Long relegated to a niche leisure activity that was the sole domain of stereotyped ’gamers’, gaming has undergone a transformation in recent years. This is evidenced by the growth of the video games industry, estimated to be worth £7.16bn in 2021 – a jump of 32% from 2019.*
Gaming has gradually become part of daily life thanks to the rise of new generation consoles and the development of online games, allowing people to play on a multitude of screens and compete with their peers. The Covid-19 lockdowns also contributed significantly to the acceleration of the phenomenon, while the growing popularity of esports bring together millions of people, democratising the use of video games and confirming the craze for this leisure activity that offers huge reach. According to Statista, gaming penetration in the UK represented 60% in 2021**.
Whether they are regular or occasional players, video game fans are representative of the general population, providing a cross-section of society, from juniors to grandparents. Research shows that, far from the myth of gamers being young men, 48% of the player base is over 35, and 47% are women.*** Whether they are regular or occasional players, video game fans are representative of the general population, providing a cross-section of society, from juniors to grandparents. Research shows that, far from the myth of gamers being young men, 48% of the player base is over 35, and 47% are women.***
This is creating a growing interest among brands who recognise the potential to use gaming as a new way to reach all their audiences.
Against this backdrop, there are two key reasons why brands should explore the gaming universe in 2023 (if they haven’t already).
#1 Reach a diverse audience through omnichannel media
In an era of ad saturation, in-game advertising is proving to be an innovative and valuable lever for brands to reach their audiences. As noted above, it represents a large and diverse section of the population, offering advertisers a real opportunity to get in front of certain audiences, such as young people, who are increasingly difficult to reach through traditional media.
Furthermore, the gaming universe – in being regarded as entertainment – is widely perceived positively, thereby providing an environment in which audiences are highly engaged (3 in 5 people report feeling ‘happy’ and ‘engaged’ when gaming). Taking this one step further, research highlights that gamers are largely receptive to seeing ads within their games, with 57% saying they are satisfied with the current balance of branded content in games or wanting to see more. ***
An additional advantage of gaming is that it is intrinsically omnichannel; the same game can be played on mobile, desktop, tablet or console, with the multiple screens increasing the chances of reaching an audience. Gamers use an average of 2.2 platforms, with the smartphone taking the lead, followed by the home console****; plans such as Sony and Microsoft’s intentions to insert advertising in some of their games on PlayStation and Xbox therefore provide brands with some great new opportunities.
#2 Maximise the effectiveness of advertising campaigns through an omnichannel strategy
In-game advertising also offers the option to be combined with other media channels, so omnichannel strategies for more effective campaigns can be created
Indeed, the highly visible nature of the advertising formats available in the gaming universe, coupled with an engaged and receptive audience, make it a strong option for building awareness of the brand.
It works well at the top of the marketing funnel and to drive brand indicators such as perception, recall and consideration, and can be combined with additional media in omnichannel campaigns.
For example, a brand wanting to work on both branding and in-store traffic increases could plan a two-phase activation:
- Phase 1 – Branding : a combination of media to raise awareness: In-gaming and TV
- Phase 2 – Drive-to-store : DOOH display with a retargeting mechanism for people exposed to ads in phase 1
Overcoming new channel challenges
Gaming is an ideal fit for an omnichannel strategy, and can be implemented with advertising messages scripted for the relevant screen, while providing the option for multi-screen retargeting of audiences.
But despite these clear benefits, in-game advertising does present some challenges. Like any programmatic channel in its infancy, it is vying for its place in the traditional funnel; and brands are currently hesitant to fully adopt it, citing lack of measurement and case studies as a blocker.
Hawk recognises these realities, but with measurement tools that can show who saw and reacted to an ad, and several successful in-game campaigns under its belt, it is in a strong position to help brands to integrate this ‘old but new’ media into their omnichannel strategies.
* UKIE, 2022, UK Consumer Games Market Valuation 2021
** Statista, 2022, Gaming penetration in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2007 to 2021
*** 7stars, 2022, Level up Gaming Whitepaper
**** SELL, the French Syndicat des éditeurs de logiciels de loisirs, 2022