King.com, which is currently the second most popular games developer on Facebook in terms of daily active users behind Zynga (according to AppData), hopes the in-game ad format will encourage more brands from different sectors to trial advertising across its portfolio of games and boost revenues ahead of its expected IPO next year.
Currently FMCG and travel brands are the predominant advertisers across its Facebook games, mobile apps and desktop site, with pre-roll video spots accounting for the majority of King.com’s ad revenue.
Alex Dale, King.com’s chief marketing officer, says the site is currently exploring giving brands the opportunity to sponsor or place brand new boosts – items that characters collect to give them additional powers – on its games, such as exploding candy bars, that players could earn through gameplay or buy as virtual goods.
By placing such ads, brands could be associated with an in-game benefit, which can boost positive consumer sentiment towards the advertiser, he adds.
Dale also says such ads are much more likely to be noticed than spots on other media.
“If you look at the level of media meshing and distractibility when people are consuming games, you’re not easily distracted because you’re in the flow, compared with TV that is on the other side [of the spectrum],” he says.
More than three quarters (79%) of gamers in the UK respond positively to in game advertising, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau. Gamers who see in-game ads think they make games more realistic and “cool”, which in turn makes them more likely to tell their friends about the ad, the trade body claims.
King.com is reported to be preparing to go public on the Nasdaq next year. The move would follow its biggest rival Zynga, which went public in December 2011, which at the time marked the biggest internet company market debut since Google. Zynga has struggled to maintain momentum on the stock market since it first began offering shares at $10 (£6.43), with its share price now down to $2.79 (£1.79) at the time of writing.