One of the few growth areas during lockdowns around the world has been gaming, but current level of investment in in-game advertising does not reflect the opportunity; the latest WARC Guide explores why.

In The WARC Guide to marketing in the gaming ecosystem, Andy Sampson, Global Client Lead at Wavemaker, notes that the effect of the pandemic on the gaming sector has been two-fold. 

Firstly, there has been an increase in the number of active players – either new ones or previous gamers with more time on their hands reigniting their passion; secondly, there has been more time spent playing and an increase in game-related content consumption.

“Gaming is arguably the world’s favourite form of entertainment, generating more revenue than TV, film or music,” he points out.

“Gamers are a cross-section of our societal makeup, coming from all ages, genders and incomes. They are a highly-engaged audience that ‘leans-in’ to virtual worlds for sustained periods of time.”

While that should make them a valuable commodity for marketers, “it appears they [marketers] aren’t utilising in-game advertising as part of their media mix”.

There are several reasons for this, Sampson explains, including outdated notions about gaming demographics and the difficulty of deploying ads – especially in console games.

But the gaming medium has evolved significantly in recent years, with advertisers now able to buy inventory programmatically to deliver ads in real time via an ad server. 

“Advertisers can also be more precise in who they reach by adding layers of targeting to their campaigns via DMP integrations,” Sampson elaborates. “As well as placing ads contextually, brands can target based on device, location, demographic and a plethora of behavioural data points.”

At the same time, reporting enhancements mean advertisers can review similar metrics as they would with a standard web buy.

It’s all a far cry from the days when advertisers had to buy inventory directly from a games publisher and the developers would then have to insert ad formats into the game as it was being built or via a patch.

The tech infrastructure to deliver ads may now be very sophisticated but it’s all for nothing if gamers do not favourably respond to the ads they’re shown (and they are well disposed towards advertising, feeling that real-world ads bring greater realism to games).

Context is key, says Sampson; an ad for a family car doesn’t work in a futuristic sci-fi first-person shooter. “Gamers want to immerse themselves in a virtual experience and anything that distracts from that experience will cause a negative reaction.

“In-game advertising, therefore, has two key factors for success: to capture attention but not detriment the gamer’s experience.”

Read Andy Sampson’s article in full to find out more about What marketers need to know about the in-game advertising opportunity. WARC subscribers can read the complete WARC Guide to Marketing in the Gaming Ecosystem here.

The WARC Guide is a compilation of fresh new research and expert guidance with WARC’s editorial teams in New York, London, Singapore and Shanghai pulling in the best new thinking globally. It also showcases the best on WARC – case studies, best practice and data sourced from across the platform.

Sourced from WARC