Lockdown brought exponential growth for gaming and with 3.2bn gamers worldwide the opportunities for advertisers are immense. But not all is as it seems and it’s vital to fully understand the landscape.
“This is a nascent area where the reality is that your current kind of planning strategy might not necessarily fit this particular box,” said Ali Syed, international sales director at Oracle Advertising.
Understand your audience – gamers are people too
“They're not just this weird bubble or segment of individuals,” said Syed. “They will be watching your advertising in other different inventory categories. Think of them as part of that overall ecosystem.”
Chris Hardiman, product director at Xaxis, GroupM’s programmatic media arm, added: “Gaming is a blanket term but gamers are a very diverse audience. Brands need to understand who gamers and what they're playing if they want to be successful in this growing and hyper-engaged environment.”
Almost half of all gamers (46%) are female with an extremely diverse age range. There are mobile gamers and casual puzzle gamers right through to the hardcore gamers where e-sports sponsorship comes in.
“Often female gamers are drawn to hyper-casual games or to mobile platforms,” explained Amman Kainth, sales director at Anzu, the in-game advertising platform. “So a brand needs to identify the entry point [for their audience] and the best type of creative to engage those gamers.”
Understand the platform
Casual mobile gaming is a vastly different beast to AAA games being played on a PlayStation or Xbox console is different to mobile. So the content has to be shaped accordingly.
For advertisers considering gaming for the first time, this can be confusing. “We’re talking about 3D environments and immersive experiences,” said Kainth. “Every element including measurements and success metrics will have to be different as a result of that, but in order to gain buy-in from advertisers, we need to be speaking at least some of the same language. We have to respect that they’re looking for some sort of continuity across their media mix.” Kainth cited IAB creatives and Oracle’s Moat Analytics as valuable tools to help brands achieve some consistency across platforms.
Marketers have to respect gamers and gameplay
Gaming isn’t new but advertising and ad monetisation in this space is relatively new. Hardiman explained: “This is an established audience who have been in these environments playing these games for many years. If you want to advertise to this hyper-engaged audience you have to speak to them in a respectful way and in a way that is suitable for those environments.”
This is where immersive placements can be powerful because they already existed in areas such as football games or motorsport that were reflecting the real-world environment. Amman added: “At Anzu we’re about onboarding brands to AAA games that gives us access to Xbox, PlayStation and other platforms. They can be integrated in a programmatic sense to these titles.”
Trust is key
Gaming is not a solitary pastime. Gamers play in all sorts of different environments, for example the parent who plays with their kids but then also wants to play different titles on their owner with friends at other times. There will be cross-generational engagement that requires appropriate ad content. “We want advertisers to feel comfortable with the environments they’re buying into,” said Kainth, “but also ensuring that the creative is relevant.” Prevention of click fraud is also a high priority for Kainth.
Last click saloon
Syed believes that last-click methodology shouldn’t apply to gaming. “Gaming is still heavily focused on in-app purchase focus,” he said, “And there's a huge opportunity both for developers to drive revenues through advertising, and for advertisers to benefit from those hyper-engaged audiences.”