In-Game Advertising: the ultimate performance marketing experience


With all of the buzz about virtual worlds and the metaverse, there already is a place where marketers can integrate their marketing into the playing experience: In-game advertising.

In-game advertising is the placement of ads within games. In-game ads appear during gameplay as part of the gaming experience. They can be signs on the side of a road or a boy giving his sports hero a can of Coke.

Gaming Stats: They will surprise you

According to data from game market insights and analytics from Newzoo, there are over 2.6 billion gamers. The gaming market generates $76 billion in revenue, and the average age of a gamer is 36. According to data from Omdia, in-game ads alone will generate $56 billion in revenue in 2024. Research from eMarketer found that in 2020, the age group most likely to start mobile gaming were users over 45.

Integrate into the experience

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One of the complaints against TV advertising traditionally has been that ads break the content viewing experience. You’re watching a drama and as you’re about to find out who killed the antagonist, the program stops for three minutes of ads.

This example highlights the major benefit of in-game advertising: The marketing message does not disrupt the experience. Instead, the ad is integrated into the game-playing experience.

In many mobile games, in-game ads provide players with a clear value exchange. This is accomplished by providing players with free-play options for viewing in-game ads. Data from Tapjoy found that 72% of players understand the role advertising plays in mobile games and even actively engage with mobile ads.

Not all in-game ads provide players with rewards. But all in-game advertisers are mindful of the gaming experience. That’s why in-game ads uphold a “player-first” experience. They creatively integrate the marketing message into the game experience.

Why do gamers appreciate in-game ads?

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Here are the main reasons why gamers derive value from in-game ads:

  • Rewards for engaging with ads: Many in-game advertisers give players who viewed or engaged with their ads an in-game incentive. Players appreciate this reward, and even seek it, as the abovementioned data from Tapjoy shows. And by rewarding the user, the in-game ads improve their gaming experience.
  • Support the gaming narrative: Major in-game advertisers often have an opportunity to support the game-playing experience. Like Coca-Cola’s 13-year sponsorship deal with American Idol, an in-game advertiser working with a game developer has the opportunity to integrate their product messaging into the game’s narrative. This can include billboards and in-store product displays or having players in the game actually using the product. With the game-playing stats highlighted above, we’re expecting more game developer-marketer integrations including in-game advertising in the coming years.

In-game ad formats

With the growth of gaming on mobile and other platforms, there has been an increase in in-game ad formats. Here’s a rundown of the most common in-game formats:

  • Rewarded ads/Rewarded video ads: Rewarded ads, as the name suggests, reward players for engaging with or watching the ad (if it’s a video). Players typically must watch or engage with the entire ad to unlock the reward.
  • Interstitial ads: These ads are usually full-screen and interactive ads that run between game levels or activities to reduce disruption. Many interstitial ads end with a call-to-action to download an app or game. This makes interstitial ads one of the more effective mobile marketing solutions for user acquisition.
  • Display banners: Similar to other digital marketing segments, display ads are still among the most common forms of in-game ads.
  • Playable ads: A fast-growing format, playable ads have become a highly effective user acquisition tactic. They offer a brief explanation of the game, a short, playable video, and end with a call-to-action to download the game. Playable ads are strong mobile marketing solutions that perform 8x better than interstitials according to research from SmartyAds.
  • Offerwalls: These ads are designed to encourage users to install other apps or perform other tasks in exchange for in-game rewards.
  • Coupon ads: These ads provide players with voucher codes that can be redeemed for prizes or discounts in the offline world.
  • Cross-promotional ads: This tactic is used by game and app developers with multiple and complementary offerings. With cross-promotional ads, a developer will market another game or app that the company is developing in the in-game ad unit. For cross-promotional ads, the only cost is the missed revenue from not selling that ad space. That’s why cross-promotional ads are used when ad space is unsold.

OK. But what can in-game ads do for me?

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A mobile, landline, TV, and broadband connectivity provider turned to in-game advertising to increase awareness among the target audience, elevate brand perceptions and drive strong ad recall.

After the campaign, the client commissioned a market research firm to test the performance of the in-game ads. Here are the results:

  • The amount of time users spent dwelling (engaging) with the in-game ads was nearly one and a half times greater than the standard norm
  • Purchase intent increased by more than 10% among the target audience
  • The campaign generated a spontaneous brand recall of nearly 50%

These results highlight the performance marketing value of in-game advertising.

Interested in testing in-game advertising? If so, reach out to CC today to schedule a call to discuss how in-game ads can help you grow your business.

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