By John Stern
Believe it or not, video games have been around for the best part of 50 years. Those pre-teen boys who dominated the early demographics have grown up and kept gaming. Then at the turn of the millennium and the advent of consoles like the Nintendo Wii – with its much more intuitive hardware and gameplay – changed everything.
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Since then mobile gaming has broadened the community still further and it has created a fertile platform for advertisers, Campaign360 heard the seven reasons why we need to pay more attention…
1 The audience is “absolutely anyone” It used to be just kids, then it was just young men but now gaming is for “absolutely anyone”, according to Jan Bojko (pictured), head of market research, Activision Blizzard Media, an American video games company that counts such iconic brands as Candy Crush and Call of Duty among its stable of products. “Globally, the gaming industry attracts over two and a half billion people from eight to 80,” added Bojko. In the UK alone it is believed as many as 37m people play video games.
2 The riser of the ‘gamer mom’ Smartphones and mobile gaming have diversified the whole industry. “The opportunities to play are not confined to an environment with a console or a PC that needs to cost several hundred dollars or pounds,” Bojko explained. Candy Crush is the one of the most downloaded games of all time and still ranks on the app stores after five years. And while there are opportunities to spend to unlock content or boosters, it is essentially a freemium model. “We are seeing a whole bunch of different consumer categories attracted to this space,” said Bojko. “And that means the opportunities for marketers are just as diverse as in other entertainment media.”
3 Covid and connectivity Gaming is all about social interaction. And just as TV companies and streaming platforms have seen an increase in usage during the past Covid-restricted six months, gaming has also enjoyed an uptick, in part because people were confined to their homes but also because contemporary gaming offers the opportunity to compete against and engage with like-minded souls all over the world. “We are seeing people turn to gaming, and watching other people game, because it’s a way to relax, be entertained and to experience some really good content,” said Bojko.
4 Ways to engage There are multiple opportunities for advertisers. As well as the ads that fit around a freemium model like Candy Crush, there are ways for brands to integrate fully within a game. Perhaps through equipment used in a game or through sponsors’ logos on the jersey of a team or player in esports. “We work together with creative teams,” explained Bojko, “to create an execution that makes sense and fits both worlds.” Content can be distributed on YouTube, offering the same pre-roll and mid-roll ads that accompany other video content.
5 Keeping everyone happy It’s a delicate rebalancing act, according to Bojko, to maintain integrity as game developers, “be respectful to our consumers who maybe have been with us for up to 20 years” and serve advertisers. “We need to make sure that we’re balancing the advertising experience with the content experience. So we’re mindful of the frequency of the ads and that they are on a par with or even better than the other choices they have in digital or traditional media.”
6 But what about measurability? “We’re working with the likes of Nielsen to ensure we’re measuring viewability and ad fraud and brand safety,” said Bojko. “There are the traditional performance metrics like click-through rates or video completion and brand measures like awareness, favourability, recall and purchase intent. And we’re partnering with external vendors to measure sales impact.
“With the more integrated opportunities where you’re part of the game, we need to start to be a little bit more creative about how we measure that. But we and other gaming companies are investing heavily in research so that marketers can feel comfortable with the kind of results that they’re getting.”
7 Gaming shapes the tech future Bojko believes that the gaming community is driving a lot of the technological advancements that we all benefit from, whether that’s computing hardware or internet connectivity. “Then there’s augmented and virtual reality – I can’t even tell you the kind of experiences that our developers could create over the next five to ten years. But brands need to start doing this now so they understand what works. Brands can access these materials right now and then they will know from experience, what works and what doesn’t so that when these technological advances come they’re ready.”
This article was originally published on campaignlive.co.uk, in partnership with Activision Blizzard Media.