How to Use Video Games to Your Marketing Advantage
For a long time, gamers have often been overlooked as an accessible customer base for different industries. However, now that video games have become more mainstream, it’s time for companies to take notice.
Although it’s true that advertising in large-scale games like Madden might be cost costly for everyone but the largest corporations, there are a wide variety of smaller games ripe for organizations of any size to take advantage of for marketing purposes. With the expansive range of game types and players nowadays, practically any business can jump on board.
Here are a few ways you can use video games as the next platform for advertising.
One method to start marketing in video games is by implementing in-game product placement. This is considered passive, as players don’t actually interact with anything branded. Instead, you can place ads within the environment of the game, such as in virtual sports arenas, loading menus, and audio soundtracks.
For example, Madden and Old Spice used a combination of audio and visual advertisements that corresponded to events in the game. Reflecting real-life NFL football, anytime a player ran into the “Red Zone,” the in-game announcer would announce that the “Red Zone is brought to you by Old Spice” – just like they do in reality. This played the dual role of making the game more true to reality and providing a great marketing platform for the company.
Players have responded well to in-game product placement; for instance, a study by Levelwing found that after seeing in-game ads, two-thirds of gamers felt more positively about the brand depicted. Instead of being annoyed by the presence of ads, they liked the fact that companies were taking notice of the community.
This strategy is a little more involved but still effective: companies can also insert branding into objects that players interact with in-game. You can create branded virtual items and work with game developers to set up miniature “side quests” to encourage gamers to compete for boosts and prizes.
For instance, the popular video game Destiny includes a Red Bull mini-quest in its expansion pack, The Taken King. This allows players to interact with branded items within the game to complete certain tasks. Even more, the quest focuses on speed and agility – significant aspects of the Red Bull brand message.
Since in-game advertising like this has been found to increase gamers’ purchase intent by 24%, this is an effective, innovative way to get your brand message out to a wider audience. It encourages users to interact with your brand in a positive way and is simply a lot of fun.
Organizations can also start marketing in video games by supplying virtual, branded objects that players can purchase in real or in-game currency. Some sponsored items provide players with advantages like increased speed or accuracy, while others just look cool and are worn as bragging rights for players in-game.
One of the most effective examples of this strategy is in the NBA 2K series. These games have a partnership with Adidas in which certain Adidas-branded virtual items provide an extra boost of speed and strength to players during the game. These items can be purchased with in-game or real money, making them accessible to players of different skill levels and willingness to spend real currency on micro-transactions.
This is an especially effective form of marketing, as consumer engagement across the gaming category is “consistently strong,” averaging 82% throughout the first six weeks post-install. This means that if you effectively brand items within the game, your customer base will most likely engage with them in some way.
Finally, some organizations are jumping on the rise of video game popularity by sponsoring players and tournaments for the relatively new e-sports industry. Operating similarly to the professional sports industry, e-sports involve professional gamers competing for prizes and money in front of crowds. These tournaments have even been broadcasted on ESPN, and have seen double-digit growth in attendance in the past few years.
For example, the popular indie game Rocket League will have its Grand Finals tournament broadcasted on NBC Sports this year. Sponsored by major corporations like Brisk and Old Spice, the tournament organizers expect to have a record-breaking number of viewers – which means a huge level of brand promotion for those companies.
Now that gaming has become a mainstream pastime, major corporations have started to notice and take advantage of the industry’s marketing potential. However, smaller organizations have points of entry into this opportunity as well, by working with developers of smaller games.
What are some other ways marketing can be effective in video games?