Game TV Advertising 6 Months From Release - What's The Point?

So I'm sitting here watching the Champion's League final between Barcelona and Manchester Utd. It's the biggest club football match in Europe and millions of people tune in to watch it on TV. The half-time whistle blows and the inevitable irony occurs when the presenter says "It's been an action packed half and we have plenty of stuff to talk about with our pundits. So instead of talking about it, we're going to watch some adverts". OK, maybe it wasn't those exact words, but it might as well have been. Either way, the ironic things TV presenters say isn't the point of this blog, it's the content of the adverts.

After an advert for the newest Ford Focus (an advert which claims the car can park itself in a tight space, and proceeds to show the car parking itself in a space big enough for a bus) an advert for Modern Warfare 3 comes on. A game not due out until November. That's 6 months away. Soon after, an advert for Battlefield 3 is shown. A game that is yet to have a solid release date, but is certainly still many months away from release. It got me thinking, who are these adverts aimed at? Are they actually going to do anything to increase sales? And how much does such a prime advertising slot cost?

For some bizarre reason, I'll answer my third question first. After a little bit of googling I found an article from digitalspy.co.uk claiming that a 30 second ad slot during ITV's coverage of the match is estimated to cost £200,000 (that's about $330,000). That's actually less than I was expecting, but remember ITV is only broadcasting to the UK, and I'm willing to bet that Activision and EA would have also had these adverts running on other European stations. It's all going to add up and will end up costing a whole lot of money. And even if it is just a drop in the ocean for a company the size of Activision or EA, what is the benefit? Is an advert this far out really going to help generate sales? If not, the advert is completely pointless, isn't it?

This is how I see it - People like you and I, people who frequent video game websites obviously aren't the target audience. We've already seen the trailers, we've already read about the two levels the press have seen and someone has even put one of the trailers to a fitting new soundtrack. It's pretty safe to say that you're either already hyped for the game, or nothing is going to get you hyped for it. A television advert isn't going to make any difference. So who is it aimed at? It must be the more general game playing public. The type of guy who picks up the latest FIFA, CoD & Need For Speed games, and maybe other games they've seen advertised that look cool. They don't visit Giant Bomb, they don't care about game announcements and they don't watch trailers online.

But do these people care about a game coming out in November? That's so far away, I can just imagine the thought process of one of these guys going from "Sweet, a new CoD game. Can't wait to play that" to "November? Fuck that. Why would I care about this now?" through the course of the advert. And even if it did appeal to them and get them hyped for the game, is it really going to have more of an impact than them seeing an advert for it a week before release? I don't think it will. I certainly can't see the early adverts generating enough sales to offset the cost of them.

That's my two cents on it. It seems mostly common sense. Maybe I'm missing something obvious that the business executives in Activision & EA are aware of.

27 Comments
28 Comments
Posted by MattyFTM

So I'm sitting here watching the Champion's League final between Barcelona and Manchester Utd. It's the biggest club football match in Europe and millions of people tune in to watch it on TV. The half-time whistle blows and the inevitable irony occurs when the presenter says "It's been an action packed half and we have plenty of stuff to talk about with our pundits. So instead of talking about it, we're going to watch some adverts". OK, maybe it wasn't those exact words, but it might as well have been. Either way, the ironic things TV presenters say isn't the point of this blog, it's the content of the adverts.

After an advert for the newest Ford Focus (an advert which claims the car can park itself in a tight space, and proceeds to show the car parking itself in a space big enough for a bus) an advert for Modern Warfare 3 comes on. A game not due out until November. That's 6 months away. Soon after, an advert for Battlefield 3 is shown. A game that is yet to have a solid release date, but is certainly still many months away from release. It got me thinking, who are these adverts aimed at? Are they actually going to do anything to increase sales? And how much does such a prime advertising slot cost?

For some bizarre reason, I'll answer my third question first. After a little bit of googling I found an article from digitalspy.co.uk claiming that a 30 second ad slot during ITV's coverage of the match is estimated to cost £200,000 (that's about $330,000). That's actually less than I was expecting, but remember ITV is only broadcasting to the UK, and I'm willing to bet that Activision and EA would have also had these adverts running on other European stations. It's all going to add up and will end up costing a whole lot of money. And even if it is just a drop in the ocean for a company the size of Activision or EA, what is the benefit? Is an advert this far out really going to help generate sales? If not, the advert is completely pointless, isn't it?

This is how I see it - People like you and I, people who frequent video game websites obviously aren't the target audience. We've already seen the trailers, we've already read about the two levels the press have seen and someone has even put one of the trailers to a fitting new soundtrack. It's pretty safe to say that you're either already hyped for the game, or nothing is going to get you hyped for it. A television advert isn't going to make any difference. So who is it aimed at? It must be the more general game playing public. The type of guy who picks up the latest FIFA, CoD & Need For Speed games, and maybe other games they've seen advertised that look cool. They don't visit Giant Bomb, they don't care about game announcements and they don't watch trailers online.

But do these people care about a game coming out in November? That's so far away, I can just imagine the thought process of one of these guys going from "Sweet, a new CoD game. Can't wait to play that" to "November? Fuck that. Why would I care about this now?" through the course of the advert. And even if it did appeal to them and get them hyped for the game, is it really going to have more of an impact than them seeing an advert for it a week before release? I don't think it will. I certainly can't see the early adverts generating enough sales to offset the cost of them.

That's my two cents on it. It seems mostly common sense. Maybe I'm missing something obvious that the business executives in Activision & EA are aware of.

Moderator
Posted by mr_tickles

I think that it's aimed at the general public that don't frequent sites like these.  
 
Just keeping everyone abreast of when titles are coming, even though like you say.....some don't have solid dates.  
 
I think the public is like a horse you have to lead to water.  

Posted by Raven10

The reason is that, as you said, this is one of the most watched events of the year. You advertise it at this game because there are people watching this that don't watch much else all year long. It's like advertising something at the Super Bowl in the USA. It's the most watched show on TV every year. People literally buy new TV's just to watch this thing. So, yea, maybe the game won't come out for another half a year, but the fact is there are people in this country who only watch the super bowl. In addition, the companies put their best commercials forward, so people don't often skip them. The same thing is true for this game. EA and Activision know that people are going to watch this, and they aren't going to be channel surfing, so they are going to get a very large group of people to see their ad. You don't play Football/Soccer in November.

Posted by ElectricBoogaloo

Just as I was reading this at advert comes on ITV for Gears of War 3, not out till September 20! 
 
Was querying this myself, especially considering we usually don't see TV ads for games in the UK till the week they're out, sometimes a week or so before. Stretching it all the way to six months is pretty baffling.

Posted by Sjupp

I've never really understood the importance of commercials at all. Perhaps it's just me being a guy who likes to inform himself about something be he buys it. I never go "Oh, this commercials promotes this thing in a really good way, it surely must be as good as it sounds!" I kinda feel the same way you feel about these game-commercials but with all other commercials aswell. I just don't get it.

Posted by RecSpec

Basically to say "Hey, this thing exists!"  
 
There really is no other reason.

Edited by Xdsk

They want to saturate the "casual gaming" public as soon as possible to boost pre-sales of the game, and the easiest way of doing that is starting early.  Having worked in a couple of game shops you do notice the increase in interest when a big audience advert is shown/published be it on a sports event or in the national paper.
 
You know what they say, the early bird catches the pre-order, or words to that effect.

Posted by Bwast

How prematurely do they run movie advertisements(suck it)there? I can't remember what it's like here but I think it can be something like 2 months for a big movie. 6 months is crazy though, no doot aboot it(suck it). 

Edited by Droop

It lets people know a new Call of Duty is coming. 
 
Oh and it was not aired in Denmark.

Posted by xyzygy

Did you seriously expect anything else from Call of Duty and Activision? It's not surprising at this point with that series. 
 
Also, I've seen that Focus commercial (well the NA one, it's probably the same) and saying that the space is as big as a bus is just over exaggerating a little.

Edited by MattyFTM

@ElectricBoogaloo said:

Just as I was reading this at advert comes on ITV for Gears of War 3, not out till September 20!

Yeah, That came on just after I posted this. I'm also reliably informed by some dude on twitter that Rage adverts have been sponsoring The Waking Dead on Channel 5. So that's Activision, EA, Microsoft and Bethesda all in on the action.

Moderator
Posted by Juno500

 If you think that advertisement was a bad idea, you don't understanding marketing. Or human psychology.
 
The flaw of your argument is that you're focusing solely on what people consciously are thinking. Much of the effect that advertising has is unconscious. It's not about what you're actively thinking about it, it's about the associations and the familiarity that come with advertising. 
 
Even if people don't consciously remember that ad in 5 months, it will still be tucked away somewhere, and when the full force of advertisements comes 5 months later, those ads will cause a sense of familiarity, because this ad occured. And that sense of familiarity will cause people to have a more positive attitude for it.

Posted by ShaneDev

Did anyone see the ads for Rage on Channel 5? They were before and after every ad break for The Walking Dead and show ran of 6 weeks I think, and Rage isn't out until September 16th. 

Posted by AhmadMetallic

It's called.. advertising. The more you see cool video game commercials that give you a good lasting impression over several months, the more you get familiarized with it, the higher the chances of you picking the game up day 1. 
 Those commercials make sure that you're automatically going for Battlefield/COD/Halo/Gears, and on a higher level, they compete as hard as they can trying to be the one you buy out of the four. 
 
 
Also, answering your question about costs, EA are wasting 100 million dollars on the BF3 campaign.. It's sad that they're gonna lose so much money, because COD is gonna blow BF3 out of the water (yay! COD remains number 1, which disallows Battlefield to turn into COD 2.0)

Posted by wwfundertaker

Same here, watching the final and suddenly seeing MW3 and Gears of War 3 adverts. If they keep the adverts until the games are released, thats great. If they dont, what was the point in that.

Posted by ZeForgotten

Advertising being one of the reasons. 
Hype being the second.

Online
Posted by TheGreatGuero

If it's a huge game like COD, I don't see why not. It got me bumped for it. I wouldn't mind if GTA had similar treatment. Though, for most games, it wouldn't work. Only the biggest ones.

Posted by Mopsical

You know, they advertised it this week by putting out that trailer. Albeit that was on the internet, but for the people who aren't (which is a lot of people)? They've got to be informed somehow, and Activision's got some money to spend. And people who play COD know the schedule by now, but may be unsure if one is actually releasing: so they'll find out one is coming out, they'll just accept that it's coming then and give them money when asked. MARKETING!

Edited by alternate

Saw a big cardboard cutout for MW3 pre-orders in Tesco today.

Posted by AbeTheGreatest

Hype trains gotta start somewhere

Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx

Everyone in this thread is correct.  
 
 
To put it simply, as abe said - Hype train gotta start somewhere  
 
But on the other hand, 6 months?  So it's really a split call, but in the end it is advertising, and it is retarded. 
Posted by Jimbo

Also to get one up on BF3 which had an ad at half time of the City v Utd FA Cup semi. "Oh, you losers only advertised during the second biggest match of the year? That's lame, JUST LIKE YOUR GAME LOL!" etc. These two are gonna tussle all year.

Posted by Yanngc33
@AbeTheGreatest said:
Hype trains gotta start somewhere
This. I don't see any other massive sporting event that could garner as much attention as the champion's league finale so it's a good place to start advertising for your game
Posted by J12088

Ha. That BF3 advert is running on other channels too.  I think it was Sky Atlantic that i saw it. I remember it cause like you i was puzzled by it because as far as i knew BF3 has no release date...so i checked Games website and sure enough theres nothing there about when it's coming out.
 
I can understand advertising early if theres a fixed date it'll launch but when theres no date? It's gotta be soon right? E3 announcement?  Otherwise there just pissing money down the toilet.

Posted by rmanthorp

Advertising is a big deal.

Moderator
Posted by iam3green

to inform people that the game is going to come out. i do have to say that they need more information on mw3. all they show is the letters and night vision beam and preorder at gamestop today.

Posted by yoshimitz707

All this topic has done is remind me that I still have to wait 6 months until I can play Skyrim. Thanks a lot, Matty.

Posted by RobotHamster

I'm going to say it's because of hype and also since games are pretty expensive for many people, it gives them a chance to save up for that one game they really want.   
 
If a game comes out in six months and little Jimmy saves up $10 a month, then he can get that shinny new game he saw advertised months ago.