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Forecast 2017: Brands To Take A Fresh Look At Game Advertising

Forecast 2017: Brands To Take A Fresh Look At Game Advertising

Pokémon Go made a huge splash in 2016, but it isn’t the only game in town! For years, countless studies have proven that games are highly engaging, entertaining, and appealing as content for a wide range of target audiences across multiple platforms. This makes gaming an ideal medium for brand marketers. Many brands such as Dunkin Donuts, Mercedes-Benz, Pillsbury, and Huggies have already embraced game advertising. Now, many more brands and their agencies are taking a fresh look at game advertising—and for good reasons.

Driven by mobile, new technology, and ad formats, plus programmatic buying options, we’re seeing creative and engaging advertising for around game ads, in-game ads, and custom branded games. eSports and emerging VR/AI opportunities definitely factor into the equation and numerous messaging apps have also incorporated playable HTML5 games into their advertising options.

We recently spoke with some leaders from the IAB Game Advertising Committee, representing different aspects of game advertising, to get their take on 2017 predictions for brand advertising with games. Their responses vary depending on where they sit in the game advertising ecosystem, but the consensus is clear that the future is looking bright for brands and game advertising in 2017.

Adam Hopkinson of AnyClip
Adam Hopkinson, Managing Director, AnyClip
With the meteoric rise of gaming into mainstream culture across the world, game studios are going to become more aware of the value of their content and the celebrity status of characters in the universes they create—with this in mind we will see more characters ‘endorsing’ brands in the same way that cinematic and television celebrities offer their association. Game advertising will be co-operative with third party brands. We will also see more personalization of game advertising and extended branding advertising rather than tactical release budgets. Furthermore we will see an increasingly immersive advertising experience for users with games advertising—you have the perfect opportunity to experience the product in digital advertising for games which isn’t available in other media.
David Cohen of ironSource
David Cohen, VP Strategic Sales, ironSource
As brand advertisers move increasingly greater portions of their budgets to mobile, we’re going to see games capture a great deal of that spend—simply because they constitute the largest amount of in-app traffic.In many ways, game inventory could be the best fit for brands—games represent an incredibly creative environment for brands to access and benefit from, and game users are typically highly-engaged. Some of the most engaging and appealing mobile ads are created first for gaming apps before reaching the larger mobile market, and this represents a huge opportunity for brands who are looking to translate the high-impact of traditional brand advertising to the mobile medium in a measurably viewable way. Brand advertisers can’t afford to ignore game apps if they want to connect with an engaged users on mobile, and looking ahead we can expect to see the relationship between brands and games continue to grow.
Steve Wadsworth of TapJoy
Steve Wadsworth, President & CEO, TapJoy
In 2017, we’ll see more global brands adopt mobile games as a marketing channel. Not only will more brands realize that mobile gamers represent the demographicthey so desperately covet—that of middle-aged women—but they’ll also learn that mobile games put consumers in a state of mind that is very conducive to ad receptivity. Consumers are more relaxed, happier, and less stressed out while playing mobile games than while doing any other activity on mobile devices. As more brand advertisers test mobile gaming as a channel for building awareness, favorability, recall, and other branding metrics, they’ll realize that consumers are way more open to engaging with ads in mobile games than they are on social networks or other types of apps.We also foresee a significant rise in programmatic ad buying in mobile games in 2017. The extremely high level of focus, activity, and interaction that consumers have while playing mobile games delivers incredible results in terms of ad engagement when compared to other media. Both of these things make games a fertile ground for programmatic ad buying that enables brands to not only identify consumers with high intent, but also to reach them in real-time.
Shini Wark of Twitch
Shini Wark, Sr. Director – Client Services, Twitch (an Amazon Company)
There are really two things that, I predict, will dominate opportunities for advertisers in gaming, and they are completely different in terms of what they offer strategically. One approach is more experiential, the other delivers scale and reach.Gaming is inextricably linked to emerging technology and as the devices we game on become more intelligent and intuitive, so will the opportunities that open up to brands. On this front, virtual and augmented reality will allow advertisers to create brand experiences like never before and the ability to communicate more complex brand messaging 1 on 1. These active experiences will be measured on engagement and time spent, each experience unique to that user.On the flipside, eSports saw huge growth in viewership in 2016, and 2017 will be even bigger. We all know that ad attentiveness is exponentially greater in “live” content. In addition, the young male demographic has shifted to OTT platforms and traditional sports are rapidly losing audience. eSports will allow advertisers—in one of the only ways—to reach this increasingly elusive demographic en masse. The obvious opportunity is video distribution, but there is so much more in terms of on-site sponsorships, league endorsements, and in-stream content integration.


The IAB Game Advertising Committee will be at Social Media Week in Chicago with a program featuring research on gaming and gamers from Nielsen and Unity Technologies, and three compelling case studies from TreSensa, Twitch, and Zynga that show how Valvoline, Totinos, and Toyota have successfully used game advertising to meet their strategic goals.

Please join us on November 16th at 11am CT. You can register with a 25% IAB discount using code chi16iab3b9k


Susan Borst
Head of Social and Content Marketing Solutions
at IAB