Frameplay Spotlight Q&A: how to reach passionate gamers with in-game ads

July 15, 2021 | 5 minute read
David Goodfellow
Strategic Partnerships Director, International, Oracle Advertising
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Frameplay is taking big steps to advance intrinsic in-game advertising for the gaming industry. Company CEO Jonathon Troughton recently highlighted advertising trends in gaming, and how brands and gaming studios can gain additional insights with Oracle Moat. Read highlights of our conversation with Frameplay's CEO below.

1. In-game ads are a new idea for a lot of people. How would you describe your company to marketers or developers who haven’t heard of Frameplay yet?

The video gaming industry continues to grow dramatically as nearly three billion players globally become emersed in virtual worlds, compelling adventures, and strategies to succeed. Frameplay enables video game developers to generate additional revenue through intrinsic (non-clickable) in-game advertising that does not disrupt the gaming experience.

In addition to our viewability measurement capability, we're excited to partner with Oracle Moat to provide our customers and partners with additional ad measurement flexibility and precision.

2. Do you think there’s a disconnect today between investment decisions in gaming vs. non-gaming media?

Yes, absolutely! In the U.S., adult gamers played an average of six hours and 20 minutes weekly in 2020, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Their attention is focused exclusively on gaming when they're playing, making it a very lean-in activity.

By contrast, TV viewers are highly distracted. “Gone are the days when audiences gave their undivided attention to TV,” AdColony stated recently. The same blog post reported that nearly 70% of consumers watch TV and mobile screens simultaneously.

Simply put, the global gaming market is larger than worldwide box office revenues and music sales combined. Newzoo projects that 2021’s global games market will reach $175.8 billion.

Both the film and music industries reported record revenues in 2019, before the pandemic affected the economy. Comscore reports that global box office revenue hit a record $42.5 billion in 2019, and the global recorded music market grew to $20.2 billion, according to the IFPI.

3. Why is gaming maintaining strong growth? And what’s driving recent growth?

There’s a misconception that COVID-19 gave life to the gaming industry. News about gaming usage and engagement makes it a more mainstream form of high-quality content. To me, it’s obvious that gaming is here to stay as the most significant content consumption channel available.

Mobile is the most significant driver of the gaming channel growth, often referred to as the gateway method for people to start gaming. It’s not just because puzzle games like Candy Crush are typically associated with mobile devices. In fact, gamers can play various genres on their phones, including simulation, role-playing games (RPG), strategy, shooter, lifestyle, and others. These genres used to only exist in PC and console games; however, with the technology and performance of cell phones today, these genres are experiencing their most significant growth in the mobile space.

4. How should game studios and advertisers avoid user experience pitfalls that come with scale?

A seamless gameplay experience that includes in-game advertising starts by supporting game developers throughout the process. This helps to guide each ad unit placement within the game environment. We take great pride in working with our game developers to incorporate ad spaces within the games. 

We also work very closely with advertisers to craft creative that fits seamlessly within targeted game genres. Our focus in this area helps to enhance gamers’ experience rather than disrupt it with intrusive or poorly designed in-game ads.

5. Specifically, how do you work with studios and advertisers?

We have dedicated game customer success and engineering teams that work closely with game studios and developers to make recommendations on ad placement for optimal viewability. Since our game customer success and engineering teams are gamers themselves—with some being game developers—game studios appreciate our teams’ availability to share ideas and answer any questions.

We often make recommendations to optimize ad space placement in several locations during game play. These recommendations include scenes where gamers will likely take notice of their environment. We also recommend adequate lighting when displaying ads so that factors like time of day or darker locations don’t impact the ad’s viewability.

Players are passionate about gaming environments and how they interact within them. The concept is quite simple: players are receptive to ads that enhance the experience and are put off by ads that disrupt and interrupt the game aesthetic.

Once you’ve developed the creative, you need to ensure that it works seamlessly across multiple devices and platforms:  PCs, tablets, mobile devices, and consoles.

6. How do you recommend marketers approach eSports opportunities compared to other in-game media channels?

Some advertisers may value eSports opportunities because it’s easy to understand and often features well-produced content that highlights individual players, which is similar to other sports. But this is a tiny subset of the greater gaming opportunity. In my personal opinion, 80% of the Twitch audience uses it as a social platform to hang out rather than to watch eSports.

The actual eSports audience is quite small relative to people playing games. That’s why it’s important for advertisers to understand the game space to target the appropriate audience segments.

Though there is some overlap with traditional gaming, eSports is very much its own network with a niche audience. Advertisers should consider eSports its own silo and assess it independently as part of an overarching gaming strategy.

7. What industry trends/shifts are you seeing from advertisers right now?

In-game advertising is a mainstream channel that desperately needs the formality of industry support. Intrinsic in-game advertising is a new capability within the broader opportunity of video game advertising. Industry organizations like the IAB US and IAB UK are updating guidelines, policy recommendations, and educational materials to address opportunities in the gaming space.

We are also seeing advertisers and agencies leaning into the gaming space with interest, excitement, and intention to activate. Many are starting to treat the gaming space much like they did in the early days of search, social, and mobile channels—and they are adding specialists or specialty units to approach the channel with authenticity.

8. How does ad measurement support the gaming industry?

The media industry has well-documented, foundational challenges around media quality and transparency—invalid traffic and ad fraud, viewability, brand safety, and more. These challenges can only be managed effectively by increasing transparency with third-party measurement, and in-game media is no exception.

We need to provide media buyers and sellers the same level of confidence in gaming that they have in other channels. Oracle Moat is a trusted leader in measurement and verification, and the collaboration between Oracle Moat and Frameplay serves to address these challenges.

To learn more about in-game advertising advancements, check out the following news:

David Goodfellow

Strategic Partnerships Director, International, Oracle Advertising

David Goodfellow is the Partnerships Lead for Oracle Data Cloud JAPAC and sits on the Regional Board for the IAB SEA+India.

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