Advertisers are still likely to tar gamers with stereotypes as old as the medium itself. Should they continue to use these common myths to decide where they spend their budgets, then they are doing so at the expense of a YouTube audience that is, on average, likely to be older and more diverse than they believe, according to one of the platform’s top gaming executives.
Images of slothful geeks camped out in their bedrooms, mindlessly shooting virtual zombies, couldn’t be further from the majority of those millions of gaming fans on the world’s biggest video platform. In fact, the average age of this audience is 32, revealed George Panayotopoulos, a strategic partner manager for global content and partnerships at YouTube on an Advertising Week Europe panel. It's “women too”, he continued, adding that people aren’t just coming to watch other people play video games, they’re searching for a myriad of content around their favorite gaming brands, whether that’s horror-related titles or comedy shows and even live-action content.
What’s more, the UK video games market is worth a record £4.33bn, according to trade body UKie. In the US, according to NPD Group, computer and video game sales hit around $16.4bn in 2015.
Despite this, gaming is still overlooked on YouTube. It “harkens back to the misconception to what gaming content is on the platform and who the audience is," Panayotopoulos explained. Even so, gaming is still “one of the fastest growing categories” on YouTube.
“When you start to realize the demographic is hugely diverse — more female-focused and older than perceptions — that’s when you start to realize it’s a fantastic opportunity to be part of that conversation because these communities are so integrated with the creator.
There are signs that some brands are slowly understanding the opportunity. Last year, Porsche partnered with popular YouTube gamer Ali-A for a gamified video dubbed ‘Race Drones vs Porsche’ (see above) that put him one of the automaker’s sports cars and then attempted to see if he could outrun drones – “they gamified the whole experience and it was a great example of a piece of content that was done well because it fit into the language of the community”, added Panayotopoulos.
That Porsche saw fit to chase gamers in this way is emblematic of a medium that is pervading into culture now after years of being consigned as sub-culture. Indeed, YouTube found that 60% of people think the quality of games is now as good as literature and film, revealed Panayotopoulos. Games are becoming “more legitimized” as an art form, he continued.
Look no further than the explosion of Twtich, Amazon’s YouTube-style platform for gamers, as a robust advertising platform, and proof of how lucrative the category is now. The average Twitch viewer watches 106 minutes of livestream content per day – longer than many Hollywood movies. Furthermore, a massive 292 billion minutes of livestreams were watched on the platform during 2016, which equates to over 500,000 years’ worth of content in the space of just 366 days. In 2015, Google revealed the average YouTube viewing session on mobile devices was 40 minutes.