Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Gaming as a channel – the power and opportunity in the possible

Publishers and agencies must do more to educate advertisers around the power and opportunity of gaming as a media channel, according to experts.

They believe that gaming is an underutilised way of reaching valuable – and engaged – audiences, but suggest that a lack of education means it is misunderstood.

Jeremy Taylor, VP EMEA at; Greg Carroll, Activision’s global VP of revenue; Haley Uyrus, head of brand communications at Mediatonic; Jerry Daykin, EMEA Senior Media Director, GSK; Samuel Huber, founder and CEO at Admix; Marie Binet, Account and Innovation Director at Publicis Sport and Entertainment and Dominic Woolfe, Azerion UK CEO and OMG head of futures Phil Rowley joined NDA Editor Justin Pearse.

In the first article of this series, they discussed how ‘gaming’ is becoming a misnomer, because it covers so much ground from the casual mobile gamer to the hardcore console. ’ For instance the average session on mobile is about 4.5 minutes, as opposed to hours on a console.

Huber says “Hyper casual games, for example, in my mind, compete for me with social media, or the little gaps in attention that we have during the day than just sitting down and playing Call of Duty for two hours, right. So the behaviour is different, the motivations are totally different.”

In this, we explore the brand opportunity. Taylor says: “What excites me the most is the endless creative possibilities that gaming offers.”

It was incumbent on agencies particularly to impress on clients that this was the birth of a new media channel, “not just sort of a solitary leisure activity,” says Rowley, pointing to concerts and chat shows within platforms.

Huber concurs, suggesting a “transition from gaming being a dominant activity to an emerging media channel. And I think that’s a really exciting transition for brands to start targeting this audience.”

Woolfe admits that he is new to the gaming sector “In that sense I’m quite different from most people at this roundtable, but I’m really excited about it. For me the benefits lie in the breadth of what you can do whether that be pre roll, immersive ads in games, right the way through to creating games from scratch. It gives us a great opportunity to reach all types of audiences at scale in a brand safe environment.”

Publishers are also doing more to push the brand opportunity. Activision has created an app within the company to be the connective tissue between all of its game studios to introduce advertising possibilities. “And the possibilities are almost endless,” says Carroll.

Conversely, Mediatonic has gone the other way. It started out working with brands on flash and social games and is now launching original titles. “Now we can build worlds and get brands involved in those,” Uyrus says.

Yet she believes that publishers, too, must do more to understand the brand opportunity. She says: “The games industry is sometimes just as wary as advertisers when it comes to these commercial considerations and we need to be educated too, because the sky’s the limit with what is possible – as long as it adds value to all parties.”

Taylor believes that when you’ve got an open sandbox for gamers to interact with each other on a global scale you move from reacting to culture to creating and driving it. “That is the Holy grail of marketing, isn’t it? The wind in the sails is really blowing everything up.”

Advertisers are starting to listen, with Daykin saying that GSK was now “dabbling” in gaming, and Binet suggest that three years ago the talk was of sports and music but now her team talked about gaming “pretty much every day”.

Daykin continues: “Gaming is definitely coming to a tipping point where I think more advertisers are having to pay attention to it, I think gaming is becoming a bit simpler, there are networks that work across multiple games, there are eSports opportunities like Twitch and things where you can reach a really wide group of those people.”

However, he believes there is still some nervousness about the quality of advertising space, particularly in casual gaming.

But as Binet concludes: “It’s exciting because there is so much you can do. There is not one single answer but so many different opportunities that should be used to make a successful strategy into gaming.”