File this in the “science confirms common sense” folder — although this may be a surprise to many ad agencies.
University of Missouri researchers found that advergames that have a thematic connection to the brand work better to create a relationship with the consumer.
In the study, participants played two advergames, both with either high or low thematic connection to the brand. … For example, the travel company Orbitz designed a game, “Find Your Hotel,” that has a theme related to the company’s travel services. Another Orbitz game, “Paper Football,” does not have a thematic connection to the company’s services.
Kevin Wise, assistant professor of strategic communication in the MU School of Journalism, conducted the study. He found that whether the game had a direct connection to the brand attributes had no influence on whether it was fun to play. But the fun of play was only transferred to the brand when that connection was inherent to the game.
Agency folk love to talk about “interaction with the brand” as the key benefit of advergames. This study shows the importance of designing that interaction carefully. Plastering the brand on the interface may not be enough.