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Marketing in video games requires smart strategy

Brands should embrace in-game advertising because this billion-dollar industry has high engagement and user interaction.

5 min read

MarketingMarketing Strategy

Image credit: Sean Do/Upslash

Sean Do/Unsplash

There are 3.1 billion gamers around the world, and data indicates the industry will grow even larger.  In the United States alone, mobile gaming is projected to exceed $11.35 billion by 2025. On a global scale, the video game market is projected to surpass $200 billion by 2023. From an advertising perspective, these numbers alone are reason to get into in-game marketing. But there’s another, arguably even stronger, motive.

The video game industry is dominated by people aged 18-35, with 29% of gamers belonging to the group. The average age of a gamer? 34. And, contrary to stereotypes, 45% of all US gamers are women.

What better way for advertisers to reach these demographics than to advertise in the billion-dollar industry of high engagement and user interaction?

Here’s what you need to know to successfully advertise and market yourself in video games and get it right.

What is In-Game Marketing?

In-game marketing most commonly refers to the advertisements integrated within computer, console, and mobile games. This is a terrific way to boost brand engagement, as you can pay to have your brand or product featured in ad overlays, scene segues, on in-game banners, or embedded directly in gameplay.

Part of the success marketers are having is due to gamer immersion within the metaverse. Studies show Gen Z gamers spend double the time with friends virtually than in real life.

As a result, gamers can interact with in-game advertising. If you struggle to reach people via traditional marketing, video game marketing is a tactic that gives you the opportunity to reach more than 2.5 billion gamers – that’s a third of the world’s population!

More and more brands are beginning to implement in-game marketing campaigns.

In May, PepsiCo and Pizza Hut teamed up for an augmented reality “Score with Pogba” game before the final of Europe’s UEFA soccer championship. The same month, Butterfinger and PUBG MOBILE collaborated so gamers can participate in a special challenge to receive exclusive in-game rewards.

Types of In-Game Marketing

There are various kinds of in-game advertisements and ways to market your brand to players, but here are a few to consider:

  1. Dynamic In-Game Advertisements: This is the newest (and most popular) form of in-game marketing. Dynamic ads allow you to purchase in real time and geotarget, similar to banner ads on websites. In the non-digital world, we typically see dynamic advertising on billboards, posters, and bus stops, coming and going as the days or weeks go by. The same goes for these types of spaces in video games.
  2. Static In-Game Advertisements: Unlike dynamic ads, static ads remain embedded in the video game for the duration of its lifespan. This marketing is planned and integrated directly into the storyline of the game via product placement.
  3. Advergames: These refer to video games created with the sole purpose of promoting a brand or product. Popular advergame examples include those created by LEGO and the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises. Within each game, the storyline, gameplay, and environment are designed to heavily promote the brand or product.
  4. Virtual Reality Experiences: Turn to the metaverse for virtual experiences. You can buy digital spaces to create a virtual reality. Gucci did this with the Gucci Garden Experience where users could tour themed rooms and see the history of the brand.

Tips for Successful In-Game Marketing

Before you dive into the deep end of in-game marketing, here are some key things to keep in mind:

Match Your Product to the Right Game

All sorts of people play video games, but the preferred genre varies from person to person. Younger males typically opt for sports and adventure games, while families play puzzle-based games. When choosing the game that will host your brand’s advertisement, be sure to go with a game whose style and demographic aligns with your product.

Timing Matters

For your marketing campaign to be successful, show it to gamers at a time when they’re most receptive. Rather than being intrusive or annoying (nobody likes being interrupted), show the advertisement in between levels, cut scenes, or during natural pauses in the game.

If you fail to consider the timing, you risk gamers associating your brand with frustration, inconsideration, or worse. Your ads should serve as an enhancement or a break – not an interruption.

Quality Over Quantity

It’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and this applies to in-game marketing. More advertisements don’t necessarily equal more revenue, so don’t overwhelm the audience. Bombarding players with ads can lead to a bad user experience. Don’t be the reason gamers are straight up not having a good time.

Be Creative

One of the biggest hurdles with today’s advertising is banner blindness, especially when it comes to mobile games. People will ignore anything that resembles an ad or traditional advertising messages.

Therefore, you may need to think outside the box. To ensure your in-game marketing is a hit, craft a strong message that can be seamlessly inserted into the video game’s storyline or environment.

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