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How in-game advertising can engage audiences during large sporting events
December 7, 2022
To celebrate the FIFA World Cup, Anzu and Eskimi teamed up to launch the Agency World Cup Championship, a competition held on FIFA 23 between the world’s top ad agencies, to drum up excitement for The World Cup, while demonstrating the impact and engagement that in-game advertising offers.
Alongside the competition, Anzu and Eskimi ran a program of events, including a discussion entitled ‘How To Score Big With In-Game During The World Cup’, which aimed to help brands understand what role in-game advertising can play in engaging audiences during large sporting events. The following highlights are taken from the discussion between Anzu’s brand and agency sales director, Hendrik Menz, and Eskimi’s product manager, Gabrielė Vileikytė.
Vileikytė kicked off the conversation by asking Menz why it’s important for advertisers to acknowledge large sporting events like the FIFA World Cup and participate to become part of the conversation.
“It's important for brands to play a role, to play their part, and to leverage these tentpole sporting events to create sympathy, awareness, and engagement with fans and consumers,” Menz replied. “The World Cup and everything around it — with football being the biggest sports game in the world — has always been very attractive. But this attractiveness also comes with a lot of downsides. One obvious one is that it's becoming very expensive to play a part in this space and increasingly crowded (this year is a historic exception).
“The World Cup usually takes place in the summertime, which we call the "summer hole" in Germany because it’s an empty space where not much marketing happens because most people go on vacation. This year, it’s playing out during the lead-up to Christmas, which is the most booked and intense advertising time of the year.”
Vileikytė agreed. “When talking about the increase in prices, the first thing that popped into my mind was the Super Bowl, where advertisers pay millions for ad slots. For me, the beauty is in the ad and how much creativity advertisers take to produce incredible content, which is rarely seen in other advertising spaces. There are some downsides, but you can definitely see that creativity rules the roost when it comes to these kinds of events."
“I think it currently stands at around $6.5 million for half a minute of advertising during the Superbowl,” Menz recalled. “Obviously, there are a lot more games during the World Cup, and there is a lot more exposure to be gained. Still, it’s a similar situation because we have a very timely event, a limited amount of time that can be sold, that is to be occupied and leveraged. And we have a very high degree of sympathy and passion for this game, the event, and everything around it.
“Personally, I've spent a lot of time working in creative agencies and with creative teams. Of course, these events offer a huge opportunity to become more creative and outlandish with your approach and concept, because you have a huge opportunity and so many advertisers are active in these spaces. You have such a short amount of time, so you need to stand out much more than you usually would in an average advertising environment.”
The conversation moved on to in-game advertising and what impact this medium can have during the World Cup and other sporting events. Vileikytė asked whether Anzu has seen much demand from advertisers during the World Cup.
“100%!” Menz replied. “It’s an obvious choice for advertisers, especially with sports games that have a tremendous increase in traction and many more users leading up to these events due to the global excitement around them. With the World Cup, the national leagues have come to a halt. There's a lot of preparation — the national sponsors, the international sponsors, the tournament sponsors. Everybody creates a hype cycle that is unparalleled.
"In the gaming space, we saw people using the time leading up to the World Cup to prepare themselves, maybe mentally, but also by playing the tournament for themselves on a virtual level before watching the actual players compete in Qatar. This presented a huge opportunity for advertisers to engage with them in the lead-up.”
Vileikytė moved the conversation on by asking why advertisers go in-game. “You mentioned that advertisers tend to go in-game because of the attention and reach. Are there other reasons why brands should look to in-game ads during these tentpole sporting events?”
“From the different briefings I've seen, there is a lot of opportunity right now,” answered Menz. “It’s also very accessible with dynamic platforms — such as Anzu’s — which allow for a very timely activation focused on the environments that will catch the exact audiences you are interested in. Left and right of the core football audience, you have a lot of interest being sparked in different audiences, many of which are richly diverse.”
“I'm really happy that the whole perception of the gamer changed,” Vileikytė added. “It's not the stereotypical young boy in the garage playing games. The gamer audience is unique and broad, and advertisers can leverage in-game to reach a hugely diverse set of players.
“I’m interested in how brands can maximize in-game advertising during big sporting events,” Vileikytė continued. “Could you give practical examples of how advertisers should use in-game to get the most out of it and reach this diverse audience?”
“Yeah, absolutely!” Menz answered. “Our core objective as a company is to bring broad digital intelligence and advertising standards to the in-game space. Most importantly, and at the forefront, certainly viewability. You create an opportunity to see an ad every time you bring it into a game, whichever way you do it. But it's important to find out how that opportunity turns out and turns into an actual viewable ad placement that will have an impact.
We have the great opportunity that gaming has this lean-forward and immersed use case for consumers that are engaged in their content, so they most likely will have an impact once they see an ad. But it's also important to integrate all of these approaches into an ecosystem that works with the rest of digital advertising and the overall marketing strategy.”
A huge congratulations to the winner of the Agency World Cup — Mark Koigi from Belva Digital!
To hear more of the conversation, watch the full webinar here.