We caught up with Kay Taylor, Global Innovation and Partnerships Manager at Mindshare Worldwide, to hear her thoughts on all things gaming!
Kay specialises in media innovation while originating, sourcing and delivering Mindshare’s innovation roadmap across the organisation. In her role, Kay ensures that Mindshare is continuously one step ahead of its peers and competitors, delivering competitive advantage for clients.
What work have you been doing in gaming recently?
At Mindshare we recognise that before you can run you need to be able to walk, so we have been focusing on getting teams smart about the gaming space so that they can start to explore advertising opportunities for brands. We approached this by looking to our global Mindshare network; Mindshare China office is currently leading our efforts in gaming with a 10-person team dedicated to gaming who are creating award-winning work. Armed with partners and an understanding of the space, we knew that the best thing to do would be to get gaming on everyone’s radar. To achieve this, we held an educational and inspirational gaming event called The Future is Gaming. The event took the form of an interactive trade-show-like event for which we invited in twenty partners to carry out talks, to have an interactive stand and bring games. Mindshare staff and clients came along to meet partners (including Venatus), learn about the space and have a go at gaming themselves. After the event teams were armed with contacts, information and inspiration to get started in the gaming space.
What was the motivation behind the future of gaming event?
We recognised that gaming is a huge opportunity that we wanted to ensure our brands and teams were up to speed on, so what better way than to bring the best partners in the space to Mindshare for an afternoon of gaming and educational talks to fully immerse Mindshare in the space.
What gaming stat has surprised you the most?
Gaming is worth more than video and music combined with the video games sector accounting for more than half of the UK's entire entertainment market. The industry is worth £3.86bn ($4.85bn). On a less serious note, I love the stat that there are more gamers globally than sheep.
How would you define a ‘gamer’?
I would define a gamer as anyone that plays video games; this could be someone with the latest consoles and games who views or records streams every night, or it could be those that play games casually to pass the time such as playing candy crush on their way to work. Historically, gaming has been thought to be dominated by a young, male audience, but this is no longer the case.
In 2019, women accounted for nearly 46 per cent of all gamers in the United States. When targeting ‘gamers’, it is vital that brands consider that within the audience term ‘gamers’ there are differences. Some gamers enjoy first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty, whereas other gamers prefer racing games such as Mario Kart. Some will be hardcore gamers who spend 20+ hours a week gaming, while core gamers still love gaming but have less time to dedicate to it and instead interact with the meme culture. Gaming is a community whether people are playing Words with Friends or the latest Star Wars release. Any brand exploring gaming as an advertising opportunity must make sure they have done their homework to reach the right audience in the right place, in a way that drives real value.
What aspect of gaming do you find most interesting?
From a brand perspective, advertising in gaming can feel like stepping into the unknown, offering brands a 'first mover advantage' and the opportunity to be extra creative with their activations. Some of the most recent interesting examples come from brands that wouldn’t been first to mind including Bumble and Louis Vuitton. Bumble formed an all-women’s Fortnite team to drive more female involvement in eSports while Louis Vuitton designed a case for the League of Legends trophy and they also have plans with Riot to release new champion skins. Brands such as these stand out by diving into a space that their competitors haven't explored, positioning them as a favourite among gamers.
I also find the whole concept of eSports fascinating. It’s a huge industry that goes unnoticed by many, yet eSports events in some cases have bigger prize pots than traditional sports. It’s fantastic to see how it is evolving. in the last year alone we've seen Universities launch degrees in eSports and Intel set to host a $500,000 gaming tournament that will be held during the lead-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Considering professional gamers have regimes similar to those of traditional sports professionals with special diets, exercise regimes and accommodation, being a part of the Olympics doesn’t seem far fetched. It’s a whole world that once you start to dig into it, it offers more and more.
degrees in esports and Intel hosting a $500,000 gaming tournament that will be held during the lead-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
What is the biggest challenge in getting brands to embrace gaming and gaming audiences?
I think one of the biggest challenges for brands comes down to brand safety and environment. For example, alcohol brands are unlikely to feel comfortable being in a car racing game due to the crashes and the obvious link this has to drink driving, while other brands may not feel comfortable being in first-person shooter games. Yet some brands such as sports cars manufacturers understand that allowing brands to be in racing games and crash cars will increase brand perception and engagement because no one in their right mind would crash a sports car in real life. Ultimately this is something that will come down to each brand to decide on what promotes their brand message and core values.
Another aspect of brand safety that some brands find challenging is the bad press that gaming has had in the past where gaming has been linked to poor mental health by newspaper articles. However, if you are to talk to gamers, it is highly likely they will tell you a different story. Social Chain found in their study that 80% of people use gaming for escapism, and 76% use it to relieve stress. While 52% of gamers play with friends met through the game, and 23% have gone one step further and joined an online community. So gaming can be quite the opposite to what the headlines say, by helping people to find a supportive community in which they can be themselves and make friends.
Which brands would you like to see embrace gaming in 2020?
I’d like to see more brands from a range of verticals such as luxury brands embracing gaming and I’d also love to see more brands that have a female audience getting involved; brands that may have until now thought ‘gaming is not for us’.
Kay’s career started at Publicis Media where she worked across the group’s agencies, advising teams and clients such as P&G, Lidl and Samsung on how and when best to use the huge opportunity that mobile provided. As mobile became a staple for all media plans, Kay moved into another future facing role in their Futures team. In 2018 she left to take on a Global role at Mindshare focusing on a broader range of innovation opportunities.
Kay now consults global brands on behalf of Mindshare, including Unilever, Nike and Booking.com, to help them to decode the latest marketing innovations from Voice Apps to Artificial Intelligence to eSports.