Marketing to gamers: integrated ad experiences power up engagement

With one in three gamers saying ads negatively impact their experience, brands need to be more co-op friendly to reach this lucrative and growing audience. Ready player two?

Intrinsic game ads - ones that appear on billboards or physical locations in the game world are preferred by gamers over more common marketing such as interstitial ads according to a new survey.

The research, commissioned by Frameplay, found that one in three gamers say ads “negatively impact their experience”. 

The first-of-its-kind survey of over 1,200 gamers found that most preferred intrinsic ads as they blend seamlessly into immersive gameplay, rather than disrupt their experience. 

The inaugural 2022 Intrinsic In-game Advertising Report sheds light on a surprising number of factors. 

Interstitial full-screen ads that pause gameplay between levels were seen as distracting by 54% of those surveyed. This was followed by adjacent ads such as animated banners (42.9%) and audio (41.9%). Intrinsic ads, at 23.9%, were seen as the least distracting. 

When asked what kind of advertising would entice players to buy a product, around one-third (34%) said intrinsic ads would make them take action. 

Oddly enough, 6.5% of those surveyed said that no ads would be distracting as well, showing how accustomed people have become to this style of advertising. 

Mobile gaming is the most popular form (43.2%) due to its portability and cost-effectiveness. It’s more convenient to download a game on the go and share it socially. 

Audio ads are more tolerable to streamers who may use the ad break to interact with their fans and viewers on popular hosting sites such as Twitch or the YouTube live feature. 

Depending on the product being advertised, they may be able to caveat this into sponsorship. The metrics can be based on the duration of play and engagement with audio ads having a more positive communal experience with the brand.

Commenting on the findings, Jonathon Troughton, CEO and co-founder of Frameplay said:  “We’re moving toward an important equilibrium between advertisers, developers, and gamers where the industry can still profit while the integrity of the game is preserved.”

Case studies: Wendy’s and Cup Noodles 

A light touch of product placement isn’t aggressive and will lightly reach their audience whilst enhancing the realism of the story. Games such as Fortnite and League of Legends welcome cross-branded events, particularly in the metaverse, having online concerts with viral music artists and campaigns, involving characters based on primary mascots for popular chains.

An example is Wendy’s character – seen wearing a headset alerting their fanbase to their social media presence when they were online, increasing visibility and brand loyalty by bridging the gap between consumer and company.

Final Fantasy characters could get in-game health boosts or level up when eating Cup of Noodles, which is also heavily promoted in the games’ scenery. 

According to eMarketer native advertising spend in the US  jumped 37% in 2021, and is expected to reach $98.59bn in 2023.

A $200bn dollar market set to overtake Hollywood

The gaming sector and box office are becoming codependent, flung together during lockdown when people had more time at home with their devices and with the boom in live-action adaptations of popular gaming franchises.

Newzoo forecasted that there would be 3.2 billion gamers worldwide this year. Gamers will help the global games market generate $196.8bn in 2022, up by 2.1% year-on-year. The Global Games Market 2022 Report also shows that the market will continue to grow, reaching $225.7bn by 2025. 

For comparison, the size of the global movie industry in 2021, including theatrical, digital and Pay TV, was $328bn according to the Motion Pictures Association.