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Digital Advertising in Game Ads

What is gaming bringing to advertisers’ omnichannel strategies?

IAB UK

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September 7, 2023 | 6 min read

With over 60% of all UK adults racking up an average of 7hrs and 33 mins of game-time weekly, gaming is undeniably a powerful way for advertisers to reach a highly engaged and diverse audience

With over 60% of all UK adults racking up an average of 7hrs and 33 mins of game-time weekly, gaming is undeniably a powerful way for advertisers to reach a highly engaged and diverse audience. But as the gaming ad market continues to gather pace - with IAB Compass forecasting that ad spend will double by 2026 - what do brands need to know to capitalize on the in-game opportunity and maximize its effectiveness as part of an omnichannel strategy?

We’ve asked members of IAB UK’s Gaming Group to share their insight and advice.

A new mindset among gamers

Laura Ballesteros (head of global sales strategy, Venatus): “The growth of gaming opportunities - particularly in-game and around-the-game - has not only unlocked new formats for brands but also encouraged a whole new mindset for gamers. We’ve seen that players are more accepting of brand activations - they almost expect brands to be part of larger content releases.

“Gamers understand the value that brands bring to their communities as they experience more engaging content. Playable ad units and branded worlds are performing exceptionally well for advertisers because of this shift in perspective. A recent campaign in Minecraft amassed nearly 5 months' worth of brand play time in its first 7 days. Successes like these show that mere creative opportunity is why gaming is part of many global brands’ media plans.”

The rise of diverse formats

Melinda Spence (head of insights, Activision Blizzard Media): “In recent years, we have seen the meteoric rise of gaming dominating mainstream media and consumer attention. Amidst this cultural revolution, savvy brands have taken notice and are turning to gaming as an integral part of an omnichannel strategy – and a must have on a media plan. Based on our research, we know that advertising done well is welcome within gaming environments - providing brands with ample opportunity to weave in relevant messaging and creative that adds value to gameplay.

“Furthermore, the rise of diverse formats and ways to engage with the channel have brought forth a slew of new opportunities for advertisers to embed gaming as a key driver of awareness, growth, and conversion within their strategy.”

Seamless connections across platforms

Youssef R'Miki (publisher sales, team lead EMEA, Smaato, part of Verve Group): “The rapid evolution of gaming has made it essential to any omnichannel strategy, with its growth fueled by mobile gaming, social media, esports, and personalized experiences. Mobile gaming has broadened the reach of gaming experiences, while social media platforms have become vital spaces for brand visibility, and esports has elevated gaming into a spectator sport.

“Gaming facilitates seamless connections across these platforms and devices, providing valuable data for personalised marketing. By integrating gaming into an omnichannel strategy, brands can engage diverse audiences and capitalise on the lucrative gaming market. Looking ahead, the future is bright, with the global gaming market projected to grow by 35% from 2023 to 2027.”

Reaching people in the moment

Matthew Parsons (head of gaming UK, business director, Azerion): “Gaming has grown exponentially over recent years and this presents opportunities across immersive in-game, reward video and metaverses. The rise of mobile gaming in particular has expanded the reach and easy accessibility of gaming to hugely diverse audiences.

“The real job is showing what a successful campaign in gaming looks like and where in the funnel it fits. We all know that within any brief, there is a 'target audience' and an 'outcome'. An ideal media partnership should be one that delivers these across multiple touchpoints, while complimenting the rest of a client or agency's strategy. No one person is locked into one medium, so let's get back to basics and reach people wherever they are at that particular moment with the best possible solution.”

Maximizing the mobile opportunity

Christian Facey (CEO & Co-Founder, Audiomob): “Mobile gaming, which has a market volume of $286 billion, is an especially potent area for brands to leverage when forming an omnichannel strategy. Even as consumer spend dips due to global economic issues, a report from DATA.Ai. shows that mobile game downloads rose in 2022, totalling over one billion globally.

"Combine this with the fact that consumers spend over six million hours globally playing mobile games each week, and it’s clear to see why gaming is an integral part of any omnichannel strategy. Free-to-play mobile games with in-game microtransactions, like Fortnite or Genshin Impact, are perfectly primed to run in-game ads that connect brands with an already hyper-engaged audience that would otherwise be difficult to reach.”

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