Gaming is a mainstream, social pastime that has become a global phenomenon. In the U.S. alone, more than half of homes have a gaming console, and 3 in 10 are planning to buy one in the next year. With over 3.1 billion gamers worldwide, the industry is now estimated to exceed $300 billion.
The increasing scale of the gaming industry is exactly why advertisers should be adopting gaming as a marketing channel. With blended in-game advertising, marketers can serve ads during gameplay which are seen but don’t interrupt the player’s enjoyment of the game.
In-game ads appear on in-game objects, like billboards, jerseys, walls and more. They can be delivered through programmatic advertising on gaming consoles, mobile devices or on PCs. However, most of the inventory available right now is on mobile and can be run at scale across impactful suppliers and platforms around the world.
The scale of the gaming industry isn’t the only reason advertisers should be taking notice. The nature of gaming makes it a particularly effective advertising channel. In 2021I, gamers spent an average of eight hours 27 minutes each week playing games, with an average session time of one hour 20 minutes. While playing, users are highly focused and engaged, and they usually do not multitask while playing.
Blended in-game ads represent an emerging channel that delivers huge opportunities to tap into an expansive, growing audience. This channel comes with unique benefits and a chance to experiment with new strategies to reach engaged audiences.
Here are three reasons why advertisers should be getting in the game with in-game ads.
1. In-game advertising enables you to reach a diverse audience.
Gamers are a diverse audience spread across various demographics. According to Statista, 55% of gamers identify as male and 45% identify as female, and Anzu research finds that most gamers are generally between the ages of 25 and 54.
The gaming audience also has disposable income, making them a valuable audience to reach. Those who game more than 10 hours a week have twice the disposable income as nongamers. The fact that many gamers have spending power makes them an audience worth reaching during gameplay.
Marketers also benefit from the increase in scale that in-game advertising offers. Since users don’t tend to multitask while playing a video game, this multichannel approach enables marketers to capture users’ attention when they aren’t on other devices. Channel diversity means marketers can capture audiences in the right moments, whether that’s with an in-game ad during their favorite racing game or while scrolling a blog on their phone.
Because gaming is widespread, a one-size-fits-all targeting strategy won’t work. To effectively reach and engage gamers, it’s important that marketers use data and audience insights to understand who gamers are, how they are consuming digital media and how best to convey messaging to them. Understanding the target user will provide marketers the insights needed to build an audience-targeting strategy for in-game advertising that drives performance.
2. Builds brand awareness through a nonintrusive ad format.
The most common formats used in a blended in-game ad campaign are display and video ads. Display ads are typically designed images or photos combined with copy. They should be eye-catching enough to attract the attention of a gamer, and they should deliver a quick message.
Video ads in games are a great way to create an emotional connection between an audience and a brand. Since gaming is a visual medium, it's important to focus on a narrative that demonstrates a larger brand story.
In-game ads blend seamlessly into a game’s environment. Users will encounter them, but the ads will not disrupt their gameplay. Their nonintrusive, highly viewable nature makes them the perfect channel for brand awareness, with the potential to drive strong brand recall.
3. In-game advertising brings new opportunities.
Advertising in video games is delivering marketers an opportunity to tap into the power of an emerging channel. Marketers can test unique ad formats that are exclusive to gaming environments, while also reaching new audiences.
The key to finding opportunities with in-game advertising will be to optimize ads for the gaming environment so they maximize exposure and capture the attention of users. Creatives should be tailored specifically to the in-game environment. For example, in-game ad colors should be high contrast, and small details in the creative should be avoided. This way ads are visible even from far away, which will help to increase ad exposure.
In-game advertising is offering marketers an opportunity to develop relationships with a growing, influential, and diverse audience. By leveraging this emerging channel now, marketers can reach focused users to build brand awareness and loyalty. To make the most of this opportunity, marketers should add this channel to their digital strategy now so they can get ahead of the game as this channel gains prominence.