How Brands Can Effectively Reach Gamers

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The first rule of in-game advertising? Don’t disrupt the gamers’ experience. As everyone knows, video games are deeply immersive and interactive. The environments are also among the most intimate for fostering customer relationships. Any interruptions within the platform that are not relevant or don’t add value are likely to alienate brands consumer targets. A new survey from Disqo, a customer experience intelligence platform, bears that out.

Patrick Egan, Director of Research and Insights at Disqo, who helped produce the report and analyze the findings, said, “When asked to rank their preferred in-game ad formats, gamers put in-game experiences, contests, and rewards at the top of their list over more disruptive ads that just exist on the screen. It’s clear that consumers prefer content that doesn’t interrupt gameplay, and brands must innovate their approach if they want to find success.”

Survey respondents indicated they are more likely to engage with an in-game ad if they receive some value in return, such as a level-up in the game or a reward. Ads are more likely to motivate frequent gamers—defined as those who play online games at least once a week. Those frequent gamers were 34% more likely to say that they notice ads  while playing and were 12% more likely to say that they were distracted by the ads.

However, frequent gamers also were more likely to be motivated by ads, indicating that they were more than twice as likely to say that they made a purchase based on seeing ads in a game. In other words, when an ad is relevant and served appropriately in the gaming environment, it is pretty effective. 

The survey found that mobile is the most dominant gaming platform for players, likely because most people have mobile phones and can find free or low-priced games to entertain themselves in any location. And while not everyone has gaming consoles, console and computer in-game advertising drives maximum value. The latter two platforms are most used by high-intensity, advanced gamers, with 36% and 42%, respectively, of general consumers using these devices. 

Gen X and Millennials are the most active demographic represented in gaming and split equally among males and females. More than half of Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X consumers all report playing games multiple times per week, though frequency decreases as they get older. 

The survey also indicated that advertising opportunity exists in the burgeoning metaverse, an untapped environment thus far because it has not yet achieved mass reach. Disqo found that more than 15% of consumers have explored gaming opportunities in the metaverse, and another 27% are interested in doing so in the future. Consumers indicated a willingness to pay to enhance gaming experiences. Some 38% said they have purchased in-game currency in the past.

Disqo conducted a survey of 28,244 representative consumers nationwide about their attitudes toward in-game ads and branded content, using responses its proprietary opt-in audience provided. Questions were designed to gauge players’ awareness of and receptivity to in-game ads, as well as their preferences around ad formats. Disqo examined the data through key demographics, including generation, gender, and household income.

Surprisingly, among the biggest barriers to entry for brands to advertise in-game, are media buyers’ perceptions about the gaming environment. In its just-released report, “Finding Success with In-Game Advertising,” the IAB listed top reasons media buyers are hesitant to buy in-game ads for their clients. They think it’s costly for brands to get started in in-game advertising; that it’s difficult to activate at scale with quality inventory and reach; that it doesn’t deliver on key objectives throughout the marketing funnel; and that it isn’t a safe and welcome environment for brands. 

The IAB report noted that there are more than 215 million gamers in the U.S., but only 5% of brands’ media budgets are represented the gaming environment. The organization recommends that the gaming and marketing industries work together to educate brands and media buyers about in-game advertising by demonstrating its value and measurability.

“The in-game advertising landscape is fragmented, underdeveloped and ripe for innovation,” Egan said. “Advertisers can capitalize on this channel’s high-engagement, but not without carefully considering the best formats, platforms, and audiences.”

Kathleen Sampey
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