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A new report has laid bare the misunderstandings, misconceptions and muddle that lie behind advertiser attitudes toward in-game advertising, as well as some handy hints for what brands must do to push the right buttons.

The state of play

  • The report, compiled by Admix and Atomik Research, quizzed 400 media buyers on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • Admix, a platform for incorporating ads and product placement within gameplay, found that an overwhelming 93% of media buyers intend to run in-game advertising by 2025, indicating that awareness is high, even if an understanding of how to unlock this potential is still wanting.

  • It’s not hard to understand advertiser enthusiasm for in-game media, with around 3 billion active gamers globally spending a cumulative $176bn on games in 2021, a figure which is only going to head in one direction through to 2023 when it will likely surpass $200bn.

  • Despite dollar signs spinning in the eyes of brands and advertisers, few understand what is involved in making gaming a viable media channel, particularly on mobile, which now dwarfs both PC and console gaming combined.

  • Samuel Huber, chief executive officer and co-founder at Admix, commented: “Just as the desktop web was the dominant media channel for the 2000s, surpassed by social media in the 2010s, video gaming is now on the cusp of claiming the crown of key media channel. However, although buyers are broadly aware of this, the survey reveals that they appear to underestimate how close we are to it becoming a reality.

  • “Gaming is still a massive, intangible opportunity in the minds of many advertisers. Education is needed, therefore, to give them the knowledge and confidence they need to access it in a meaningful way with in-play; and reap the rewards it represents.”

Key findings

  • This found that 81% of media buyers will maintain or increase in-game advertising spend over the next 12 months, with 83% embracing the format to some degree by 2025.

  • Fueling this growth is broader availability of programmatic options, third-party verification for in-game advertising performance and an increase in the availability of in-game inventory.

  • A lack of understanding remains the greatest barrier to adoption, however, with 31% unsure how to go about building their gaming presence.

  • This isn’t helped by outdated stereotypes of gamers as male console players when in fact of 3 billion global gamers, 2.8 billion play on mobile, split evenly between male and female.

  • Interestingly US advertisers are less gung-ho than their British counterparts, with 23% of US buyers foregoing in-game advertising owing to resistance from clients v just 9% in the UK.

  • Meanwhile, 52% of UK media buyer clients are clamoring for in-game activity over the next year v 33% in the US.