In-Game Advertisers: Focus on the Gamers, Not the Games

By Greg Ricciardi

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Mobile and video games experienced explosive growth during the pandemic. With more gamers staying put and non or casual gamers seeking variety in their entertainment sources, Statista reported that gamers hit a record 3.24 billion globally in 2021, and the industry reported $85.86 billion in video game revenue.

The attention on this booming population and its captive audience is turning heads. Brands are taking notice and considering pursuing opportunities to reach gamers through evolving and sophisticated in-game advertising. While in-game advertising is an effective advertising channel for brands that want to reach this audience, it is not the most effective or engaging advertising opportunity in the gaming space.

In fact, the advertising dialogue between brands and consumers is too heavily weighted on in-game creative units; it is stagnant and needs to evolve. Media and brands are focused so heavily on this single advertising source that they are ignoring the far more interactive and effective opportunities. These opportunities are not found in on-screen ads that disrupt a game. Instead, they reside within other media that better reach the audience: the gamers and those watching the gamers outside of the game.

The volume of this industry's spectators, much like diehard NFL or NBA spectators, is enormous. And if you want to reach an enormous audience that you can segment demographically and psychographically with precision, this is it. The gamer audience is far larger and more diverse than any of the sports leagues' audiences in terms of certain demographics.

Go Beyond the Game



With the ability to understand gamers and their behaviors in-depth, this audience segment is ripe with opportunities.

For example, gaming audience profiles are breaking the traditional stereotypes. Gamers are not male teens, for instance. Instead, the audience spans genders, generations, and interests. According to Statista, women comprised about 45 percent of the U.S. casual gaming audience in 2021, which is a 4 percent increase from the year before.

Also, game themes are now much more diverse, the platforms are more accessible via compact consoles and mobile devices, and the industry itself caters to spectators through live streaming events and interactions with influencers. A smart advertising strategy to reach this audience has to be a mobile strategy, with precise geotargeting enabling all kinds of promotions and other performance campaigns.

In addition, e-sports is becoming a more widely recognized and competitive subset of the industry, leading to an even more expansive list of opportunities to interact with gamers. From national competitions to worldwide on-screen and in-person events, the audience is engaged, and brands can leverage the events through experiential marketing.

Luminosity Gaming is one of the larger esports organizations in the world, featuring an army of influencers that support its efforts in Valorant, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Fortnite, Madden, and other popular titles, and is sponsored by Enthusiast Gaming. By leveraging every element of the gaming ecosystem, Enthusiast Gaming can reach these audiences across multiple platforms — and with massive interactivity and precise measurement. In general, smart marketers reach these audiences less in the games themselves and more in the other spaces where these gamers interact online.

Now is a key moment for every marketer and a time to pause and consider the shift in gaming. Gaming is the single fastest-growing entertainment sector, and as a marketer, you will miss a hugely impactful channel to engage with your customers if you don't have a holistic and targeted gaming strategy.


The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


Greg Ricciardi is the president, CEO, and founder of 20nine.