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What does the future hold for in-game advertising?

March 28, 2022

Gaming is hot right now. Hailed as the next frontier for the advertising industry, in-game advertising is set for a meteoric rise. 81% of media buyers are planning to increase in-game ad spend over the next 12 months and 93% of media buyers intend to run in-game advertising by 2025.

This is largely due to the fact that the number of gamers has skyrocketed over the last few years - partially driven by the pandemic - to now total over 3.1 billion. With the influx of these new gamers, we now better understand who they are and the massive potential this market holds.

A new frontier for advertisers

In a rapidly evolving space, in-game advertising has become one of the best opportunities for advertisers to expand their reach. Gaming audiences are largely untapped despite their size, diversity, and high levels of engagement. The persisting stereotype that gamers are mostly male console players can’t be further from the truth. In fact, out of the 3 billion global gamers, 2.8 billion of them play on mobile, and these mobile players are split evenly between males and females . Gamers are not who we may have thought that they were, and it is crucial that advertisers begin to break any previous notions to engage with them in a meaningful way.

What’s even more promising is that gamers tend to be more receptive to advertising, which can be attributed to the non-disruptive format of many in-game advertisements. In fact, compared to the 69% of internet users who, according to a report by Emarketer, actively avoid advertisements, 7 in 10 UK gamers are positive or neutral in their feelings about in-game advertising. This is a monumental opportunity for brands to reach audiences who tend to be more welcoming towards them.

Brands and agencies are taking notice and seizing the opportunity with gaming audiences. Some of the biggest brands are making moves in this space across mobile, desktop, and gaming consoles. In addition to the growth and interest in the gaming space, the quantity and scale of gaming-focused content are also increasing. This encompasses not only blogs, guides, and tutorials, but also news, streaming, and esports. For example, Fandom, the world’s largest entertainment and gaming fan platform, has 40 million different content pages for its 300 million monthly users. This expansion of content opens up new doors for potential engagement.

In addition to in-game visibility and with the help of contextual and audience targeting capabilities, advertisers can complement any campaigns that are running within the in-game environment on more standard channels like desktop, mobile, and video to reach gamers even when they aren’t playing.

Cue the metaverse

When discussing the future of in-game advertising, the metaverse is often a fixture of the conversation. This makes sense considering gaming is one of the best ways for brands and agencies to enter the metaverse. Gamers are already familiar with the virtual world and many argue that gaming and the metaverse are intrinsically linked, making gaming an obvious entry point. In the metaverse, gamers become synonymous with consumers, and this intersection is not something to be ignored in the future of brands' in-game advertising strategies.

As the metaverse expands, leaders are emerging from the gaming space and carving out major opportunities for advertising. Many in-game advertising companies have set their sights on evolving into in-metaverse advertising companies.

How to unlock the potential of in-game advertising

Even with the rising importance of in-game advertising, there is still a lack of understanding among brands when it comes to building a presence within gaming. Brands need to examine their virtual identity and pinpoint their purpose and goal in the virtual gaming space. They should be asking themselves who they want to connect with, where to find them, and how they are playing. A strong and clear strategy is crucial heading into such an ever-changing environment.

Understanding the ins and outs in such a rapidly growing category is a daunting task. Brands and agencies must understand how to access inventory, the targeting capabilities available, measurement and standards, and brand safety protocols. There are multiple technology partners who focus on addressability, targeting, compliance, and more. Identifying the right partner to collaborate with can ensure a smooth and successful entrance into this exciting new space. As gaming innovation and the metaverse evolve, it is important that brands and agencies adapt their strategies accordingly.

In-game advertising has a bright future for the advertising industry, as we now know gamers represent a unique and broad audience. By understanding what is achievable today and what opportunities tomorrow will hold, advertisers are in a position to thrive.


media buying
Digital Advertising
game advertising
in game advertising
in game ads
in app games