Let’s face it… Social media platforms are crowded and building a brand on these platforms is becoming more challenging by the day. For forward-thinking brand marketers, it’s time to look outward to an emerging branding opportunity: gaming.

There is a goldmine of creative and marketing opportunities in gaming, but few are paying attention to this exciting trend. 

The good news is it’s not too late. In fact, we’re just getting started. Here are 5 reasons why gaming is the next big brand opportunity (and how to capitalize).

1. Gaming Is Here to Stay

Believe it or not, mobile games account for about 23% of all active apps in the iTunes App Store.

And according to a recent study from the Washington Post, a staggering 73% of 14- to 21-year-olds in the US identify as a competitive gamer. This same group isn’t just male-dominated—56% of 14- to 21-year-old US females identify as competitive gamers in 2019 as well.

Plus, there are now more than 2.5 billion gamers across the world. Combined, they will spend $152.1 billion on games in 2019, representing an increase of +9.6% year on year (according to research from Newzoo).

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Everyone is always on the lookout for the next big marketing channel to emerge – and everyone should be looking at gaming.

2. Games Are Lucrative Media Platforms

Brands looking to find success with gaming platforms should think of games less as creative executions and more as populated virtual spaces that can act as media outlets for branded content.

In other words, games aren’t just a one-off advertising channel, they’re an entirely new social platform. And utilizing gaming platforms can benefit brands looking to target younger audiences.

And that’s not to mention the ever-growing world of esports as a whole. Activate estimates that there were 270 million global fans of esports in 2016, and projects that number to grow to 495 million in 2020. 

Esports

With a projected $1.5 billion market next year and a global audience of 385 million people, esports are arguably just as big of an opportunity as the games themselves. As more and more people flock to these entertainment outlets, opportunities will continue to arise for brands to get involved.

Multi-billion-dollar trends only come around so often.

3. Brands Are Finding Success with Gaming

When compared to hugely popular topics on social media, Fortnite more than holds its own. According to data analyzed in Meltwater, Fortnite received nearly as much social media exposure as Brexit and even more than Game of Thrones and Avengers in the first seven months of 2019.

Not many social media platforms or world topics can say the same!

Gaming-for-BrandsSamsung took advantage of this massive trend by offering exclusive access to Fortnite on Android to coincide with the launch of its Galaxy Note9 in August 2018.

In collaboration with R/GA, the mobile campaign consisted of partnerships with some of the world’s most well-known gamers and influencers that received real-life “Supply Boxes” – a play on Fortnite gameplay terminology—that contained the Galaxy Note9 smartphone with the exclusive Fortnite “skin.”

Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins was the first to unveil the Galaxy Skin during a Twitch livestream in front of his millions of fans:

Nike on the other hand took Air Jordan I trainers to the platform in May, giving players the chance to play in a pair of Jordans and embark on challenges to unlock exclusive skins and skateboard sprays.

This is the first specific clothing brand partnership that Fortnite has had, but points towards a very exciting future between brands and games. There is virtually unlimited creative paths that brands can pursue to get their products in front of a highly-engaged audience.

4. Games Can Help Brands Stand Out

One of my favorite collaborations of the last several years is when Rocket League teamed up with Hot Wheels to create branded vehicles inside the game.

It’s a perfect example of native, non-intrusive branding and advertising that doesn’t bombard the user. 

Rocket League.jpg

What stands out most about this brand-game collaboration is that Rocket League and Hot Wheels are perfect partners. It’s only natural that Hot Wheels would advertise on a gaming platform dedicated to hot rods. 

This is exactly how brands should be approaching gaming marketing and advertising.

Start by identifying a game that aligns with your brand and then brainstorm creative ways to bring your brand to the game in a natural way. 

The key is to not wait for the opportunity to come to you. Seek out games (and game creators) that might make sense for a potential collaboration. Bring the creative ideas to them and you’ll have first shot at advertising and content on their platform.

5. Games Are On The Forefront Of Advertising

Gamers spend, on average, 7 hours and 7 minutes per week gaming, which represents a valuable window of opportunity for brands to share clear and engaging content with a captive audience. Interacting with gamers when they are fully immersed in play has a number of branding benefits.

The main advertising benefit being that the target audience isn’t distracted like on other social platforms. They aren’t split screening or scrolling through news feeds at high speeds – they are focused and engaged on the activity at hand.

One interesting concept is known as in-game advertising. In-game advertising refers to advertising in computer and video games.

For example, ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Coca-Cola released its first-ever in-game advertising spot.

The advertisement, which features EA SPORTS FIFA 18 virtual athlete Alex Hunter is a nod to the brand’s classic 1979 “Mean Joe,” television spot, in which an American Football star is given a bottle of Coca-Cola from a fan after a tough game.

The Future Is Gaming

Traditional sporting events such as the Super Bowl (98 million viewers) are beginning to be outdone by events such as the League of Legends World Championship, which attracted an audience of more than 100 million viewers.

If this isn’t a strong signal in the direction of where the digital media and entertainment industries are headed, then I don’t know what is!

Gaming platforms open the door for brands, publishers, and advertisers to tap into a previously “unreachable audience” in numbers that have never been seen before in history.

To get yourself inspired to create engaging brand content on social, read our social content ebook full of great examples from top brands and strategy for getting it right.