Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Editor’s View: To drive brand adoption, let’s stop talking about ‘gamers’ when it comes to gaming

It is clear that gaming is an untapped opportunity for advertisers looking for elusive audiences. It’s why we dedicated November to gaming on NDA.

Gaming today is bigger than it has ever been, with coronavirus lockdowns only serving to accelerate this already fast-growing trend. With more of us at home and without the leisure activities such as cinema or concerts readily available to us, little wonder more of us are gaming.

But few of us consider ourselves gamers. For sure, there are those who pre-ordered the latest Sony and Microsoft consoles, but mostly we’re idling away time on our phones. These snacky, free to download games are much of the reason that some 2 billion of us globally ‘game’.

In fact, the market is bigger than cinema and music combined. So why haven’t the advertising dollars not followed?

First, there is interest. This year more than ever advertisers are eyeing the gaming market with interest and looking to invest. They are aware of this channel’s potential, yet there does remain a degree of wariness. And for good reason.

Our Gaming as a Media Channel roundtable brought together some of the UK’s best gaming and advertising minds to discuss just this. There are advertiser concerns around metrics and brand safety – although these are, and increasingly have been, addressed. The biggest barrier, it seems, is confusion.

Gaming covers such a broad range of activity that it can discourage advertisers, they say, with GSK’s Jerry Daykin admitting that marketers can and often do choose the path of least resistance. Though he and his company are exploring the options ahead.

It’s why our panellists agreed that ‘gaming’ as it stands is too big a ‘channel’. They would rather it be split into its constituent parts, which would make it easier for advertisers to see what’s in it for them. They also implore the publishers to see the brand opportunity.

Education is needed on all sides.

It reminds me of over a decade ago when ‘digital’ was not just the next big thing but primed to take over TV as the most valuable advertising medium. Yet ‘digital’ comprised many different things. In order for it to mature we needed to pit it not against analogue but to break it down into all the different – and useful – things it could do.

It’s now time to do the same for gaming. Let’s not talk about gamers, but people who play games. It’s more than half of us, after all. Let’s break it down in to those on mobiles, those on consoles, those for whom it’s a social endeavour and so on.

After all, as ever in marketing, it’s all about reaching the audiences you want in the moments that matter.