Gaming is serious business

Why gaming should be a part of your FY23 strategy, writes Xander Southwick, head of social APAC at Livewire.

With an estimated 17 million Australians playing video games in some form (with a near even gender split), gaming is an advertising channel that is incredibly underutilised by Australian marketers.

Despite the average Australian gamer spending 83 minutes playing daily, the investment into the space is lagging despite the significant opportunity to capture the white space. If we follow the PWC Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook, gaming advertising revenue is estimated to reach $74m in 2023, under the midpoint forecast scenario. At the same time, search is expected to reach $4.6bn, video $3bn and display $4.8bn. So, why aren’t brands taking advantage?

What it means to advertise in games has evolved. In the earliest stages of in-game advertising, brands would be hard coded into the game itself, with limitations in terms of the integration variety on offer by developers. Alongside this, the only way to remove or update these placements were through major updates to the game. Today, modern gaming has allowed brand integrations to be delivered in a multitude of ways. These different delivery options allow marketers to maximise their impact as well, from high quality rewarded videos, through to audio ads that don’t interrupt the gameplay, ultimately the channel provides mass reach and the capability to deliver distinctive assets.

Example of early branding in games, Budweiser in Tapper

Beyond the media placements now available, it’s also possible to engage in gaming through tournament sponsorships, talent engagement and brand extensions. Look no further than Gucci and its Gaming Academy, designed to “back emerging esports talent developing professional careers”, the announcement coinciding with the final day of the PGL Major Antwerp 2022 which reportedly attracted more than 2.1 million viewers and 68 million hours watched. High end fashion brands are at the forefront of exploring engagement in gaming, with Louis Vuitton releasing a digital capsule in 2019 for the World Championship and Polo Ralph Lauren partnering with G2 Esports.

PGL CS:GO MAJOR ANTWERP 2022 – the largest indoor esports event ever

The scale of the gaming audience globally, and indeed Australia, is huge but the cultures that exist within gaming are highly nuanced and can be segmented based on the type of platform a user is on, the kinds of game they play and how they consume gaming content. This would usually present a problem for brands as smaller cultures mean that the total reach may be limited, but within gaming given the scale, it still means that brands can develop specific segment strategies to help engage gamers, ultimately achieving more sophisticated mass targeting.

Given this scale and the different kinds of activations possible, the topic of measurement may jump to top of your mind. The IAB has just released the Intrinsic In-Game Measurement IIG Guidelines for public comment, with the intention of bringing clarity and even more accuracy to the space. First released in 2009, this updated set of guidelines is designed to brands and advertisers more clearly understand what constitutes an impression, what the viewability standards and reflects the advancements in the gaming ecosystems formats as well.

Oracle and Moat also provide third-party measurement solutions to help ensure viewability and impact ultimately providing marketers and brands with more confidence that their ads are being seen. Despite the range of formats and different ways to consume ads in game it should no longer be a barrier.

Conversations regarding gaming feel eerily like those taking place in the early 2010’s regarding the role of social media as key parts of brand strategy. With intrigue and enthusiasm being understandably met with optimistic caution as we navigate and explore what is possible. Gaming has already proven it has the same bright horizon… The audience growth and scale, content and creative opportunities, talent and partner integrations complimented by smart targeting and measurement.

Gaming is serious business, and right now is the time to take advantage.

Xander Southwick, head of social APAC at Livewire.


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