Conference Buzz Sometimes Leads to The Real Deal. Is This It?

Is it true that if you hear about a new type of offering or technology at enough conferences, they will become the de-facto next thing?  We have seen that in relation to HTML 5 and QR codes lately to varying degrees of success.  If it does ring true, then at least ad:tech London and Digital Hollywood would point in the direction of original content augmentation to gameplay being the next thing.

Yesterday, as part of the Digital Hollywood Content Summit, the question was raised regarding the future of technology and entertainment and what we should be looking at as the possible next big thing. The biggest agreement among the panelists surrounded the fusion of original content video augmentation of gaming – specifically for non-console gaming.  They spoke of it as a way to place the user in the shoes of the athlete or character they are portraying in the game and making it feel more real.  Certainly, console games have been tremendous at extending the narrative within gameplay to the point where people can blur the lines between their own personae and the characters.  But, online gaming has not cracked the nut to provide that holistic feel until now.

At ad:tech London, David Rose of We R Interactive spoke about their newest product I AM PLAYR – which just launched fully a couple of weeks ago – as a Facebook App.  There are a couple of compelling items related to this new product.  First is the additional content they created to bring more content and context to the rest of the gameplay.  No longer do players just control avatars in their attempt to score a goal, they also get to virtually experience the highs and lows of being a star on a fictional Football Club. Second, the introduction of, and constant updating of, that original content and customization options provides a plethora of advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

Through my years in media planning and working with the console or PC in-game advertising solutions, it has always been a hope to be able to truly interact with our promoted content – even if it was to shoot the screen playing a trailer and destroying the screen to see breakage or at least snow.  But that hasn’t yet been made possible.  It currently stands that you can place banners and even video in-game, but there is no true interaction.  The closest we got was when we wrote copy for the JUMPER DVD banners that reflected the theme of the games they were placed in via the MASSIVE network.  With the development of more of these types of games, it should be easier and more fluid to enable product integration and interaction.

David Rose of We R Interactive showed off the compelling program they are executing with Alfa Romeo/Fiat and it certainly seemed like a solid opportunity.  Add that opportunity to the simplicity we are seeing in building out those sponsorships and the possibilities are endless.

Now, like any content play, we need to see if the public picks up on this and is as excited as publishers are (and advertisers should be) or we will find ourselves facing another version of the buzz surrounding the QR Code – where nobody programs them correctly and nobody cares.  If this type of game programming becomes the norm, not only will meaningful interactions go through the roof, they will prove to be much more cost effective than on-air spots can presently offer as shooting the content and incorporating becomes increasingly cheaper.

With technology and advances in the understanding of users and compelling or relevant sponsorship placement, this gaming/entertainment development will be about much more than buzz.

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