Gaming Upfronts 2020: Six things we learnt


Following our first-ever Gaming Upfronts, we’ve pulled together some of the key takeouts from the event to help advertisers better understand the possibilities in this unique market

Gaming’s popularity has been on the rise for a long time, but the events of 2020 have accelerated uptake, with many turning to gaming to stay in touch with friends and fill the void left by physical events during the pandemic. 

So how can advertisers best leverage this market and tap into it authentically? At our first-ever Gaming Upfronts, Activision Blizzard Media, and Bidstack debunked the ‘gamer’ stereotype, shared new research and spotlighted exciting opportunities for brands.

  1. The gaming audience is multifaceted & evolving: With one in three consumers a ‘gamer’, traditional stereotypes no longer hold up. This is not an audience solely made up of young men, with Activision Blizzard Media’s new research showing that 40% of gamers are women, while the average age of players is 34/35 years old. Bidstack’s session touched on similar themes, with Xasis’ Julia Rast saying that two thirds of mums are active gamers. In short, the gaming audience is far more mutli-faceted and diverse than you might expect.
  2. The playing field has changed: The surge in gaming’s popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic is well documented and was perfectly described by Twitch’s Adam Harris, who said that people have been looking to replicate social interactions in a digital environment via gaming. Across the sessions, there was consensus that growth in users means that games are increasingly becoming “cultural behemoths in their own right”, as Grant Paterson of The WPP Sports Practice put it. Of course, it's not just people that are turning to gaming - as a result of the pandemic, more advertisers are taking gaming seriously as a media channel.
  3. Gaming ads need to add value: However, while gaming is becoming increasingly popular, it is still a unique community and advertisers will be rewarded if they earn the right to play in this space- with Wendy’s Fortnite campaign mentioned as a key example of how to do it well. Rather than interrupting the game, brands need to consider how they integrate into the environment in a seamless and immersive way, while taking advantage of the many creative opportunities available. 
  4. Advertisers should invest and test: A number of speakers acknowledged that investing in gaming can be a daunting prospect for advertisers. Part of’s session focused on how brands can get started, with Grant highlighting the need for collaboration between gaming developers and brands to help bridge the gap and understand what one another want - a process he said is already underway. Advice from Activision’s discussion included investing and testing what works for your brand, as there are so many different solutions and ways that a brand’s personality can be communicated via gaming.
  5. Gamers are just consumers: While it’s tempting to bucket gamers into a specific and unique demographic, Bidstack’s Lewis Sherlock hit the nail on the head when he said that gamers are just consumers. While gaming offer advertisers unique, immersive and, exciting ways to speak to audiences, there should still be consistency with brand identity in the gaming space. 
  6. 2021 is set to be gaming’s biggest year yet: In addition to growing audiences, there’s lots on the horizon for advertisers to get excited about when it comes to the future of gaming. From the potential of AR and VR to create more immersive user experiences, to the growth of in-game branded product economies, to developments in the measurement of secondary audiences, there are countless opportunities for advertisers in the gaming ecosystem. 

Want to find out more? You can watch Gaming Upfronts in full here

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