New research from the University of Texas notes that players have trouble remembering brands advertised in action games with violent content. According to the new study, ads that appear in violent games actually may have a negative effect on the brand being sold with those playing the violent games they are being advertised in.
The study, authored by doctoral candidate Seung-Chul Yoo and assistant professor Jorge Pena, will appear in the July/August issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. The study's main claim to fame is that it is the first to link "increased video game violence and impaired in-game ad effectiveness." Fair enough.
Researchers divided participants into two groups: the first group explored a number of rooms that included blood spots on the floor, while being attacked by computer-controlled characters wielding weapons. The second group was presented with a nonviolent take of the same setting, with players walking through rooms with water spots and encountering empty-handed AI-controlled NPCs. In the violent version of the scenario, participants were wielding weapons and being shot at.
After the demo ended, participants were asked to recall the brands advertised within the test world and offer their perceptions of those brands in that context. Those who participated in the violent scenario had a significantly lower score when it came to brand recollection and perception. Women had a more negative response to the violent content than men. Researchers believe the reason for this is because women have less experience with violent games than men who play them more frequently.
Yoo and Pena came to the conclusion that violent content distracts attention away from ads, and creates a subconscious association between the negative imagery and the brand being advertised. They said that a similar effect has been documented with television.
"Advertising campaign planners would do better to spend their budget on ads embedded in nonviolent video games than in ads placed within violent video games; particularly if they are trying to reach women," said Yoo.
Or maybe advertisers should be smart in the way they place ads in games where there is a lot of action, violence and gore.