Why are gaming ads so important?
Without marketing and advertising, you probably wouldn’t have most of the items in your home. The products we buy are influenced by the marketing teams, bloggers, influencers, and online advertisements.
This includes the games we spend our time playing too.
Advertising plays a pivotal role in the success or failure of a gaming product. If you never hear or see adverts for a new game, how would you know it has been released?
Seeing it by chance in a store.
In some cases, the gaming world is lucky because players are dedicated to specific genres and games. They will provide some of what is arguably the best form of marketing – user-generated content.
But marketing and advertisements go even deeper. If you download a free-to-play game, they most often come with ads.
These advertisements can be for other games, online slots or for goods that marketing companies believe fit with the game player’s lifestyle.
The earliest in-game advertisement
In-game advertisements, also known as IGA, is where a game will have marketing for other games or products within the game itself. There are several types of IGA that we will discuss below.
The earliest in-game marketing of note is thought to be in 1978. Adventureland, the computer game, had a self-promotional advertisement within the game for their next release – Pirate Adventure.
MarketingDive reported that in June 2020, mobile game advertising revenue soared by 59% from the previous year. While ad impressions jumped up by 57%.
An indicator that in-game ads and gaming ads is a growing market and effective too.
What are the different types of in-game advertisements?
In-game advertisements no longer begin and end with a timed full-screen advert while you are in the middle of your gaming questline.
Several key gaming advert options are changing how the landscape looks.
The advert and the game are a single entity in this case. An advergame is a custom build game; its sole purpose is to deliver the advert.
The advergame will have a complete storyline that the gamer can enjoy.
The best example of an advergame is Chex Quest. Chex Quest was almost a complete copy of Doom; however, it was created by the Chex cereal brand in 1996.
Static in-game advertising
These adverts are built into the game. We are also used to seeing these in movies and television programs. You might notice that there are branded product items within the game, and those have been commissions by the brand themselves.
An example is Football Manager Classic. The pitch in the real-world is surrounded by adverts, and in-game is no different.
The adverts were built so that if you tapped on any of the perimeter billboards, you’d be taken directly to the website of the advertising brand.
Dynamic in-game advertising
Often referred to as DIGA, dynamic in-game advertising is arguably the most popular type of IGA. With DIGA, brands can purchase real-time and geo-targeted adverts.
These games often have a 3D environment, and that includes billboards, public transport, and posters.
Advertisement space like this is something we see in the real world and expect to see advertisements on them – making them the perfect place.
When pitted against other in-game marketing, the biggest bonus for DIGA is that it is ideal for short-run campaigns and time-sensitive promotions.
In 2007 the Scottish Government used Internet Protocol Targetting to deliver its Anti-Drink Driving campaign.
According to the BBC, the Scottish Government spent £10,000 on virtual billboards within Xbox 360 games Need for Speed: Carbon, Project Gotham Racing 4, and more.
Who benefits from in-game adverts?
Surprisingly everyone benefits from in-game advertisements. While in previous years, gaming was looked upon as a waste of time, that has changed and has become more mainstream.
And with platforms like Twitch, gamers of all niches can find an audience and a community.
If we take mobile gamers as an example, they spend little to no money (in most cases) and watch adverts and share the game to earn in-game rewards – rather than part with cash.
The 2020 Mobile Games Advertising Report stated that ⅔ of people globally play mobile games daily.
The total smartphone revenue was expected to be $82.6 billion, and in-game ads were 17% of that total. (You can grab your copy of that report here).
When brands are pumping cash into gaming advertisements, the income for the developers is significantly increased.
This revenue bump can be funneled back into the game to improve playability, increase the player base through their own advertising and improve their hardware and software.
Can in-game advertising impact the player experience?
Like all forms of marketing, the user experience has to be considered. Do in-game adverts pose a threat to the gaming experience?
While every effort has been made to ensure that any advertising in the game-play time is as natural and unintrusive as possible, that doesn’t mean it isn’t noticed.
League of Legends introduced in-game adverts from MasterCard during one of its esports broadcasts. The Summoner’s Rift Arena Banners emblazoned with the Mastercard logo.
While this was noticeable, it didn’t impact the players or the gameplay.
For those players who don’t wish to spend money to play a game, the free-to-play games can offer time and bonuses in exchange for watching adverts. A win-win situation for all involved.
As for the future of in-game advertising, we will likely see even more advertising delivered in a more streamlined way.
Gaming is the most significant form of entertainment globally, and we should expect brands to compete for advert space in our game time.
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