The gaming industry has created a diverse and inclusive community where everyone is welcome no matter what, how or why they game. Despite the abundance of variety within gaming, there are still common misconceptions that only certain brands can get involved and that there are only a handful of ways to reach gaming audiences.
The advertising industry is fixated on metaverses, esports sponsorships and curated in-game experiences. As exciting and valuable as these opportunities are, the reality is that not every brand is suitable for these environments - whether that be because of budget, creative capabilities, campaign KPI's or game exclusivity. These opportunities are just one part of the broader gaming ecosystem, and the advertising opportunities beyond these gaming environments are plentiful, with room for everyone to get involved.
Away from the game
When gamers shut down their console or pause their gameplay, they are still gamers. Their interest in gaming doesn't fade when they stop playing a game on their mobile, console or desktop. Like any other hobby or interest, it remains omnipresent in their lives, from the content they consume to the items they purchase and the people they admire. And as gamers move away from the game, so should the brands trying to reach them.
Advertising across contextually rich gaming sites and apps reach the same gaming audiences in an environment that they can engage with and explore further. Whether these audiences are looking to improve gameplay, discover a new game, learn more about a new console or catching up on the latest gaming news, they are as much of a gamer as they were during the gameplay. If you were looking to reach a football fan, you wouldn't expect your only option to be sponsoring the World Cup. You would be looking into sports news sites, fantasy football, FIFA and more. The same applies to gaming, offering scalable and affordable advertising opportunities without compromising on your audience.
Taking it back a level
Rather than going headfirst into gaming by seeking brand partnerships with the biggest game of the moment or finding the next esports championship to sponsor, we advise brands first to take a few steps back. As with any media plan, it is essential to understand the campaign's objectives, the budget and the target audience. Are they looking to get in front of as many people as possible? Are they after cost-effective video views? Do they want to drive people to their e-commerce site? We must address these critical KPIs first to ensure that brands adopt the most appropriate strategy that will be as valuable for the brand as it is for the gamers.
Reaching more than just gamers
Newzoo predicts there will be 2.9 billion players worldwide by the end of 2021. With so many people gaming, the audiences reached through gaming campaigns are now all-encompassing. By jumping headfirst into the wrong gaming environment, brands aren't just serving advertising to a new, previously untapped audience. They reach existing and future customers, made up of students, parents, working professionals, pensioners and everyone in between. Gaming environments are not testing grounds for brands looking to find a new fun way to promote their product. Brands should take a considered approach as these audiences are much more inclusive than they may have first thought.
Gaming for all
It's time we make game advertising as inclusive as the games themselves. There are more affordable, scalable digital formats available to brands that can utilise existing creative concepts the same way brands do when reaching other audiences such as music or sports fans. Not every brand can afford to run a custom partnership with a game or sponsor an esports tournament, but they can afford display advertising.
The 2020 IAB UK Adspend Report showed the sheer scale of display advertising compared to more niche game marketing opportunities. These digital formats are not only affordable and scalable but there are also complementary to other game advertising opportunities. They offer clickable, playable and interactive units alongside brand awareness campaigns.
We must stop seeing gamers as an audience that only exists across a handful of environments. On the contrary, these audiences are much more accessible than brands may think, and contextually relevant sites play a huge role in their gaming lifestyle. There are enough walled gardens in media. Let's make sure gaming doesn't become one of them by informing brands of the full scope of marketing opportunities.
This article was taken from the VideoWeek Gaming & Advertising Guide 2021, produced in partnership with Venatus. This guide covers all aspects of game advertising, including:
- An industry map for the gaming landscape
- A guide to marketing in the metaverse
- Which opportunities are best for brands new to gaming?
- How mobile games are adapting to Apple's privacy changes
- Which formats are working for buyers