Asia's gamers are the most engaged globally but can brands leverage this lucrative market?
The Asia Pacific gaming industry - and its 1.5 million registered gamers - is becoming increasingly lucrative for marketers as the profile of gamers continues to broaden and become more mainstream. The Drum explores how APAC marketers are leveraging this community.
Gaming content creators are becoming a popular choice for brands to invest in.
APAC's gaming industry is diverse and vast. The 1.5 billion identified gamers across the region range from hyper-casual to hardcore, and according to new research, they spend more time gaming than the global average and register the highest engagement levels.
Asia continues to dominate the global gaming market, according to YouGov, led by China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore in terms of engagement and time online. However, the time is no longer spent purely gaming with gamers now devoting hundreds of hours to watching content by gaming creators such as tips, tricks and entertainment.
And as more Asian gamers become creators and influencers, the audiences viewing this content are broadening, presenting greater opportunities for brands and marketers to collaborate and reach new audiences.
Industry experts at The Drum's APAC Trends Briefing last month highlighted the growing opportunities for brands.
“Advertising community is recognizing the diverse interests and passions of the gaming audience, and it extends beyond just game publishers and peripheral companies to include pharmaceutical, automotive, travel, retail, and FMCG companies. This presents an opportunity for advertisers to reach a wider audience,” says Jamie Lewin, managing partner & chief strategy officer Mana Partners.
Brands are beginning to understand how to operate in this dynamic and tap into the passion and fandom of gamers by creating sophisticated campaigns. Lewin cites an example of a brand that licensed the IP of a leading game, FIFA, and created custom packaging in Indonesia, launching five different variants around the characters from the game and making it available in e-commerce. This campaign effectively connected with fandom, worked with IP, and saw a direct outcome as a brand. Sophisticated brands are tapping into gaming culture and integrating campaigns to connect with the audience.
There's a lot of room for improvement when it comes to creative assets for gaming ads. “Brands need to focus on creating ads that are engaging, relevant, and visually appealing to the gamers. This could involve creating custom avatars or skins, sponsoring in-game events or tournaments, or even creating entirely new content that integrates with the game's mechanics,” Lionel Sim, chief commercial officer Livewire Group.
However, it is crucial that brands understand local cultural and demographic differences and add value to the gaming experience through strategic partnerships and contextual advertising if they wish to be successful.
The importance of user experience in gaming and advertising takes precedence, says Miguel Bernas, president and co-founder of Nexplay. “Gamers do not want to be interrupted with ads irrelevant to their gameplay or experience."
“The creative assets and democratization of gaming ads could be improved, particularly in terms of immersive branding and customization of avatars and weapons. As gamers age up, the user experience must be improved,” he adds.
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In-game advertising can provide a unique opportunity for brands to reach an audience that is fully engaged and focused on the game they are playing, says Crystal Cheung, sales director for StackAdapt APAC.
“This level of engagement can lead to more effective advertising and better results for brands. The seamless and blended nature of in-game advertising can make it feel less invasive and more natural, which can further increase its effectiveness. It's an exciting time for in-game advertising as the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve,” she says.
Experts warn that brands need to clearly understand the type of content they want to be associated with and the type of content they want to avoid. This involves creating a set of guidelines or policies for brand safety, which can include criteria such as hate speech, violence, or adult content.
Brands also need to be diligent in monitoring their ad placements and ensuring that they are not appearing alongside inappropriate content. This can be achieved through various tools and partnerships with ad verification companies. Ultimately, brand safety is about protecting the reputation of the brand and ensuring that it aligns with the values and expectations of its target audience.