Advertising in Video Games: A Win-Win for Gamers and Brands

The gaming industry is among the fastest-growing sectors of the economy and is expected to be worth $321 billion globally by 2026. In fact, more than half of the US population was playing video games by the end of 2022! Gamers are now nearly synonymous with everyday consumers - and yet, gaming is one of the most under-indexed advertising channels right now.

It's high time advertisers take notice. In-game advertising is primed to help marketers reach diverse consumers where they are most engaged online. Plus, placing ad content intrinsically within the game allows for a non-interruptive and seamless gaming experience which can leave users with a positive and long-lasting impression of brands. That is, it's a win-win for everyone.

What is Advertising in Video Games?

Before we get any deeper into in-game advertising, it's important to understand exactly what we are talking about. In the simplest terms, in-game advertising is a type of digital advertising that displays image, video, and audio ads inside video games.

In-game advertising includes static (non-changeable) ads, dynamic (changeable ads) and advergaming (a game built as an advertisement). In-game ads are most commonly found inside mobile games for IOS and Android but they can also appear in games played on computers and game consoles such as Xbox and Playstation.

Why is In-Game Advertising Growing in Popularity?

The in-game advertising market size is set to increase by $5182.68 million, with 35% of the growth originating from North America (Technavio).

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the rising number of smartphone users and the persisting popularity of social media sites such as Tik Tok and Instagram, have rapidly made gaming a household activity and brought in-game advertising to the forefront.

Alt Text: Illustration of Consumers Playing Games and Engaging with Video Ads

You might be surprised to learn that the average U.S. adult spends 27 minutes playing games every single day. That’s about 13% of all the time spent within mobile applications. And it doesn’t stop there - 75% of gamers are female and the average gamer is actually 34 years old, owns a house and has children. 

Mobile Gamers are in the Right Mindset for Ads

The top reasons for playing mobile games are relaxation and entertainment. When someone opens up their weather app, they are only looking to see the weather. But when it comes to gaming, the mindset is different. They aren’t singularly focused on a task, rather they are simply looking for some fun and/or downtime. This attitude makes them more impressionable and willing to engage with ads.

In-Game Advertising: A Win Win for All Parties

The in-game advertising industry undoubtedly has huge potential. In-Game ads are also beneficial for all of the key stakeholders in the gaming environment. With in-game advertising - everybody wins!

For game developers, in-game advertising empowers them to enhance the gaming experience and generate more revenue. 

For gamers themselves, the seamless integration of in-game ads stops their experience from being constantly interrupted. As they are more engaged, they are more likely to pay attention to the ad messaging within the game itself.

And then, we come to the brands. For brands, it’s a no brainer! You’ll get the opportunity to reach this incredibly valuable audience, capture consumer attention and protect brand equity - all at the same time! 

Alt Text: Illustration of Why Video Game Advertising is So Beneficial for All Parties

A Win for Gamers

Benefits for Users: Since in-game ads can seamlessly integrate into the gaming experience, they are not disruptive for users.

Intrinsic In-Game Ads Are Preferred by Gamers

Intrinsic in-game advertising is growing due to the growth of gamers worldwide and the introduction of new tech that seamlessly integrates your advertising content into a mobile game.  Intrinsic In-game ads give the games a sense of realism and credibility and therefore, are widely accepted by gamers.

Intrinsic in-game ads are naturally gamer-friendly as they don’t stop the gameplay which in turn drives business outcomes. In-game, intrinsic ads are ads inserted within gaming experiences natively. By natively, we mean that they might appear on in-game billboards - just like in real life. So, when you are running through a video game as a character and you run past a billboard - that ad is delivered within the experience.

Alt Text: Illustration of Video Game Ads that are Growing the In Game Advertising Market

When gamers are playing games, the very last thing they expect to see is a set of interruptive ads that get in the way of their ability to see the full screen, or impact  their ability to play the game. But ads that appear natively in the environment; intrinsically belonging in the game itself, are a very different matter altogether!

In-game advertising can be effective in its own right, but intrinsic in-game advertising not only works due to the seamless integration of the ad into the gaming ecosystem, it works because it puts the player experience first above all else; the gamers experience is never interrupted. 

Intrinsic In-Game ads allow you to reach the gaming audience in a positive way, by adding a sense of realism and credibility to their game. When playing a sporting game, gamers expect to see relevant ads placed around the stadium. Outcome: this makes it the most user-friendly, non-intrusive, but most effective advertising placement.

In-Game Ads in the Real World: Roblox x Gucci Garden Experience

Alt Text: Illustration of Gucci Garden Experience within the Roblox Game Environment

Image Source

In 2021, the Gucci Garden came alive on Roblox, the gaming platform initially popular among pre-teens that is expanding into a prominent metaverse platform for all.

The Gucci Garden offered a digital locale to fans where they could buy Gucci accessories for their Roblox avatar from the Roblox marketplace with in-game currency called Robux. The items in question were relatively inexpensive, especially for Gucci, but they were only sold during specific windows of time over the course of a few days.

The campaign was aimed to build Gucci's brand awareness in a virtual world amongst a fresh new audience. One virtual Gucci shoulder purse, based of the Gucci Dionysus bag, lit up the Roblox marketplace and was sold for just one hour on the Roblox platform.

This method of combining the Gucci brand with the overall Roblox gaming experience, especially for just a two week period, built a sense of exclusivity and brought the brand in front of a younger, more engaged and diverse audience to increase awareness and entice sales.

A Win Win for Brands

Benefits for Brands: In-game advertising has been proven to reach a wide range of audiences in innovative formats that capture attention. The main advantage of in-game advertising is that advertisers can increase brand awareness and engagement by showing ads to users in a natural and organic way without disrupting the gaming experience.

In-Game Advertisements Drive Awareness at the Top of the Funnel

As demonstrated below, in-game ads sit at the top of the funnel. 

Building brand awareness is a valuable benefit of in-game ads because it helps you get closer to achieving a range of business objectives and goals. Brand awareness can expand your audience, increase website traffic, increase brand affinity and drive consumers further down the purchasing funnel.

Alt Text: Illustration of Display and Video Ads in In-Game Environments Driving Awareness at the Top of the Funnel

A study by Broadband provider TalkTalk in the UK found that in-game advertising resulted in:

  • An increase in purchase intent — there was a 12% uplift in sales after users were exposed to in-game ads.
  • Longer attention span— the average gamer’s attention equated to 29 minutes, which is a remarkable result compared to online advertising (web display and mobile display) of 17.5 minutes per thousand impressions.
  • Higher dwell time — users’ average dwell time was 13% higher for the in-game ads than the industry average of 1.6 for online advertising.
  • Greater interest — in-game ads were viewed by up to 96% of participants of the study and over eight in ten (84%) felt that the ads were suitable for the in-game environment.

How Samsung Drove Purchase Intent with In-Game Ads

Samsung Benelux leveraged GumGum's intrinsic In-Game ad to expand their reach among the growing gaming audience. With a focus on sports and simulation games, Samsung significantly increased purchase intent.

GumGum partnered with Frameplay for this initiative to help Samsung Benelux expand their reach against the growing gaming audience. We adopted a broad targeting approach focused on sports, casual, racing and simulation games which proved to be the right mix to drive results for Samsung Benelux.

Alt Text: Illustration of In-Game Advertising that Drove Purchase Intent for Samsung Benelux


Intrinsic In-Game advertising significantly increased purchase consideration for Samsung:

  • +12 point lift against positive brand attribution
  • +16 point lift positive perception of the brand and the product advertised
  • +11 point lift when asked “are you interested in this ad”
  • +12 point lift Purchase Consideration

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