In-game advertising goes mainstream

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Adverty’s Alex Ginn outlines why the mobile marketing industry should celebrate an increased focus on Gaming from the major holding groups. 

The news that Publicis Groupe has launched a specialist gaming division – Publicis Play – provides further proof, if it were needed, that the media industry is finally waking up to the power of gaming.

The new proposition aims to offer advertisers the right creative, media and production opportunities for marketing within games and eSports, with key Publicis executives taking central roles, thanks to their experience on gaming initiatives for brands such as EE, KFC, Heineken and Samsung.

The holding group will, of course, be aware that the gaming sector outperformed music, video and film last year, with UK gaming industry revenues rising by almost 10 per cent in 2020, and projected to continue to rise by 7.3 per cent annually over the next five years. What’s more – with 5G and cloud-based gaming services closing the gap between mobile and traditional console gaming experiences – a raft of new, creative opportunities are set to emerge.

Back in November, Dentsu UK&I also rolled out a specialist gaming division, launching DGame to help brands engage with gaming audiences. The agency’s clients include household names such as Mondelez and Kellogg’s, and it aims to help major brands like these to produce campaigns within the gaming ecosystem, which today comprises more than half the world’s internet population. Euan Jarvie, CEO, Dentsu UK & Ireland described the sector as being now “part of mainstream consciousness” while Nick Sperrin, Chief Client Officer, Dentsu UK & Ireland added that the market has “mass, not niche” potential – pointing to a number of clients in the pipeline keen to leverage the range of new formats now on offer.

It seems that, at last, in-game advertising is no longer perceived as a minor bolt-on to the sports and entertainment divisions of major agency holding companies. In fact, for many campaigns, it looks set to be the headline act.

Reset attitudes
That said, there is still a need to reset attitudes and to get the message out that unobtrusive, native formats in mobile games can in fact be much more engaging, and less risky, than traditional advertising. As an industry, we also need to recognise that the sector can appear daunting to those new to it.

Fortunately, Adverty’s patented BrainImpression technology ensures that advertisers only pay for ads that are seen, whilst recent months also saw us launch a unique In-Menu format, which enables performance advertising in a non-intrusive way within immersive gaming environments. For brands, innovations such as these mean that gaming represents a media frontier with a growing variety of rich and interactive formats designed to improve message comprehension, recall and response – at all stages of the purchase funnel.

And so, while last year was a strange year in very many ways, it successfully put gaming on the radar of brands and agencies, and we have no doubt that 2021 will see many more opportunities for brands to leverage the power of gaming. Despite the fact that the challenges of 2020 resulted in increased risk aversion, we’ll soon see more launches, collaborations and partnerships in the gaming space, thanks to a growing recognition of the scale and power of the channel. And with each lockdown resulting in increased organic growth across our network, brands need to remember that gamers frequently include their end buyers, too – with many of these individuals over 30, owning cars, and having jobs; despite long-lasting stereotypes.

Meaningful interactions
For brands, the key to success lies in recognising the importance of meaningful in-game interactions, appropriate to the unique context, and focusing on opportunities to enhance human connection and fuel creativity. For many right now, meeting up in-game is the only way to spend time with friends and to share experiences. This therefore poses an incredible opportunity for brands to build meaningful relationships if they approach the channel in the right way and set out to enhance the experience, rather than merely forcing themselves upon it.

During challenging times like these, marketers are rightly prioritising those channels that deliver the greatest impact. With mobile gaming audiences on course to hit 3.2 billion by the end of 2023, usage skyrocketing, and the sector’s ability to target with integrated brand placements – costing a fraction of the price of TV advertising – in-game ads represent a compelling proposition.

New, immersive and interactive formats will allow for unprecedented levels of brand engagement, whether via ads on billboards, branded skins or other custom content. Indeed, with the right format, in-game ads can enhance the game, offer developers monetisation opportunities, and give brands a new way to speak to previously unreachable audiences. With the holding companies jumping on board, we can expect huge leaps in maturity for the channel this year. Watch this space.