Analysis: How advertisers can make the most of the digital games revolution

Generation Media’s digital media executive Sam Clutterbucklooks at what advertisers need to be aware of within the digital games space

Britain is a nation of gamers.

In the youth space, over 50 per cent of kids aged seven to 14 regularly play games (Youth TGI, 2016). The digital revolution has made gaming even more accessible, from consoles to mobile platforms, more people are playing games than ever before.

What’s more intriguing than the numbers – an estimated 33m people play games – is the array of people playing. Driven by smartphone apps, an IAB report revealed that females account for over half of online gamers. The same report also highlighted there are now more people over 44 years old playing games (27 per cent of gamer population) than children and teenagers (22 per cent). Over half of people aged 45 to 54 have played a game in the last six months along with 44 per cent of 55 to 64 year-olds. If gaming brands do not reach out to these non-traditional audiences then they are missing out on potential customers.

In terms of attitudes of gamers towards online ads, research has highlighted that among people that play games, respondents felt that online ads were the best way to help them make a purchase decision, with 40 per cent signifying digital compared to 29 per cent on TV. This is indicative of how digital ads can streamline reach in a way that other media cannot. If consumer attitudes towards digital advertising are positive, and with the targeting capabilities of online to serve ads that are relevant to consumers, digital ads and games go hand-in-hand.

In-game ads have become the stock model for mobile gaming. Consumer reluctance to part with cash to play games on mobile devices means acceptance that adverts will be par for the course. 75 per cent of gamers accept ads in a free app or online game and eight in 10 favour free games with ads rather than paying for an ad-free version. This develops an understanding between consumer and marketer that there is a responsibility to engage the audience. Kantar research indicated 80 per cent of gamers believed ads enhance the realism of a game. The uniquely captive nature of games means when we play, our attention is focused solely on that. Microsoft found that consequently 72 per cent of players recall ads they’ve seen for brands in-game, stressing the value in digital and gaming. Only cinema has better ad recall.

For the first time last year we saw digital spend overtake TV – a landmark moment. Across all markets digital now makes up half of all ad spend. It is vital to ensure content in today’s media landscape is impactful and relevant, which in many ways leads to a digital approach. The more we see gaming moving to connected devices, the more your audience across console and mobile needs to be reached via digital. Gaming has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to digital but the need to innovate has never been greater.

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