Though the idea of advertising in video games has been around since the computer game Adventureland touted its sequel in 1978, in-game advertising was popularized in 2004. Since then, it’s grown like wildfire, with analysts predicting spending to reach $7.2 billion this year. But what can your industry learn from the games space when it comes to experiential advertising? Turns out, a lot.
Choose your moment
Successful in-game advertisers know that it’s best to show ads at certain natural break points in a game as not to turn off potential customers. Video or digital ads will show while a new level loads, during the game credits or on the menu screen, for example. Advertisers across industries would do well to think about natural break points in the consumer experience, and adapt to those. Some examples:
- Time the release of an emailer so that it arrives around the lunch hour instead of first thing in the morning when key targets are trying to sort through their inboxes.
- Test weekend spurts of Facebook ads when people have more downtime to click through to your CTA.
- Opt for afternoon drive-time radio instead of morning, when the workday is done and targets are more inclined to listen versus flipping the station to find the traffic report.
One type of interactive ad used often in games is called selective ads. This is where a gamer isn’t served just one ad—he/she chooses from a selection of ads. According to Adweek, these types of ads “tend to outperform traditional pre-roll ads, with click-through rates (CTR) higher than pre-roll. Outside of an increased CTR, this practice also helps the ads reach an audience that is interested in the product.” How can you incorporate this into your strategy?
- Use the home page of your website to share a smattering of different products, ideas and concepts so that visitors have a choice in the direction they go.
- Partner with other local companies or organizations targeting your audience with a complementary but not competitive message on a grassroots marketing campaign, video package, direct mailer or print ad.
- Use an online survey to ask audiences which of two or three video ads from your company or organization that they like best. Not only will this inform your future strategy, but it will expose the right targets to your messages regardless of their chosen ad.
Just like your child may need a little incentive to get her shoes on in the morning, audiences tend to respond well to incentive advertising. In-game ads that offer players a reward for viewing a video or digital ad have generated better CTRs than those than don’t—and it’s a practice that advertisers across industries are starting to adopt. From the Wall Street Journal: “Some digital ad experts predict that more brands will employ incentivized ads to help combat the growing problems of ad fraud and viewability, plus the mainstream adoption of ad-blocking software.”
Here are several ways to provide incentive:
- Create a lengthy e-guide that provides new stats, data or tips relevant to your industry and offer it as incentive for viewing your latest video.
- Offer contest entry or VIP attendance at a company-sponsored event for each video viewed in an executive video series.
- Give discounts to transit riders who text a code from the bus or train during commute hours.
Thinking like an in-game advertiser by not interrupting targets during hectic times, offering audiences choices in what they’re seeing and providing incentive for their time can help marketers across all industries draw in more sales leads to their campaigns.