Back to the future: how in-game advertising revived attention marketing

As part of The Drum’s Gaming Advertising Deep Dive, Chris Blight (VP Demand, Anzu) examines the evolution of attention marketing and how in-game advertising is contributing to its renaissance.

Seth Godin, best-selling author and former dot-com executive, once said that “marketing is a contest to get people’s attention.”

It may seem obvious, but we live in a climate where the average person is exposed to up to 10,000 advertisements a day. Our patience and attention span are also diminishing thanks to a culture that has become obsessed with short content and instant gratification. With that in mind, is it still possible to effectively grab someone’s attention, or is the contest over before it even started?

How the pandemic has changed marketing

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that advertising has an innate ability to adapt to any given situation. The pandemic has helped push the industry forward, forcing brands around the world to rethink their strategies, not only towards the channels they advertise on, but also the messages they broadcast and stories. what they were saying.

Like many of us who emerged from prolonged lockdowns with a renewed sense of life and an appreciation for the things we took for granted, advertising has also emerged as an industry in flux. While it may not have been immediately apparent, we are now seeing the impact this period has had on the industry. It injected a new sense of life into a space that, before the pandemic, seemed stuck in the past, unwilling to embrace the future and doing everything possible to retain the “good old days” of advertising.

Not convinced? Just think about how many times you’ve heard or read the word “metaverse” in an advertising context over the past year. In fact, 74% of people worldwide say they know about the Metaverse in 2022, up from just 32% in 2021. We’ve quickly become a future-obsessed industry.

So what does this have to do with attention?

Earlier this year, Nick Reid, senior vice president and MD EMEA at DoubleVerify, wrote, “The world of verification has shifted from brand safety to media quality – or what we call ‘authentic’ – and now pay attention. And this is used to enable advertisers and their partner agencies to be able to optimize to generate a much more relevant and specific result that is more meaningful than what we used to call a “click” or digital engagement.

We have moved from a world obsessed with attention, where advertisers used mediums such as print, television and radio to reach consumers with engaging and exciting messages, to an industry obsessed with marketing at the performance. Being able to suddenly measure everything in the digital world seemed incredible at first. But it soon became clear that just because you can measure and price everything doesn’t mean you should.

With an eye on the future, many advertisers have begun to look to media like gaming and CTV as channels that will allow them to return to attention-based marketing. It’s about capturing the imagination of their audience in environments where they are fully engaged and not bombarded with messages.

Leverage the power of in-game advertising to capture attention

In-game advertising has been recognized by many other brands during and since the pandemic, in part due to renewed interest and massive adoption of gaming across the world. But one of the fundamental reasons this area is quickly becoming a go-to channel for advertisers is that attention-based marketing and gaming go hand in hand.

Michael Manning, Product Manager at Xaxis, explained this perfectly on Digiday: “We believe that ROI is not necessarily useful in the context of gaming, because if you’re talking about gaming environments, it’s hard to ask a player to stop playing, click or engage in an ad, go somewhere away from their game and buy something.

With in-game advertising, branded advertisements are dynamically integrated into gameplay, appearing as part of the environment – on roadside billboards, bus stops, sides of buildings and around sports stadiums. This type of advertising feeds the narrative of the game, brings it to life and enhances the gameplay. Advertisers can also take it a step further by creating personalized virtual experiences, which have become hugely popular on gaming platforms like Roblox and Fortnite.

Attention-based marketing demands nothing from the player. It’s not about guiding them to a specific CTA, encouraging them to click, or rewarding them for visiting a particular page, but it’s proven to be very effective. Vodafone, for example, saw a 176% increase in campaign awareness, a 20% increase in brand consideration, a 19% increase in assisted brand awareness and a 14% increase in the notoriety of the advertisement compared to a recent game. advertising campaign. There are thousands more examples of brands from a wide variety of verticals successfully leveraging gaming to cut and reconnect with their customers in a non-disruptive and highly engaging way.

To look forward

We are currently at an intersection between the flat 2D web page and the virtual 3D environment. Eventually, we will operate only in 3D. For advertising to work, it will have to evolve. There will be countless ways to advertise in this new world, and attention will play a big part in that.

Finally, the entire marketing mix will be done within a transparent and fluid transaction. However, to achieve this, advertisers will need to go back to basics and relearn what it means to capture attention, and how they can do so in a way that feels authentic and delivers value to the end user.