In-game advertising trends: Big opportunities for brands and advertisers ready to play

June 14, 2022 | 5 minute read
Amy Gesenhues
Senior Content Marketing Strategist
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The in-game advertising market is booming.

In-game ad revenues on mobile alone will reach $6.26 billion by the end of this year according to eMarketer—a 14% jump over last year’s revenue. The global in-game advertising market is expected to reach $18.41 billion in the next five years.

“That will be money well spent, considering 73% of 18- to 34-year-old gamers in the U.S. would welcome more advertising—if done right,” writes eMarketer analyst Sarah Lebow, “It’s up to brands to advertise on gamers’ terms by rewarding attention and enhancing the gaming experience.” 

In-game audiences: Everybody is getting in on the gaming experience

A Deloitte media survey conducted earlier this year found that gamers are spread across generations, with Gen Z and Millennials spending, on average, 11 hours per week playing video games. “Across all five countries surveyed—the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, and Japan—Gen Z respondents cited playing video games as their favorite entertainment activity,” writes Deloitte.

But Gen Z and Millennials are not the only demographics playing video games. Deloitte discovered that, in the U.S., 89% of the Gen X survey participants and more than 50% of the Boomers it surveyed play video games.

in-game users by generation

Even as audience numbers surge, brands are still trying to figure out where they fit within the marketplace and how best to allocate a portion of their ad budgets to in-game advertising.

To get a better understanding of this emerging market, we invited a panel of ad experts, including Oracle Director of Product Management Janelle De Rivera, to take part in a webinar focused on current trends and shifts happening in the in-game ad space.

Here’s a quick recap of their conversation, but watch the full webinar for all the tips and insights.

Trends and shifts happening across the in-game marketplace

Panelist Julia Rast, Director of Global Solutions and Innovation for the media company Xaxis, emphasized how gaming is one of the fastest—if not the fastest—growing markets, with consumer adoption rates rapidly increasing over the past year.

“We know, at least, one-third of the world population is gaming,” said Julia, “On top of that, the audience is very diverse so there’s a great opportunity for brands to engage audiences and have an impact.”

As with any emerging digital marketspace, consumer adoption rates and advertiser spend does not always grow in parallel. Before investing in new ad opportunities, brands need to understand the market they are entering and determine how best to allocate their budget.

According to Fiona Benmayor, Associate Manager of Media Innovation and Partnerships at PepsiCo, creative advancements in in-game advertising—such as the introduction of dynamic ad insertion—translates to more turnkey opportunities for advertisers.

“We don’t necessarily have to leverage or lean-in with heavy up-front investments,” said Fiona, “Instead, we can lean-in with some of our smaller brands with longer investment periods.”

Fiona says, as a brand, they have been able to move further into the in-game advertising space because of the creative shifts that have happened, the improved targeting capabilities, and the overall shift in ad opportunities across the in-game landscape.

See how to make the most of your ad budgets for in-game advertising with Oracle Moat.

How the in-game ad market is ushering in a new world of ad opportunities for brands

Once upon a time, in-game ads were highly disruptive and intrusive, creating a poor user experience. But the creative shifts we’re seeing with in-game ads are ushering in an entirely new experience for in-game advertisers, providing incredible ad opportunities in brand-safe and brand-suitable ad environments.

“A few years ago, the in-game ad market was predominantly mobile,” says Chris Blight, VP of Demand for the in-game advertising platform Anzu, “It is still largely mobile as it stands, but the growth and opportunities coming through now via PC games, console games, and online video games offers high-quality graphics. That’s the real opportunity in terms of brand engagement.”

Today’s in-game advertisers are able to respect the user experience with ads that naturally fit into the in-game ecosystem, creating virtual world objects that make the gaming experience even more realistic.

“If you think of the typical gaming scenario—whether it’s a sports match or racetrack or stadium with an advert in the background—it’s actually adding a level of reality, making it more realistic for the gamer. The advertisement adds to the experience instead of being shoehorned into that environment,” said Chris, “That’s a crucial step forward in the market.”

In-game best practices and tips for newcomers entering the market

Julia, Fiona and Chris offered a number of insights throughout the webinar and helpful tips for brands wanting to take advantage of the in-game advertising market. All agreed that contextual alignment and brand-suitability is essential. Another critical aspect of in-game advertising is understanding the market and taking time to learn the space and the type of gamers that want to connect with your brand.

Check out "The Digital Marketer's Guide to Contextual Insights and Trends" to make sure the right audiences see your ads in the right places.

“As a brand considering in-game advertising for your media plan, you have to be really self-aware of the environment you’re placing ads in,” said Julia, “First of all, you need to select the right game title that fits your brand and your target audience. In any traditional type of planning, you could look at age or gender, but with gaming, you also have to look beyond these demographics because gamers are very diverse.”

Julia says brands need to know what motivates people to engage with gaming content and how they consume games. This insight can help advertisers fine-tune their messaging and creative so that it fits into the gaming experience.

“Gaming is very different than any other channel. It is 100% interactive. It is live. It is high-attention inventory. It is many things that traditional advertising isn’t, so the rules of traditional media planning are not always applicable to in-game advertising.”

Watch the full webinar now to hear all of the insights, tips and best practices into in-game advertising.

Check out these further resources for in-game advertising:

Amy Gesenhues

Senior Content Marketing Strategist

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