Article

Jonnie Byrne
Jonnie Byrne 20 July 2018

Put your game face on: why gamification is invaluable for brand advertisers

Gaming is big business. It’s estimated that by 2020 the global industry will approach a value close to $143.5 billion, with 32.4 million Brits alone playing video games.

This fairly hefty segment of the population has its own leading celebrities, too – often in the form of streamers operating on sites like Twitch. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, for example, is one of the most successful stars of Twitch right now, having broken records for concurrent viewers when he streamed Fortnite with Drake recently. Fortnite itself s making close to $2 million a day from iPhone users – far outshining the likes of Candy Crush, Clash of Clans and Pokémon Go. 

If these statistics tell us anything, it’s that it’s time for gaming and gaming audiences to be taken seriously by brands as a way to drive their bottom lines. Gaming has for too long been underestimated as trivial or juvenile, but that’s far from the case: in fact, the facts and figures show that games are popular amongst all ages, with an increasingly even gender split. And it’s not just the games themselves that are important: this year, a massive 1 in 5 Internet users say they have watched a live gaming stream. This all translates into some fairly large sums of money, with gaming audiences also now known to have a significant disposable income. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to tap into these rapidly growing audiences and boost revenue with immersive, high quality content to share their message while staying bang on trend.

Game on: rewarded video

In-game ads can take a variety of forms: studies have shown that 67% take the form of interstitial ads. Rewarded ads come a relatively close second place with 56%, whilst less glamorous banners still taking up 39%. Native ads bring up the rear at 17%. All of these ads have their places – but there’s a huge opportunity for brands who can employ the wide range of in-game ad formats in a way which makes best use of the engaged mindset that gamers are in. Often, this means interruptive formats are not always best for gamers who are in the zone. So for publishers worried about users losing attention (for example, switching to another game if ads pop up), opt-in video ads are often the best choice.

Another key benefit of opt-in videos is the way they establish a clear give-and-take relationship with users. Opt-in video ads give players the choice of watching an ad in exchange for a reward within the game, presenting a clear and immediately productive value exchange. The whole process of engaging with opt-in ads is entirely initiated by the viewer and delivers a full-screen, immersive video experience. This ultimately drives the right users to engage with ads on the apps they love. By ensuring improved user experience with a combination of smart campaigns and sleek video formats, you can make sure you’re maximizing both engagement and acquisition.

Head in the game: in-app brand campaigns

Apps themselves have endless benefits. Perhaps most significantly for marketers, they allow brands to interact and connect seamlessly with consumers. Apps also represent a far quicker alternative to the mobile web browser, whilst still offering the same quality of measurement and data analytics that brand advertisers are used to getting from desktop. In fact, in-app identifiers are actually more efficient than conventional cookies and are less likely to fall prey to issues of privacy in the industry. Tech like ‘cookie syncing’ also means that tech providers can monitor behaviour cross-platform, meaning they never lose sight of their users.

All this means that gaming apps are, in many cases, the best place for big brand campaigns to take place, as brands can access the data-driven audiences they want to reach across in-app, mobile web, and desktop. Apps provide a great deal of data on users – such as device, language, age and gender, as well as location, with brands able to follow these users across environments. Of course, in a post-GDPR world, the decision to share this kind of data rests completely in the hands of the consumer. More specifically, tech like MRAID (Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions), VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) or VPAID (Video Player-Ad Interface Definition) can be leveraged as an asset for brands focusing on in-app mobile advertising. Though something of a mouthful, all of these techs allow for viewability measurement, which is a key requirement for brand advertisers. MRAID in particular allows creative agencies and rich media shops to swiftly and seamlessly build rich creative that can run via a range of publisher mobile apps. As for VPAID, though some organisations have made steps away from the technology, it’s important not to underestimate it: it will continue to be important, smoothing the way as brands transition to other technologies.

End-game

It’s time to stop underestimating the game environment, with its highly engaged audiences and lucrative monetisation opportunities. But most important of all, if you want to make the most of the gaming space and its diverse, dedicated audiences, you need to work with these consumers, and not against them. Giving them something in exchange for their attention is the perfect value exchange – and this makes rewarded video the perfect solution.

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