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Roblox: Why is it so popular and how can brands utilize it? 3 experts discuss
November 23, 2021
Roblox is a global platform where millions of people gather every day to imagine, create, and share experiences in immersive, user-generated 3D worlds. Its success is hard to overstate, with over 199 million monthly active users across 180 countries, its most popular experience having been played over 20 billion times.
It’s no surprise then that some of the globe’s biggest advertisers are observing the platform, trying to understand how they can get in front of its millions of users.
With this in mind, Anzu, the global in-game advertising platform, hosted a webinar to help advertisers better understand the platform and how to tap into the opportunities it presents. The event was led by David Sable (author and ex-global chairman and CEO of Y&R), who was joined by Anzu’s co-founder and CEO, Itamar Benedy, and Whalar’s CMO, Jamie Gutfreund.
A screenshot from the Anzu Talks webinar
Community, engagement and privacy
Benedy kicked off the webinar by saying that in comparison to all the other social media platforms, where advertising is their business, in Roblox, it is all about the community, user experience, engagement, and being privacy first. According to Benedy, Roblox’s users’ love for the platform was seen recently when their servers went down for 60 hours. He said: “The reaction from users was completely different from how people usually respond when a social media channel goes down. Instead of ranting, the community was highly supportive and headed to Twitter to ‘hang out’ until the platform came back online.”
Gutfreund confirmed, saying that it all goes back to the community aspect of the platform: “There are people who make their livelihood on Roblox, and because people are building games, communities, and audiences, they’re invested in the success of the platform.”
She went on to talk about the age of Roblox’s audience, saying that, “it’s one of the few platforms that, as it ages up, it’s not a bad thing because you’re anonymous. The reason it has worked so well with younger audiences is that it’s safe. From the start, Roblox has been about safety and privacy, and the brands that can be associated with Roblox can build in extra moderation and tools - you can even age gate. So if you look at it as a place to build awareness, it works really well.
“I did this when I was working for a toy company. We built a game for L.O.L. Surprise!, which is a massive success in the toy world, and we made a game that was for everybody. You had kids as young as five as well as older doll fans. They came to the game to experience the brand, and you could play with the characters as your friends vs. them being toys. The experience was really compelling, and we would get an average of 15 minutes per play for engagement. It was natural for the toy brand, but you have companies like Gucci who had a two-week experience, and people wondered why they did it. I think it was because they wanted to create something newsworthy, show they are forward-thinking and try to seed visibility amongst younger audiences.”
LOL Surprise Official Party on Roblox. Credit: MGA Entertainment
Sable added that the amount of kids that Roblox reaches is incredible. He said that all his grandkids love the platform, and Mark Read, CEO of WPP, was even recently quoted saying that all his kids ever want to do is play Roblox in their spare time. Sable also noted that even though many people see Roblox as a platform for kids, the audience is growing up, and it is starting to appeal to people of all ages, including himself.
Benedy responded by saying that because Roblox is moving so fast, brands who only look at what Roblox is today will not maximize on its true opportunity. “Roblox is a $40bn company, but what is more interesting is their team size. There is no other company of their size in the world that is valued at that much. As they continue to build, bring on more people and maximize their resources, the platform will continue to transform. Currently, we are in the first real iteration of Roblox. As the platform builds the pieces and creates more reasons for older audiences to be there, we will see the average age rise significantly.”
Gutfreund chimed in, saying that there are two ways to reach audiences on Roblox. “The first is through a short-term activation or stunt like the Gucci Garden and the Roblox Lil Nas X concert. However, these experiences are available for a limited time, and then they are gone. The other way, which is harder to do, but is where you get the most visibility and engagement, is to build a persistent world. This is where you build a community which is almost like a CRM experience for gaming.” She believes this area will become a lot more sophisticated. However, the challenges with it are that it requires a high level of investment, infrastructure and resources.
Alternatives to investing
Gutfreund continued by saying that the reason Anzu’s offering is so attractive is if brands want to experience Roblox but are not ready to invest either in the form of a short term activation or a persistent world, it’s an excellent opportunity to get into the platform and see what kind of engagement you get via ad placements that complement the gameplay, without interrupting anything.