Christian Facey, CEO and co-founder of in-game audio ads outfit AudioMob, offers a straightforward guide to the true make-up of gaming demographics
If you have put any time of late into considering the opportunity video games present your brand or client, then you likely already know that they are extremely popular today.
It’s frequently cited that now some 2.7 billion people - or around a third of the planet - play video games. The same Newzoo study found that 2.5 billion of those are mobile gamers, presenting a vast group of highly engaged, highly attentive players. The overall industry, meanwhile, presents a $159.3 billion market; one expected to grow to $200.8 billion by just 2023. 77% of that $200.8 billion - equalling $154.6 billion - will come from in-game revenue streams such as ads placed in games.
Impressive figures, by any tally. It’s a remarkable opportunity for advertisers and brands. But, in truth, the value of that audience isn’t about its scale alone. It’s made up of an incredibly diverse group of distinctly and intersecting demographics, whether you are talking age, income, interests, location or myriad other factors.
Plainly, not enough brands are embracing the gaming opportunity, spending 40 times less on advertising in games than on TV, even though audiences are spending four times more time consuming games.
In truth, whether you’re advertising financial services, sporting equipment, healthcare products or icons of popular music, you can be sure to find a perfect fit for your brand in games. Perhaps that sounds counterintuitive to you. Are there really gamers interested in financial services? The answer is unequivocally ‘yes’. But let's consider the gap between the perception of those that play games, and the reality.
Today, ‘gamers’ are too commonly understood to exist as a singular monolithic entity. Old stereotypes persist, and many imagine that the gaming audience is made up solely or predominantly of teenage males devoted to nerd culture. That audience might have tremendous value to certain brands, but they are just one of many groups that put considerable time into games.
Beyond the 'gamer' cliché
To comprehend every facet of the true demographic diversity of gaming audiences can feel a little overwhelming. In fact, it’s close to impossible, such is the scale of the opportunity. Fortunately, to get an informed sense of the general reality of gaming audiences today, one can turn to reliable myth-busting data. Consider the following:
- Globally, at least 63% of mobile gamers are women
- In the US 44% of adults aged 50 and above play video games regularly
- Also in the US, 49% of women play games regularly, compared to 40% of men
- 71% of mothers play video games; a group found to be more likely than most to recommend brands to friends, and more likely to share products on social media
- In the UK, 86% of people aged 16-to-69 have played video games in the last year. 54% play ‘on most days’
- Commonly, many devoted video game players do not recognise themselves as ‘gamers’. In the UK, only a third of women who say they play games most days would identify as a ‘gaming hobbyist’. This is understood to reflect the audience perception that only certain games count as ‘real video games’. Though it may also reflect preconceptions about gamers being young and male
Put another way, everybody games, and the ‘young and male’ cliché is far from realistic or helpful. There’s a very good chance a significant proportion of any demographic is engaged with gaming. Mobile dominates in terms of audience size, as we’ve seen, but is also the place where the most striking demographic variety is on display. Equally, mobile gamers have become very savvy and open-minded to consuming ads.
It should be noted, of course, that of the 2.5 billion mobile players, many will also play PC and console games. There are believed to be 1.3 billion PC gamers out there, and 0.8 billion that enjoy console gaming. Inevitably, there will be some crossover between those audiences and the 2.5 billion mobile players. However, mobile still has the lead on other hardware formats by a considerable degree.
An ad-savvy audience
On mobile, most successful games are ‘free-to-play’. That is, they are free to the consumer at the point of purchase, and increasingly monetised by ads instead of ‘in-game purchases'. Over time, mobile users have understood that ads are what keep games entirely free. And the fact that the gaming medium is so engrossing and immersive means that when ads are served, players tend to be more engaged with the brands they see.
According to research by Tapjoy, consumers overall are most likely to be engaged with ads in mobile games, with 41% of them giving attention to those served. That contrasts to 17% focussing on ‘traditional’ online ad placements, the 15% stopping to digest magazines, and 15% that give billboards their time.
It can also help to think of these demographics like communities, or even subcultures in the traditional sense. Thanks to games' common status as live, connected, and maintained online spaces, the communities that form within them often have strong bonds, as well as common interests and tastes, happily sharing relevant brands and content between them. Those groups may be scattered globally in many cases, but can be addressed with absolute precision.
How to pick your demographic from the pool of billions of players? That comes down to selecting the right partners and technology. At AudioMob we focus on an entirely distinct offering; audio ads for mobile games, which we’ve seen to deliver remarkably high click-through rates (CTR) relative to other methods - commonly improving on the CTRs in-game banners offer by well over 1000%.
We’re not here to pitch our product, though, and there are other ways for advertisers to connect with audiences. What we have learned, though, in helping brands like Coinfloor, Warner Music, Sony (Ministry of Sound), GlycanAge, Sugarhill Gang and more, is that the opportunity for brands is vast, and there’s never been a better time to seize it.
Posted on: Tuesday 30 March 2021