In-game advertising (IGA)

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In-game advertising (IGA) refers to the practice of incorporating advertisements or branded content within video games. These advertisements can take various forms, including static or dynamic billboards, product placements, sponsored in-game items or characters, and interactive ad experiences. In-game advertising is a method used by marketers to reach a highly engaged audience of gamers within the virtual environment of video games. For example, Barack Obama's 2008 election campaign expanded into the virtual realm, featuring his presidential bid in video games like Guitar Hero III, Madden NFL 09, NBA Live 08, Burnout Paradise, Nascar 09, and Need For Speed Carbon, where players were encouraged to vote for him.

Barack Obama's 2008 election campaign. Source: Clearcode

Here's a more detailed explanation of what in-game advertising entails:

  1. Types of In-game Advertising:
    • Static Billboards: Static billboards are virtual advertisements placed within the game environment, such as along the walls of a cityscape or within a sports arena. These billboards display static images or text-based advertisements and provide exposure to players as they navigate through the game world.
    • Dynamic Billboards: Dynamic billboards are similar to static billboards but can display rotating or changing advertisements based on real-time data or user interactions. This allows advertisers to deliver targeted messages and promotions to players based on their demographics, location, or in-game behavior.
    • Product Placements: Product placements involve integrating branded products or logos directly into the gameplay experience. This can include placing recognizable brands of cars, beverages, clothing, or electronics within the game environment, or featuring branded items as part of the game mechanics or storyline.
    • Sponsored Content: Some games feature sponsored content or partnerships with brands to promote specific products or services within the game. This can include sponsored in-game events, challenges, or competitions, where players can engage with branded content and earn rewards or prizes.
    • Interactive Ad Experiences: Interactive ad experiences allow players to interact with advertisements within the game environment. This can include mini-games, quizzes, or surveys embedded within the game, where players can engage with branded content in exchange for in-game rewards or bonuses.
  2. Benefits of In-game Advertising:
    • High Engagement: In-game advertising offers marketers access to a highly engaged audience of gamers who spend significant amounts of time playing video games. This audience is often receptive to advertising messages and actively interacts with branded content within the game environment.
    • Targeted Reach: In-game advertising allows marketers to target specific demographics, interests, or geographic regions based on the game's audience demographics and player behavior. This enables advertisers to deliver more relevant and personalized messages to their target audience.
    • Brand Integration: In-game advertising offers opportunities for seamless integration of brands into the gaming experience, allowing advertisers to reach consumers in a non-intrusive and authentic manner. Well-executed in-game advertising can enhance brand visibility, awareness, and affinity among gamers.
    • Measurable Results: In-game advertising platforms often provide marketers with detailed analytics and metrics to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. This includes data on ad impressions, engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversions, allowing advertisers to optimize their campaigns and track return on investment (ROI).
  3. Challenges and Considerations:
    • Integration and Authenticity: Successful in-game advertising requires careful integration of brands into the game environment to ensure authenticity and relevance to players. Overly intrusive or disruptive advertisements can detract from the gaming experience and alienate players.
    • Ad Blocking: Some players may use ad-blocking software or techniques to avoid in-game advertisements, limiting the reach and effectiveness of in-game advertising campaigns. Marketers need to consider alternative strategies to engage with these audiences or incentivize players to interact with branded content.
    • Regulatory Compliance: In-game advertising may be subject to regulatory guidelines and restrictions, particularly when targeting underage players or promoting certain types of products or services. Marketers need to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations to avoid potential legal issues or reputational damage.

Overall, in-game advertising represents a dynamic and evolving marketing channel that offers unique opportunities for brands to engage with consumers in the immersive world of video games. By leveraging the interactive and highly engaging nature of gaming environments, marketers can effectively reach their target audience, drive brand awareness, and create memorable brand experiences within the virtual realm.


In neuromarketing, in-game advertising (IGA) serves several key functions:

  1. Attention and Engagement: In-game advertising captures the attention of gamers within the virtual environment, where they are highly engaged and focused on the gameplay. Neuromarketers recognize that capturing attention is crucial for effective advertising, and IGA provides an opportunity to engage with consumers in a context where they are actively involved and receptive to advertising messages.
  2. Emotional Connection: Neuromarketers understand the importance of emotional engagement in advertising effectiveness. In-game advertising allows brands to create immersive experiences that evoke emotions such as excitement, curiosity, or nostalgia within the gaming environment. By associating positive emotions with their brand, marketers can strengthen consumer affinity and loyalty.
  3. Brand Integration: IGA enables brands to seamlessly integrate into the gaming experience, embedding their products or logos within the virtual world. Neuromarketers recognize that subtle and authentic brand integration is more likely to resonate with consumers than overt advertising. By appearing organically within the game environment, brands can enhance their visibility and recognition among gamers.
  4. Memory Encoding: Neuromarketers leverage in-game advertising to enhance memory encoding by associating their brand with positive experiences within the game. The interactive nature of gaming environments allows for deeper encoding of brand messages and associations, increasing the likelihood of recall and recognition among consumers.
  5. Audience Targeting: In-game advertising platforms offer sophisticated targeting capabilities based on player demographics, behaviors, and preferences. Neuromarketers can leverage this data to deliver tailored advertising messages to specific audience segments, maximizing relevance and impact. By reaching the right audience with the right message, marketers can improve campaign effectiveness and ROI.
  6. Measurement and Optimization: In-game advertising platforms provide robust analytics and measurement tools that allow neuromarketers to track the performance of their campaigns in real-time. Metrics such as ad impressions, engagement rates, and brand lift can be analyzed to optimize campaigns for maximum impact. By continuously monitoring and refining their strategies, marketers can ensure that their in-game advertising efforts are driving desired outcomes.

Overall, in-game advertising plays a valuable role in neuromarketing by engaging consumers in immersive experiences, creating emotional connections with brands, facilitating memory encoding, targeting specific audience segments, and optimizing campaign performance. By harnessing the unique characteristics of gaming environments, neuromarketers can effectively reach and influence consumers in a context where they are highly engaged and receptive to advertising messages.


Let's consider an example of how a neuromarketer could utilize in-game advertising (IGA) for a beverage company promoting a new energy drink:

The neuromarketer begins by identifying popular video games with a target audience that aligns with the demographics and interests of potential consumers for the energy drink. After selecting suitable games, the neuromarketer collaborates with game developers or publishers to integrate in-game advertising placements that seamlessly blend into the gaming experience.

For instance, the energy drink brand could sponsor virtual sports tournaments within a popular sports game, where players compete against each other using branded energy drinks as power-ups to boost their performance in the game. This form of in-game advertising not only promotes the energy drink brand but also creates a positive association between the product and enhanced gaming abilities.

Additionally, the neuromarketer could negotiate product placements within the game environment, such as strategically placing branded vending machines or billboards within virtual cities or racing tracks. These placements ensure that the energy drink brand remains visible to gamers as they explore the game world, reinforcing brand awareness and recognition.

To further engage gamers, the neuromarketer could incorporate interactive elements into the in-game advertising, such as offering virtual rewards or discounts for purchasing the energy drink in real life. For example, players could unlock exclusive in-game content or special offers by scanning QR codes found on in-game advertisements or completing in-game challenges related to the energy drink brand.

Throughout the campaign, the neuromarketer closely monitors key metrics such as ad impressions, engagement rates, and purchase intent to measure the effectiveness of the in-game advertising efforts. By analyzing these metrics and gathering feedback from gamers, the neuromarketer can iteratively optimize the campaign to maximize its impact and drive consumer action.

In summary, in-game advertising presents a unique opportunity for neuromarketers to engage with consumers in immersive virtual environments. By leveraging the interactive and emotional appeal of gaming experiences, neuromarketers can effectively promote brands and products, create memorable brand experiences, and drive consumer engagement and loyalty.

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