While most of the industry is ready to embrace digital advertising as the wave of the future, Sir Howard Stringer of Sony and Activision's Robert Kotick have expressed reservations over the format's true potential.
Advertisers at the Davos World Economic Forum said research had indicated consumers found digital advertising in videogames and social networks intrusive, but that many were willing to put up with it in exchange for free content. Nigel Morris, CEO of digital advertising agency Isobar, said consumers had grown used to television advertising but were "still adjusting" to newer methods of marketing.
Perhaps the most unbridled enthusiasm for the future of digital advertising came from Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who described mobile internet advertising by saying, "It's the recreation of the internet, it's the recreation of the PC story, it is before us - and it is very likely it will happen in the next year."
But while Stringer, chief executive officer of Sony, admitted that business models were changing rapidly, he also said, "Young people don't like advertising very much."
"The [supposed] solution to everything at the moment in the digital space is ad-supported," he told the Financial Times. "While advertisers are happy to talk that up, there is a limit to the amount of money available."
Activision CEO Kotick concurred with Stringer's caution, adding, "It's early days. I wouldn't go in that direction myself."
But at least one industry heavyweight is exploring the potential of advertising-supported games; last week, Electronic Arts announced Battlefield Heroes, an ad-supported addition to the company's Battlefield franchise that would be released as a free download later in the year.