Advertisers Can’t Afford to Ignore Gaming, says new IAB Report

When I got a Words with Friends request from my husband’s grandma, I knew mobile gaming was officially ubiquitous. Gamers of every age and demographic (yes, including the blue-haired) have joined the revolution.

For advertisers, this means a shifting of perception and a realization that they may find their consumers in unexpected places.

This message is prominent in the 2014 IAB report on the games advertising ecosystem. It’s packed with insights on what the current gaming audience looks like and how gaming advertisers are reaching them today.

We read the report, so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know.

Social Has Changed the Gamer

“Driven by mobile/social games, overall player demographics have changed dramatically,” writes the iAB Games Committee.

Combined with the rise in free-to-play games, social gaming is exporting gaming to an audience that cares less about winning and more about spending time with friends. (For that grandma I mentioned, Words with Friends is a way to do just that.)


Greater diversification of game genres has also broadened the audience base. Shooter, racing and strategy games skew male. Quizzes, slots, and social turn-based games skew female. Advertisers must understand these differences, the report says, in order to create relevant, targeted ad content.

Cross-Screen Gaming is the New Buzzword

Though it received lip-service in 2014 as well, cross-screen gaming will undoubtedly be a phrase you love to hate in 2015. That doesn’t undermine its importance. The shift in cross-screen play has been especially pronounced with the rise of mobile phones and tables. Now, 40 million American gamers (that’s about 24% percent of the gamers surveyed) say they play on four screens: TV, computer, feature/smartphones and tablets/handheld consoles. In order to be relevant across platform, advertisers will need to focus on consistency in brand messaging and understand differences in consumer behaviors on each technology.


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There’s a Big Difference Between Core and Casual Games

In planning campaigns, advertisers will want to keep in mind different types of core games and casual social/games. The report defines the later as “short, snackable games,” and the former as “immersive or realistic games that require long time periods to complete.”


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Advertising is Becoming More Innovative

The interactive environment offered by games certainly calls for creativity in advertising – advertising that can immerse the player in the game and reward them for their efforts. IAB expects to see advertisers continue to evolve beyond standard banner ads and pre-roll video ads in the years to come.

“Brands will find new ways to actually be the hero of a game, taking part in the user experience and offering players rewards during moments of “achievement” such as a new high score, or help a person to continue playing when a stuck on a level and in need of help.”

Gaming: The Next Evolution

Marketers can’t afford to ignore gaming, the report concludes.

“With impressive scale and engagement, gaming represents a powerful form of media consumption that reaches a broad target audience… Increasingly, brands are viewing games as valuable and highly engaging content that fits in both their content marketing and paid brand advertising efforts.”

You can read the full report here, or for more of the latest industry news, subscribe to the blog in the right sidebar.