Why the ad industry needs to change the way it thinks about gaming

Gaming presents an incredible opportunity for both advertisers and game developers to work together to reach an audience of over 180bn in creative and innovative ways that are currently either overlooked, underused, or not understood by many in the industry.

With this in mind, Joost van Dreunen, former CEO and Co-Founder of SuperData Research and author of One Up joined Itamar Benedy, Co-Founder and CEO of Anzu, the world’s most advanced in-game advertising platform, and multimedia gaming journalist Mitch Reames, in the latest Anzu Talks webinar.

The implications of ignoring gaming as an advertising channel
Gaming has become second nature to Gen Z, who are using games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft as a space to hang out, learn, create and chat. Joost explained that he spent a lot of time at SuperData Research educating the world’s leading brands on how gaming is where they need to be to reach this audience and stay relevant. 

He highlighted that many of the senior executives and key decision-makers he met with from these big institutions still see gaming as it was in the late 1980s and 90s. Many believe that games are steeped in violence and gamers are one type of person, which, he confirmed, couldn’t be further from the truth.

He also believes the reason many of these brands are still hesitant about gaming has nothing to do with data, measurement, or technology but rather that the decision-makers do not understand the industry and the opportunities it presents and so see gaming as a risk rather than a reward. He believes it will take a new generation of decision-makers and managers who are versed in gaming and understand how the ecosystem works for it to truly take hold. 

However, he believes that something that is helping brands understand the potential of this industry right now is the cross-pollination of gaming with other sectors. “We are starting to see people who have worked in the gaming world take up roles within large brands and ad agencies who are then becoming advocates for gaming within those institutions, helping to transform the mindsets of the decision-makers from the inside.” 

Understanding where your future consumers are
Joost also commented that “because of these outdated mindsets, many brands are missing out on a young tech-savvy audience who are early adopters and are completely comfortable within the digital world.”

Itamar agreed and followed up Joost’s observations by saying that “we know these digital natives spend a lot of time playing video games, they have swapped linear TV for subscription-based streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ where there is no advertising, and they are more likely than any other generation to install ad blockers when browsing the web. This means that these big global entities that are universally known across the world, like McDonald’s, risk weakening their brands because they are not regularly in front of these digital natives.”

He continued by saying that “in-game advertising is essential for these businesses, and it’s why more and more are turning to Anzu because we are allowing them to naturally reach these audiences by becoming part of their favorite games. Helping to boost brand recall and organically build a rapport with these generations who will grow up to become their future consumers and brand ambassadors.”

Why how we think about gaming needs to change
According to Joost, the mindset that many brands have towards gaming is nothing new. He believes it transcends every aspect of our society and can be traced back throughout history. 

“For some reason, play has always been kept separate from the rest of society. If we look back throughout history, places have always been built to house and contain games. The Colosseum in Rome is an excellent example of an enclosed space constructed to keep play separate from the rest of society.”

This conversation was taken from Anzu Talks, a series of digital webinars that gather C-suite executives and leading experts in the gaming, advertising, marketing, and AdTech worlds to share insights on the gaming industry and advertising in games. Click here to watch the latest episode on demand.

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