How Your Brand Can Reach Gen Z Through Games
Itamar Benedy - Co-Founder & CEO, Anzu.io
Itamar Benedy explores how marketers are adapting to Gen Z’s gaming habits
For years, millennials have dominated the interests of game developers and advertisers. They shaped the cult status of some of the biggest games in the 80s and 90s such as ‘Super Mario,’ ‘Call of Duty,’ and ‘Final Fantasy.’ Later, with the arrival of Xbox and PlayStation, gaming moved out of living rooms, becoming a shared activity in which gamers could connect with one another virtually across the world. Today, video gaming, particularly Esports, is having a watershed moment and is poised to grow bigger as new audiences become hooked.
This popularity of gaming is being driven by Gen Z, the ‘digital natives’ born after millennials, who are used to using smartphones and the internet from a young age. These savvy gamers know their way around tech and can hardly picture a life without their smartphones, gaming consoles, and sometimes both!
Gen Z’ers are also the next biggest buying group, with an estimated purchasing power of $44 billion. And remember, most Gen Z audiences are either in college or entering college, so this figure is expected to rise as they take jobs and become a bigger consumer group.
Gaming is not just entertainment
For Gen Z, gaming is much more than just escape or entertainment. It’s intrinsic to how they connect with friends. Take the instant success of ‘Fortnite,’ for example. The game owes its huge popularity to the perception among Gen Z’ers as a ‘connector’ between real-life friends. Many players took up the game because their friends were hooked to it, too.
So, what does this mean for new-age advertisers? One needs to look at Fortnite’s success to understand how creative marketing in-game works to reach and get through to Gen Z. Fortnite’s community appeal works well for Gen Z users, for whom the real and virtual worlds co-exist. Next, advertisers should ask themselves whether their brands are perceived as friendly and reachable by the Gen Z user base. This will help them to understand whether or not Gen-Z’ers will actually identify with their brands’ products and ideologies. Furthermore, they should be considering how they can use gaming channels to emulate offline connections with their audiences.
The rise of gaming as advertising channel
Technological advancements have finally made it possible for gaming to go big. Today, devices come with high connectivity standards and games that can be played anywhere, anytime. We have already seen how the gaming industry has become 10 times bigger than before. Gaming – and gamers – have evolved over the years, with Esports and streaming now experiencing unprecedented popularity and with 90% of US teens hooked to their consoles, gaming is poised to grow significantly as an advertising medium. This has led to advertisers and publishers exploring new channels to find and reach Gen Z’ers.
Are you wondering how your brand can tap into gaming?
With the Gen Z audience, the era of pure promotion and in-your-face advertising is over. When it comes to purchasing decisions, most teens are influenced by their peers. They also perceive advertising differently than previous generations do.
A study by Kantar Millward Brown revealed that Gen Z is more practical and open to viewing ads, especially when it comes to reward video ads and ads that allow them to co-create or see what happens when they decide. Gillette's recent gaming alliance with Twitch is an example where fans get a chance to earn virtual currency by purchasing Gillette products displayed by alliance team member.
Gen Z: The newly discovered planet
Like a newly discovered planet, Gen Z comes with its own playbook and language. The Gen Z planet is one where online is as important as offline. This generation also knows and understands what to expect from brands and are quick to disregard them if they don’t resonate with their lifestyle. Values of openness, transparency, and relatability are more important to Gen Z’ers and they expect the same from their brands.
This also relates to their experience of how they connect with each other, mostly in a virtual space where their real-life friends are present side-by-side with online influencers who align with their values. Social media and gaming are more popular among them than before because this is where they form connections.
Brands that are not engaging with gaming channels where Gen Z spends most of the time are losing a chance to reach their core consumer group. As the ‘older generation,’ we may or may not understand their world, but as smart marketers, we need to start speaking their language and build connections where this audience is present. Some of the biggest brands are already there, exploring gaming as an advertising weapon to become a part of the Gen Z world. But are you game?
Anzu.io is an in-game advertising platform that brings real-world brand ads to video gaming and esports. Backed by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, WPP, and Axel Springer Digital Ventures, Anzu redefines digital advertising through seamless integration of non-intrusive ads into the gameplay. Bringing real-time data and programmatic capabilities to the video gaming world, the platform promises native advertising, brand safety, and ad viewability. For more information visit www.anzu.io.
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