In-Game Ads Increasingly Popular For Performance Despite Ongoing Brand Safety Concerns

In-Game Ads Increasingly Popular For Performance Despite Ongoing Brand Safety Concerns

In-game advertising is becoming increasingly commonplace within Australia’s advertising market, with more than two-thirds of marketers employing the channel. However, new data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau  Australia(IAB) has shown that campaign objectives are changing.

Lead image L-R: Jonas Jaanimagi, tech lead, IAB Australia; Caitlin Huskins, commercial director, Azerion; Yun Yip, chief commercial officer iion; Sasha Smith, chief media officer, Howatson+Company; Emma Barnes, co-founder, Click Media.

While most marketers (72 per cent) use in-game advertising to increase brand awareness, the number using the channel to drive purchases and actions, as well as sales or conversions has more than doubled.

The latest Game Advertising State of the Nation report found that 57 per cent of marketers are using in-game ads to drive purchases and actions, up from 21 per cent last year. For straight sales and conversions, the number has also increased from 15 per cent to 38 per cent.

“In the current economic climate, we’re seeing a massive shift with our clients around proving the efficacy of things,” said Sasha Smith, chief media officer at Howatson+Company during a panel discussion on in-game advertising launching the research.

“They’re asking more detailed questions around ROI on spend, so not only is that affecting test-and-learn budgets, but it’s also affecting anything that sits in the upper funnel.”

However, the most popular metrics for assessing the impact of in-game advertising campaigns remain more closely related to viewing the ad, rather than converting to a sale.

Of marketers using in-game advertising in their campaigns, 95 per cent at least sometimes look for completion rates, while 95 per cent focus on cost-per-completed view and 93 per cent focus on reach and frequency.

The IAB’s research hammered home the growing acceptance among adland that gamers are not exclusively male and nerdy, with more than 15 million Australians consuming online game content last month — and spending an average of 10 hours doing so.

“It continues to be a surprise to people, the bulk of people think that the average Australian gamer is a little boy, sitting in his bedroom shooting up god knows what,” said Raelene Knowles, chief operating officer at Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA).

The IAB’s research showed that women aged 55-65 are the most active mobile gamers, for example, average 1,008 minutes per month. There’s a similar story with tablet gamers, whose most active demographic is 55-64 women as well. However, they spend an extra 400 minutes per month gaming.

However, almost 70 per cent of the desktop market is male and aged 14-24. They spend 225 minutes per month gaming away.

However, while there is a growing interest about in-game advertising — 72 per cent of marketers intend to increase their activity in the next year — the IAB found that the medium is dogged by the same old concerns.

Almost half of the marketers surveyed said that brand safety was their top barrier to increasing investment and more than two-thirds said that brand suitability remained the most pressing issue.

However, Yun Yip, chief commercial officer of iion, said that the industry was improving on this front.

“There are different ways in which you can apply technology, similar to how you would apply it to programmatic campaigns, you can now run a lot of these brand safety, as well as ad fraud measures.”

The assembled speakers at the IAB’s launch event listed off a number of brilliant campaigns and activations in games such as Roblox and New Balance’s recent mobile gaming campaign that saw 1.5 million ad impressions tracked and converted in 94,000 store visits.

However, the most compelling and moving campaign for those on stage and in the audience alike, was Maybelline’s “Through Their Eyes” work that shone a light on the misogynistic abuse that female gamers have to endure on a daily basis.

Given that Maybelline has the comments turned off and so many women found it relatable, it seems game advertising, though promising, has a way to go.

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