Gamers all across the world are getting ready for E3. The annual gaming conference, branded this year as the Electronic Entertainment Experience 2021 and scheduled to occur virtually, presents gaming fans, media and execs with a showcase of the industry’s new and upcoming products.
In anticipation of the conference and with the gaming topic at the forefront of our feeds, we spoke with VDX.tv gaming experts Paul Kim (Solutions Marketing Manager) and Jim Johnson (VP, Account Planning) to get their thoughts on how this year’s virtual event will impact brands and what gaming advertisers can do to better connect with their audiences. Read the Q&A below.
How do you think the 2021 E3 Expo being virtual will benefit brands?
Paul Kim: E3 2020’s cancellation left a gaping hole for the entire industry. Advertisers who had planned their announcements around E3 were left without their usual podium, while gamers and the press had to find their own ways to stay informed of industry updates – for example, constantly monitoring their feeds and the various digital showcases that spawned from the absence of E3 2020.
E3 benefits all stakeholders by bringing companies together and fostering a collective spirit that celebrates the entire industry. The virtual E3 experience should work in the same fashion, with even greater accessibility due to the online nature of the event. Events that acted as alternatives to E3 in 2020 lacked that sense of unity – everything was siloed.
Jim Johnson: The most obvious benefit is the increased reach a virtual event can attain vs. a physical one. E3 is generally regarded as a day for media, publishers and a small number of passionate gamers to preview some of the industry’s latest titles and technology. Moving the event to a virtual setting would theoretically allow more attendees, extending the audience reach into the Core and Casual gaming segments as well. Relatedly, by moving the event to a virtual setting, more digital content from smaller game publishers will likely be produced, allowing more niche publishers to connect with gamers than in a typical physical setting.
How could different channels of gaming be used to connect with different audiences? Is there a different target audience between those who play traditional TV video games, those who play computer games and those who play mobile app games?
Jim Johnson: We generally see three groups of gamers; “Hardcore” gamers are those who consume lots of endemic gaming content, pre-order new releases, and own multiple gaming devices, though their preferred devices are generally PCs due to the modifications they can add to make their machine unique and more powerful. The Hardcore audience tends to skew Male and affluent. “Core” gamers are a second segment, playing console games to socialize with friends and family, or connecting to the internet to play with others via co-op play. This audience skews roughly 60/40% in favor of Males, with ages around 18-30. Finally, the “Casual” gamer segment mostly prefer to play mobile games with genre preferences geared toward puzzles, cards/casino or strategy. This audience skews a bit more Female and older in their 30s and 40s.
Why is video advertising an effective medium for gaming brands to leverage?
Jim Johnson: Video is by far the most effective medium to promote game trailers, which are critical to driving awareness and purchase intent for new releases. The results speak for themselves, as a 2013 report from EEDAR showed that a XBOX 360 game without either a demo or a trailer sold on average less than 100,000 units. Games with just a demo sold around 200,000 units and games with both a trailer and a demo around 250,000 units. Video is built for brand storytelling, and nothing tells the story of a game better than its trailer.
Paul Kim: In 2020 alone, over 10,000 games were released on Steam. Acquiring and retaining a gamer’s attention is harder than ever due to the number of options available. For video game advertisers, video presents prime opportunities for data collection, brand awareness, hyper-targeting, measurement, and personalization– key ingredients for a successful video game campaign. Research also shows that the average consumer remembers 95% of a message when it is watched, compared to 10% when read.
What can the type of game a person uses tell you about that specific consumer and how you choose which ad to integrate?
Jim Johnson: Game genre and gamer involvement is an important factor to consider when building out a contextually relevant advertising experience. Besides the demographic differences, the level of passion a gamer plays with should mirror the advertising experience in a way that is complementary. For example, the Hardcore and Core gamers are much more likely to watch cinematic and gameplay trailers for new releases, while Casual gamers are more likely to respond to offers for virtual currency to level up in their mobile games. There needs to be a clear value exchange for gamers to interact with advertising, so considering the type of game you are marketing and the needs of the gamers playing those games is the key to engagement.
Video game usage soared over the past year, but as vaccines roll out and people return to a “normal” life, how can the gaming industry continue to connect with consumers?
Jim Johnson: By extending themselves beyond gaming into digital entertainment. The gaming console, for example, is now used to stream and purchase music, movies, and television shows, acting as the entertainment center of a household. By leveraging household targeting, gaming companies can position themselves as a solution for entertainment for the whole family, extending their reach beyond the core gamers.
Paul Kim: In a post-pandemic world, video game companies will need to persuade as many customers as possible to keep playing their games. What makes this challenge more nuanced is the diversity of gaming audiences.
A brand’s strategy for keeping customers engaged will be drastically different, from console to console, from game to game. It should depend on core audience base and also make the most of what the brand already has in the pipeline.
According to the Entertainment Software Association:
75% of Americans have at least one gamer in the household
64% of U.S. adults play video games
62% say that video games help them stay connected with friends and family
For more information on how VDX.tv can help your brand connect with the audiences that matter most, contact us here.