5 mins

Product placement is a tried and tested approach in advertising – but can it reach its maximum potential within the gaming industry? 

The next-gen gaming world is growing by the second; there are many avenues to venture through. Whether mobile, AAA or the influencer side of the medium, you can utilise plenty of approaches that could level up audience engagement for your products. 

Let’s explore why gaming has become a key marketing tool for brands. 

What can gaming offer your brand? 

With annual revenues of £164bn, gaming is without a doubt the biggest entertainment industry worldwide, and brands have taken notice. Duolingo, for example, has added language-focused questions to Jackbox Games to encourage new ways for people to pick up and play. 

But the potential of gaming isn’t just in what people are playing, but who’s playing them. Once labelled a stereotype of Mountain Dew, Dorrito-infused men, gaming has a much more diverse audience.

Female audiences now represent 45% of the gaming market, which brands are beginning to engage. Recently, Tampax partnered with Gen.G and launched its own tournament series

So, with the gaming market becoming an optimal environment to market through, can you get your ads into the games themselves? More importantly, is that a good idea? 

a classic gaming advert from the nineties where a kid plays PlayStation intensely

Can you place your products in games? 

Branded placement within entertainment is nothing new; it’s a great way for products to mix in with the medium. If done right. 

Take Stranger Things as a prime example; the show is chock-full of brands, from Coke to Jif peanut butter. Though some audience members have criticised the over-abundance of products within the show, the number of eyes on those products can’t be denied. 

And the same goes for gaming – product placement was a consistent marketing strategy before controllers became wireless!

Look at the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise; the amount of branded partners within the series is insane, from shoe brands and energy drinks to real skate-branded companies.  

This is a perfect example of product placement in gaming and highlights a key lesson every marketer should consider. If your brand wants good engagement within the medium, it needs to be relevant to the content. 

But gaming has come a long way from plug-in and play. There’s an entirely new digital world out there that brands are keen to engage with… 

gameplay from the tony hawk pro skater franchise in gaming

What’s new to in-game advertising? 

The Metaverse is designed to interconnect people across the internet; leading technologies such as 3D reconstruction and virtual reality are changing how gamers interact with one another – and of course, brands. 

As new worlds are built for audiences to explore, so do new billboards to advertise on – quite literally, in some cases. 

But, as more marketing opportunities arise, so do the considerations your brand needs to take before getting meta with it.

What you need to know
  1. The perfect format for your brand

You can implement in-game adverts in many forms – it’s best practice to consider which will work best for your product. Are you seeking awareness and recognition from audiences? If so, cosmetic content such as clothes an avatar can wear could be a snazzy ad type to consider. 

  1. Don’t P-Off your audience 

Like any audience brands target, it’s essential you respect the culture. We’ve seen brands attempt to “understand” gaming culture before – with the reception being almost as bad as the 1993 Mario Bros. Movie. 

As previously mentioned, the gaming audience is diverse and splinters into niche communities. Make sure you know exactly who you’re targeting and where – people immersed in a horror-themed Meta-world probably aren’t interested in relaxing bath bomb ads… 

  1. Keep it creative 

Gaming is a high-engagement activity; audiences are likely to give their full attention to what they’re playing. 

So, the content you create within or around these worlds must be as engaging as the game itself. Your ads don’t need to break away from what players are doing – like pop-up ads – they can integrate into the game’s activities. 

You could build your product 100ft tall in Minecraft and show it off through your organic social, or share the love of style around your brand’s Animal Crossing island. The potential to be creative with your campaigning is unlimited in gaming.   

An animal crossing character showing off their fabulous style in the game

Ready for level 2? 

We’ve only scraped the surface of in-app gaming campaigns today; there’s a whole world to explore. Check out our marketing for mobile gaming deep-dive too, and level up your strategies on the latest trending apps. 

Until next time, if you’d like help building a strategy for your next gaming campaign or want expert recommendations on what format your next ad should be – contact our advertising team now.

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