4 Cheat Codes for Using Video Ads in the Gaming Industry

When the 2020 pandemic first hit, the world became obsessed with the Nintendo game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game was released in a perfect storm; as gamers were forced to stay indoors, they were able to live vicariously through their Animal Crossing avatars giving them the ability to do something they couldn’t do in real life: connect with one another.

However, as the world got hip to the purchasing power of bells and the capitalistic machinations of Tom Nook, I found myself engrossed in another game that spoke to the current moment: Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. In the game, you play a futuristic delivery man (played by The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus) bringing packages of essential goods and services to isolated homes across a post-apocalyptic United States ravaged by a cataclysmic event. In addition to dropping off supplies, your character’s primary goal is to (essentially) bring broadband internet access so that the world can feel whole in an era where everyone is disconnected in quarantine. Sounds a little too familiar, huh?

I mention these two titles to illustrate the far reaching appeal that video games have on consumers today. They can exist both as cutesy, kitschy social simulation games that cater towards users of all ages, or they can be emotionally complex stories with inventive gameplay that even the most seasoned gamers will find challenging–and deeply emotionally rewarding. If you are advertising video games, this is an important point to understand. Video games aren’t just for one hyper-specific demographic. In 2021, everyone’s a gamer.

All that being said, younger generations – especially Gen-Z and Millenials – will always be early-adopters of the unparalleled digital, immersive experience of video games. Moreover, video games are growing rapidly in their technological capabilities, incorporating augmented reality (AR) to allow people to bring their favorite video games to life. A recent popular example is Pokemon Go, which was released in 2016. This AR mobile app brought those famous pocket monsters into players’ lives, allowing them to see these creatures in the physical world through their screens. 

Learn More: Social Media Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

What Makes Video Game Advertising Work?

Just like toy advertising, there are a number of video game advertising techniques that work best when trying to appeal to the gaming audience. These strategies have seen similar transformations in recent years. 

1. Emphasizing Uniqueness

With gaming so popular among many age groups, consumers of all kinds seem to have unlimited options in the video games they choose. It’s now more important than ever to find a way to stand out, particularly by defining what makes a game unique above the rest. Advertisers can do this by examining their competitors and observing what they are lacking — either with their game or advertising campaign. 

2. Figuring Out a Target Audience

Each game will have its own target audience, and it’s important for marketers to figure out who that is. While toy advertising is predominantly for children and by extension, their parents, video game advertising appeals to everyone from young children to adults. This means the potential audience reach is huge. At the same time, casting too wide of an advertising net risks the possibility of showing advertisements to consumers who aren’t at all interested in video game purchases. 

3. Zoning in on a Platform

In the same vein of advertising that’s too broad, choosing to advertise on as many platforms as possible can also be a waste of time, finances, and resources. The most successful advertisers settle on platforms or channels that are the most popular with their target audience and invest their time and efforts there. After all, each age group tends to use one particular social media channel over others.

4. Using Video

Video advertising reigns supreme in the video game world, as this is the best way to show actual gameplay and game use. YouTube is a popular platform for video game advertisers to show just this, and social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, or Tik Tok are popular alternatives. There are plenty of options for video ideas to appeal to your ideal audience.

Top Video Types for the Gaming Industry

There seems to be an endless amount of video game advertising ideas, though the following remain some of the most well-liked by audiences. 

In-Game Footage

The prime way to advertise a video game is to give consumers a preview of what they can expect when playing it. You can do this by showing in-game footage in your ad. In-game footage ads are a great option for all channels, whether you want to post on social media, YouTube, or your PDP. You can choose to show a brief clip or allow for a longer preview, which tends to drive higher engagement. 

Tip: Aim to show footage of a particularly exciting or emotional scene to garner the most interest. 

Achievement Videos

Consumers play video games to win. As a result, showing advertisements of players “winning” the game by defeating a boss, collecting items, or beating a certain level drives way more conversions than footage of a player not succeeding. You can choose to use either UGC content of a win or hire talent to demonstrate excitement. These types of videos add extra excitement to a PDP. 

Tip: You can also create an achievement video that uses in-game footage of a win in the game. If costs are a concern, this is a great cheaper option.

Perspective Videos 

Consider including as many perspectives as possible to get the most out of a video game ad. For instance, you can first display in-game footage to draw viewers in for a few moments. The next frame can show a player happily playing the game, and the final frame can show the point-of-view of a character facing a boss or doing an exciting activity. This mix of perspectives gives viewers many ideas of the game itself. Perspective videos work well as an ad shown on YouTube. 

Tip: Follow a certain order with the perspectives and don’t jump around too much as not to confuse the viewer.

Multi-Platform Videos

If your game can be played across different devices such as a desktop, smartphone, and tablet, consider making a video that demonstrates all the different devices in use. With these types of videos, you can easily share a different perspective on each device, blending the idea of multi-platform and perspective videos. 

Tip: Show the best of each device by using its own latest and greatest features. Make sure all devices you use are updated with the newest software so nothing is out-of-date. 

Influencer Review Videos

Some of the most popular YouTubers are those that play and review video games. Why? These videos give potential consumers the ability to see real people playing and interacting with the game — another form of social proof. Players can also get tips and tricks from these YouTubers for when they buy the game themselves. You can seek out influencers on YouTube or start your brand’s influencer campaign. 

Tip: Just like how advertisers need to research their target audiences, advertisers need to research influencers to see what their reach and level of expertise are. Using the right influencer can lead to more sales, and using the wrong one can lead to wasted resources. 

Video Game Advertising: Final Thoughts

As you can see, the same principles remain in place with video game advertising as toy advertising. Consumers want to see as much of the product as possible to get a real feel for what video game companies have to offer. Plan to combine a good mix of game footage and human reaction. 

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