In-game advertising: the real game-changer for your marketing!

Can you believe the first video games were created 50 years ago? Something is sure: their evolution these past few years has been dazzling. Arcade games and the first gaming consoles seem to be far away now, as the current gaming technologies place players in immersive, impactful gaming environments.

Gaming devices themselves have mutated: you can now play videogames on your smartphone, high-tech console, computer, and even through VR headsets.
In fact, the gaming trend is so powerful that it has a huge impact on consumers. Just look at how, at the end of 2020, the PS5 went out of stock in no time, or how esports play an important part in the current cultural landscape.

Furthermore, this appeal for video games has also been accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic. A worldwide 2020 study showed how lockdown has increased at-home media consumption, and specifically mobile and PC gaming, especially on younger generations. For instance, more than 40% of GenZ and Millennials increased their time playing mobile games during this time of crisis. And if you’ve never heard of how huge Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch, or Twitch, the streaming gaming platform, became during this time, you’re probably living under a rock.

In fact, video games have now become a way to gather up with close ones… and a great opportunity for brands to increase their notoriety in an innovative, impactful way. The key to doing so? In-game advertising – or digital programmatic advertising in video games.

Discover in this blog post how to reach your target audience through this differentiating advertising format, by creating a real gaming experience surrounding your brand.

Why should you invest in in-game advertising?

It’s a fact: in-game advertising has a lot to offer your marketing strategy!

First of all, this advertising technique can help your brand be more visible, on advertising channels where the competition is still low.

Second of all, by choosing the right in-game advertising format, you can differentiate your brand from the competition, and reach a very specific target audience.

Moreover, by investing in in-game advertising, you can optimize your ads in real-time. The customization features available are great opportunities for your brand if its goal is to create a custom-made advertising message.

To top it all off, in-game advertising can be a great way to collect very precise data, and increase your customer knowledge. You can know what the typical gamer profile is, the time your audience spends playing video games, and thus, improve your key messages day after day.

Which audiences can you target in your in-game ads?

In 2019, there were already more than 2.7 billion video gamers worldwide. Who are they? And are they in your brand’s target audience?

The typical gamer may not be what the clichés depict…

The common perception of the typical gamer is as follows: a (very) young teenager, locked inside his room, with very little decision-making and buying power. But the figures prove these clichés wrong.

Today, studies have found that the average video gamer is 34 years old parent and homeowner, and women represent 33% of this gaming population. Furthermore, players tend to play on multiple gaming devices (mobile, console, laptop…).
And don’t be fooled: video games are indeed social spaces, where users like to meet up and share experiences.

Diverse gamers typologies

As you look into the different typologies of regular gamers, you’ll understand the value of in-game advertising for brands. It’s a safe bet that your target audience has its controller or smartphone in hand on a regular basis, and that you can therefore reach it through its favorite game!

Here are 4 regular gamers typologies you can base your in-game advertising campaigns on:
-Casual gamers are mainly 50+ year-old females, and play on their smartphone or tablet (not on gaming consoles).
-Convivial gamers play on gaming consoles, once or twice a week. Their distinctive characteristic is that they live in a 4+ person household, and love the social dimension of gaming.
-Committed gamers are mostly male, between 15 and 34 years old, and play at least once a day on their PC. They are close enough to the typical cliché of the gamer, who’s very invested in his or her favorite games.
-Geek-techies usually play on their last-generation game console… but also on more than 4 devices! Most of them are male, and often students.

Do you recognize a part of your advertising audience in one of those typologies? Keep reading: the rest of this post may reveal more opportunities for your brand than you might think…

Which environments can you deploy your in-game ads into?

Reading this post, you may ask yourself where you can position your programmatic ads inside video games. You might want to consider different in-game advertising environments: choose the ones that can help you reach your typical audience and marketing goals.

On the one hand, great opportunities lie in gaming consoles, such as Xbox One or Playstation. In 2020, a Newzoo study showed that console gaming represents 28% of market share. And figures also found male gamers are more likely to play on this kind of device.

On the other hand, mobile games keep on getting more attractive for brands. You can deploy your ads through in-app gaming (ads that are directly integrated inside the mobile gaming app). Note that 27% of mobile players spend 6 to 10 hours playing games weekly, and that even older generations use this gaming device.

But why not think about investing in advertising campaigns on streaming platforms, such as Twitch, Facebook Gaming, or YouTube Gaming? Video games are central on these platforms, and they keep growing in popularity over time.

Last of all, you can’t talk about in-game advertising without thinking about b. Many players, including older ones, choose this environment on a daily basis.

Which in-game advertising formats should you adopt for your campaigns?

In-game advertising offers a wide variety of advertising formats for you to reach your audience. Your goal is to choose the formats that will create the most engagement and results on your audience.

Video in-game advertising

You may know it already: video is a key format for digital advertising, whether it is on Social Media or in video games. A dynamic, engaging video fits perfectly what users now want to experience.

And here’s good news for you: there are different in-game advertising video techniques you can use.
-Pre-roll videos, that pop up a few seconds before the gaming experience starts
-Rewarded videos, that consist in giving the player a reward for watching the ad. A survey by eMarketer showed that 76% of mobile gamers prefer those rewarded ads, and that 67% of parents will likely engage with such a video ad for a reward.

KPIs to follow with this format: reach and completion rate.

Video in-game advertising

Native in-game advertising

Native in-game ads are probably the most innovative in-game advertising formats of all. It’s simple: your key-message is directly integrated into the video game itself, creating a non-intrusive advertising experience. For instance, you can integrate an advertising banner in a sports game, all along the playing field.

Most gamers don’t like ads that force them to pause the game: here is your opportunity to create great ad experiences for your audience!

KPIs to follow with this format: reach and on-screen time.

Native in-game advertising

Audio advertising

Did you know that more and more gamers listen to music while playing? The famous music streaming platform Spotify recently released a study that showed that streaming from gaming consoles went up 50% in 2020 compared to the year before. In fact, high-tech consoles, such as Playstation and Xbox now include a dedicated music app. This is where you can place some brilliant in-game ads for your brand.

Your audience will love this non-intrusive format, that doesn’t damage their gaming experience, and uses the emotional, powerful format that is audio.

KPIs to follow with this format: reach and completion rate.

Audio advertising

Ad banners

Although it’s often perceived as outdated in the world of webmarketing, the banner ad format still has a bright future in the gaming industry. An Influencia study says that in-game advertising banners generate a 3% click-through rate – which is 30 times more than standard display banners (0.10%), Facebook Ads (0,03% to 0.11%) and media banners (0.12%).

Choose between the two types of in-game advertising banners that exist:
-Mobile interstitial banners, where the message is displayed in full-screen at a crucial moment of the mobile game
-Block banners, which are integrated into the mobile or desktop game, without stopping the gameplay

KPIs to follow with this format: reach and click-through rate.

Ad banners

Who are the in-game advertising key players on the market?

Intrigued by one of those innovative advertising formats? You should know the in-game advertising market is full of different key actors.

You may have to deal with…
-DSPs (Demand-Side Platforms) or SSPs (Sell-Side Platforms) such as Google’s Display & Video 360, Facebook or Amazon
-Data actors, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Verizon or Nielsen
-Gaming streaming broadcasters, such as YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming or Twitch
-Video game creators and publishers, such as Overwolf, Gameloft, Bidstack or Venatus
-Other publishers, such as YouTube or Spotify

What are the keys to a successful in-game advertising campaign?

To reach your marketing goals through in-game advertising, make sure you apply those best practices to your campaigns.

First of all, select the right platforms. The video game you display your ads into needs to be coherent with your target audience, and its universe needs to fit your brand image. Your goal is to create an engaging advertising experience for users, that fits perfectly into the gameplay.

Afterwards, make sure you target the right audience. Take into account the different gamer profiles, depending on the platforms you want to deploy your strategy onto.

Next, select the best formats for your ads. Avoid intrusive ads, by choosing the most immersive format, highlight your brand in the best way possible, without annoying the player. The best practice consists in making the ad appear when the player is the most captivated or challenged, to create a strong emotional bond with him or her. Remember: in mobile games, users spend 22% of their time looking for a way to exit a full-screen ad – so make sure you add value to your ads.

Last but not least, conceive powerful and meaningful advertising messages. The gaming community can be a tricky one for brands, as it hates being subjected to traditional advertising messages. Moreover, the community shares a lot of information on various platforms, and a bad key message can quickly generate a bad buzz. Work on a strong message, that will adapt to the video game’s environment, to create a great experience for your targeted users.

Inspiration: Ladbrokes’ concrete use case

Ladbrokes’ concrete use case

Do you know Ladbrokes, a major online betting platform? It’s safe to say that the gaming community now knows this brand quite well, as it chose in-game advertising to promote its new app. Its goal was to boost its notoriety in an innovative way.

To do so, the brand targeted 18+ years old men and women living in Belgium, and selected the Football Manager 2020 & 2021 games, on desktop.

Ladbrokes launched native in-game banners that displayed the brand’s logo inside the game itself, alongside the virtual football field. This format mimics a real-life playfield, without polluting the gaming environment.

And this campaign performs well! With 600.000 impressions on the period and more than 75.000 matches played with banners displayed, Ladbrokes has made a name for itself inside the gaming community, thus developing its online reputation.

Want to launch your own in-game advertising campaign, to boost your brand awareness or generate more traffic to your website?

Get in touch with our experts!

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