Gaming in marketing mix: How brands are playing their cards right

Globally, iconic brands in fashion like Nike, Gucci and Vans have successfully associated with games

e4m by Shantanu David
Published: Jun 13, 2022 8:49 AM  | 5 min read

Even as digital advertising continues to expand its share of the advertising budgets, it is expected to exceed 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 slump, the future is indisputably digital. And one of the key segments driving digital advertising is gaming. No longer confined to niche audiences, gaming has become a part of daily life, from Call of Duty to Wordle to spinning the wheel after an Amazon or Swiggy purchase. Media consumption is becoming increasingly game-driven, and both brands and agencies have taken note, as they increasingly add gaming to their media mix and budgets.

Faraz Sayed, Director – Media Planning, Carat India, believes that every successful brand already has or is going to play the game. "Globally, almost every leading brand has incorporated gaming in its marketing by now. The creative canvas of these platforms provides limitless options. Naturally, any brand which needs engagement and experience will be seen associated with these games,” he says.

“Globally, iconic brands in fashion like Nike, Gucci and Vans have successfully made their mark by exhibiting the creative association with games. In India, there’s a huge potential for edu-tech brands as games like Minecraft are not only deemed simply as a game but a learning experience,” adds Sayed.

With the plethora of content in all formats floating around and diminishing attention spans, consumers need to be really intrigued and engaged by any advertising content that comes their way. Animesh Agarwal, Founder-CEO at 8bit Creatives, a leading gaming talent management agency and an ex-esports athlete himself, says due to this media-saturation, advertisers today are looking to engage their audience in a never-before manner.

"Once brands start getting sustained results, more of them will flock towards it. Also, gamers and developers looking at the interest of brands, start creating space for brand integrations," agrees Sanmesh Sapkal, Associate Director – Key Accounts, TheSmallBigIdea," adding "When both of these factors, come together, we are likely to see a boom. Which may happen sooner rather than later considering games with their fun factor could potentially turn a curious customer into a loyal fan due to the high level of engagement and association that the user will have."

“Gaming content completely overhauls the content market on all these counts. With formats like live streams, tournaments, interactive gameplays, etc being very common in gaming, the gaming creators share a level of intimacy with their followers and fans, in a way that's unprecedented. Apart from the obvious tangibles like better engagement rates, CTRs and ROI, the brand is looking to work with gamers to also leverage these intangibles like authenticity and intimacy,” Agarwal says.

Indeed, Bindu Balakrishnan, Country Head, India, DCMN, believes that gaming is still being underused as an advertising medium, and the demographics of gamers are broader and more inclusive than you might think. 

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

Balakrishnan adds that gaming is also attractive to advertisers because of the type of behaviour it requires: when people are playing, they’re very involved - it’s a captive audience, unlike for example TV, which is a very passive activity. “People are more likely to view and recall ads when they are engrossed in a game. And because users tend to play games to relax, you’re also catching them in their downtime - i.e. when they may be most receptive to ads and to discover a new product,” she points out.

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

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

Industry insiders also note that the gaming population in India is growing rapidly, owing to multiple factors like companies building a gaming ecosystem, government building support slowly for the industry, internet penetration, low-cost mobile devices, etc.

Sayed concludes that audience engagement with gaming is increasing 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 expands and becomes popular, digital marketers risk falling behind if they don't engage."



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