By Niklas Bakos, founder, Adverty
A fair assumption, for those new to the fast-changing, often misunderstood world of gaming, is that everything you thought you knew is probably wrong.
Here’s a test. Picture a typical mobile gamer. And then, with that image in mind, answer these three questions: a) which gender plays mobile games for longer and more often? b) what’s the average age of a mobile gamer? And c) which fashion brand’s gaming strategy was recently spotlighted in Vogue Business?
Alright, now the answers. That’s a) women*; b) 36*; and c) Gucci. So unless your imagined gamer looked like, say, 36-year-old female fashion fan Khloé Kardashian, chances are you were a bit off base.
The fact is, while many gamers are young and male, these days they are far too diverse a group – male, female, old, young and in-between – to be captured by easy stereotypes.
…and more misleading perceptions about gaming
Even within the advertising industry, the picture of gaming is not always entirely accurate, in specific ways. Take the perception of in-game advertising. It’s a digital ad and you buy it programmatically, so presumably it’s performance-based?
Well, no. The real value of genuine in-game advertising is in its power as a branding tool – and we have the research to prove it.
A study of gamers conducted last year with Dentsu Data Labs found that 84% were aware they had seen ads within the game, while 78% of those who saw an ad were able to recall the brand they had seen.
Ads like these are transacted programmatically, possibly creating an anticipation of performance-based advertising. But the point of the immersive, unobtrusive ads in our own In-Play format is to offer brand awareness in realistic virtual locations that allow advertisers to fit seamlessly into games.
Gamers interact with brands, but they don’t click, so while there is no CTR, these ads find their value in interaction and brand lift. Programmatic: yes. Performance: no.
OOH and gaming share a problem
You could inversely compare the situation to that of out-of-home advertising. OOH lives exclusively in brand budgets and is perceived to be a pure branding medium. But outdoor companies are doing all they can to create formats that operate on a performance basis. Consequently, the programmatic world is increasingly blurring its stereotypes and pulling in brand advertisers.
In effect, each wants what the other has. OOH wants to be known for more than just brand-building, and in-game advertising companies like ours want to alert brands precisely to our branding strengths.
And just as OOH offers arguments for both branding and performance, in-game platforms like our own are designed to serve both functions. While In-Play is unobtrusive and immersive and geared to brand awareness, our In-Menu format lets brands place contextually relevant, performance-focused banner ads in between games.
So how should brands file their gaming ads? Simply place them in branding budgets for in-game and under performance for in-menu.
Don’t let good opportunities be clouded by bad categorisation
The point of this is not just to quibble about definitions but to fix preconceptions that risk blinding brands to the realities of a media opportunity that is growing faster than any other. The pandemic, as we all know, has swelled the ranks of gamers, but this is not a here-today, gone-tomorrow channel for times of boredom.
Morgan Stanley last year estimated that there are 2.6 billion gamers across the globe – a roughly two-fold increase in just five years. As far back as the distant pre-pandemic days of 2019, that meant annual revenue of US$135 billion worldwide, giving the video game industry a greater economic impact than film and music combined.
The blossoming of 5G and cloud-based gaming services in the coming years means the glory days of games are almost certainly ahead, particularly in mobile, as experiences boom in both sophistication and scale.
That is why it is important that we put to bed limiting stereotypes of all kinds. Whether you apply it to branding or performance for your particular brand, you should see advertising in and around games for what it is: a media channel that goes where others don’t, at an almost unimaginable scale, and that has more than earned its place in media strategies of all kinds.
* Source: MoPub
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