Exploring the world of in-game advertising

New opportunities for marketing are always emerging. In recent years, the video game industry, specifically in-game advertising, has started entering the conversations of marketers the world over.

Why is it still such an under-utilised advertising channel, though? The video game industry is projected to generate over $159 billion in revenue in 2020. The growth is expected to continue too, with revenues surpassing $200 billion by 2023.

Even more important for marketers is the number of people consuming gaming content. By the end of 2020, it’s expected that there will be over 2.6 billion active video game players in the world, with some games achieving 250 million active players or more.

The market is enormous and it’s only growing, so why isn’t there a clamour for marketing space in video games? The simple answer is that it’s new and the adoption of in-game advertising is far behind the industries growth – which admittedly is rapid.

In this blog, we’re going to explore the world of in-game advertising, livestreaming, the gaming industry as a whole, and what to expect in the future from this emerging marketing & advertising channel.

This channel won’t be accessible to everyone, especially immediately. If you’re looking for some help with your existing marketing channels, or you want to adopt some new ones, then we can help! Get in touch with us today and speak to one of our marketing experts to find out how we can work together to transform your marketing.

Livestreaming

The world of livestreaming isn’t a new one. It’s an area that’s been gaining steam since 2011 and is now a medium of entertainment that is consumed by nearly 500 million people a year.

When thinking about in-game advertising, it’s easy to think that it only occurs within the actual game, but livestreaming and its associated genres are an important and lucrative part of it.

The largest livestreaming platform is Twitch. In the last 3 months of 2019 alone, over 2 billion hours of content was viewed by its users, making it by far and away the most popular example of the service available.

With such a large platform, it’s inevitable that advertisers will begin to flock to it, and with good cause. It’s the perfect place to target younger audiences, especially those aged between 16 and 34 – a traditionally difficult demographic to advertise to. 73% of their users fall within this age range so it’s easy to see why advertising on Twitch, and other livestreaming services, has become so attractive.

We’ll cover how you should advertise to gamers in a later section, but for the time-being, let’s talk about how you can advertise on Twitch and similar platforms.

Similar to other digital advertisers, like Google, Twitch have an advertising portal that you can use to find out more information. Their ads come in a wide variety of formats such as static images, full video ads, and mobile-specific placements.

To place ads, you have to fill in an advertising enquiry form to make sure you are suitable for the platform. If you pass this stage, you will be assigned an account manager who can help guide you through the entire process!

In-game advertising

The topic that originally inspired this article was advertising within a videogame. This is similar to product placement within films and TV shows and is perceived to be an area reserved for big-name brands.

Unfortunately, this perception isn’t far from reality. In practice, it’s difficult to have a brand or product placed within a videogame. Like a film, video games are an artform. They’re created by a whole team of people including directors, writers, composers, and game designers. All of them are working together to fulfil a creative vision.

Due to this, it’s uncommon for product placements and other forms of advertisement to appear in videogames as it can distort the artistic quality. When they do appear, it’s subtle and believable within the game’s world. It doesn’t suspend the player’s belief and feels like a natural part of the environment.

This is why it’s difficult to have in-game advertising/product placement. Brands and products have to be matched to videogames in an intimate way that is seldom seen in other advertising mediums.

If you think that this is achievable for your brand, you might be wondering how you can go about making it happen. Unfortunately, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach here. Different companies operate in different ways. It’s possible that on 1 occasion you will have to speak to the publisher and on another occasion, you will have to speak to the studio. It depends how they’re set up.

The best thing to do is find an example of a game you’d like to advertise in. Make a note of the genre, how the world interacts well with your brand, what makes it feel natural. This will help you find projects that could benefit from your brand. Next, contact the studio that is producing the game. Try and find people who represent their marketing or advertising department. They will be able to point you in the right direction.

Be prepared for rejection, though. Many developers and creative leads will exclude in-game advertising altogether. That is within their creative license and is something that you will have to accept. It’s a tough nut to crack, but when you find the right project, it’ll be worth it.

Esports

Mainstream media has been changing rapidly over the past decade and esports is becoming a big part of this. With over 6 billion hours of esports content being watched in 2019 and growth showing no signs of slowing down, it’s easy to see why advertisers are flocking to this up-and-coming medium.

In a similar way to livestreaming and gaming in general, esports allows brands to reach audiences that are traditionally difficult to interact with. Unlike other gaming industry advertising opportunities, esports offers more familiar ways to reach these audiences.

Studio and network advertising are available, as well as shirt and team sponsorships. You’ll also see advertising hoarding and other spaces dotted around the venue, similar to regular sporting events.

Outside of traditional sporting advertising, it’s now possible to reach audiences within the esports game itself. This can be as part of the livestream, clan tags or avatars, custom skins, and many more exciting opportunities.

There has never been a better time to get involved in esports marketing. With many reputable and growing marketing agencies specialising in areas like this, it’s becoming easier to find people that can walk you through the process and craft a great esports marketing strategy with you.

Esports is growing and showing no signs of stopping! It’s wildly popular with younger audiences and presents an interesting and attractive advertising opportunity for virtually any brand. [Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash]

Should you advertise on these channels?

Advertising within the gaming industry isn’t for everyone. Whilst gamers as a whole are becoming more diverse – 46% of gamers are women and 43% of gamers are over the age of 36 – many advertising platforms cater to younger audiences between the ages of 13 – 30.

Livestreaming and esports are dominated by younger audiences and, whilst older demographics are catching up, it’s important to remember this when considering whether to advertise on these platforms.

In-game advertising certainly opens up more opportunities for interacting with varied demographics but you have to be selective and patient when looking for these placements.

Before you consider advertising within the gaming industry, closely define your target audience and desired outcomes. As well as the different platforms, you also have to consider a variety of systems, genres, and more.

Our advice would be to engage with a reputable marketing agency that specialises in gaming industry advertisement. They can guide you through the process and help you to identify the best way for your brand to enter this exciting and rapidly growing advertising area.

Author:

peter@redpeppermarketing.com

Content Marketing Manager