In-Game Advertising: The Sleepy Market That’s About to Explode

What’s going on?

Did you know that the gaming industry value reached an estimated $177B in 2021 twice as big as film and music industries combined?

Yeah – we were shocked too.

And while you may think the gaming demographic skews young, the truth is that this year, the second largest age bracket – which makes up 26% of gamers, fell between 34-54 years old. The largest bracket, making up 38% of gamers, fell between 18-34. Additionally, gender is nearly split evenly, with 59% of gamers in 2021 identifying as male and 41% as female. 

So, given the immense amount of purchase power across the vast gaming ecosystem, why have brands been so slow to adopt in-game advertising?

For starters, gaming ad formats have historically given users an awful experience. Frequent popups interrupt gameplay and annoy players, while banner ads might get totally ignored altogether. And due to the massive gaming ecosystem which stretches from mobile Candy Crush to FPS games, it goes without saying that many brands who haven’t dipped their toes in the gaming ads water yet have some hesitancy around brand safety. For advertisers that are already well-versed in this area, many do see strong results with typical gaming placements; however the options for how to advertise in-game have been incredibly limited, and thus difficult to scale.

This is quickly changing though, and with new products come new opportunities. 2024 is estimated to hold a 11% jump in valuation for the gaming industry, with new brands diving in daily to take advantage of the new advertising opportunities sprouting up in the space. Want to know if in-game advertising is right for you? We’ve broken down some of the newest in-game ad solutions that are racing towards us from the horizon.


What Should I Look For?

Playable Ads

According to Zoomd Technologies, a mobile marketing firm based out of Vancouver, playable ads have become the most used ad format in 2021, with 41% of players engaging. This ad format typically contains a short tutorial as well as gameplay for the user, followed by a call to action to download at the end. And, many brands who have tried this format have claimed the efficiencies far outweigh those of static or even video ads. Take Gogii Games for example, who saw 79% higher average revenue per user when utilizing playable ads vs standard video ads.

Rewarded Video

To counter the historically negative experience gamers have had with in-platform ads, some platforms are offering rewarded video – where the user will receive an in-game prize for watching the video to completion. These ads are becoming increasingly popular due to their win-win nature; the brand sees more users opting in to view their video ad to completion, and users get awarded a prize for doing so. In fact, according to Unity, 71% of surveyed players noted rewarded video as their ideal method of unlocking new features, rather than in-app purchases and premium pricing.

Blended Image and Video Displays 

What if players could view your ad as a poster on the wall of a basketball court? Or as a billboard towering over the gameplay metaverse? This technology exists, and is possibly one of the most interesting new gaming features we’ll see popularized in the near future. For instance, Anzu, an in-game advertising platform, specializes in this kind of native integration which isn’t only respectful of the player’s game time, but is embraced as part of the game’s scenery. Additionally, Anzu has solved for ad viewability, fraud, brand lift, audience verification, and cookieless measurement gaps by utilizing a wide variety of partners such as Nielsen, MOAT, Comscore, and CHEQ.


The Conclusion

While in-game advertising is a relatively untapped market, the technology for better gaming experiences – both for advertisers and players, has absolutely arrived. With the market estimated to be worth $3B by 2025, we’d advise you to keep an eye on this space and its growth – perhaps, even consider in-game opportunities for your brand or clients.

This article was informed by our in-house programmatic expert, Andrew Mullins.

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