The Ad Game: Is My Audience Busy Playing Video Games?

Ben Barenholtz, Senior Director, Global Marketing


You won’t see it in many marketers’ advertising playbooks for 2016, but it happens to be a highly influential channel for engaging potential buyers.


It’s game advertising.


The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says “many agencies and marketers run from advertising on games for all the wrong reasons.”


So what are all the right reasons? Let’s look at some truths about video game advertising, so you can determine if the playing field is worth consideration.  


Audience Diversity


In the U.S., there are 155 million people who play video games – nearly half the population. Of those, 30 percent fall in the millennial category (between the ages of 18 and 35), the largest group of American video game players.


The average game player age is 35 years old, with the most frequent female game player being 43 years old.


Another fact: women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population than boys age 18 or younger.


These numbers are myth busters for those of you who view gamers as angst-ridden teenagers. And for those who are looking to differentiate their ad spend this year, this data represents nothing short of opportunity.


Audience Preferences


While 89 percent of consumers are not O.K. with advertising that interrupts their gaming, a recent Google/Ipsos MediaCT survey revealed that 75 percent of YouTube Gamers want content from brands that taps into their passions.


The same survey suggests 83 percent of gamers want branded content that entertains them, and 70 percent want useful information about how to use the brand’s products/services.


These are powerful numbers, especially considering 40 percent of YouTube Gamers say they are influenced by video content they watched online.


Audience Behavior


At this point, we really have only looked at gamers as those who play games. The truth is, gamers also include those who watch someone else play games.


This subsection of gaming is an important distinction, as it potentially spells out different preferences, demographics, and buying behaviors that need to be considered before committing to game advertising.


Nevertheless, those who watch games and those who play them can all be included in potential buyer categories.

Is This Really My Audience?

The gaming audience may seem most relevant to B2C advertisers, which is fair. But while gamers make sense most often in B2C, there may be enough relevance to caution B2B advertisers not to dismiss the segment out-of-hand. Millennials have been in the workforce for some time, and data shows they’re rising to positions with moderate decision-making power.


In B2B, the ‘extended buying committee’ also plays a critical role in the buying process. Many gamers are young professionals and are likely to be ‘buying influencers’ in the workplace, tasked with product research and conducting due diligence on business solutions (hardware, software, etc.) under consideration. They’re also known, and often expected, to bring in fresh ideas and find unique one-off solutions for the business. The millennial gamer may be the first person to introduce a hot app, like the increasingly popular team communication software Slack, to their company.

Regardless if gamers are the right target audience for a particular B2B advertiser, they serve as an excellent reminder that reaching the wider buying team, as opposed to exclusively focusing on top-level decision makers, can be a hugely effective advertising strategy

Some of the audience data above should remind all marketers to be diligent about leveraging account- and intent-based data to reach your audience - whether their nose is buried in a publication or in a game.