Game in the marketing mix: how brands play their cards right

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Even though digital advertising continues to increase its share of advertising budgets, it is expected to overtake TV AdEx by the end of this year, as predicted by the Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2022. While traditional advertising has recovered from the pandemic-induced crisis, the future is unmistakably digital. And one of the key segments of digital advertising is gaming. No longer confined to niche audiences, gaming has become part of everyday life, from Call of Duty to Wordle to spinning the wheel after an Amazon or Swiggy purchase. Media consumption is becoming more game-centric, and brands and agencies have taken notice as they add more and more games to their media mix and budgets.

Faraz Sayed, director of media planning at Carat India, believes that every successful brand has played or will play the game. -forms offers unlimited options. Naturally, any brand that needs engagement and experience will be associated with these games,” he says.

“Globally, iconic fashion brands like Nike, Gucci and Vans have managed to make their mark by exhibiting the creative association with games. In India, there is huge potential for edu-tech brands because games like Minecraft are not just seen as a simple game, but as a learning experience,” Sayed adds.

With the plethora of content in all formats circulating and attention spans shrinking, consumers need to be truly intrigued and engaged by any advertising content that comes their way. Animesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO of 8bit Creatives, a leading gaming talent management agency and a former esports athlete himself, says that due to this media saturation, advertisers today are looking to engage their audience in a new way.

“Once brands start seeing lasting results, more of them will flock to it. Additionally, gamers and developers who are looking at brand interest, are starting to create space for brand integrations,” agrees Sanmesh Sapkal, Associate Director – Large Accounts, TheSmallBigIdea”, adding “When these two factors come together, we are likely to see a boom. Which may happen sooner rather than later, as games with their fun factor could potentially turn a curious customer into a loyal fan due to the high level of engagement and association the user will have.”

“Gaming content is completely disrupting the content market in all of these respects. With formats such as live streams, tournaments, interactive games, etc. being very common in games, game creators share a level of intimacy with their subscribers and fans, in an unprecedented way.Apart from the obvious tangibles such as better engagement rates, CTR and ROI, the brand seeks to work with gamers to also leverage these intangibles such than authenticity and intimacy,” says Agarwal.

Indeed, Bindu Balakrishnan, Country Head, India, DCMN, believes that gaming is still underutilized as an advertising medium and that the gamer demographic is broader and more inclusive than you might think.

“Gamers are expected to represent 3 billion users by 2023. The gender gap in gaming is also beginning to close: in 2021, women accounted for 45% of gamers in the United States. While that number is significantly lower in India (only 18% are female), their numbers are growing at a faster rate than male gamers. This opens up a huge pool of users for advertisers, with strong targeting opportunities across demographics.” , she notes.

Balakrishnan adds that gaming is also attractive to advertisers because of the type of behavior it requires: when people are playing, they are very involved – it is a captive audience, unlike for example television, which is a very passive. “People are more likely to see and remember ads when they’re engrossed in a game. And because users tend to play games to relax, you also surprise them during their downtime, that is, when they can be most receptive to advertisements and discover a new product,” she points out.

Agarwal notes that there is also enough evidence of ROI for brands working with gamers and that more and more brands are betting on working with the gaming industry every day. “Brands targeting a growing youth demographic in India have recognized gamers as a key demographic, which is confirmed by our association with brands like MamaEarth, Cadbury, Coca Cola, KFC, Aurus, One Plus, etc.” he observes.

Anirudh Pandita – Founder – Loco Gaming agrees: “We have seen both endemic and non-endemic brands participating in the gaming ecosystem. Brands like Logitech, AMD, which are traditionally associated with esports. We now see FMCG giants from Perfetti to Unilever and tech majors like Flipkart, Jio, Swiggy exploring space.

Industry insiders also note that the population of gamers in India is growing rapidly, due to multiple factors such as companies creating a gaming ecosystem, government slowly supporting the industry, internet penetration, low-cost mobile devices, etc.

Sayed concludes that public engagement with games is growing by leaps and bounds, saying, “In fact, games are now starting to get more attention than various social media platforms. This is a fantastic opportunity for brands. and advertisers to reach an already active and engaged audience. As your audience grows and becomes popular, digital marketers risk falling behind if they don’t engage.”

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