Commentary

Why Aren't More Brands In Gaming Space?

Gaming is officially a $43 billion industry. Still, non-endemic brands are still nervous to take the leap into this industry -- and they are seriously missing out on an untapped audience.

For brands looking to reach these new audiences and build lasting relationships with consumers, the below takeaways should help focus their efforts to achieve maximum impact:

Fight the misconceptions. Education should always be the first step. Brands looking to expand their marketing efforts into the gaming industry should approach it holistically — not like other traditional sports sponsorships. Laying out an understanding of the landscape, where the industry has come from and where it’s going, provides insight into how a specific brand can get involved.

The equivalent of slapping a logo around a sports stadium does not have the same effect on fans in the gaming space. With this expansive audience, different genres, and dramatic variety within each platform, understanding how to segment and utilize the right platform for your brand is crucial.

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Enter the dialogue. The gaming industry is giving brands the unique opportunity to enter a two-way dialogue with its star players and their die-hard fans -- the depth of emotion and connection here is much greater than with a traditional Instagram influencer, for example.

Gaming influencers are also giving their fans acknowledgement in front of their millions of followers -- talk about a relationship! There’s an emotional labor that each of these influencers put in -- some, as their full-time job -- to foster and curate relationships that aren’t typical of other sports.

Plus, today’s audiences typically consume brands digitally, which already puts gaming ahead of other sports. 

Finding the platform that works for your brand is also key. It’s not  always about going after the largest influencers. Sometimes lesser-known influencers, who have a smaller but super dedicated fanbase, are better. But more important than anything else, having an authentic voice when entering this dialogue is absolutely essential. 

Understand the evolution. It’s about aligning with the industry itself vs. the individual pieces. Technology is going to continue to evolve to make gaming better — another differentiator when compared to traditional sports. No other sport has been able to improve so exponentially, but gaming has and will. Invest in the community, treat the industry as the growing entertainment channel it is and evolve with it. Marketing your brand one way this year, might not work next year. 

Get experiential. Experiential marketing has hit its stride -- and since the gaming industry is an experiential world in the first place, curating activations and experiences for the consumer in the space builds genuine, lasting relationships. 

For example, consider creating real-world rewards from online gameplay to enhance your fans’ experience to create value for your brand thereafter. True magic happens when brands put consumers in immersive branded experiences.  Short of becoming a character in your favorite video game, perhaps the next best way to experience an imaginary world is to live it. 

4 comments about "Why Aren't More Brands In Gaming Space?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 21, 2019 at 1:24 p.m.

    Some useful advice, Brad. However, the research positions gaming---videogaming--- as mainly a very young person's medium and that's not the core target of many advertisers. Another issue is content--- often very violent content---- in many games---which scares off many advertisers. I wonder if there is an association that promotes this media sector as its primary focus and is dealing with such issues---as well as others, like audience measurement.

  2. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, August 22, 2019 at 9:24 p.m.

    Gaming is as ubiquitous a word as "sports."  Do your research.  Start with the audience, not the IP.  Get people who know the space to help.

  3. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment replied, August 22, 2019 at 9:28 p.m.

    "as mainly a very young person's medium and that's not the core target of many advertisers."

    No idea where you are getting your research, but advertisers have been targeting 18-34 year olds for decades.  Arguably, gaming offers the most reliable way to reach this demographic.

    As far as your comment about violent content, again, outdated perception not understanding the industry or the audience.  The majority of top grossing movies are very violent.  They have been for years.  But for whatever reason, violence is used as an excuse not to engage the audience.  

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 23, 2019 at 1:17 a.m.

    Hi Dan, My research comes from sources like Nielsen which indicate that its not just millennials but teens and below who are the primary videogame users, As for the claim that many advertisers are targeting millennials, maybe, but certainly not exclusively. Most advertisers are targeting broader audiences which happen to include millennials---but not to the point where they are fixated on millennials---as the all -important, primary, demo. Are videogames a scary proposition for advertisers? For some, one might think so, for others, maybe not. Are videogames the best and safest way to reach millennials? Golly, what about digital videos---or radio? And what about "TV"? A smart agency can find plenty of ways to reach millennials using the right combinationof TV vehicles--like the CW network or a selection of cable channels or syndicated sitcom reruns, for example. "TV is pretty "safe", I would think.

    Actually, if millennials really were the focus of my attention as an advertiser, I would certainly consider videogames as well as all of the other logical and viable  options. A mix of media would probably be the way I'd go for many reasons---reach attainment as well as getting the message across in various ways, not a single way, etc.Not all millennials march to the same drummer. But I doubt that I would rate videogames---or any other media platform---- as my "must buy". 

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