Keeping an eye out for you....


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Who you gonna call....Bunnyfoot!

A British company with the unlikely but eye-catching title of Bunnyfoot is offering a way for online marketers to assess the effectiveness of their promotional efforts through "sophisticated eyeball tracking and physiological analysis of gameplay to improve the placement and design of in-game advertising."

Bunnyfoot describes itself as a "behavioural analysis consultancy" and reports on the state of in-game ads using its new Sponsor Fixation Index, which uses eye tracking and physiological data to measure in-game ad efficiency.

If you've played a game in a modern setting you may have noticed in-game ads. Plastered on billboards on virtual street corners, branded vending machines and virtual cars and buildings, the material has become increasingly common. But the question for marketers is how effective is the medium? Have the target audiences connected to the ads in a personal, emotional and above all responsive way?

Game publishers want to make sure their games aren't being negatively impacted by in-game ads and advertisers want to make sure that their potential customers form a positive impression of their brand.

Alison Walton, Head of Visual Engagement of Bunnyfoot's Behavioral research department, said that making the most of in-game ads is not something that's been explored thoroughly before. But as the business of ads in games expands with growing budgets, marketers and publishers will try and enhance the effectiveness of their material by using services like Bunnyfoot.

"Currently [in-game ads] are not creating the right consumer impact," Walton opines. "They're recreating real life, which is fine, but it's not engaging people with the brands. There's no emotional or behavioural response with the game. Instead of replicating what's in real life, it should be connecting with people on a whole new level."

"We measure a number of responses, like heart rate, breath rate and face tension and muscle tension. We also look at eye tracking, trying to find signature eye patterns. From that, we can understand whether someone is engaging with something. It's the way of combining the data we have to understand what people react to," she continued. "An example would be, a racing game, if a person is going around a bend and crashing there, and if they're always stuck there, there might be a big hoarding there for an ad on that corner. They might recall that brand, but they're associating that negative emotion they're experiencing with that brand. Ultimately, we can help optimise brand effectiveness within a game."

What Bunnyfoot specialises in has implications for gaming that reach far beyond in-game ads. Being able to analyse the way a person reacts to a visual is thoroughly useful for gameplay as well. Their technology works as a sort of a "super focus group" allowing them to collect feedback on debriefing, but also how subjects react during the game.

"We have two strings: the in-game ads and game design," explained Walton. "Rather than using metrics, we look at how we can understand gameplay. We take the first few minutes of the game and look at what makes it exciting. This technique can also be used for adapting a current-gen title to the next-gen. If you have a hit title and are looking to have a sequel, we can help analyse what you should carry over. We use the psychology to study the good bits and the bad bits. It's basically about understanding the emotional elements of a gamer."

Walton claims that Bunnyfoot is at the forefront of groundbreaking research in the field, which can be productively and cost effectively applied to a wide range of media.