Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why advertisers shouldn’t fear gaming

By Matt Parsons, Head of Gaming UK at Azerion

Let’s talk about the three billion people advertisers are scared to engage with.

Similar to that other mythical digital creature ‘The User’ these are in fact just everyday people like you, me and our friends and family. They move about in plain sight. Some are on the train with me right now, gaming on their mobiles to make the commute more enjoyable.

“But I’m not a gamer!… Ok, I play Heardle, Wordle, Qwordle, Worldle, some Solitaire and I lost a decent chunk of my younger years to Football Manager but that doesn’t make me a gamer.”

We all know the cliches about who and what a real gamer is, the good news is that agencies and clients are fast moving away from this view and want to know about how best to reach gamers. They’re everywhere to the point that a Newzoo report predicts there will be over 3.3 billion gamers worldwide by 2024.

Reaching your audience in the world of gaming

Now we know the size of the prize, the big question is how best to reach them. To be successful in gaming, like in all advertising, it’s about knowing your audience rather than simply wanting to be in gaming for the sake of it.

As long as you have this information, gaming offers an opportunity for all brands to reach their audiences – whether that’s through rewarded video between levels, immersive in-game ads around sporting environments or open worlds – where else do you have people actively wanting to see adverts to enhance their experience. Perhaps it’s a concert in the Metaverse or why not digitise some of your fashion range for the avatars to wear.

It’s no longer about whether the audience is there; it’s now about using this knowledge of audiences, where they are within the gaming world and allowing brands the opportunity to insert themselves into that environment in the right way where they can add value.

However, a note of caution, if a brand launches itself into an area of gaming where its audience isn’t, or worse they are there but they don’t respect that environment the campaign not only isn’t going to go well but there are those soon to be 3.3 billion people you could be upsetting. The key is respecting that environment.

Gaming as part of the plan

Once you’ve figured out the role you have to play within gaming, you should begin thinking about how this aligns with your wider marketing strategy. Gaming shouldn’t be viewed as a standalone piece, and should instead be worked into plans from the offset.

Gaming can fit into any part of the marketing funnel, depending on which type of advertising you choose to do, and can be easily combined with other channels as a result.

In-game ads can be loosely seen in a similar way to outdoor ads. They can be focused on the upper funnel – the high-level awareness piece – with good brand reach. For the mid-funnel, you can look at high-impact display. Further down, it could be rewarded video between gaming levels enhancing your current video strategy across premium publishers.

When it comes to mobile rewarded video, in particular, research from Kantar Millward Brown found that it’s the most well-received format among all age groups from 16-49 years old – ahead of skippable pre-roll and skippable vertical video.

Moreover, the combination of rewarded video with in-game ads boosts the effectiveness of campaigns even further. Recent research conducted by ironSource, Bidstack, and Lumen identified that the pairing increases attention, purchase intent, brand perception, and recall compared to consumers just seeing the rewarded format alone.

Cheat codes

I recently did a talk at a High School careers day. I told them all about our business with a big focus on our gaming heritage. At the end I asked if they had any questions. One hand went up “Sir! Do you have any cheat codes?”

Sadly, I didn’t, but I do know how advertisers should be using gaming on their plans:

Know your audience, where they are across the range of gaming (Mobile, Desktop, Casual Games, AAA Games, Metaverses etc) and deliver your message to them appropriately.

  • Gaming feels new but the advertising isn’t and most gaming can be bought programmatically or Managed Service
  • Outside of the Metaverse you still only need simple assets just focus on what they say
  • Reward video is an easy win to add to any video plan
  • Understand what success in gaming looks like. Is it the strong  video performance of reward video or the high attention world of in-game ads, to immersing your audience in the best of your brand in the Metaverse
  • Speak to people with experience in gaming

The opportunity that brands have within gaming is huge, and it has a role to play in any cross-channel marketing strategy. The key is understanding the environment you want to advertise in, and identifying how your audience and your brand fits into that environment. The audience is engaging in their billions; it’s the advertisers who are too far behind.

*Azerion is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, owner of NDA