The 3 levels of advergames


Written by plinq

 On 5/9/19 11:31 AM


We wrote a much more expansive post looking at all the various ways in which games can be used in advertisement. In-game banner ads, reward videos, product placement, and advergames — and more — are all described in Advertising and Videogames

What do you think of when you hear the term “advergame”? Your perception of what an advergame is is probably different than someone else’s. “Advergame” is actually a very general term that refers to any downloadable or Internet-based game that advertises a brand-name product by featuring it as part of the game.

There are three levels of classification of advergames, each one increasing (bottom to top on the pyramid) in quality and uniqueness to your brand. Learn about the pros and cons of each of the 3 levels to better understand what they can do for your brand.

Games with Product Placement

Product placement is when a brand pays a game company to feature the brand’s products in one of their games. This is the bottom level of advergames, as the brand has brief exposure to the player, but the rest of the game has nothing to do with the brand.

Pros of Product Placement

Cheap and Quick Process

With product placement, the structure of the game either changes minimally or not at all. This means it doesn’t take much time or effort for the game company to incorporate the product into the game.

Brand Favorability

The main goal of product placement is to place your brand into a game that players enjoy, so they subconsciously favor your brand more than others. One study showed that participants categorize in-game brands as “good” significantly faster than they categorize them as “bad.” Participants also categorize in-game brands as good significantly faster than they categorize out-of-game brands as good.

Cons of Product Placement


Here are some notorious product placement examples that have made players cringe. The advertising comes off as unnatural and awkward because the product is incorporated into an already existing game. The product doesn’t contribute to the game at all.

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No conversion path

Another major flaw with product placement is that it relies too heavily on subconscious brand favorability increasing sales. Most product placements advertise without offering a conversion path, so brands don’t have a way to guide customers into the store. Instead, they have to hope that the improvement in brand favorability will be enough to incentivize customers to choose their brand.

Playable Ads

A playable ad is a digital advertisement that often comes in the form of a banner ad on a mobile device. The ad offers the consumer a free or discounted product if the consumer plays the branded game.

Pros of Playable Ads

Clear Conversion

The main benefit playable ads hold over product placement is that they have a clear conversion path which brings customers into stores. Players click on the banner ad that pops onto their screen and are taken to an Internet-based or loyalty app game, which they then have to play to get a discounted or free product voucher.

Playable ads are a creative way to disperse deals to customers, in comparison to traditional emailing. This clear conversion path also allows your brand to obtain information about your customers and track the effectiveness of the advertisement.



Playable ads don’t just deliver a fun experience, they also reward consumers with in-store products and in-game rewards. Customers will get hooked on your store’s products after winning and consuming them.

Players will keep coming back to your game because of the features of leaderboards, badges and player customization. The virtual goods industry is worth $50 billion because players go to great lengths to personalize their experience.  

These rewards play a big part in increasing engagement, likability, and of course, sales.

Cons of Playable Ads

Limited uniqueness

Though playable ads incorporate some of your brand’s products and colors, the games themselves follow generic formats that allow them to be easily applicable to a wide range of brands. More and more companies are using playable ads, so using predetermined formats will make your brand less unique.

Games Built Around Brands

The highest level of advergames is building a game around your brand. Incorporate unique music, colors, and game features to gear the entire game around your brand.

Pros of building a game around your brand

A fun, unique game


Creating a game that’s centered around your brand means that your game will be unique. It’ll improve your brand awareness better than the other advergame types and other media as well.

A brand-specific game also allows players to interact with your products in a natural way. Products aren’t awkwardly placed in the game. Instead, they’re an integral part of it. This makes the game a much more delightful experience for the player.

Instead of your branded-products being in a game, your players enter a world centered around your brand. This creates an immersive experience and some amazing content to promote on your other marketing channels.

Longer-lasting engagement

A game that provides players with discounted products, in-game rewards, and a fun experience will result in longer-lasting and more frequent engagement. Typically, the game is put right into your brand’s loyalty app. Customers are lead to it in a similar conversion path to that of the playable ad. From there, you can see if the game gets consumers to interact with your brand more.

In March of 2019, we launched a game with one of our customers and integrated it into their loyalty app. We observed that players checked into the loyalty app almost twice as often as non-players, and each session in the app lasted twice as long.

Cons of building a game around your brand

Time and money investment

When you go with the highest quality option, there’s a time and money investment that’s not practical for all brands. Small and medium businesses may not find it in their best interest to make this kind of commitment.

So, now you better understand the different kinds of advergames, and what each brings to the table for your brand. If you want to know if building a game around your brand is right for your company, schedule a free consultation with us!

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