Gaming is home to 53 percent of Canadians that play video games regularly. It’s also where 11.8 hours a week is being spent by this same demographic, which is close to taking second place in overall time spent from ocial media at 12.1 hours. And yet despite this, ad spend last year for gaming was only at $8 billion; a distant third place from the $56 billion spent on social media.
So, what’s holding advertisers back from this untapped channel?
A recent IAB study says that it’s 5 misconceptions around gaming that are holding brands back utilizing this undervalued advertising channel. Those misconceptions are that its too expensive to get started, its too hard to activate and not enough quality inventory, gaming can’t deliver on key objectives throughout the funnel, gaming is difficult to measure, and finally that gaming is not brand safe and gamers hate ads.
Let’s unpack each one of these misconceptions and see how retail brands who have jumped into gaming, are leveraging this channel with results.
"It's too expensive to get started"
Sure, in-game ads can be built as customizable ad-units but you can also choose to jump into in-game ads using already available and very affordable already existing ad-units that simply require your artwork. Today, programmatic makes in-game advertising inventory easy to purchase.
"In-game ads are hard to get off the ground and have no quality inventory"
Most in-game advertisers come into this space thinking they want to advertise only on premium gaming inventory, such as mobile versions of premium console titles, but there is quality reach in audiences across all different game types. Since gaming transcends age, gender and background you can go beyond just the premium titles to get both scale and brand safety in your advertising.
"Gaming cannot deliver on key objectives"
IAB SVP of research and insights Jack Koch notes that ‘buyers want to make good quality buys that align with their brands and drive all the way through the purchase… and while that is absolutely possible in gaming today, perception lags reality.’ That reality that Jack Koch refers to is one of actually being able to drive many different objectives. Depending on the objectives, advertisers can do a range of things such as branded in-game experiences like skins for characters, or branded power ups. Brands can even get to conversion with tactics like combining an offer with rewarded video.
"Gaming is difficult to measure"
In-game ad networks like AGN and its partners have worked hard to bring the best measurement capabilities to in-game advertising. This includes granular and consistent data reports however, it all comes back to the advertiser and what their goals and objectives are for the campaign.
"In-game ads are not brand safe and come with negative sentiment from the gamer"
The misconception about brand safety comes down to the advertisers partner network; as third-party monitoring services, and account management can play a crucial role in ensuring that brand safety is met and upheld during the campaign lifecycle.
As for the advertisers who are worried about getting negative feedback from consumers/gamers, the ad experience comes down to value exchange and placement. The millions of players in Canada who are enjoying free to play gaming already expect to see advertisements, however the reception of the ad will depend on where and how the ad is placed. For example, value exchange ads can be done by rewarding the player for sitting through the ad insertion with power boosts, in-game currency, skins, and other content that is of benefit to the gaming experience. Other tactics include simply integrating the ad placement into the game environment.
There are probably more than just five misconceptions about in-game advertising out there, but these are some of the ones that we at AGN, along with the IAB have been helping to dissipate. Today, gaming should not be looked at as simply a gaming strategy, but it should be looked at as part of the audience strategy.
Carlos Guevara is the Marketing Director at APEX Mobile Media and previous host of the podcast "In Search of Good Data." He has also helped various organizations in the private and non-profit sector to become more customer-centric with the use of enriched data and modern marketing and advertising technology and strategies.