Zynga, publisher of a slew of free-to-play Facebook games (like FarmVille), is putting playable advertisements in its games. Players will be able to play ads for companies like Progressive Insurance in order to win in-game cash and other rewards. Basically if you’re playing FarmVille, you might get a Progressive Insurance pop-up mini-game; if you play the mini-game, you’ll be rewarded with some FarmVille crystals. However, not all mini-games will give rewards. It’s unclear at this point whether or not it will be obvious which mini-games offer the rewards.
This probably sounds like a nightmare to parents, and understandably so. While adults may be subtly influenced by advertising over time, kids are a lot more susceptible to it—and a lot more likely to give in to the desire for things like crystals. This is probably a good opportunity to go over some media literacy 101 with your kids. The good news is it doesn’t seem like these mini-games will offer the opportunity to spend actual money, but they will be hooked up to social media accounts.
Zynga was formed in 2007. The company has a large roster of games. You might want to check if you or your kids are playing any of these, just so you’re aware of the new ad policy: