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Why tapping into gaming should be top of mind for brands

The number of online consumers is growing quickest in emerging markets, and the group's disposable income is rising.

Gaming is ubiquitous. Last year, there were more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide, increasing to 2.7 billion this year. People across all ages and demographics are engaging with games, including your target audience.

The number of online consumers is growing quickest in emerging markets, and the group's disposable income is rising. While there are a whopping 378 million gamers in Europe and another 462 million in the Americas, APAC takes the lion‘s share with its 1.5 billion gamers.

Mobile: The platform of choice for many

The high number of mobile gamers is driven partially by the massive mobile-first markets of India and China. Of course, the entire world is mobile-first at this point. In fact, almost half of all game revenues are driven by mobile, and 55% of all gamers play on mobile.

Gamers skew young: an unmissable opportunity?

Reaching digital-native, young consumers is difficult. Luckily, well over a third (37.1%) of gamers are aged between 21 and 25, while 62.3% are under 35. Adding to this opportunity, gamers skew above average for income.

The fast-evolving tech landscape means it‘s getting even harder for brands to reach younger consumers. Linear television is no longer popular among young people. While only 30% of 21-25-year-olds spend over six hours watching linear TV a week, around 50% view the same amount of TV online.

The solution is simple, right? Simply pour your marketing efforts into online video? Sadly, it‘s more complicated. Premium video-streaming services are typically subscription-based with no ads.

Even if there are ads, many young people use ad blockers these days. Aggravating things further, many now have ad-blindness, meaning they subconsciously ignore banner- and ad-like information.

Not all is lost. Gaming lets brands promote their offerings in seamless ways that are typically unobtrusive to gamers.

What kind of brand promotion happens in games?

Brand activation in games can take many different forms. Fortnite is a trailblazer for in-game activations, making it a perfect case study. Travis Scott performed an in-game virtual concert, a collaboration with Nike which generated 27 million unique virtual attendees. This was only the latest in a series of events Epic Games launched in its Fortnite game world, with previous examples including Marvel, Batman, and Star Wars.

Most recently, a trailer for Christopher Nolan‘s latest film, Tenet, debuted on Fortnite. The trailer stands out from previous activations, as it features a maturer tone — a stark contrast to Fortnite‘s child-friendly aesthetic.

Games and brands can also create unique opportunities by blurring the lines between the game and the real world. For example:

  • GPS-based mobile game Pokémon Go lets small businesses pay to feature their real-world locations in the game (giving players extra opportunities and items), helping drive real-world traffic to physical locations.
  • Puma released Need for Speed-inspired shoes.
  • Mario Kart introduced Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
  • In China, MAC Cosmetics leveraged Honor of Kings, a popular mobile game with a high share of female players, to promote its makeup, even developing five co-branded lipsticks.

Some things to keep in mind

Collaborations between consumer brands and game publishers present a few challenges. The goal of the games business is not to push advertising, but to provide an engaging experience.

Here are a few key principles to keep in mind:

  • Any collaboration must make sense in the game‘s universe; it shouldn‘t feel forced.
  • It must also feel authentic, resonating with the community the promotion is servicing.
  • Promotions must not interfere with the gameplay, especially in big-budget games.

Pricing matters, and there are many monetization models in gaming, including free-to-play. Yet, if a gamer spends $60 on a game, only for it to be interrupted by advertising, it may negatively impact how the player feels about the game, publisher, and participating brand.

How do brands succeed in gaming?

Energy-drink brands like Red Bull and Monster have long been involved with gaming, and their efforts have worked. Compared to non-gamers, gamers have a more positive brand attitude toward both companies — in North America, Western Europe, and APAC.

The difference is most prominent in Western Europe, where 38% of players have a positive attitude towards Red Bull vs. 17% of non-gamers. As to whether these brands‘ efforts succeeded, the data speaks for itself.

Unsure about how to tap into gaming? This will get you on track

Newzoo Pro is the destination for games market insights and data—the natural starting point for anyone looking to tap into gaming. It‘s the only product offering a 360-degree view of the global games market.

Impress your clients and win new ones with game, genre, country, and demographic profiles—along with real-time engagement and market-sizing data.

Want to join the growing list of agencies subscribed to Pro globally?

Don‘t fall behind. Here‘s how Newzoo Pro can help you make data-driven decisions, faster.

Newzoo is the leading provider of games and esports analytics. We‘re proud to work with some of the world's most successful agencies and businesses in entertainment, technology, and media, including Jung Van Matt, EA, PepsiCo, Vodafone and Bloomberg. We help them target their audiences, increase brand awareness, spot opportunities, and make strategic and financial decisions with the help of data.

Remer Rietkerk is our head of esports. When he‘s not advising the world‘s biggest companies on esports, Remer leads the charge on Newzoo‘s esports expertise, analytics, and modelling. Before joining Newzoo, Remer led the franchising and rebranding process for the LEC, one of the world‘s biggest esports leagues.