The broad adoption of smartphones has paved the way for many recent media habits; the rise of gaming and drastic growth in the gamer audience is one of the most significant. Consumers now have access to millions of free-to-play, multi-player, and arcade games, across all genres, all at the tap of a finger. As such, there are an estimated 3.09 billion active video game players across the globe. In the US, 80% of people play video games, resulting in a video game market size of $97.67 billion (2022).
Despite the tremendous growth, gaming is still overlooked by many advertisers. In 2022, gaming ad revenue only grew 7%, compared to 32% across CTV and 16% across social media. Often viewed as too “experimental,” advertisers are missing the power of video game marketing and a fantastic opportunity to reach vast groups of key audiences.
To underline why gaming should be mainstream in advertisers’ media plans, we’ve rounded up 4 key gaming trends that are sure to make an impact in the coming year. Along with an analysis, to help capitalize on these trends, we’re offering tangible solutions and tactics you can implement in your media strategy. Let’s dive in.
1. Mobile Playing Time Edges Out Time Spent in Other Gaming Platforms
As mentioned, mobile has been a significant propeller of the gaming industry; as such, we’d be remiss not to put it at the top of our list.
The vast majority of gamers, 64%, use their mobile device to play and engage and 12% of players exclusively use their mobile device. In the coming year, the average US adult will spend 25.5 minutes per day playing games on their mobile devices. In comparison, the same audience will spend 17.4 minutes and 18.2 minutes playing on desktops and consoles, respectively.
Opportunity: In-Game Mobile Ad Buys
Projections indicate that by 2027, advertisers will spend $9.86 billion on mobile gaming alone, not including any eSports content consumed on a mobile device. There’s ample opportunity to reach consumers as they engage in mobile games; however, there’s also great competition.
To stay ahead of competitors and drive success within in-game mobile ad buys, advertisers must ensure mobile ad buys aren’t lumped in with all other gaming ad buys. Mobile ads need to be strategically and methodically targeted and built for the mobile experience. Not only will this boost performance, but it will also improve the user experience, leaving a positive connotation between your brand and the consumers.
AudioMob, for example, offers non-intrusive audio ads that can be listened to while consumers play their favorite free-to-play mobile games. Because these are audio-only ads, the audience continues to play while the ad reads during unique moments in the game experience.
2. The Growth of eSports
Driven in popularity by younger generations, eSports are multiplayer games played in competitive environments with viewers, just as you would find in traditional sporting events. While some might question the direct comparison to “traditional sports,” the viewership numbers are nothing to scoff at. By 2025 year-end, eSports global viewership is expected to hit 640.8 million people, and 318.1 million of said group classify themselves as “eSports enthusiasts.”
As these games continue to rise in popularity, streaming platforms are looking for more ways to engage consumers outside of these live events. In the coming year, they will lean further into downloadable, on-demand content that consumers can watch at any time.
Opportunity: Video Ads on eSports Content
eSports has long offered ad opportunities during the actual event with arena, player, or team sponsorships. However, a more accessible way for advertisers to throw their hat into the ring is through video ads played either during live events or within the aforementioned, on-demand content.
Take Twitch for example. This live-streaming platform and gaming community offers various ad buys to reach 70 million monthly active users. They offer powerful formats such as cross-screen video ads played during live broadcasts, “homepage carousel ads” that are displayed front and center on the homepage alongside live-stream channel content, or “medium rectangle” ad formats to engage users as they browse for content to watch. Better yet, because Twitch is owned by Amazon, advertisers can engage Amazon’s first-party shopping data to target in-market users, interested in certain products.
3. Unique Ad Formats Offer a More Realistic, Less Intrusive Experience
Every advertiser faces the battle of reaching consumers without being intrusive or interrupting their user experience. A recent study found that 70% of consumers believe advertisers don’t respect their digital experience and 95% report that their content consumption is interrupted by intrusive ads. More than ever before, advertisers must work to complement the user experience with ads naturally incorporated into their viewing and media habits. Gaming is no exception.
Platforms, games, and providers are attracted to ad revenue but don’t want to deter audiences with intrusive ads throughout games. To remedy this, there is a focus on creating more unique formats that intrinsically incorporate brands into the gaming experience.
Opportunity: Ads Created for Video Game Environments
All this to say, don’t be turned off by ads placed within live content, like eSports, or mobile games. After all, they are a great introduction to video game marketing to engage with gaming audiences. However, as advertisers grow more comfortable with gaming, unique or interactive ad formats are a great next step. These are ads placed within video game environments that don’t disrupt the gameplay performance or experience.
More tangibly, consider a racing game. As players “drive” past out-of-home ads, these billboards will display your brand’s ad. Alternatively, a “soccer” game will display your brand’s messaging on the sideline boards, just as you would see in real-world soccer matches.
These ad formats offer a unique experience to players with all the same targeting and measurement solutions advertisers expect with more traditional gaming ad buys.
4. User-generated Content & AI Combine for Powerful Personalization
Gaming companies constantly iterate and improve games to keep players engaged and create community within their platforms. Today, one of the biggest developments enticing players is personalization through user-generated content (UGC). This is seen in various forms such as custom maps, skins, modules, or custom levels that players can build and share with other users.
Popular games such as Fortnite, Minecraft, Super Smash Bros, and Roblox have all implemented UGC offerings. Roblox is probably the most notable with this concept as it provides their 70.2 million daily active users with seemingly limitless options for their users to create and share various worlds and game types.
UGC is growing in popularity alongside progress being made within artificial intelligence, which is a match made in heaven. AI helps remove more tactical and tedious aspects of UGC, which in turn, streamlines the process, making it an accessible and easy-to-use feature for all gamers.
Opportunity: Leverage Gaming UGC with Influencers
More content from games simply yields more opportunities for brands to get their ads in front of consumers. Especially within these user-generated environments, there will be ample formats to create unique and custom ads personalized for the user.
However, this also opens new doors in the gaming influencer world. There’s a huge pool of gaming influencers with thousands, if not millions of followers on social media. As these influencers have more opportunities to create, feature, and promote UCG, it will draw more users to the games to try their unique features. More gamers means more viewers for advertisers.
Power Up Your Advertising Campaigns with Video Game Marketing
Whether you’ve dipped your toes into video game marketing or are eager to get started, our team is here to help reach your consumers among the growing gamer audience. Whether in-app, in-game, eSports or a combination, learn more about our comprehensive advanced gaming solutions here.