What To Expect From In-Game Advertising

As digital advertising continues to expand, in-game advertising is growing in popularity among marketers. With an estimated 2.7 billion video gamers around the world, this medium presents a massive opportunity to connect with current and potential customers. 

Let’s walk through in-game advertising, the opportunities it creates for your brand, and what you can expect from this ad format in the future. 

What Is In-Game Advertising? 

In-game advertising is exactly what it sounds like: advertising that happens within a game. These ads can appear on stationary and portable consoles, laptops and other computers, smartphone apps, and more. 

Think about the last time you were playing your favorite game on your smartphone (c’mon, we’ve all got one). Did you have to watch an ad play to continue playing or get a booster? Yep—that’s an example of in-game advertising. 

What Does In-Game Advertising Look Like? 

Like every other ad format, it depends on the game, advertiser, and device. Some common in-game ad types include: 

  • Interstitial. These ads take up the entire screen, putting your brand front and center. These are often video ads
  • Adjacent. These are ads that appear during the game but don’t interrupt the experience, including banners. 
  • Audio. These ads are non-visual audio ads that either replace or play in addition to the game’s audio. 
  • Intrinsic. These ads are part of the video gaming experience. There are several types of intrinsic ads, including immersive experiences. 
  • Playable ads. These are ads users can interact with outside of the game experience, such as a gamified ad that plays during a break in the game. It might look something like this Marks and Spencer Group ad

As the industry evolves, more ad formats will (no doubt) emerge across platforms, taking into consideration the needs of both users and advertisers. 

The Current In-Game Advertising Industry

Partnerships of all kinds are forming throughout this industry, bonding brands with shared target audience segments. Circle K, for example, teamed up with Pokémon Go to target gaming and coffee lovers with an interactive in-game AR experience. 

As of 2023, Insider Intelligence found that mobile games attract only 3.9% of mobile ad revenues, even though users are spending 10.6% of their video gaming time on their mobile devices. Even so, global revenue in the in-game advertising market is projected to reach $32.51 billion USD in 2023, according to Statista

As more partnerships continue to form and more advertising opportunities become available, we’ll see more marketing teams taking advantage of this opportunity to reach billions of users. 

What Do Gamers Think? 

Overall, many gamers are willing to view in-game ads as long as they get something in return. The most welcoming of digital in-game ads are habitual gamers who use their mobile devices to play, with 77% willing to view ads in exchange for free in-game content. 

But not all ads create the same experience. According to Statista, some gamers find certain ad types more distracting than others. One study found over half of US-based gamers found interstitial ads to be the most distracting format. The same study also found users think intrinsic ads—those built into the game experience—were the least distracting. 

According to another Statista study, many US-based gamers found in-game ads to be effective. But which did they find the most compelling? 

  • 34.1% said intrinsic ads 
  • 27.2% said interstitial
  • 24.1% said adjacent 
  • 15.3% said audio 

When asked what advice they’d give to in-game advertisers, gamers of different age groups seemed to have differing priorities on the ads experience. Gamers aged 45 and older were more focused on ads not interrupting their gaming experience, while 25 to 44 year olds were more interested in receiving higher rewards for their willingness to interact with ads. 

How To Prepare for In-Game Advertising 

Adding a new format to your marketing mix is always challenging, but there are always ways to come prepared. Before you launch your first in-game advertisement, here are some things to check off your to-do list. 

Know Your Audience 

Before you disrupt a gaming experience with your advertisement front and center on the screen, you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting the right audience

If your brand is completely irrelevant to the viewer, it’s likely you’re going to leave them with a negative impression. (And we’re guessing that’s not the goal of your ads, right?)

Stay Flexible 

Advertising and marketing are always evolving, and this segment will be no different. As this industry continues to grow and optimize for users and advertisers, there will inevitably be changes along the way. 

As with every other aspect of your marketing mix, it’s important to stay flexible with your strategy and remain informed about the changes taking place. 

Understand the Ad Formats 

Like with any other platform, running a successful campaign requires you to understand the ad formats. From Connected TV to social media to in-game ads, you’ll need to fully understand the requirements before you can promote your brand on these platforms. 

You’ll also want to understand what types of ads will work best for your brand. Don’t force a huge, in-game interactive ad if it doesn’t align with your brand’s mission—and especially not if you don’t have the resources to maintain it. 

Get Your (He)Ad in the Game

Grab your VR headsets, your portable consoles, and whatever other gaming formats we haven’t heard of yet—it’s time to create engaging, interactive ads that appeal to gamers. As more in-game advertising opportunities become available, stay on the lookout for ways your brand can create an impact with these experiences, reach your audience, and grow your business.

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