Leveling Up Your Holiday Strategy: Gaming’s Role in Reaching and Engaging Audiences

Co-authored by Andrew Cassin, Senior Director Agency & Enterprise Partnerships, Equativ & Yaniv Rozencweig, VP International Clients & Partnerships, Anzu

Marketers looking to capitalize on peak interest around specific products or services understand the importance of reaching their audiences at the right time and place. Historically, the Upfronts have played a huge role in many marketers’ strategies. Before the event even began, brands were busy identifying specific channels to lock up inventory bundles in preparation for launching their campaigns.

More recently, programmatic advertising has enabled brands and agencies to take advantage of more effective means of combining media and data to target audiences during tentpole events in real-time across several channels. Gaming has emerged as a leader as we start to see a shift in which channels outperform in effectively reaching and engaging audiences.

Grabbing Attention With Gaming This Black Friday

With the fourth quarter rapidly approaching, we’re about to enter the biggest stretch of the year for digital advertisers. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales hit an all-time high of $281 billion in 2022. Gaming presents a big opportunity for advertisers looking to authentically connect with an audience of over 3 billion this holiday season. The largest group of Black Friday consumers are between 25 -34 years old. These shoppers are tech-savvy and ready to spend. According to Capital One, 46% of Black Friday shoppers made impulse buys last year, and 37% bought a new brand for the first time.

Data from Global Web Index reveals that the typical Black Friday shopper over-indexes on their interest in gaming (i119) and eSports (i131). Shoppers aged 16-34 game daily (i135), and 67% of Gen Z games with friends and family during the holiday season to help relieve stress during the busy holiday season.

A successful awareness strategy ensures that powerful creative messaging will grab the user’s attention while remaining contextually relevant to the environment in which the message is placed. In-game advertising is a channel that checks off each of these boxes. It’s also a lot easier to stand out and grab attention in gaming, especially in the lead-up to busy events like Black Friday, where marketers often struggle to stand out above the noise. Anzu and Lumen’s latest research found that the average time spent viewing ads is 2.9 seconds, but only 43% of digital ad formats exceeded that 2-second threshold. In contrast, the study showed in-game advertising drives more attention by a much larger margin, exceeding 69% of all other digital advertising formats.

Gaming Transcends Brand Verticals

Whether it’s someone looking for a new game console for their child, jewelry for their significant other, or a new chew toy for their pet, your target audience is most likely a gamer persona of some kind. Advertising within games is one of the more vertical agnostic channels brands can leverage, especially since gaming audiences are vast, diverse, and open to advertising. Anzu’s in-game ad report found that 7 in 10 gamers in the US are positive or neutral towards in-game advertising, with half aged between 25-44 saying it enhances the gaming experience.

In-game advertising also has the ability to reach consumers all across the marketing funnel through immersive in-game display and video formats. These ads are non-clickable and complement the gaming experience rather than sending players out of it and offer unique brand awareness opportunities. Through brand lift studies, it’s also possible to see the impact the ads have had on tangible business metrics like ad recall and purchase intent. Gaming can also be used as an excellent addition to omnichannel campaigns. For example, complementing gaming formats with CTV and OTT audience strategies can be highly effective as those gaming personas are also likely to be consumers of live-streaming TV content.

If you’re looking for a way to get your brand in front of receptive audiences this holiday season, gaming should be a part of your strategy. In addition to driving performance, you’ll be able to leverage the time gamers spend playing individually and with friends and family to build long-term brand awareness that will last through the holiday season and beyond.