Why In-Game Ads Are Taking Off

Why In-Game Ads Are Taking Off

Gaming

eMarketer recently forecast that U.S. mobile gaming ad revenues will reach $6.26 billion in 2022, up a muscular 14.0 percent from $5.49 billion in 2021. And that’s not all: robust double-digit growth is predicted to continue through 2024. What does this news mean to brands?

What eMarketer Reported

According to eMarketer, the pandemic has given mobile gaming a boost. The most popular device for gaming appears to be smartphones — good news for advertisers, as casual smartphone gamers may not feel the need to pay for ad-free platforms. Media companies have certainly taken note of the inherent opportunities in this arena: consider Netflix, which acquired mobile game studio Next Games and mobile game developer Boss Fight Entertainment. Significantly, the gaming trend appears to be staying strong: eMarketer projects that mobile gaming is poised to reach $7.87 billion in ad revenues in 2024. That’s a total of 2.5 percent of all digital ad spend. Long story short: gaming isn’t going anywhere, and marketers stand to benefit.

The Netflix Effect

It’s likely that Netflix’s deep dive into gaming will boost the in-game advertising market over the next few years. The company also stands to draft a blueprint as to how gaming can revitalize a stagnant, even suffering, brand. Netflix, under tremendous pressure to boost its revenues after reporting a disappointing first quarter of 2022, has plenty of motivation — it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of this year, with a forecasted further loss of 2 million subscribers.

But gaming could help the subscription streaming service find its groove again. As reported by the Washington Post, Netflix plans to make 50 games available before year’s end, some of which may be tied in to shows. The company is hardly starting from scratch, having already dipped a toe into gaming waters by licensing intellectual property or adapting already popular games. But now it’s clear that Netflix will be leaning even harder into gaming—and all the opportunities that will subsequently come their way.

Handle with Care

As exciting as those opportunities may be, it’s important for advertisers to proceed with caution when it comes to in-game ads. As eMarketer notes, gamers are anxious about ads possibly interrupting their play. What format the ads take is part of the issue: while in-game billboards in racing or open-world games may be unobtrusive, the prospect of ads served up between game matches or, even worse, obscuring the screen mid-match, have consumers worriedly gnashing their teeth. To be fair, ads have been part of the gaming experience since gaming first became a thing. But as eMarketer points out, “ads still aren’t baked into the medium the way they are for TV, and advertisers should be mindful of players’ wishes for a non-disruptive experience.”

What Advertisers Should Do

 So, what is the best way for brands to capitalize on the gaming phenom? We recommend that you:

  • Know your audience. Gamers are a diverse bunch. Know their habits, know their passion points. Above all, understand what games your target audience enjoys. You’ll find moms playing games like Home Sheep Home, while 18-to-24-year-olds reliably gravitate to Fortnite. Understand the trends, and who’s where, before attempting to advertise on a gaming platform.
  • Know gaming. Make sure you understand the medium. Furthermore, really understand the game itself. It’s not enough that a game is popular—or even popular with your chosen demographic. Is it a good match for your brand? A game like Doom, well liked if admittedly violent, may or may not be consistent with the messaging your brand hopes to impart.
  • Know your limits—and the limits of your audience. Returning to the point made above about proceeding with caution: make sure that your ads aren’t ruining the gaming experience for your potential customers. Respecting the integrity of a game represents a win/win for gamers and marketers alike.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to learn more about the opportunities gaming—and in-game ads—can afford your brand? Contact us. We can help.

Why In-Game Ads Are Popular

Why In-Game Ads Are Popular

Advertising

In-game ads are hot! According to a new study conducted by The Drum/YouGov, 37 percent of mobile gamers say that in-game ads have predisposed them to make a purchase during the past three months. Moreover, almost a quarter (23 percent) of those polled indicate that in-game ads have inspired them to make multiple purchases. Let’s take a closer look at what this news might mean for your brand.

What Is an In-Game Ad?

In-game ads have evolved to the point where, as discussed in Business of Apps, “we are referring to ad content that seamlessly blends into the gaming environment.” What does this look like, exactly? Essentially, in-game ads can be incorporated into the same places you might see ads in the real world. Sports games like Madden NFL, for example, might feature ads on in-game stadium signage or player jerseys; other games might showcase ads on billboards or storefronts. It’s important to note that “blended” in-game ads like this aren’t meant to be clickable, any more than one can “click” on a billboard when driving by on an expressway. They exist, in the game environment, solely to create brand awareness and affinity. The idea is that intent gamers, presumably hyper-focused on every detail on the screen, will also absorb the ad content.

Brands are already capitalizing on the opportunities inherent in in-game ads. Consider Mastercard, which in a move mimicking real-life exposure, placed its branding on digital banners in Riot Games’ League of Legends Summer Split tournament. As Naz Aletaha, Riot Games Head of Global Esports Partnerships, notes, “SR Arena Banners put our partners’ brands directly on the field of play, creating an immersive experience that echoes the energy found in major sports arenas.”

How Much Money Do In-Game Ads Generate?

Art imitating life in this way can be lucrative. As reported by Technavio research, the in-game advertising market is set to grow by $10.97 billion during the 2020-2024 time window. The study cites an increase in the number of gamers, plus the affinity growing between advertisers and video game companies, as driving the projected growth over the next few years.

In-game ads are certainly poised to capitalize on the growth of the stay-at-home economy as digital, even post-pandemic, becomes a bigger focus of our lives.

What Did the Drum/YouGov Study Say?

For some context, let’s look more closely at The Drum/YouGov study mentioned earlier. The poll of 1,200 U.S. adults, conducted on May 19, 2021, revealed some interesting stats: of those who were inspired to spend because of an in-game ad, half were male, half were female, and the most likely demographic to make a purchase was the 30- to 35-year-old bracket. Although some gamers are still disinclined to succumb to an actual purchase, nearly two in five (39 percent) of mobile gamers say they at least remember the brands they saw, very well or fairly well. (Again, the Millennial market dominated this response, with 53 percent recalling an ad.)

Nicole Pike, YouGov’s global sector head of esports and gaming, sums it up: “In-game advertising, especially on mobile, continues to be a severely undertapped ad medium relative to the time and money investment we see from gamers.”

What Should Brands Do?

What to make of this intel? We recommend that you:

  • Know your audience—and where to find them. As we’ve blogged, gamers are a diverse audience. Know their habits and their passion points. Above all, understand what games your target audience enjoys. Are you reaching out to moms looking to relax with a game like Monument Valley 2? Teens invested in the worldbuilding aspects of Minecraft? Knowing where to find your audience is key.
  • Know your gaming opportunities. It’s important to understand how and where your in-game ad will appear. And make sure the game is a good fit for your brand overall. You may not want, for example, your ad to appear in a game like Grand Theft Auto if its content (violent adult themes) is in direct conflict with the brand your company has created.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to learn more about the opportunities gaming—and in-game ads—can afford your brand? Contact us. We can help.