Ben Fenster

Why Gaming Presents a Safe Space for Advertisers

Ben Fenster, Co-Founder & CPO, Anzu discusses gaming as a mainstream culture, and how gaming and advertising worlds became so intertwine

One of the reasons we started Anzu was because we believed the gaming industry offered something unique to advertisers. A brand-safe space governed by digital stores that review each game on every update they make as well as its listing and ESRB rating. In addition, we saw the benefits that advertising could have for game publishers, many of whom were struggling to find effective ways of monetising their games.

Fast-forward five years and extended lockdown periods and tech advancements have seen gaming explode into a $175BN industry with a global audience of over 3.1BN. This has resulted in the channel becoming not just a nice to have but a staple commodity within advertising plans for brands and agencies everywhere, with in-game advertising becoming the preferred method for game publishers to monetise their free-to-play titles. So, what makes gaming so attractive?

Keeping ahead of IVT
The first thing to note is that invalid traffic (IVT) is extremely low within gaming. This is traffic that is not created by humans but rather by bot activity. Advertisers and publishers want their content and ads to be viewed by potential consumers, not bots or other automated scripts. Anzu and Human recently announced that out of 23.5M events, Anzu’s IVT averaged out at 0.16% on mobile and 0.47% on PC.

IVT is so low in gaming environments because unlike standard apps that are easy to automate using standard and even low-end hardware, automating a dynamic game environment is far more difficult and expensive. It requires higher-end devices capable of running 3D games and designing/building and a smart AI that can play many different types of games, search and identify in-game objects with ads on them in the 3D game world and then watch the ads for long enough and in the right conditions to be able to count an impression. Running the game and the AI on the same device is also problematic.

Additionally, game publishers continually analyse user behaviour to identify and block bots that hurt multiplayer user experiences and the virtual game currency economy. Console users normally do not use VPN services and are connected from a residential IP, which reduces the likelihood of IVT for ads that run within these types of games.

The privacy play
Anzu uses a mixture of contextual targeting, statistical location-based demographics data, and first-party data. It does not rely on persistent user identifiers in consoles/PC platforms and keeps reducing the use of persistent user identifiers in mobile platforms, so users can retain their privacy. Many of the issues surrounding data privacy have emerged out of the way companies use, collect, and store personal data via cookies and IDFAs.

By not relying on personal data, gaming presents brands and agencies with a safe and secure environment to reach their target audience. Gamers feel respected and have more positive feelings towards ads being shown in this manner and the brands who are doing so. As more stringent laws and regulations come into play, more companies will continue to look to gaming which is perfectly positioned to cater to the needs of advertisers seeking to connect with consumers in a safe and privacy-compliant manner.

Metrics that matter
Short attention spans, second screens, skippable ads, and ad blockers have arisen as major issues skewing and disrupting the way metrics, including viewability and brand awareness, are measured. With players fully immersed and engaged within games, and ads appearing as part of the experience, complementing rather than disrupting it, in-game advertising presents advertisers with an ideal solution to this ongoing issue.

Although Anzu has these strict measures in place around viewability, in-game ad campaigns consistently achieve high viewability rates due to the nature of the environments they are found in. This helps brands get in front of consumers and meet them within the environments they are spending their time in. Once this has happened, the secondary goal of generating consumer action can be anticipated.

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