Verizon Media

Gaming ads: why it’s all about the in-play

Untapped, future-proofed, brand-safe – what’s not to like about native, in-play advertising?

Gaming ads: why it’s all about the in-play

“Native in-play is the fastest growing format across mobile games,” according to Nina Mackie, global agency partnerships director for Admix, the monetisation platform for game developers. “It is catching up with rewarded and interstitial video as a main driver of revenue.” 

If you think gaming is all about consoles, expensive hardware and narrowly defined demographics then think again. “This is reminiscent of the shift from listening to music on CD towards streaming services,” said Mike Barrett, senior manager of international sales solutions at Verizon Media. 

“As technology has evolved so has the ability for gamers to stream and share their experiences. They can build out social communities through the likes of Twitch and compete for monetary prizes in professional esports tournaments.”

An audience of diversity and scale
“Gaming is now more accessible than ever before and there has been a clear shift in consumer behaviour,” said Barrett. “Mobile gaming and hyper-casual gaming is a great entry point [for brands] to the gaming ecosystem. Our platform solutions can help reach them both in and outside of the gaming environment.”  On-the-go mobile makes up almost 87% of the total gaming audience. “Audiences are incredibly broad and diverse but also scalable,” added Barrett.

“We're going to start to see continued growth across all game genres with more and more opportunities to advertise in what is largely an untapped environment,” added Mackie.

Ads are non-disruptive
“Native in-play ads are designed to blend in with the game’s look and feel, and they don't drive users out of the app,” said Mackie, adding that 65% of gamers say their core reason for gaming is having fun “so your brand will be associated with a positive experience”. 

Premium brands can be shown in natural spaces where you’d expect to see them in real life such as trackside in a racing game or pitchside in a football game. “This adds to realism of the game and it’s a smart trade off – the gamer only has to share data,” said Mackie.

They can be served programmatically
“So you can target by location, genre, age or gender,” said Mackie, “and there’s a really high exposure time, per gamer and per session.”

Brand safe
“In-game is the ultimate channel which is also future proofed when you think about situations like the phasing out of third-party cookies,” said Barrett. “Games are PEGI/ESRB age rated and App Store reviewed. There is no user-generated content – the gaming experience is all completely controlled by the developers. The channel isn't subject to ad blocking like some typical display formats would be and they allow and block lists within certain game genres.”

Best for brand campaigns
Measurement requires a different approach with metrics such as gaze time and time-in-view holding sway over, for example, impressions and uniques. “There is a lack of an open measurement SDK at the moment,” explained Barrett, “to really track measurement across all different environments. So until we have those capabilities through third parties for viewability measurement, in-play works best for brand campaigns.”

Dos and don’ts for creative in-play ads

  • Use strong bold images
  • Any call to actions should be awareness-led
  • Keep text to a minimum
  • If your brand is well known just use the logo or name 

Two stats to remember... 

  • 87% of the total gaming audience is on-the-go mobile according to a Newzoo report from June 2020.
  • 44% of publishers who responded to an Admix survey said that in-play was the most exciting mobile format for 2021