Online advertisers are migrating ever more quickly toward a gold mine of eager, impressionable consumers: gamers on social networks. The preferred ad buy trades some sort of action—watching a video, becoming a fan of the company on Facebook—for a few units of the online currency used in those games. Advertisers like Microsoft, McDonald’s, and Sony appear to value the method, which is more quantifiable than display advertising, and could spell trouble for big names like AOL and Yahoo.
For one, social network games are a densely concentrated group of eyes and spend between 45 and 90 minutes playing a day, Facebook execs tell TBI Research. That sort of dedication maximizes an ad buy, which are fairly cheap. Microsoft achieved success with a promotion on Farmville that cost 30 cents per Bing Facebook fan generated, and grew its fan page substantially.