3 minute read
Why is everyone suddenly talking about in-game advertising? The short version, the more media buyers learn about the gaming audience and their entertainment consumption habits, the more essential gamers become to media spending ROI. The long version, it’s complicated.
The value of gaming and its players is no longer an exclusive debate among those already in the know. It has become an emerging topic of conversation for marketing departments reassessing budget allocations. And much like social media was once excluded from holistic marketing strategies and now finds itself as a critical complement to a brand’s approach to success, so too is integrated advertising in gaming maturing inside the media buying space.
In 2022, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) kicked off its inaugural in-game advertising event, the IAB PlayFronts. The event targeted brands agnostic of the industry to educate and inform them of the gaming audience’s highly underserved, untapped potential. The IAB PlayFronts sent ripples throughout the industry as it became evident that the tropes heavily associated with gamers had long evolved past their initial dismissal.
Jonathan Stringfield, Ph.D., VP, Global Business Research & Marketing, Activision Blizzard Media, during his on-stage presentation at the IAB PlayFronts, touted that before anyone has successfully monetized their brand inside the metaverse, they should take a closer look at monetization as it currently stands, inside the gaming industry. Stringfield posited how gaming’s influence is one of the core reasons behind consumer adoption of technology, explaining, "Personal computers, TV, and touch screens were all once new technologies that consumers learned about through the art of play."
However, there is still a long path forward for brands to fully embrace games as a viable platform for the distribution of ads. For one, “There’s still this mental image we have of gamers as boys in basements that’s so pervasive,” Stringfield stated to The Wall Street Journal.
Despite a track record of successful in-game activations, one of the many questions top-of-mind for media buying agencies, beyond who gamers are, is about their entertainment consumption habits overall. To answer this, Activision Blizzard Media debuted brand new research at the IAB PlayFronts entitled “The Engagement Game: How Gaming Has Transformed Entertainment Consumption,” to demonstrate the parity across all age groups about gaming in the ever-demanding attention economy.
One of the critical takeaways revealed in the report is that gamers across all age groups are no longer consuming entertainment disproportionately during evening hours. They are now seizing any opportunity to engage with it throughout the day, and for gamers, gaming is besting all other ad-supported entertainment. It is second to Social Media only in the early morning hours.
Gaming’s all-day presence in consumers’ lives presents an opportunity that the other mediums do not have. When consumers are gaming, that’s the only thing they’re doing at that moment by the very nature of what interactive experiences are. Whereas players can choose to listen to video content passively or leave social media mid-scroll because it’ll be there when they get back, precisely as they left it, gamers have specifically chosen to snack on gaming whenever possible.
Of course, it’s no secret these past few years have seen entertainment consumption habits radically change as commutes and strict working hours were taken out of the equation. But according to the research in The Engagement Game, it’s not about how many people discovered or, in most cases, rediscovered gaming. It’s about the overwhelming number of people who said they have no plans to set gaming down when day-to-day life returns to normal.
Kelly Drake, Senior Director, US Sales, who joined Stringfield on stage during the IAB PlayFronts, dropped perhaps the most telling kernel of wisdom to answer why everyone is suddenly talking about in-game advertising. Because for Activision Blizzard Media, she said, “Each and every ad offering we bring to market is designed to make the game experience better for our players, and in turn drive a bigger impact for our brand partners."
Said another way, in-game advertising isn’t about brands interrupting players at the expense of gameplay; it’s about rewarding them for taking the time to enjoy their brand. And the more brands learn about gamers and their motivations for gaming, the more interested they’ve become in finding ways to engage them.
Your average video game enthusiast, football viewer, and rock music aficionado have more in common than you might suspect.