Closer Look At Gamers: Safe Ad Placement Does Matter

Earlier this week, the IAB released a report on the buy side’s misperceptions about gaming advertising. 

The report notes that gamers are no longer knee-jerk opponents to in-game advertising. According to the 40 advertising, publishing and ad-tech executives who were interviewed, gamers are “receptive to ads that are authentic and communicate a clear value exchange.” 

It also notes that advertisers can now use new tech capabilities, as well as planning measures, to minimize brand-safety risks. 

But what do gamers themselves say about ads these days? That seems pretty relevant for marketers who want to use mobile (the dominant channel for gaming, per chart below) and/or other devices to reach and turn gamers into customers. 

Integral Ad Science/IAS -- which, it's important to note, markets "in-game media quality solutions" -- conducted a survey of 1,100 adult U.S. gamers in October, released this year.

And yes, this survey confirms that most (69%) of today’s gamers (who, far from being mainly teenage boys, now include two out of three Americans, as IAB noted) agree or strongly agree that they are “open” to in-game ads, as long as the ads don’t disrupt the gaming experience.

Most also confirm that they prefer to see ads that are related to the content of the game they’re playing (61%), and that they are likely to purchase from a brand whose ads are relevant to the game’s content (57%). Fairly upbeat results, from a marketer’s standpoint. 

Somewhat more surprising are gamers’ thoughts about content safety. 

Nearly three quarters (73%) agreed that there are types of games that promote “risky” content. 

Asked which types of content they would describe as “risky” for brands to appear near, sexually explicit content was the most-cited (by 70%), followed by drug use (59%) and violence (53%). The burgeoning online gambling industry might want to take note that 40% consider games that promote gambling with real currency to be risky, too.


More than half (55%) said they’re likely to remember a brand that advertises near risky content, 47% said they feel less favorably toward such brands, and 83% agreed that brands are at least somewhat responsible for their ads appearing near harmful spaces in gaming, like voice chats or chat rooms. 

Further, 43% said that the content a brand advertises near influences their decisions to purchase its products or services, and 44% that they’re likely to avoid purchasing from such brands. 

Clearly, safe ad placement does matter to many gamers.

So it's obviously a good thing if it's become easier than in the past to control the context of in-game ads. And it seems clear that brands considering entering the gaming universe would be wise to go the extra mile to vet solutions and make sure that their ads won't be  getting noticed for the wrong reasons. 

Advertising issues aside, in addition to the dominance of mobile devices for gaming, IAS’s survey also found that 56% of video gamers spend at least eight hours per week playing, and that puzzle and party games are the most popular genre:

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