Often considered a means to reach young men, the marketing opportunities with gaming are more diverse and can work down to more specific demographics with careful consideration. For example, what preferences do female gamers have and what age brackets tend to prefer which part of the gaming landscape.
According to research delivered by self-serve programmatic advertising platform StackAdapt, the gaming industry is valued at $300 billion, with more than 3.2 billion gamers worldwide who spend about eight hours and 27 minutes each week playing games. Given the audience and window, brands are doing more to reach into the unique gamer ad channel as they work to engage consumers who populate it.
StackAdapt points out that, today, in-game ads can appear in mobile, computer, and console video games, giving companies an opportunity to place their brands in front of a highly-engaged gaming audience. Given that, the specifics involved could suggest relevant metrics that would have a singular source and so a clearer view to evaluation.
Gaming, which has been considered a way to reach a young male audience, actually attracts a broad constituency today. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that two out of three Americans play video games through various platforms today, and lists gaming as third only to television and social media in terms of where audiences spend their time. Yet, IAB noted, gaming garners less than 5% of advertiser budgets.
An IAB study identified five misperceptions about gaming advertising: That It’s too expensive for brands to get started as marketers think of high-end, one-off custom integrations even though there are many more affordable and undervalued opportunities; in-game advertising is too hard to activate with quality inventory except in the case of well-known, premium game titles when new ad networks and technology make it easy for advertisers to get both the scale and brand-safe reach they require; gaming cannot deliver on key objectives throughout the funnel when mid-funnel objectives are possible by letting gamers feel and interact with a product; in-game advertising is too difficult to measure although AdTech and publishers have brought measurement standards and capabilities up to a level that will meet most advertiser criteria even if there is still progress to be made; and in-game advertising is not brand safe and not welcomed by players, yet with proper planning and through third-party monitoring services and/or AI-based keyword blocking, brand safety issues can be addressed, with programmatic making it possible to reach brand-safe audiences at scale.
Superstars in the Spotlight
Jonathan Stringfield, VP, Global Business Research & Marketing at Activision Blizzard, in a conversation with All Things Insights’ Seth Adler on “Seeing Measurement Frameworks from New Perspectives,” said that, in some cases, channel segmentation isn’t necessarily the defining quality when it comes to game outreach. As with other sectors, superstars are a class that has a deep impact on audiences. Their effect is meaningful and needs to be considered as part of any plans regarding the sector. Because media is an emotional outlet, superstars are among the elements that can generate loyalty and fandom particularly if the audience regards them as authentic. Gamers are, in effect, creators in that the audience looks to their skills and approach to competition as an inspiration and even as a guide to their own development in gaming.
As such, the gaming sector, as a marketing opportunity, isn’t altogether different from traditional sports, which suggests understanding of the gaming world and selection of superstars who reflect abilities and values that are important to designated groups within the segment. Superstars also offer the kind of emotional resonance that can be critical in engagement. To the extent they identify with the superstar, gamers will tend to take note of what’s associated with the star of their choosing. A potential advantage in gaming is that the gamer is participating in the same general activities as the superstar and so has similar needs regarding technology or in the need for refreshment during long stretches in front of the console or with smartphone in hand.
For his part, Stringfield made the point that the audience takes superstars seriously and it’s very difficult to find that kind of authenticity otherwise. However, he adds, the case for using top pro gamers is made more difficult because doing so isn’t consistent with agency advertising buying or common measurement frameworks.
Reaching the Target Audience
To an extent, narrowing focus can provide specific opportunities and better criteria for evaluation given that there would be fewer extraneous factors that might make it more difficult to estimate cause and effect.
In the same blog with Adler and Stringfield, Kerry Bianchi, Global CEO, APEX Exchange, said that gaming can be a way to reach underserved audiences within that segment of the population if it’s approached with a multicultural perspective. Of course, women who are gamers are a group that is getting more notice, but she maintained marketers who have a message that might resonate with them can identify and target participating groups within that umbrella.
She pointed to a gaming series on Twitch that included a road show focused on black female gamers. In looking at the gamers group, marketers can adopt a view on gamers themselves as a brand and adapt some of the same metrics used with brands to make determinations about the effectiveness of a campaign.
Companies are paying more attention to gamers and the opportunities that the community offers. The gaming industry has been an underutilized ad channel by advertisers, which suggests opportunity for those who embrace it as a self-serve programmatic advertising platform.
Video courtesy of The Drum