In-Game Advertising influencing factors: a Systematic Literature Review and meta-analysis

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1 In-Game Advertising influencing factors: a Systematic Literature Review and meta-analysis Martin Williamson Smith 1, Wei Sun 1, Bobby Mackie 2 Institution: 1 Business School, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley Campus, High Street, Paisley, PA1 2BE, Scotland, UK 2 Business School, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton Campus, Almada Street, Hamilton, ML3 0JB, Scotland, UK 1 Abstract This paper presents a synthesis of doctoral research conducted within the area of In-Game Advertising (IGA). Utilising a systematic literature review, we identified a total of 45 articles published between 2002 and Through meta-analysis, we provide insights into the different research designs, sampling strategies, statistical analysis tests and citations/references utilised. Our results identified four main research concepts of previous IGA investigations, including memory recall, consumer attitude, general and content analysis-based studies. These were further categorised into 30 research themes and 8 research categories. These 45 articles accumulated 1,451 citations published within 22 peer-reviewed journals and had a total of 99 unique authors / co-authors. We conclude that more research is required in terms of examining different interest groups, game genres and research participants, as well as undertaking more longitudinal and cultural based studies to allow for a more rounded understanding of In-Game Advertising influencing factors. Keywords: in-game advertising, systematic literature review, meta-ethnography, brand attitude, memory recall Article Information Received: September 2014 Accepted: October 2014 Available: November : Introduction Technology has always been at the forefront for communicating marketing messages to consumers. Through cinema in 1899, radio in 1922, television in 1941, and the internet in 1994, marketers have always looked to exploit new media channels as they became popular with consumers. However, over the last few years, traditional media channels appear to be losing their appeal, forcing organisations to look for alternative ways to communicate with consumers who are consuming more information directly through digital rather than traditional media. 1-6 One alternative channel has been through the video & computer games (games) medium, which has seen revenues grow from a little over US$400 million in 1977 to US$57.2 billion in In 2011 it was estimated that more than half a billion people were playing games worldwide for at least one hour per day, and more than five million US gamers were estimated to play games from more than 40 hour per week. With the average age of a gamer in the United States (US) estimated at 30 years old and with 58% of the US adult population said to be playing games regularly, it is little wonder that those who play games have been targeted with marketing communications messages through this medium, and that this has drawn the attention of academic researchers

2 Due to a recent proliferation of In-Game Advertising articles, there is the need to summarise existing research to help identify academic implications for the area. Through a Systematic Literature Review (SLR), our aim was to identify, review and synthesise the majority of academic research published within peer-reviewed journals. From this, our core objectives were to identify the main research concepts, themes and categories, which provided the foundations of these studies. It is worth noting that some partial reviews have been previously provided. However, those undertaken by Nelson and Waiguny (2012), Youn and Lee (2012), and Terlutter and Capella (2013) do so through combining their findings in relation to both Advergames and In-Game Advertising. This is despite the fact that although both forms of advertising use games as the medium by which they communicate with consumers, these require different skills, achieve different objectives and give a different experience to end users (Lovell, 2011, non-paginated). Furthermore, many researchers who have investigated these marketing communication channels clearly differentiate between them. This is not only due to their design but also that playing the games themselves requires different levels of cognition and player immersion. Moreover, none of these reviews included the use of an SLR. In our opinion, an SLR is a highly beneficial and robust method for identifying the majority of appropriate previous research articles for a given area. For example, whereas the reviews by Youn and Lee (2012) and by Nelson and Waiguny (2012) examined 8 and 16 articles respectively, we found that 26 articles were published from 2002 to Whereas Terlutter and Capella (2013) found 19 articles, we found 29 articles published between 2002 and On closer inspection, only 7 articles were mentioned in all three reviews, with a further 4 mentioned within 2 of the 3 reviews. However, this should not be viewed as a criticism, as availability and accessibility issues may have existed at the time of their reviews. Nevertheless, it does appear to provide an insight into one benefit of undertaking a more systematic approach when looking to review published academic material. This article begins by providing a brief overview of the concept of Game Advertising, highlighting where In-Game Advertising fits into this, before discussing our overall methodology, including the review procedure adopted. Thereafter, our review results are split into two different sections of statistical and narrative-based results. From a statistical perspective, we provide some general findings based on all of the literature unearthed, before taking a closer examination of those associated with academic peer-reviewed journals. This insight into academic articles delivers a holistic focus in terms of research design, sampling strategy, statistical analysis and citations/ references. Subsequently, our narrative results provide a synthesis review of research articles related to the four main research concepts of memory recall, attitude, general and content analysis studies. Finally, we offer some conclusions outlining some of the academic implications which have arisen from our review in terms of game genre, longitudinal studies and research participants, as well as looking at the limitations that could be associated with our review. 2. Game Advertising Overview We collectively term advertising associations with games as Game Advertising based upon the terminology used by the Interactive Advertising Bureau within their 2007 and 2010 video games platform status reports. As they failed to provide a definition, we define this as the association of marketing communications messages with video & computer games, to target consumers through Around-Game Advertising, Advergames or In-Game Advertising activities. Within this, three broad but 25, 26 distinct facets have been identified: 103

3 Around-Game Advertising. This differs significantly from the other two as it does not usually involve messages encroaching into the playing environment. Rather, it encompasses marketing concepts in the form of non-intrusive displays such as banners, interstitials or sponsorship as well as licensing agreements with cross promotion and cross-media promotion elements. 27 (Although the other two facets are similar (in that they involve the inclusion of the marketing message within the gaming environment), we believe that Advergames and In-Game Advertising should be looked upon as being distinctive and separate channels due to how they achieve this.) 14 Advergames are specifically designed for the primary purpose of advertising and promoting an organisations product, service or brand. As games, they are usually considered to be more casual in nature and have development costs which are a fraction of what is spent on more traditional games. 28 In-Game Advertising is the inclusion of marketing communication messages within games as a secondary element to the development of the game itself. These can be: (i) cosmetic placements (simply enhancing authenticity and realism), or, (ii) integrated placements (incorporating player interaction and may be linked to game progression). In addition, these can be either (a) static elements (placed in the game during development and which cannot be subsequently changed), or, (b) dynamic elements (allowing updatable content via an internet connection into pre-existing areas within the game). 3. Methodology Our methodology was based upon a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) which we define as a transparent, comprehensive and replicable process for identifying and synthesising accessible academic research. The SLR was first developed to examine multiple medical studies in an attempt to identify previously unseen relationships, and this form of review has transcended into other academic research fields including tourism, economics and marketing. SLRs have been discussed in detail elsewhere (see references 40 to 42), but basically, they differ from a more traditional review as they (i) have an openly reported search process, (ii) are thematically themed, and (iii) can easily identify studies from a range of disciplines. By undertaking a more systematic approach, we believe that we can identify the majority of available literature more readily, as well as (more importantly) providing the best evidence by drawing more focus upon those publications which are deemed to be the most appropriate for the investigation taking place. 4. Review Procedure The procedure for our review is outlined in Figure 1 over-page, which shows the keywords, tertiary sources and the inclusion/exclusion criteria applied to our search. This was achieved by a review team (consisting of two academics and two industry experts) reviewing and adapting the process until all reviewers agreed that the search strategy appeared to be valid. Subsequently, the search was initially conducted in January 2011, and then repeated three years later in January 2014 in an attempt to include as many documents as possible up to the end of December

4 Figure 1. SLR search strategy All acceptable documents were then upload into NVivo and through in-depth coding, thematic analysis was performed. This was based upon the principles of meta-ethnography, which Aguirre and Bolton (2013, p. 4) indicates is an analysis technique which seeks to explicate relationships between and within individual studies through metaphors. However, instead of metaphors, we looked for identifiable research concepts within which the articles could be grouped. Although the majority of articles found were underpinned with quantitative data, meta-ethnography can be adapted to analyse studies not based upon ethnographic research as narrative analysis can still be performed on their findings and discussion sections. 5. Statistical Results 5.1. General Findings The final search results revealed a total of 68 documents relating to research conducted within the area of In-Game Advertising. Somewhat surprisingly, the checking of references and citations (CitRefs) produced the largest return, with 28 documents found by this method. This was followed by the keyword search phrase in-game advertising being used within 9 accessible tertiary sources, and that produced 17 results (see Appendix A). Among the 68 documents, 45 were sourced from academic journals; 20 from academic or industry conferences; and, 3 from edited textbooks. Between 2002 and 2013 there was a 34% year-on-year average increase in the number of published documents investigating In-Game Advertising (Figure 2). Taking a closer examination, this upward trend was generally maintained until 2011 when the number of documents discovered was only 50% of those in the previous year. Although our findings indicate that the level increased slightly in 2012 and again in 2013, it is worth noting that there would have been another drop of over 57% in 2013, if it was not for a special edition of a journal which accounted for 5 of the 9 documents found. 105

5 Figure 2. SLR results by year of publication and publication source As previously indicated, CitRefs returned the most documents with 28, accounting for 41% of all documents found. However, Table 1 shows that they also accounted for the most conference papers (75%) with Google Scholar returning the most chapters in edited books (67%) and ISI Web of Knowledge returning the most journal articles (33%). Table 1. SLR results by tertiary source and document type Source Total Conferences Edited books Journals Cambridge Journals Emerald IEEE Xplore IngentaConnect ISI Web of Knowledge SAGE Journals Science Direct Taylor & Francis Online Wiley Online Library Google Scholar CitRefs CitRefs = Acceptable documents found through references within or citations of initial tertiary sourced review documents 5.2. Journal Article Findings Although these findings provide some general insights, our main focus was on articles published in academic peer-reviewed journals. In total, 45 were found (between 2002 and 2013), with Appendix B offering an overview of each one. Over the following few sections, we will present our main statistical results in terms of research design, sampling, statistical analysis, citations and references, and, research concepts and themes. 106

6 Research Design Our results highlight that five main methods have been used, with surveys proving to be the most popular with 38 articles (84%). This was followed by: narrative, used in 3 articles (8%); content analysis, used in 2 articles (4%); and an experiment in 1 article and a focus group in another (2%). However, 36 investigations required participants to play games, and as such these could be considered to be quasi-experimental in nature. Overall, 40 studies used human participants, with the other 5 being either examinations of forum posts (1 study), or examinations of games (1 study) or not applicable (4 studies) as they were general or content analysis-based studies. We found that 28 studies indicated participant advertising exposure in terms of minutes, with the average exposure time working out at approximately 12.4 minutes. On closer inspection, 12 studies (43%) reported exposures of 5 minutes or less; 3 studies (11%) reported exposures of between 6 and 10 minutes; exposures in 5 studies (18%) were between 11 and 15 minutes; exposures in 2 studies (7%) were between 16 and 20 minutes; the exposure in 1 study (4%) was between 21 and 25 minutes; and, the remaining 5 studies (18%) reported exposures of between 26 and 30 minutes. Of the other 17 studies, 9 did not include any form of exposure; 6 studies failed to provide any information; and, 2 studies provided this in terms of the number of laps rather than time. Of the 36 studies which indicated the testing time after exposure, the following methods were reported: 32 studies (89%) reported that this was done instantly; 2 studies reported task breaks of 3 and 10 minutes respectively; 1 study reported that this was done after two weeks; and, 1 study included two follow-ups, which were (i) straight after exposure, and (ii) after five months. In addition, 38 studies indicated that their investigation examined some form of gaming genre. Due to 2 studies looking at multiple genres, we found that in total there were 40 instances, based within 7 identifiable genres. Of these, sports proved to be the most prevalent, accounting for 14 studies (35%); this was followed by racing, with 11 studies (27%); RPG featured in 6 studies (15%); first-person shooter featured in 5 studies (12%); platform games featured in 2 studies (5%); and, music and thirdperson shooter games each appeared in 1 study (2%). Sampling Strategy Students proved to be the most popular choice for participants within 24 studies (52%), followed by the generic term gamers within 9 studies (19.57%) and adults within 5 studies (11%). Interestingly, we were only able to find 2 studies (4%), which indicated children as their participants. In terms of sample size, it was found that there was a diverse range in sample size (N), from as low as (N=28) up to (N=2748). 7 studies used a sample size of <50; 12 studies focused on a sample size of <100; 15 studies focused on a sample size of <250; the sample size was <500 in 3 studies, and >500 in another 3 studies. As well as this, we found that 37 studies indicated that participants were based within 11 different countries. Unsurprisingly, 23 studies (62%) were within the USA. Of the other studies, Australia, China, South Korea and The Netherlands accounted for 2 studies each (5% each); with Belgium, Germany, Indian, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK accounting for 1 study apiece. Statistical Analysis When examining inferential statistical analysis tests, it was found that 40 studies used a combination of 68 tests (Table 2). Significance of difference tests proved to be the most popular (accounting for 59% of all tests conducted), followed by other tests (25%), and strength of relationship tests 107

7 accounting for 18% of all tests. In terms of individual tests, the ANOVA or One-Way ANOVA proved to be the most prevalent, with 17 studies using this method, followed by t-tests (within 12 studies) and the Chi-Square (within 8 studies). Citations and References Both the number of citations associated with each article and the number of references they included were also analysed. Our results showed that, overall, the 45 articles had been cited a total of 1,451 times (average = 32) and contained 2,286 references (average = 51). On closer inspection, these had been cited by, and been references within, other review documents (a total of 212 times, average = 4.7) and as such, accounted for 15% and 9% of all citations and references (respectively). Table 3 provides a summary of the top 5 articles, relating to the number of citations and references associated with them. From an authorship perspective, we found that a total of 99 unique contributors were involved, due to 37 articles (82%) having 2 or more authors, with nearly half (21, 47%) actually having 3 or more authors. Articles with 2 authors proved to be the most prevalent (with 16 articles) (36%); followed by articles with 3 authors (12 articles) (29%); then by articles with 1 author or 4 authors (accounting for 8 articles each) (18%); and finally, one article written by 6 authors (2%). The author who had written the most articles was Michelle Nelson (3 articles); a further 13 authors had written 2 listed articles; and, the remaining 85 authors were named once. It was also found that a total of 22 journals were responsible for disseminating the articles found within out review (see Appendix C). Overall, The Journal of Advertising had the highest number of published articles (with 10), mainly due to a special edition in 2013 which accounted for 5 of these articles. Previously they had only published single articles in 2011, 2008 and 2007, with 2 articles published in The Journal of Interactive Advertising published a total of 8 articles, with 1 in 2012, 2007 and 2005; 2 in 2010, and 3 in The International Journal of Advertising published 4 articles in 2013, 2010, 2009 and The Journal of Promotion Management published 3 articles in 2012, 2010 and Computers in Human Behavior and The International Journal of Sport Communication published 2 articles each (in 2012/2010, and 2013/2008, respectively). A further 16 journals published 1 article each. Table 2. Overview of statistical tests used in SLR articles (number of articles in brackets) Significance of Difference (40) Strength of relationship (12) Other tests (16) ANOVA or One-Way ANOVA Regression Analysis (5) Chi-Square (8) (17) t-test (12) ANCOVA (2) Confirmatory Factor Analysis (3) Cronbach's Coefficient (4) Spearman's Correlation Factor Analysis (2) Coefficient (1) MANCOVA (2) One-Way ANCOVA (1) Exploratory Factor Analysis (2) Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test (1) Multivariate Regression Analysis Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (1) (1) Two-Way ANOVA (1) Multiple Regression Analysis (1) MANOVA (1) Logistic Regression (1) Mann-Whitney U Test (1) F Test (1) 108

8 Table 3. Top 5 articles most cited and with most references (references 17, 49-64) Top 5 articles - most cited (in total) Top 5 articles - most cited (in the SLR) Nelson (2002) Nelson, Keum and Yaros (2004) Lee and Faber (2007) Grigorovici and Constantin (2004) Tang et al (2006) Nelson (2002) Yang et al (2006) Grigorovici and Constantin (2004) Chaney, Lin and Chaney (2004) Nelson, Keum and Yaros (2004) & Lee and Faber (2007) Top 5 articles - most references (in total) Top 5 articles - most references (in the SLR) Poels, Janssens and Herrewijn (2013) Cianfrone et al (2008) Mau, Silberer and Biocca (2011) Jeong, Bohil and Biocca (2011) Nelson, Yaros and Keum (2006); & Choi, Lee and Li (2013); & Gangadharbatla, Bradley and Wise (2013) Yoon and Vargas (2013) Poels, Janssens and Herrewijn (2013) Besharat et al (2013) Van Reijmersdal et al (2010) Mau, Silberer and Constien (2008); & Gangadharbatla, Bradley and Wise (2013); & Walsh et al (2013) The journals were examined for the number of citations that their articles generated. It was found that the 8 articles in The Journal of Interactive Advertising enjoyed the highest number of citations, with a total number of 516, a yearly average of 51.6, and 81 citations from other review articles (accounting for 15.70% of their total citations) (Table 4). Further analysis revealed that The Journal of Advertising Research accumulated the highest number of citations for a single publication, with the Nelson (2002) article entitled Recall of Brand Placements in Computer/Video Games, which has accumulated 277 citations as well as enjoying the highest number of review based citations (33). Research Concepts and Themes As previously indicated, one of the core objectives for undertaking this review was to try and identify the major research concepts and themes which underpin these studies. Through a meta-ethnographic analysis process, we identified that these articles fitted into the 4 major research concepts: attitude (10); content analysis (1); general (4); and, memory recall (16) studies. We also found that 15 studies fitted into a shared category as they had a twin focus on attitude and memory recall (Table 5). Further analysis revealed that as well as these 4 main research concepts, 30 different research themes were identified, which were then further characterised into eight major research categories (Appendix D), which in turn examined issues relating to arousal, advertising type, congruency, effectiveness, game factors, interactivity, placement, and presence. 109

9 Table 4. Top 10 journals by article number and number of citations Journal name No. of articles No. of citations Yr Avg No. of IGAa Journal of Interactive Advertising Journal of Advertising Journal of Advertising Research Journal of Consumer Behaviour International Journal of Advertising Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Sport Marketing Quarterly Computers in Human Behavior Journal of Promotion Management International Journal of Sport Communication Yr Avg = yearly average number of citations, IGAa = citations/references of other review articles Table 5. SLR meta-ethnography research concepts Research Concepts (no. of articles) No. of citations No. of IGAa (% of IGAa) No. of references No. of IGAa (% of IGAa) Memory Recall (16) Attitude & Memory Recall (15) Attitude (10) General (3) Content Analysis (1) TOTAL (17%) 79 (14%) 40 (13%) 0 3 (43%) 212 (15%) (11%) 78 (9%) 45 (9%) 8 (5%) 1 (3%) 212 (11%) IGAa = Citations/References of other review articles 5.3. Narrative Results The main discursive section of this article is based around the 4 distinct research concepts of memory recall, attitude, general and content analysis studies. The 15 articles with combined attitudinal and memory recall examinations are discussed in terms of their corresponding categories to provide a more encompassing discussion. However, the aim of this section is not to provide a comprehensive examination of each article, but rather, to deliver a more synthesised academic insight into In-Game Advertising as a medium for delivering marketing communications messages based upon the previous research undertaken (Figure 3 over-page). Memory Recall Studies In general it has been found that advertising in games can have a positive impact on brand memory recall. However, this is not always the case, with Yang et al (2006) finding that recall levels were lower for explicit memory compared to implicit recall, and Cianfrone et al (2008) indicating that unaided recall levels were much lower than aided levels. Moreover, Chaney et al (2004) found that brand placement in games through billboards had limited recall effects. Regardless, brand recall does 110

10 appear to be positively influenced by various forms of brand placements in games, which in turn can 51, 54, 56, 65, 66 be influenced by a variety of factors. Figure 3. In-Game Advertising influencing factors One influential factor appears to be connected to how the placement is incorporated into the game. For example, Grigorovici and Constantin (2004) indicated that memory recall is enhanced when larger products are included as product placement and when sm all products are placed on billboards. Nelson (2002) found that if the brand placement is included as a major part of the game-play, then these brands had superior recall levels. Furthermore, prominent placements have been found to lead to higher recall levels, which appears to be especially true for players who are considered to be more experienced. Alternatively, background placements have been found to influence implicit rather than explicit memory. From a more scientific perspective, Yoon and Vargas (2013) were able to demonstrate that recall was higher for brand names that were placed in the right side of the visual field, than for brand images placed in the left field. Interestingly, Bermeitinger et al (2009) looked at the use of subliminal advertising within games and found that those who are more tired were more susceptible to this form of placement. Nuijten et al (2013) concurred, stating that subliminal advertising does have a communicative potential with pictorial logos outperforming textual based elements. Likewise, recall and awareness levels increase where visual and verbal cues are offered to players, but recall rates can be impacted negatively if the game has high levels of auditory 49, 52, 53, 60-62, distractions, especially where brands are considered to be more familiar. 111

11 Another factor that appears to influence recall levels is product-game congruence, with moderately incongruent advertising resulting in higher recall and awareness levels. This may be due to the brand or product's lack of contextual relevance within the game being more memorable for players as they consciously think of these adverts as being out of place at the time of exposure. These forms of advert placement may be more suited to unfamiliar brands as it would appear that familiarity with a 21, 57, 70, 71 brand enhances recall levels for placements within games. In addition, factors associated with game characteristics have been found to affect a player's brand memory recall. Kureshi and Sood (2009) indicated that not only are sports and racing games compatible with brand placements, but that recall is higher for slow games (such as cricket), which have a low perceptual load (compared to fast games (such as Formula One Racing) which have much higher perceptual loads). Gamers' motivations for playing such games can also positively influence brand awareness. Moreover, brands that are placed in games with a low difficulty rating command higher levels of recall, than those placed in games that are considered to be more difficult. Similarly, game violence can also impact recall levels, although there does appear to be some disagreement on whether this from a positive or negative perspective. On one hand, Jeong et al (2011) as well as Jeong and Biocca (2012) found that advert placements in violent games can lead to higher levels of brand recall, Yoo and Pena (2011) found the opposite trend, with their results indicating that recall rates were comparatively lower for those playing violent games compared to 58, 75, 76 those playing non-violent games. Other game-related factors include studies that have shown that collaborative gameplay with a partner enhances advert recall, especially where they are perceived to be friendly. Recall is also increased through players being able to customise products, which are integrally placed within the games environment. This appears to be even more so when the placements provide virtual attribute 17, experiences and allow for interactivity, leading to conceptual fluency. Finally, Nelson et al (2006) found that recall of brand placements was lower among players than by spectators who watched the gameplay. This pattern is similarly reflected in a study by Walsh et al (2008) who found that recall rates from those who played a NASCAR-themed racing game were 59, 80 much lower than those who watched a race on the television. Attitude Studies Consumer attitudes towards advertising have long been found to be one of the major influencing factors which can impact on its effectiveness. Consequently, it is unsurprising that this has been a popular research concept with academics looking to examine In-Game Advertising from a marketing perspective. As was the case with memory recall studies, there appears to be a general consensus that this form of advertising has a positive effect on consumer attitudes. Nelson (2002) found that consumers did not see it as being a deceptive practice and felt that if it was done the right way, then it could help to enhance the realism of the gaming environment, a view which is supported by Molesworth (2006). In- Game Advertising is also seen as an effective way to create awareness and is especially effective in terms of product placement, as it allows consumers to interact with the advertised products before making a purchase decision. This is especially true where consumers can associate a positive virtual attribute experience with their interaction with the brand within the gaming environment. However, when compared to films and television, product or brand placements within games were found to be less acceptable. Although this was not an indication that they were negatively perceived within games 112

12 per say, a previous study (by Chaney et al, 2004) did find that there was only limited agreement 17, 49, 54, 56, 65, 84, 85 that the gaming experience is enhanced by the inclusion of the billboards. Nevertheless, there appear to be various factors which can help to influence positive attitudes towards advertising within games. Presence, in terms of spatial ecology and engagement, has been found to positively impact advertising and communication judgement, although this is mediated by the degree to which this is experienced. Likewise, positive attitudes can be increased where this engagement process is enhanced with brand placements, which are deemed to be fused within the 55, 86, 87 context of an immersive entertainment experience. The type of product being promoted can also influence attitudes, with Nelson et al (2004) finding that real brands can help with the feeling of immersion into a gaming environment along with maintaining a sense of realism, whereas fake brands can add humour or fun to a game. Mau et al (2008) indicated that advertising unfamiliar brands produces a better response than more familiar brands, with Kim and McClung (2010) indicating that sports games can produce highly favourable attitude responses to brands, unless these were considered to be ethically challenging. In children, it has been found that age can be a factor as young consumers with no brand experience were more strongly influenced 50, 57, 63, 88 than older consumers. In essence, this issue links to that of product-game congruency and how well the product is seen to fit alongside the game and its environment. This has been found to have a positive impact on both product interest and indicated purchase intention. Interestingly, Lewis and Porter (2010) found that incongruent advertising resulted in higher awareness levels, although this could be negatively impacted upon if the advert was deemed to be too incongruent, or if it interfered with the sense of realism, or was not co-ordinated with the gaming environment. This higher level of awareness for incongruent brands was also found by Huang and Yang (2012), who also found that highly congruent 20, 70, 89 brands resulted in more favourable attitudes from players. In addition, not only can brand exposure through games reinforce existing favourable attitudes, but it has also been shown to positively increase consumer attitudes where their pre-existing views of that brand were deemed to be low. However, if those exposed to the brand consciously recognise the persuasive strategies used by the advert designers, their attitudes are less favourable than those who 61, 66, 90 are relatively unaware. Finally, game characteristics can also influence consumer attitudes, with Kureshi and Sood (2009) indicating that in terms of game genre, sports and racing games in particular can elicit positive attitudes. Motivations of players who enjoy sports/racing games include competition, diversion, enjoyment, fantasy, social interaction, sport interest, sport knowledge application, and team identification, and these motivations have also been found to influence brand attitude. Violence in games has also been found to be a mitigating factor, with both Jeong et al (2011) and Yoo and Pena (2011) finding that consumers' attitudes towards the brand are more negative after playing a game they perceived to be violent, compared to when playing one they perceived as non-violent. In terms of game difficulty, Herrewijn and Poels (2013) found that the harder the game was, the more negative 58, 72-74, 76 the consumer attitude was towards the brand. 'General' Studies 3 studies were classified as being 'general', mainly due to being more narrative-based, and because they lacked a foundation based upon empirical research. Nevertheless, they still contribute to the understanding of In-Game Advertising from a marketing perspective. Andrejevic (2009) examined how marketers have looked to harness games, and made the assertion that product and brand 113

13 placements are effective within game environments which are more contemporary or familiar to the gamer. However, product and brand placements are less effective in games where the environment is more fantasy or science fiction-based. Although they may be placed peripherally in the background, the inclusion of real products or brands may still inhibit, or even break, the reality being presented within the game. Raatikainen (2012) agreed with this assertion, but went further by theorising that when it comes to dynamic advertising, brand placements should not only add to the realism, but should be more subtle and understated in how they are designed. In addition, it is indicated that lowinvolvement products such as fast-moving consumer goods are more suited for background placements. With involvement, products such as cars require some form of interaction with the player 91, 92 or avatar. However, this form of advertising does not necessarily have to promote consumers products. They also appear to be an effective medium for promoting social or political messages. During the 2008 US presidential election, Barack Obama utilised 18 games with billboards and arena hoardings trying to encourage people to vote. Using the IP address of games consoles, a dynamic campaign targeted 10 states, of which 6 were considered to be 'battleground' states. Although his opponent, John McCain, was offered the same mechanism, he declined, and Obama went on to win 9 of the 10 states, of which 5 out of 6 were battleground states. 93 Content Analysis Studies Unfortunately, we were only able to identify one study associated with In-Game Advertising, which looked at this area from a content analysis perspective. Nevertheless, the research undertaken by Clavio et al (2009) clearly highlighted the ability of sports-related games as a viable marketing communications channel to disseminate associated and congruent brands messages. Examining the sports golf series, Tiger Woods PGA Tour between 1997 and 2006, they found that 2,100 brand images were present in 4 of the 10 games examined, of which 35.4% were related to equipment (balls, clubs, gloves, etc), with the other 64.6% relating to branded apparel (sunglasses, watches, jewellery, etc). Unsurprisingly, the top three brands of Oakley (23.8); Nike (19.7%) and Adidas (17.5%) accounted for 61% of all brand images, with a further 21 brands accounting for the other 26.9% Academic Implications Due to this lack of research, we call on researchers within the field of marketing to consider In-Game Advertising as a potential area for future research outputs, and to redress the knowledge gaps that are highlighted in this review (Figure 4 over-page). Interest Groups Although many articles examined In-Game Advertising from slightly different perspectives, they all did so from the players' viewpoint, and considered how this can influence their attitudes or memory recall. Although we accept that this is vitally important (and we would encourage continued research from this standpoint), players only represent one of the main three interest groups associated with this concept. In our review, we found no academic examinations of this concept from the perspective of either the people selling the brand or product being placed within the game, or from the game developers. 114

14 Figure 4. Revised in-game Advertising influencing factors with knowledge gaps As such, we call for future academic research into In-Game Advertising to consider undertaking some investigations into what motivates companies to use games as a marketing medium, and if these motivations form part of an Integrated Marketing Communications strategy. In addition, we feel that it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of games developers as to why they have or have not considered the inclusion of In-Game Advertising within their games. Longitudinal Studies Our results have also shown that only 2 studies have tested advertising effects on players more than 10 minutes after exposure, with the majority (88.89%) doing so straight after exposure. We suggest that the latter does not provide a true reflection of how effective advertising within games could be, as very few (if any) gamers play games within an environment where they can immediately access the product to which they have been exposed. Moreover, results from studies where participants are tested immediately do not suggest long-term recall effects, nor can they reflect true attitudes due to the player's limited exposure. In terms of exposure, we found that the average gaming session reported in the articles was 12.4 minutes, with gaming sessions in 42.86% of cited studies being less than five minutes. We suggest that these results do not truly reflect the effectiveness of In-Game 115

15 Advertising, especially as the average gaming session has been estimated at 60 to 90 minutes for heavy gamers, and 30 to 60 minutes from light to moderate gamers. 95 Therefore, we call on future researchers in this area to do so in a manner that better replicates the game play environment. Although it may be difficult to achieve, we suggest that participants should be asked to play for a minimum of 30 minutes as this exposure time appears to be the average minimum time for which gamers play video games. In addition, we also call for sessions to be repeated more than once, to again better reflect how gamers interact with games. Furthermore, measuring tests for both recall and attitude should not just be taken instantly after exposure. We believe that if researchers also measured these at intervals such as one week, one month and even six months after playing the game, this would provide organisations and marketers within better information with which to gauge the effectiveness of this marketing communications medium. Game Genre More than half of the studies within our review which examined specific game genres, did so from the perspective of either sports or racing games (24/39 studies, or 62%). This is not surprising as these types of games offer the perfect environment for placements due to advertising hoardings, billboards and brand sponsorships (e.g. on vehicles) that enhance the game's realism. These findings somewhat reflect what is happening within the industry, although a recent study that analysed the top 200 games over a 5-year period (2005 to 2009) did find that sports and racing games only represented 42% of the 215 games which had Game Advertising associations. 27 However, our results highlight that there has been a distinct lack of research into other game genres. We feel that this should be addressed to fully evaluate the potential of games as an effective marketing communications channel to the wider marketing community. This is especially pertinent, since in 2012, sports and racing games were not found to be the best-selling category of games (they only accounted for 15% and 6% of sales, respectively). The most popular selling genres during that year turned out to be 'action' games (with 22% of sales) and 'shooter' games (21% of sales). These results reflected the previous year's results, when action (19%) and shooter (18%) games out-sold sports (15%) and racing (6%) video games. 95 As such, we suggest that there has been sufficient research conducted into sports/racing games that clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of In-Game Advertising in these genres, both in terms of brand recall and consumer brand attitudes. Therefore, we call on more research to be performed within other gaming genres to help provide a more holistic picture of how effective (or not) In-Game Advertising can be, especially connected to those genres which have been found to be the most popular with gamers. Research Participants In terms of research participants, our results have shown that more than half (53%) of studies considered university students, and that 60% (24/40) of those studies actually involved participants. Although this is to be somewhat expected, it does raise the question of whether these results can be taken as a true reflection of all video game players. Similar concerns have been raised in the past on the grounds of external validity, which have led some to suggest that researchers should look beyond the student body by incorporating more university staff into the process. Consequently, we recommend that when it comes to examining In-Game Advertising that the main participants in experiments should always be gamers. In-Game Advertising is designed into games and as such only those who play games will be exposed to them. However, within our review we 116

16 found that 57% of studies (23/40) did not directly involve game-playing participants, or is some cases consulted a mixture of non-playing and playing participants without differentiating between them. There is a risk that such results will not truly reflect the attitudes of gaming consumers. Culture Although some articles provided a demographic breakdown in terms of the ethnic background of their participants, none examined In-Game Advertising with ethnicity or culture as a mitigating factor. Within our review, 62% of studies were conducted within North America, 19% were in Asia, 13% in Europe and 5% in Australia. However, this does not represent the global gaming culture as in 2013 it was estimated that 36% of gaming revenue came from the Asia-Pacific region, 32% from North America, 28% from Europe, Middle East and Africa, and 4% from Latin America. 100 Therefore, we call for more research into In-Game Advertising to come from outside North America, to better represent the global gaming community. In addition, we also suggest that more cross-cultural research should be undertaken to establish if cultural dimensions can be an influencing factor on the effectiveness of this medium, such as those outlined by Terlutter et al (2012) Limitations The results and discussion presented in this paper are subject to limitations, due to the somewhat arbitrary process of defining the criteria for undertaking a systematic review. Within this process, there is a deliberate setting of boundaries which exclude documents that may otherwise have been included. Our process limited the search process to databases which were accessible from within our university, and searches through Google Scholar. Moreover, these documents had to be written in English as well as having to fully accessible from the source or through our inter-library loan system which operates within the UK Higher Education sector. In addition, we limited our main results to articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals, rather than including an analysis of documents found within conference papers or as chapters in edited books. Finally, the meta-ethnography process by which we classified the research concepts is by its very nature an interpretative activity, which others could deem to use differently. 8. Conclusions The main aim for undertaking this study was to identify, analyse and synthesise the accrued body of academic articles, which have examined the facet of In-Game Advertising. In doing so, we have presented results from one of the first systematic literature reviews to examine this area, providing both a statistical and discursive overview. Where other reviews have looked to combine research into both Advergames and In-Game Advertising, we have shown that these should be disassociated due to the fundamental nature of each being inherently different. In doing so, we feel that our results provide one of the most comprehensive insights into In-Game Advertising, which has been undertaken to date. Through an examination of citation and reference analysis, we have identified the key authors in the area, as well as acknowledging less well-known researchers who nevertheless have made a significant contribution in helping marketers to understand this innovative, digital marketing concept. Furthermore, we have provided a focused but holistic insight into previous research designs, sampling strategies and statistical analysis tools which, along with highlighting research concepts, themes and categories within In-Game Advertising research, should provide researchers and marketers with a 117

17 better understanding of what has been happening in the area previously. This examination has also highlighted that this concept has been relatively under-researched from a marketing communications perspective over the last 12 years. This is despite the games industry becoming one of the largest and most lucrative entertainment industries in the world during the same period. References 1. Bax, S. and Woodhouse. (2013) Cambridge Marketing Handbook: Communications. London, UK: Kogan Page Limited. 2. Sterling, C.H. (2004) Encyclopedia of Radio. New York, USA: Taylor & Francis. 3. Somina, I.; Mandic, S.; Kuzmanovic, Z.; and Andelkovic, S. (2012) "Promotion Forms in Contemporary Business." International Journal of Economics & Law 2(6), pp Li, H.; Daugherty, T. and Biocca, F. (2002) "Impact of 3-D Advertising on Product Knowledge, Brand Attitude, and Purchase Intention: The Mediating Role of Presence." Journal of Advertising 31(3), pp Breedon, S. (2013) How Online Advertising Is Outperforming Traditional Ads. examiner.com. Available from: [accessed 9 January 2014] 6. Yusuf, N.; Al-Banawi, N. and Al-Imam, H.A.R. (2014) "The Social Media as Echo Chamber: The Digital Impact." Journal of Business & Economics Research 12(1), pp unknown. 7. Cary, J. (2003) "Trigger Happy." Third Way 26(3), p Nayak, M. (2013), Factbox-a Look at the $66 Billion Video-Games Industry. reuters.com. Available from: [accessed 9 January 2014] 9. McGonigal, J. (2014). 'We Spend 3 Billion Hours a Week as a Planet Playing Videogames. Is It Worth It? How Could It Be More Worth It?' [Online]. TED Conversations, Available from: [accessed 25 February 2014] 10. ESA Report (2013) 2013 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data: Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry. Entertainment Software Association. Available from: [accessed 9 January 2014] 11. Nelson, M.R. and Martin, K.J. (2012) "Psychological Processing of in-game Advertising and Advergaming: Branded Entertainment or Entertaining Persuasion?" In: Shrum, L.J. (ed.), The Psychology of Entertainment Media: Blurring the Lines between Entertainment and Persuasion. New York, USA: Routledge, Ch.5, pp Youn. L.; and Lee, M. (2012) "In-Game Advertising and Advergames : A Review of the Past Decade's Research." In: Shelly Rodgers and Esther Thorson (eds), Advertising Theory. NewYork, USA: Routledge, Ch.25, pp Terlutter, R. and Capella, M.L. (2013) "The Gamification of Advertising: Analysis and Research Directions of in-game Advertising, Advergames, and Advertising in Social Network Games." Journal of Advertising 42(2-3), pp

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