In-Game Advertising in Violent Video Games: An Analysis of the Impact on Customer-based Brand Equity

Elisa Tortorella & Angela Asha Castellani Tarabini

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This thesis aims at investigating the impact that in-game advertising has on customer-based brand equity (CBBE) when placed in violent video games. As previous research on those topics is limited and fragmented, companies might find it challenging to determine how to successfully advertise their brand in video games when preparing their marketing strategies. In order to understand in which ways in-game advertising affects brand equity when placed in a violent gaming environment, the authors develop, building on previous research and existing literature, a conceptual framework consisting of four factors: brand -game congruity, brand familiarity, brand prominence and arousal from violence. From the conceptual framework, hypotheses are deduced and are used to evaluate the impact that each of these elements hason the various levels of Keller’s CBBE pyramid.
The paper’s theoretical development is founded on the existing theory related to the topics outlined above. Thus, a deductive approach is chosen to conduct the study and the work is embedded in a pragmatic perspective. The analysis is carried by adopting a mixed methods strategy: across-sectional quantitative study implemented through a questionnaire is first carried out in order to empirically test the developed hypotheses. These findings are then integrated with the results obtained from the qualitative study consisting of semi-structured interviews. The stimulus used for both types of data collection relies on a crafted video aimed at recreating the experience of a violent gameplay containing in-game advertising.
The results from both the quantitative and qualitative analyses indicate that the various factors of the conceptual framework have an impact on every level of brand equity. In particular, they suggest that brand familiarity and brand prominence have a positive impact on brand awareness. Moreover, brand associations and brand attitudes appear to be positively affected by congruity. In fact, including brands that fit well in the gaming environment helps improve the perception, feelings and thoughts towards the brand, by making the gameplay more enjoyable. Those two levels of brand equity are also affected by arousal from violence since players excited by the content would have more extreme reactions to violence, either positive or negative. Lastly, the quantitative analysis implies that brand attachment and brand activity can gain from the placement of congruous advertisements, compared to incongruous ones.
In sum, this work attempts to fill the gap from previous literature and to provide useful insights that can be used as foundation for future research on the topic in order to develop tools that can help companies in their marketing strategies.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages167