way a banner ad never could. For instance, advertisers would rather have you willingly mess around with branded characters and objects than have you gloss over a banner ad.

Also, audiences for the larger games dwarf prime time TV, with Farmville’s 30 million daily players obliterating ratings numbers from the likes of Monday Night Football and Dancing with the Stars.

What social games do you play, and what sorts of ads do you notice while playing?

6 Reasons Why Social Games Are the Next Advertising Frontier [Mashable]


Edit Your Comment

  1. theblackdog says:

    None, and this is another reason why that number will likely stay zero.

    • Bagumpity says:

      Make that none times two. I don’t participate in ANY social media games. Unless you count the “Blame the OP” game on Consumerist.

  2. TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

    None – I’m a gamer, but I view the current social media games as not games at all, but simply time syncs. As I get older I find my technopile tendencies turning towards a more antitechnology persoective. It’s too prevalent.

    • TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

      TechnoPHILE – although Technopile kinda fits too – heh

    • The Upright Man says:

      Yeah, I play PS3/360/PC pretty adamantly but I don’t go anywhere near stuff like Farmville. Still, I could conceivably see this trend infiltrating “real” games with social aspects (World of Warcraft, NFS: Hot Pursuit with its autolog feature and so on)

      • NewsMuncher says:

        There’s advertising in movies, and games are becoming more and more like movies. I can’t think of any advertising that’s shown up in any games yet, but I bet games like Grand Theft Auto, Gran Turismo, Fallout, Half-Life, Heavy Rain, etc would be quite ripe for it.

      • DeathByCuriosity says:

        EverQuest II had a /pizza command that ordered (real world) Pizza Hut pizza.

    • drizzt380 says:

      Man that came off as elitist.

      Especially since the idea of time sinks originate in gaming and are even seen as more “hardcore”.

      • TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

        Lol – I suppose it that. I don’t really have an excuse – color me an elitist I suppose XD

        • DeathByCuriosity says:

          Nah, you’re not really being elitist. Those “games” really aren’t much of a game. it’s a lot of point-and-click and not much (if any) strategy. It reminds me of those lab experiments where they train rats to push buttons and receive treats. All they do is scratch the itch to get rewards, even tiny ones. All games scratch that itch, but the complexity of requisite tasks is what makes it a real game.

          My husband and I are gamers; he has played some of the Facebook games but he doesn’t usually stick with one for long. He clicks around, builds a few things, then drops the game in boredom before playing a real game that requires actual work. Meanwhile, I haven’t touched a single one. I prefer games that actually require thinking and implementing strategy.

          Also: hehe, “technopile.” That describes our computer room perfectly.

          • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

            That’s part of my problem with social games like that. Is it a game, or is it work? Is it actual entertainment, or is it just exploiting my action-reward centers?

            I’m all for wasting time with games, but it gets frustrating when I find myself feeling that the game is more a chore than a fun activity.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Advertisers Want To Manipulate Minds Via Any Means Necessary

    Fixed that for you.

  4. SpamFighterLoy says:

    When I used to play them, I noticed many branded items you could ‘buy’ from the store and use to decorate your farm or apartment or whatever. That’s about the point where I stopped playing.

  5. Michaela says:

    When I was younger, I used to run into ads like this at a site called Gaia (teen social site where you make an avatar, dress it up, and play games or chat in forums). They would constantly be rolling out company backed items that could be won by watching movie trailers or doing product-based quests (I remember playing some really stupid skittles games for an item once).

    People played the games and got the items, but I am not sure how well it worked. People got the items, but since everyone got them (and they were so poorly coded) their value was low and nobody wore them. I don’t recall ever buying any items or seeing any movies they advertised, but I guess it made me aware the things existed.

    • Snaptastic says:

      They have upped up their advertising efforts, but I’m not sure how well it’s going. Recently there’s been a Playtex campaign where a certain number of users have to complete a “scavenger hunt” in the forums before they released the item. It seems like that stupid thing has been running forever because not as many people as they hoped are participating.

      I try to ignore all those ads, but at this point they are plastered all over the site and hard to ignore. I only visit every few days now–and find that I’m not missing much of anything. All they are doing now is whoring out their advertisers and their own constant stream of pixelated items.

      • LightningUsagi says:

        Hey Snappy! Fancy meeting you here!

        I think the Playtex one finally ended, because I received an item from it over the weekend. However, the fact that it took over a week for 100k users to complete the task is telling of how little the item was wanted.

        • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

          hah, I didn’t even know that they were hoping to get a participation quota; I clicked like one thing a day, mostly when they showed up in an announcement and covered the text.

          Sometimes I think Gaia is just pushing for the wrong demographics. They’ve lost touch with their users in a big way since they went corporate. :/

          • LightningUsagi says:

            I didn’t have a problem with the advertisers when they originally started, because they were cute little quests, and some fun items (like the Tsubasa ones). However, my breaking point was the Tampax Flowing Dress…

      • Michaela says:

        That’s unfortunate. I just really hope they have kept the actual holiday events ad free. I was okay with the site because most ads were in towns or the cinema (except for the MTV shop…which I seriously hope closed). Halloween, Easter, and Christmas were always fun, and I liked that they were based on the imagination of the site creators, not the pockets of some toothpaste company.

        • LightningUsagi says:

          The MTV shop closed…and has been replaced by Macys.

        • Snaptastic says:

          Usagi! Great to see you here of all places! *hugs*

          The holiday events are still free, but many have been sponsored (I think Halloween was sponsored by Skittles a year or so ago). The bulk of ads nowadays tend to be from hygiene-related products and crappy movies/tv shows. Some other bigger advertisers tapered off awhile ago when they probably realized that a teen can’t really influence their family to buy Verizon and other more expensive products.

    • LightningUsagi says:

      They still do these items, and also have items that are available via codes when you buy things IRL…like DVDs or CDs. The sponsor items are not only low-value, but are generally looked down upon by most users. I can only think of one or two off the top of my head that have really gone up in value.

  6. Dr.Wang says:

    none and none.

  7. Buckus says:

    I’ve got kids. Barely have time for Starcraft 2, much less these time-sucks called social gaming.

  8. narcs says:

    no social games anymore. used to play farmville when it first came out, same with mafia wars and csi crime city. not anymore.

  9. Bativac says:

    Do ads like this really work? I’m 31 and many of my peers have at this point become totally desensitized to advertising. We know it’s there but it’s just part of the landscape and doesn’t figure into our purchasing. (Yeah, I know, you could argue some kind of subconscious effect, but I’m just not seeing it.)

    I guess if it didn’t work, advertisers wouldn’t keep dumping money into it. Would they?

    • Michaela says:

      You aren’t seeing it because your mind is so accustomed to it. You’ve been advertised to since you were like a toddler, so it isn’t that surprising you don’t really notice its impact on your purchases (most of us don’t).

  10. Wireless Joe says:
  11. Rocket says:

    None, and AdBlock FTW.

  12. Outrun1986 says:

    I don’t play any social games, but the thought of an adult spending real money for in-game items is just appallling to me. I mean, I guess if you have tons of cash and nothing better to do with it, then its ok, but the whole idea just reeks of immaturity to me. I don’t really care if I am playing some game and they are giving an item for free or for completing a task (that doesn’t cost real money in any way). Is an in-game item likely to get me to buy something (that I haven’t already decided I am buying before seeing the ad or item)… probably not.

    I buy products based on features, usability and if I need them or not, not based on advertising. Advertising can make me aware of a product that I might be interested in, but I would likely have to do research before investing in it first.

  13. jesusofcool says:

    I used to play Maple Story when I was a bit younger and I remember they always had a big tie in with 7-11

  14. jenl1625 says:

    Cafe World has gotten pretty blatant about integrating advertising. It’s gone from “coffee” to “Maxwell House” or “Keurig”. But it doesn’t interfere with the game, so it’s not a big deal to me so far.

  15. Firevine says:

    I don’t play any of those Zynga style social games. I have played Ikariam for a little more than a year, then it suddenly went from awesome to boring for whatever reason. There were banner ads for other games, but nothing that was actual game mechanics.

    Sony has started putting ads for their Legends of Norrath game in the log in announcements for EverQuest, much to nearly everyone’s dismay. The chat announcements are ignorable enough, but they started putting them on a HUGE pop up window when you first log in. It has resulted in me buying absolutely zero Legends of Norrath packs, when I was actually interested before.

    The first in-game ad I ever remember was in Secret of Monkey Island. One of the pirates in the Scumm Bar would tell you about the game Loom, I believe it was.