The Art Of Gaming Marketing

One of the great loves of my life (and one of my best kept secrets -- until now) is gaming.

I have spent so much time online playing games, but it’s something I never talk about. Why? Maybe it’s because I’m a woman. Maybe it’s because I’m a CEO. Maybe I’m afraid I won't be taken seriously.

But that time is past. It is now time for me to “step out of the shadows,” especially as an advocate for women in advertising, marketing and business in general, because now there is a particularly compelling reason to discuss it.

Thinking like a gamer is a superpower. Considering all the talk about gaming around us, the ability to understand that storytelling environment -- or, how to “think like a gamer” -- is an enormous asset. It's estimated the global gaming market will amount to $268 billion annually in 2025. The opportunities for brands in this space are nearly limitless.



Using gaming to engage and convert. You can’t change hearts and minds with a big idea alone. Connecting and converting the modern consumer is all about meeting them where they are, in the thick of the customer journey, where multiple touchpoints build a lasting connection with your brand. It is that point where gaming can be… well, a game-changer.

As an audience segment for advertisers, gaming has been somewhat on the fringe. Brands and advertisers have generally not understood how to engage. As the space becomes more mainstream, though, opportunities for brands that are willing to explore are growing.

Successful campaigns start where brand followers are consuming content online.

That is where we should be telling stories. And we know gamers have active audiences that drive conversion. Gaming truly is the convergence of performance and possibility.

Gaming is only getting bigger. As marketers, though, we’ve really only scratched the surface; gaming is now everywhere. Women make up 45% of gamers in the U.S., which has been the case for a decade. The average age of gamers is 31, and 80% of all gamers are over the age of 18. According to Nielsen, 58% of the total U.S. population in 2013 were gamers. Today, it’s grown to 72%.

The opportunity for brands to create content for this massive (and growing) audience, then, is incredible, and it’s particularly exciting to see these possibilities opening up in the industry I love.

A lifelong gamer. From growing up battling my dad on our PC with Star Wars race games and Lemmings, to my first Game Boy, to my limited edition blue Sega Genesis, I have always been playing. Today, I’ve graduated to an array of games, from my Nintendo Switch to PokemonGO on my phone -- and can we talk about how Edith Finch is the most beautiful game of all time!?

In fact, I run a Discord group for gamers, because we wanted to make sure there was a positive (no trolls allowed) corner of the internet for people to go. That group and its members were already a happy place for me, and then when I later got to meet the Discord team at a Stagwell SXSW event… major fan girl moment!

What’s next?

It's practically a fait accompli that, moving forward, gaming is going to be a part of brands’ advertising media mix. Brands need to explore partnerships from in-game product placement to sponsoring gaming influencers, and partnering with all the social networks that focus on gaming.

No matter the story you are trying to tell, it’s now increasingly likely that a portion of your audience is spending time with gaming communities online. If you aren’t creating content there, you are missing out on rich engagement.

Gaming is the evolution of influencer marketing; it’s the evolution of CTV and display networks, of VR. And it’s the next stage of the industry we're in. As the conversation on opportunities for branded content in games grows and evolves, brands will benefit from working with agencies that actually understand the space.

4 comments about "The Art Of Gaming Marketing".
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  1. Keith Pape from YellowPike Media, September 28, 2022 at 2:51 p.m.

    Welcome to the darkside Maggie

  2. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, October 4, 2022 at 8:57 a.m.

    Gaming has been mainstream for decades.  It has had a massive audience for decades, but largely ignored by trade publications and agencies buying into the unwarranted stereotypes of gamers.

    The other issue is that too many media outlets are painting "gamers" as if it is one, large cohesive audience and it is far from that.  When you speak of gaming, it's like saying "young people like sports."

    Then you have to figure out where your target audience is.  Just like the hockey fan is very different from a tennis fan, a Call of Duty or Rocket League fan is very different than a League of Legends or Angry Birds fan.

    As for agencies that actually understand the space, there are a few.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 4, 2022 at 9:53 a.m.

    I happen to believe that  gaming can generate the most responsive audience for the right kind of ad that is available except, perhaps, for podcasts. By right kind of ad I don't mean a standard "slice of life" commercial for Tide detergent or Gleem toothpaste. The ad message should be for something that the gamer might relate to while absorbed in the game--which could be a sports car, a Hollywood movie launch, an energy drink, a streaming service, etc. --there are lots and lots of possibilities. And the commercial should be tailored for the gaming media environment and competitive mindset. So my question---I guess for Dan----is this. If a national advertiser wanted to use the gaming medium on a national basis are there ways to buy time in a uniform manner, with approprite measurements, billing procedures, etc. more or less like dealing with a TV network? Or are you going to have to deal with each of many ad sellers individually?Are "programmatic" buys the solution---or do they bring with them too much baggage? I have been asked questions like this and find myself unable to answer them. 

  4. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment replied, October 5, 2022 at 3:46 a.m.

    @Ed - there are programmatic buys that are possible for gaming. Believe it or not, there have been programmatic options for over a decade and that's what I mean when I say that gaming has been mainstream and has offered effective advertising options for the past 20 years.  But for whatever reason, trade publications like MP, Ad Age, etc. and most agency groups have largely ignored the opportuity. I was personally selling these ideas more than 15 years ago and no matter how good the research, I had planning groups and buyers tell me they didn't believe in the numbers.  You can only lead a horse to water.

    While I personally think there are much more effective ways to engage gaming audiences, you can buy programmatically through a company like Anzu.  YouTube and Twitch are lazy media buys, but a company like Anzu will meet your agency requirements and will be a more targeted vehicle.

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