Gaming platforms such as Roblox and Midnight have rocketed in popularity over the past three years, and brands are interested in reaching their diverse range of users. Experts on a panel at Campaign’s recent Gaming Summitsay there are several factors to be aware of to get the most out of the medium.
1. Engagement is high – meaning is authenticity critical
Users and communities on gaming platforms are highly engaged – and over the last three years, users have flocked to gaming in their droves, meaning scale is increasingly significant. Sophia Ferjani, senior creative strategist at Yahoo, said this creates a certain level of expectation for brands using these platforms. “Over the last three years, a lot of people entered the gaming space as a form of entertainment and form of connectivity, and that’s when we really saw gaming communities flourish.
“There’s a lot of trust, engagement and loyalty in these environments, that you aren’t necessarily afforded in traditional media. So, when a brand enters that space, it has to show up authentically,” she said.
2. Give content creators freedom
Working with content creators will help brands reach an already-engaged audience and tap into creators’ expertise on the platform. Content creator Andruwu said: “We already have a strong community that helps us out, follows us, and watches our content, so it’s a strong first stepping stone if you’re trying to enter this area.”
He added that trusting creators is important. “Offering content creators freedom to advertise your product is beneficial. I spend hours looking at trends, looking at what’s popping off, looking at other creators and seeing how I can innovate - we know the space, the metrics and trends. If you’re really unsure, you should leave it up to a content creator.”
3. Focus on creating value for gamers
The gaming market has evolved since 2020, with brands more open to thinking creatively. Ferjani said: “When brands were first entering that space, they just wanted to appear in front of gamers, but it could be quite intrusive. If you look at the market today, it’s about how can we engage, how can we enhance the gaming experience. It’s really showing up and adding value to gamers.”
She added that there are three key requirements for doing this. Firstly, there’s a need to understand your brand’s value and identity. “The worst thing you can do is come across as insincere.” Secondly, brands should work to understand the gaming landscape and how diverse gaming audiences are. Thirdly – and most importantly – is value exchange.
“When you’re entering gaming partnerships, what value are you providing to gamers? This underpins all our partnerships. It can be as simple as rewarding users who interact with your brand with game passes or vouchers.”
4. Try gaming yourself
With gaming environments being so different to other forms of media, the experts on the panel agreed that marketers interested in the medium should try it out as gamers. As Arthur O’Neill, joint head of invention worldwide at Mindshare said: “We, as marketers and advertisers, tend to talk
about things we don’t do ourselves. My advice would be to go and try a game. Play the game, watch a stream for a couple of hours. Then you’ll understand the mechanics they use and how people follow.”
5. Trust the experts
Having the right people involved in each project, from brainstorming all the way through to end deliverables, can help keep it on track and ensure user experience is front and centre. As Ferjani said: “The gaming landscape is its own universe, and you really need those experts to help you navigate that.”
6. Don’t rely on traditional metrics
Marketers always want to achieve economies of scale. But the nuances of gaming platforms mean a one-size-fits-all approach is not advisable. “Roblox is not one community, it’s hundreds. A lot of [brands] will go to Roblox because it’s one of the most played games in the world, and you can access a lot of people in one go,” said O’Neill.
Instead, he added, brands need to take a different approach for different communities. “Don’t look at it as a mass scale thing, but mass scale though individual pockets of incremental reach.” He cited one example of food chain KFC integrating an order button into the League of Legends game. After a certain amount of time, users would be offered the button and, in two clicks, could choose from a menu of meals that could be eaten with one hand.
Ferjani agreed, saying: “It’s really important to understand this is a new medium, you can’t apply traditional metrics.” Some clients want content creators, for example, to read out scripts – but this doesn’t work, she said. “Leave it to the experts to determine what will work really well.”