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How to Use the Halo Effect of Gaming Fandom for Your Brand

Antonio Miller, Research Manager of Advertising Insights, Activision Blizzard Media

Antonio Miller, Research Manager of Advertising Insights, Activision Blizzard Media

October 10, 2023

10 minute read

A new study we conducted with Alter Agents revealed that partnering with fans' preferred gaming IPs significantly boosts a brand's perceived uniqueness, creativity, and innovativeness.

As a publisher, our mission to create engaging and immersive experiences has given rise to a community of players spanning multiple continents, generations, and levels of fandom. Whether they’re casual every-few-days players or hours-daily players, our latest research shows that when gamers engage with gaming IPs they like, they automatically think better of the brands that partner within and around them. 

With our commitment to compelling stories and gameplay comes a unique and creative approach to advertising that resonates with our players, and rewards our partners using a nuanced understanding of gamers and brands that no other publishers can replicate. We’re diving into the measurable impact of this gaming IP and brand advertising halo effect. 

7 Reasons To Partner with Gaming IP for Brand Lift

The dynamic world of gaming offers a unique and fertile ground for advertisers to tap into. By leveraging the deep connection and engagement that gaming IP fandoms offer, brands can create powerful synergies, strategic ad placements, and seamless brand integrations that yield substantial value and opportunities.

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Partner with game IP to:

1. Reach Passionate and Engaged Audiences: 

Gaming IPs often have a dedicated and passionate fanbase. These fans are not just players but also active community members who often engage in discussions, share content, and generate buzz around the games they love. Advertisers can tap into this highly engaged audience, creating a meaningful connection that goes beyond traditional advertising.

2. Cultivate Positive Brand Perception: 

When brands associate with popular gaming IPs, they can benefit from the positive perception and loyalty the fans have for these games. This measurable halo effect can enhance brand image, increase brand recall, and influence purchase decisions. For example: Candy Crush Saga demonstrated a strong 'halo' effect for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brands. An impressive 68% of survey respondents stated they were more likely to buy from a CPG brand after seeing it paired with Candy Crush Saga.

3. Promote Brand Uniqueness and Creativity: 

Gaming environments offer unique and creative ways for ad placements and brand integrations. Brands can become part of the gaming narrative, offering immersive experiences that stand out from traditional ads. This not only increases the ad's effectiveness but also enhances the overall player experience. According to our study, brands that partnered with Candy Crush Saga were seen as fostering creative brand pairings, with 64% and 65% of respondents finding the pairings "creative" when CPG and QSR brands, respectively, were displayed alongside Candy Crush Saga, outperforming platforms like YouTube and Facebook. 

4. Leverage Engaged Fandoms of Premium IP: 

The top gaming IPs often have established reputations and communities. Advertisers can use this knowledge to create targeted campaigns that resonate with specific segments of the gaming community, increasing the relevancy and effectiveness of their ads. Our study revealed that 64% of Candy Crush players and 74% of Call of Duty: Mobile players claimed these games as their favorites, and such fandom strengthens brand affinity, purchase likelihood, and other key metrics. For instance, Call of Duty: Mobile fans are more likely to perceive a brand as high-quality if it's advertised within the game. You can learn more about what makes a game and advertising “premium” in the eyes of players in our research, Premium By Design.

A group of friends gaming together.

5. Use Communities as Social Amplification: 

Gaming communities are often very social, frequently sharing their experiences online. This can generate organic, word-of-mouth marketing for brands, amplifying the reach and impact of their advertising efforts. In addition, the social element of gaming fandoms amplifies the reach and impact of these advertisements. Fans often share their experiences, including in-game ads, creating an organic, word-of-mouth marketing chain. Understanding player behavior and preferences allows us to offer a more personalized ad experience, improving the effectiveness of in-game mobile advertising. According to our research, The Real Social Connector, even solo-players engage heavily with gaming communities online and in-person to further explore their passion and fandom. 

6. Unlock Long-term Partnership Opportunities: 

Aligning with a gaming IP offers brands the opportunity for long-term partnerships. This can include co-branded merchandise, in-game items, events, and more. Such collaborations can deepen the brand's connection with the gaming community and create additional revenue streams. Of all gamers, 2-in-3 have been gaming for over 10 years, while 1-in-3 have been gaming for more than 20 years. (Source: Activision Blizzard Media Gaming Study via Toluna Insights, July 2023 (Base: US Adults 18+) 

Candy Crush Saga is over 10 years old, while the Call of Duty franchise recently celebrated 20 years—both milestones speak to the long-term possibilities of two globally recognized brands. The strong fandom for our games translates into greater brand affinity, purchase likelihood, and other key metrics. 

7. Grow Your Brand Presence:

As gaming continues to grow, being present in this space can help brands stay relevant and visible to a younger, tech-savvy audience. This can increase brand awareness and position the brand as innovative and forward-thinking.

In Summary: Positive Brand Affinity = Increased Purchase Likelihood

The strong fanbase of games can be leveraged to build brand affinity. The closer a brand aligns with games the more value it can derive from the positive halo effect. This is particularly true for games like Call of Duty: Mobile, which has a dedicated fandom that is likely to evangelize both the game and the brands associated with it.

Gaming IPs with strong community experiences significantly influence brand perception. The unique pairing of brands with our games and the strong fandom they enjoy creates a halo effect that can be leveraged by brands for greater affinity and purchase likelihood. We plan to continue our research to further understand and quantify the impact of our games on brand perception and affinity. 

A happy young man gaming on his phone.

Candy Crush Saga and Call of Duty: Mobile Players

Activision-Blizzard games have cultivated a passionate fanbase, with Candy Crush Saga and Call of Duty: Mobile leading the pack among other top known mobile games.

Our research further showed that compared to the general US population, our players are more likely to learn about, purchase from, and find advertisers in their favorite games credible, relatable, and trendy. This speaks to the power of fandom in the gaming world, making for effective in-game advertising and fostering communities where passion and loyalty drive engagement. 

Engagement and Social Sharing Among Fandom

This level of engagement creates a unique ecosystem where gamers not only frequently encounter in-game ads, but view them as part of their gaming journey. This leads to increased message retention and transforms the typical ad experience into something more meaningful. The inherent loyalty within these gaming communities also breeds trust, making ads that are seamlessly integrated into the gaming experience more likely to be viewed as valuable content rather than distractions.

The halo effect of gaming fandom presents a unique and potent opportunity for brands to connect with a passionate, engaged audience on a deeper level. By partnering with popular gaming IPs, brands can significantly boost their perceived quality and creativeness. This leads to increased brand affinity, purchase likelihood, and other key metrics that drive brand growth. As the gaming industry continues to expand and evolve, brands that can effectively leverage this dynamic landscape stand to reap substantial rewards. The key lies in understanding the unique preferences of gamers and creating meaningful, immersive ad experiences that resonate with them. In a world where traditional advertising methods are losing their effectiveness, this approach offers a fresh, innovative way to connect with consumers and grow your brand.


Our research was conducted in partnership with Alter Agents to survey a nationally representative sample of 2,000 US adults 18+. All respondents play on mobile and use a streaming or social media platform at least weekly    . 

About the Author

Antonio Miller is a Research Lead at Activision Blizzard Media. In this role, he oversees strategic research initiatives focused on the influence and opportunity of gaming to advertisers worldwide. Before joining Activision Blizzard Media, Antonio was a Senior Research Analyst at NPR, where he concentrated on brand insights through the lens of digital audio sponsorship experiences. Antonio holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the American University, Kogod School of Business, and is based in Los Angeles, California. Antonio is a lover of live music, the visual arts, and is on a hunt for the best Creole spot in town.

About Activision Blizzard Media

Activision Blizzard Media Ltd is the gateway for brands to the leading interactive entertainment company with hundreds of millions of monthly active users around the world. Our legendary portfolio includes iconic mobile game franchises such as Candy Crush™, esports like the Call of Duty League™,  the Overwatch League™ and some of the top PC and console gaming franchises such as Call of Duty®, World of Warcraft®, and StarCraft®. The idea is simple: great game experiences offer great marketing experiences. Learn more at www.activisionblizzardmedia.com.

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