How Frank’s Redhot Gets Slam-Dunk Viewability Measurement For In-Game Ads

Frameplay used its Intrinsic-Time-in-View metric to measure how much attention gamers paid to a banner ad for Frank's Red Hot in the mobile game Basketball Battle.

With the in-game ad market heating up, tools for measuring the effectiveness of ad placements in gaming environments are increasingly important.

How much attention, for example, did a placement for Frank’s Redhot in a sports video game attract?

Recently, McCormick brand Frank’s Redhot placed banner ads inside Basketball Battle, a free-to-play 2D basketball game developed for mobile devices. The banner ads were prominently placed just underneath the scoreboard at center court.

A proprietary metric from Frameplay, an in-game advertising company which uses computer vision to measure the viewability of in-game ads, monitored how long the ad remained visible to the player.

Then, these viewability results of Frameplay’s “Intrinsic Time-In-View” metric were validated through eye-tracking software provided by Lumen and eye square. McCormick’s agency Dentsu also participated in the study, as it seeks to understand attention in this new format as part of its Attention Economy initiative.

Turns out, the results derived from computer vision and eye-tracking tech were similar, showing Frameplay’s method of measuring attention in video games is in line with other methods.

The test also compared the effectiveness of in-game ads to the effectiveness of ads for other, more established channels.

McCormick’s agency wanted to measure the value of in-game ads compared to ads formats on social media (where Frank’s Redhot has an enviable TikTok following and attention-grabbing rivalry with Tabasco).

The in-game ads captured about 1.4 times more attention than two in-feed social media display ads. In-game ads generated an average of 2.4 attentive seconds per impression, on par with the attention generated from a social media video ad (despite the fact that the in-game ad was a static banner).

Having a reliable metric to compare in-game and social ads produces compelling data that “helps us decide how to spend our dollars,” said Dentsu’s VP and Director of Global Media Partnerships Joanne Leong.

These early tests of in-game attention are the first step to creating standards for in-game advertising.

Frameplay and other in-game ad companies are working with MRC and IAB to establish attention standards for in-game environments. These environments present more of a measurement challenge than other display formats because ads are prone to be blocked from view by game elements like environmental features and player avatars. And many in-game environments are 3D, which literally adds another dimension to the measurement problem.

“When you calculate [in-game viewability], there’s a lot to consider, like the size of the ad on the screen at any given time, the skew or the angle of the ad at any given time, obstructions between the player perspective and the ad and how lighting affects viewability,” said Frameplay Chief Strategy and Operations Officer Cary Tilds. All of those factors and more have to be taken into account in any industry-wide in-game measurement standard.

In the gaming realm, Frameplay would like advertisers to look at overall attention, not just time in view, and change how the ad tech industry thinks about viewability, Tilds said.

“Current viewability standards for display are 50% in view for one second, or for GroupM, 100% in view for one second,” she said. But that doesn’t tell advertisers enough about whether a person actually saw and paid attention to the ad, especially when it comes to interactive formats with a lot of on-screen activity like gaming.

For agency partners like Dentsu, the furthering of measurability standards for in-game ads will help convince brands that gaming is as viable a method for reaching audiences as other platforms like social media.

 “People intuitively know gaming is very immersive, but we weren’t really able to quantify it. And a lot of marketers still have perceptions about gaming that prevent them from putting it in the same bucket as other channels,” Leong said. “Having this data allows us to compare gaming to what marketers consider more mainstream channels.”

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