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Reaching Your Audience with In-Game Ads

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

As advertisers constantly seek new digital channels to reach their target audience, it was only a matter of time before video games were added to the mix. In fact, advertisers have been debating for years whether in-game ads would be viable, but there’s now some pretty compelling evidence that players are perfectly content to indulge some ad content within their video game experiences. Specifically, new Comscore data indicates an increased (and increasing) willingness on the part of gamers to consume branded and advertorial content in the midst of playing.

For some advertisers, this will represent a significant paradigm shift. After all, some advertisers have argued that advertisements will disrupt the gaming experience, souring players on their overall experience. What the new Comscore numbers show is that today’s gamers are media-savvy and more than comfortable seeing real brands pop up inside digital worlds. And with free-to-play games increasingly popular, most gamers accept advertisements as a straightforward way for game companies to keep their content broadly accessible.

So, what exactly does this new Comscore data show? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most salient figures and key takeaways.

The Big Picture: Mobile Gaming is Rich in Opportunity

The main headline from the Comscore report is that, compared with PC and platform games, mobile games represent the biggest opportunities for advertisers to connect with their audience.

Why would this be the case? The simplest explanation is that mobile gamers are already pretty used to seeing ad content while they game. Again, the preponderance of free-to-play games means that mobile users have already been exposed to different monetization models, including robust digital ad implementation. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that a lot of mobile gamers would be surprised to play a game that doesn’t feature any ads.

Promising Findings Across Other Gaming Platforms

And that’s not to say that other gaming platforms lack advertising opportunities. In fact, the Comscore numbers show that gamers are pretty willing to indulge some ad content no matter what the platform happens to be.

The study shows that a vast majority of gamers feel either neutral or positive about ads showing up in their games. That includes 69 percent of console gamers, 65 percent of PC gamers, and almost 75 percent of mobile gamers. What’s more, many ad experts predict that these numbers will continue to rise as console and PC gamers become more accustomed to ad content in their games.

Additional Insights into In-Game Ads

And then there’s the topic of rewarded ads. Here, the numbers look even more favorable for advertisers, with more than half of all gamers saying they would like to see more rewarded ads per day, not less. For example, systems that allow gamers to consume ad content in exchange for either in-game or real-world rewards tend to be very popular. The Comscore study shows that some gamers sometimes log in to their favorite gaming environments just to view ads and receive rewards, without really taking time to play the game at all!

Comscore goes on to note that a majority of gamers find the presence of real-world brands in their favorite gaming environments to make the gaming experience more realistic. About 55 percent of survey respondents say that seeing familiar brands, as opposed to fake/parody brands, enriches their immersion in their game of choice.

Finally, it’s difficult to talk about gaming without talking about livestreaming, as so much of video game culture now revolves around livestreamed play sessions and “esports” competitions. According to Comscore, gamers generally think it’s appropriate to have somewhere between six and 10 minutes of ads per hour of livestreamed content. Interestingly, younger demographics tend to be the most accommodating to ads during livestreamed entertainment, perhaps simply because they are more used to it.

A New Frontier for Advertisers?

We could go on about these numbers and the promise they offer to advertisers, but the main point is this: Video games are an increasingly dominant form of entertainment, and the people who play video games most regularly tend to be surprisingly receptive to the introduction of ads. This is potentially a game changer for advertisers (no pun intended) who can now seriously consider in-game ads as viable additions to their media mix.

Here at enCOMPASS, we’ll be monitoring the development of in-game ads closely and discussing potential options with our clients. If you have any specific questions about the role of in-game ads in your own media mix, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

Additionally, keep an eye on the enCOMPASS blog, where we’ll be sure to deliver further updates about the ever-changing digital ad landscape. From games to audiobooks, we’re seeing more and more fields where ads are becoming a viable option, and that’s welcome news for forward-thinking companies everywhere.