Gaming is a mostly untapped attention oasis in an increasingly divided media landscape. Despite its vast and engaged audience, the gaming ad business — valued at more than $8 billion by eMarketer — accounts for less than 6% of the total digital ad revenue market of $139.8 billion. Gaming has evolved from popular leisure to the center of entertainment as we know it in the last two decades. For most people, gaming is a hobby, but for many (young) consumers, it is a way of life.
According to a recent survey by Newzoo, 81% of Gen Z gamers said they have played games in the previous six months, averaging 7 hours and 20 minutes each week. More screens than ever before are available for gaming. Mobile is by far the most popular platform (in terms of revenue and users), but the lines between platforms are blurring.
As a result, younger generations are more platform-agnostic than ever before, and they frequently play across many platforms.
What does this mean for advertisers?
Advertisers will eventually unleash the value of gaming as a marketing channel, much as they did with mobile until they could no longer ignore the change in consumer preference. Here are some of the variables that are merging to make gaming a viable advertising channel:
TV is no longer the word of the day.
Historically speaking - TV had largely been a clear winner in the advertising game. Until now, many marketers have not yet realized that gaming is another form of video entertainment - and it offers access to younger audiences (GenZ, and Alpha) - at scale. Fortnite alone averages 937 500 concurrent players - every hour. This vastly exceeds the full-day average audience for MTV, TBS - and The Food Network combined.
It’s a post-pandemic world.
According to Verizon research, COVID accelerated the consumer move to gaming, with gaming usage up 115% compared to a typical day prior to the epidemic. This is most likely due to the fact that it served as both entertainment and a substitute for interactions when lockdown rendered in-person events unavailable. A majority of Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X respondents told Fortune.com that video games had helped them stay connected with people and get through difficult times.
According to Deloitte, nearly 80% of GenZ consider themselves to be gamers. Gaming, streaming music, web browsing, social networking, and television are the most popular forms of entertainment for this generation. In fact, gaming is the new social for this age, with half reporting spending time in games – without actually playing them. Snap and TikTok, the two social networks with the most monthly GenZ members, have both started gaming projects, which makes sense.
It’s the Metaverse.
Web 2.0 is a passive, one-way experience whose worth is evaluated in clicks and views. A shift toward community, connectivity, and user-generated material is clearly evident. While the metaverse is still forming, brands are realizing that understanding gaming is critical to making the transition. Gaming encompasses many of the characteristics of the next-generation internet, allowing users to interact with one another and influence their own experiences.
In-game advertising has a lot to offer your marketing approach, it's a fact! First and foremost, this marketing strategy can assist your business in being more visible in advertising channels when competition is still minimal. Second, by selecting the appropriate in-game advertising format, you can set your brand out from the competition and reach a highly targeted audience.
Where does it fit in the education space?
While gaming is a $120 billion industry based on entertainment, its application has recently crossed new and interesting ground. Militaries use them for training exercises, smartphones use them to track fitness, and they are used as a teaching tool in classrooms.
They're also not a completely new phenomenon in schools. Despite the fact that games are a popular teaching tool in many classrooms, "gamification" isn't about games. Gamification, according to Stein Brunvand, associate dean and professor of educational technology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, is "applying gamelike elements to nongame settings." Take, for example, the rewards programs offered by your favorite merchants and restaurants. Their primary purpose is to entice you to spend money, and they do it by rewarding you with points that you can use to receive free stuff. It turns into a game without your knowledge. Here’s what gaming can bring to the world of education.
If we know anything about GenZ, we know that these elements are what they value - and we need to meet them where they’re at if we stand any chance of marketing to a digital generation.
Here’s what we think
What are our thoughts - you ask? Well - with the rise of the metaverse, and the already rife controversy (yup - we’re referring to the horrifying documentation of the first digital rape case in the metaverse) - our opinion is simple. While gamification and in-game ads might be the easiest way to reach student prospects - safety, and rules need to apply. As marketers - we’re constantly forced to adapt, change hats - and conform to rules that change faster than we can say ‘swipe up for more’. But - what about the generational shift? If we stop for a moment and think about everything that our prospects need to keep up with, we may end up better equipped to tailor a campaign that they really care about - and in turn, boost enrollments - all while making the digital world a happier - and safer place.