Chris Blight

Gamers: A Lucrative Audience for Advertisers Who Play by the Rules

Chris Blight, VP Demand at Anzu explores how to appeal to the target audience with in-game advertising.

Anyone who has taken a mere glance at the gaming and esports world knows that the face of a gamer is no longer the unsocial teenager seeking a safe haven from the daily grind of school hallways.

Gaming has exploded thanks to the rise of mobile games, the pandemic, and gaming’s integration into pop culture. Gamers now span all age groups in the UK, with high penetration in obvious generations such as Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, but also in the 65+ age group, which tops out at 30% as of 2021. There has also been a massive influx of female players, now accounting for almost half of all players, and growth has been significant across geolocations.

What comes as a surprise to many who aren’t immersed in the industry are four key aspects that make gamers a powerhouse audience:

  1. They are productive members of society
  2. They are influencers within their circles
  3. They are brand loyalists
  4. They are engaged in societal issues

Understanding the mentality and motivations of gamers can open a door for advertisers to connect with this highly coveted audience in meaningful and authentic ways, which, as it turns out, are two non-negotiables for gamers.

Gamers work hard, play hard
Our UK survey conducted earlier this year revealed that 99% of male gamers and 96% of female gamers work full-time, part-time, or are full-time caregivers. Only 1% of male and 4% of female gamers are full-time students, and 38% of gamers earn between £40,000 – £120,000. These stats show just how diverse gamers are, and the massive opportunity this audience presents to advertisers.

While 60% of those surveyed played more during the pandemic and 50% intend to keep playing that amount, they haven’t given up social interactions. 75% say going out and socialising is very or quite important to them.

Gamers embrace consumerism
Gamers see themselves as both early adopters and influencers. Over half of those surveyed stated that it’s important to them to be the first to know about and buy new products, and 65% actively look for and want to try new brands. Gamers surveyed also feel that others come to them for purchasing advice because they are “in the know.”

Don’t assume they are just interested in technology, although cutting-edge tech is valued. Gamers have varied interests, and fashion and beauty brands, art houses, food and beverage companies, and more have successfully connected with the audience in and out of the game.

Sneaker and skateboard brand Vans, which has a younger demographic, smartly created a world in Roblox where its audience plays. Balenciaga launched digital items in Fortnite and had a virtual store in the Strange Times Featured Hub where players could socialise and show off their merch. MAC Cosmetics launched a real-world collaboration with Honor of Kings, with products selling out in a matter of hours. These examples show how brands can leverage the right gaming audience with tremendous success.

The rules of the game
Although gamers are highly receptive to advertisers and products, there are some caveats if brands don’t play by the gamers’ rules. Across age groups, many gamers reported that if they have one bad experience with a brand, they will take their money elsewhere. For gamers, advertisers must respect gameplay, meaning ads shouldn’t be disruptive or stop them from playing. Above all, gamers value creativity and relevancy and want a value exchange for their attention.

Gamers aren’t just about the shiniest new thing, though. Like many consumers, they believe in social responsibility, paying more for brands that support environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, animal welfare, and those that are local. They will also open their wallets for brands that support contemporary culture through sponsorships, making gaming a dream environment for brands.

Here’s the bottom line: when gamers find a brand they like, they are loyal, which likely extends to their friends and family who seek their advice. The key to winning over this audience is authenticity and relevance. With thousands of titles on the market, there are plenty of opportunities for advertisers who plan their campaigns, strike the right gaming partnerships, and come to play with the most creative campaigns they can whip up.

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