The ever-increasing expense on in-game advertising – both the endemic and the non-endemic brands can be assumed as a conscious move amid market volatility brought in due to the pandemic. Marketers here discuss the shift in brand expectations from the pre-to-post Covid era, why in-game advertising is constituting a larger share in the pie, and affixing gaming with the brand story
As the ecosystem matures, brands now have begun to be more experimental with the choice of advertising. Talking about in-game advertisements, according to Inmobi’s recent report, 74% of Indian gamers prefer to watch ads over in-app purchases when looking to progress in a game and the format of advertisements. They also boast of a high ad recall, with 60% being able to recall an ad seen in or during the game.
This certainly has accelerated the growth of digital consumption. Gamification is emerging as an effective tool to drive business objectives and motivate people through data during the pandemic. By tapping into diverse principles of design, psychology, and behavioural economics, it possesses the power to engage customers and employees with the brand in more ways than one.
Given the present-day scenario, it has become a popular technique in marketing. Many companies believe that gamification has the potential to increase the engagement, awareness, and loyalty of consumers with respect to the brand.
A Paradigm Shift
As we adapt to a new reality, one of the biggest things that happened during the pandemic is the accelerated digital adaptation in India. Whether it is higher penetration or the overall buying behaviour, the brand expectations have also evolved.
Vaibhav Odhekar, Co-Founder of POKKT believes there has been a larger shift towards specific KPI’s and overall ROI of digital campaigns. “While this doesn’t mean everything goes towards performance, there is a significant component of performance measurement of any campaign. This has happened to make most sales & survive in the market during these tough times.”
Brands have to stay aggressive and gain advantages of the whole change by embracing this new reality and adopting new trends that would help businesses. “Mobile ad spends will rise by more than 26% y-o-y and overall spends hit new heights at $143 billion at 20% growth YoY,” Odhekar.
Anish Kapoor, CEO, Infinix Mobile speaks, “Last year, the entire scenario changed when people started looking for smartphones for their kids to attend online classes. Even the government initiatives happening to control the pandemic i.e., COWIN applications or Arogya Setu or the norms – are being created for smartphones.”
We are seeing that people have started to understand the digital world much better, and the market is evolving pretty well says Kapoor. A smartphone is an essential tool now; it’s not something you need as a luxury but one of the necessities to survive.
Adrian Watkins, Marketing & Growth Director APAC, AdColony comments on the shift in brand expectations from pre to post covid times. He says, “COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of digital, and with people in lockdown, there are more people at home playing on their phones, and they could be anyone: young or old, male or female, possibly parents, and of varying degrees of affluence.
“Gamers are no longer just young males playing on their PCs in their bedrooms. Everyone’s playing games during their downtime, it’s a great way to escape,” he adds.
A Penchant For In-game Advertisements
Gaming is one of the most scalable channels for brands to reach diverse target audiences. Every time we introduce a new device in the market, we optimize it with certain value propositions that speak for itself states Kapoor.
“As a marketer, I suggest, stay relevant to the trend. At Infinix, we are tapping into this specific community. It gives us a platform where we can speak with a very niche and targeted audience.”
The mobile company owner further says, “We are creating devices in this space, working on R&D and providing a platform to launch technology that helps a gamer take his game to the next level.”
Watkins avers, “In India, more people have mobile phones. With so much power in the palm of your hand, you can do everything: from playing games to placing orders online. Even more so during the pandemic.”
Brands are starting to realise that if they want to target a potential customer base regardless of who they are, they need to be embracing gaming, and COVID-19 has expedited that by several years explains Watkins.
“At the same time, the bigger brands are asking their agencies to embrace new marketing channels and innovation, which is why in-game advertising has become more important than ever,” he adds.
Brands are definitely inclining for in-game advertisements after seeing a rise in mobile games during COVID-19 believes Odhekar. There has been a significant rise on most criteria that help measure the growth of a category, these include user-base, overall stickiness levels, average time spent etc.
“Currently, 80% of mobile gamers play on each day and hence, has become a decent medium for brands to succeed in resolute their consumers. This presents the largest opportunity for brands to maximise their impact with video ads in 2021,” he says.
One thing that’s clear is that the consumers aren’t going back to their pre-pandemic spending levels anytime soon/later Odhekar states. Within the first 6 months of 2021, consumers spent $1.7 billion per week in mobile games, a 40% rise.
Connecting Gaming With Brand Story
Connecting gaming with your brand story really depends on the message the brand is trying to portray, and the potential customer they are trying to reach. “There are many different types of games and gaming platforms. All of that means that your customer base, regardless of whether they are young, old, male, female, is going to be playing some sort of game, almost certainly on a mobile phone,” says Watkins.
In-game advertising, or posters for gamers, is a newer form of marketing for brands that is brand safe, programmatic, and cannot be ad blocked. “AdColony represents Anzu exclusively in Asia-Pacific who offer this in-game advertising solution. Providing an immersive experience enables brands to be present in a game but not interrupt the gameplay. Similar to our AdColony’s rewarded video product where a user can choose to watch a gamified rewarded video, these products reinforce the value exchange for gamers.”
Infinix has been making investments towards research and development for augmenting the performance of our smartphones. The brand is also empowering the gaming community in India through esports partnerships and contributing towards building the overall esports ecosystem in India. “Through our partnership with India Today for their Esports Premier League, we have ventured into the gaming segment and at the same time, encouraged budding talent in this new age arena,” Kapoor adds.
POKKT on the other hand has several offerings for brands looking to tell their stories in a rich format. “From offerings like facial recognition, smile detection, interactive ads, dynamic ads, etc. brands can avail media-rich options. Our in-app advertisements are in specific tandem with brands. For reference, we had worked with an FMCG client during Ramadan & helped the brand create awareness about their new launch variant and position it as the perfect beverage for breaking the fast,” speaks Odhekar.
“We are also working on a native solution for in-game advertising and are hopeful it will help us change the rules of in-app advertising,” adds Odhekar.