If the history of gaming can be told through iconic characters and consoles, then the future of gaming will be all about community and careers. As technology has evolved, so has the ability for gamers to stream and share their experiences socially, with elite gamers competing for prize money in professional esports tournaments.
When you think of a gamer, certain stereotypes may come to mind. You may automatically assume that gamers make up a particular demographic and are unreachable when wedded to specific devices outside of costly sponsorships and partnerships. The reality is that gaming is more accessible than ever. Consumer behaviours have shifted from playing exclusively on consoles to gaming on OTT platforms like Apple TV and cloud services like Xbox Game Pass that give gamers a choice of which devices they want to play on.
Also going to the next level in popularity? On the go mobile gaming. At Verizon Media, we see 60% of gamers playing on mobile devices, giving us a broad and scalable audience to reach outside traditional hardware. It’s just as easy to find the right audience on Xbox, a long-standing Verizon Media partner, as it is outside of the console market. We reach over 92 million gamers across EMEA across our portfolio of brand-safe properties, and understanding who this audience is and what inspires them is the first step in jumpstarting your brand into native in-game advertising.
Let’s start with the casual gamers, who commonly play on mobile devices. This incredibly diverse audience segment is the only one with a player base that skews female across all age groups, and its players arrive into the gaming ecosystem via their phones and tablets. For those that do make an investment in a gaming console, this device will often become the entertainment hub of the home for all family members, commonly connected to the main TV.
Hardcore and PC gaming audiences would never be confused with being ‘casuals.’ These gamers invest more time and money into their passion, striving to play games at the highest quality and in the way the developer intended. While this demographic leans male, more than a third of hardcore players are females over the age of 35.
Streamers and competitive gamers take it up a notch in an industry that’s exploded in popularity over the past couple years. This audience is mostly made up of younger, Gen Z users, as are the viewers consuming the content on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Together they help form social communities with gaming at the heart.
There’s no better time to deliver next-level brand content and ad experiences than while gamers are playing, and there’s no better way to get in the game than native ads. In-game advertising offers a new channel for programmatic and direct buying opportunities, enabling brands to integrate into virtual worlds and environments for impactful awareness and engagement. Gaming channels are already future-proofed for the phasing out of third-party cookies and serve up an opted-in user experience with great contextual relevance.
Though the opportunity is tremendous, buying natively within games requires thoughtful planning to ensure the ads don’t detract from the experience and brand logos are clearly visible. User engagement with these ads differs as well without a traditional click-based call to action in digital ads, placing a high importance on brand synergy.
Measurement also requires a different approach. Whilst in-game ad companies may offer proprietary metrics such as gaze time as part of their technology, traditional viewability measurement isn’t readily available across gaming due to environments being cookieless or lacking in a standardised OMSDK. That said, classic branding objectives help here; measuring the amount of people who have seen the ad and for how long, and further utilising brand surveys to understand the effect on brand recall and future purchase habits and trends.
At Verizon Media, we work with a range of partners that offer accessible inventory across mobile, PC, and console games. Activation is easy in our DSP - our Ad Creative Tech teams can support with any creative amendments from your pre-existing IAB display or video formats, and campaign set up follows the same options as their respective line types. Supply targeting is achieved via a PMP from the in-game vendors, who will also overlay any additional targeting.
Today’s gamers are incredibly diverse, and reaching them at scale requires a strategy that allows you to easily activate at scale in environments that are tightly controlled and brand safe. Mobile in-game offers a scalable means to target hard to reach audiences that you would usually struggle to find through traditional mediums like TV & Social and is an easy entry point to start adding in-play to your brand marketing strategy and media plans. Contact Verizon Media to 1-up your campaigns with native advertising.
Mike Barrett, Senior Manager International Sales Solutions, Verizon Media.