As we approach the end of the year, we’re covering trends from key markets in 2022. We’ll recap the state of each industry over the past year, the ad strategies of its biggest players, and what we predict 2023 will hold.
Gaming’s popularity soared during the pandemic as millions flipped on their consoles to connect with others and regain a sense of normalcy.
That said, gamers weren’t the only ones having a good time; the video game industry is set to surpass $200b in revenue this year.
Although the number of gamers is normalizing as other activities become possible, gaming advertisers aren’t deterred, and they’re spending more than ever. A lot more.
MediaRadar Insights on Gaming Advertising in 2022
Through October 2022, 1.6k gaming advertisers spent nearly $1.2b on digital, print, and T.V. ads, representing a 367% YoY increase from last year.
Spending increased every month by at least 119%, with the two biggest spikes coming in April (up by 850% YoY) and August (up by 600% YoY).
Interestingly, these two increases came in tandem with a surge in COVID cases, at least by 2022 standards.
As the winter months and tridemic (a combination of the flu, COVID-19, and RSV) brew the perfect storm for more indoor activities, gaming advertisers may find themselves continuing their spending ways as gamers dust off their consoles.
Spending continued into Q4, increasing by 34% MoM from September. Budgets kept climbing in preparation for the post-Thanksgiving rush but fell in December by 33% MoM.
While we can attribute much of the increase to existing advertisers spending more, we also have to give credit to advertisers joining the party.
Through October, the number of advertisers increased by 257% YoY, many of which were dipping their toes in for the first time (they didn’t advertise in 2021).
Top Gaming Advertising Categories
Advertisers from five categories drove the increase in gaming ad spend: game titles, online games, video game consoles, gaming systems, and other.
Most of that, however, came from advertisers promoting game titles and online games, with advertisers in these categories spending more than $924mm or 78% of the total investment.
A level deeper, Playrix promoted Fishdom, Manor Matters, and Townships with a digital-exclusive strategy on Instagram (75%) and Facebook (24%). MediaRadar’s insights show that 68% of the company’s Instagram ads were between 16 and 30 seconds long.
While Playrix and other gaming companies leaned heavily into their ad strategies recently, a reduction could be in the cards as player behavior shifts and consumer spending declines.
Meanwhile, Tencent Holdings promoted Fortnite by Epic Games with online video ads ranging between 16 to 30 (34% of spend) and over 60 seconds in length (23% of spend).
Finally, advertisers for 1047 Games split their dollars across Facebook and online video as they rode the wave of their successful debut, Splitgate, and a $100mm round of funding.
Where Are Gaming Advertisers Sending Their Money?
Gaming advertisers spread their wealth; however, their presence in three ecosystems—retail media, social media, and YouTube—creates the most compelling storylines.
Retail media, which has gained widespread popularity among CPG brands, is spreading its wings into the gaming industry.
Through October, gaming advertisers have spent more than $22mm on retail sites, including Target (47%), Best Buy (27%), and Walmart (17%).
While gaming advertisers are branching out, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony accounted for $13.7mm of those dollars, making it clear that retail media is still very much in its infancy.
That said, it should gain steam in 2023 as retailers up their game and prove their networks have value outside of CPG.
In fact, Forrester projects ad dollars dedicated to retail media networks will double in the next four years.
Even more telling of retail media’s promising future is the fact that 74% of brands have separate budgets for them. When Google closes the door on third-party cookies, the first-party data powering these networks will become that much more valuable.
That said, only slivers of the retail media world will appeal to gaming advertisers.
For example, B.J.’s Wholesale Club, which recently launched its network, could be an enticing option.
Lord & Taylor? Probably not so much.
Retail media is early in its evolution, especially in terms of how gambling advertisers are using it. The major social media platforms are the opposite, with more than 850 advertisers investing $274mm across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
To put that into perspective, advertisers spent 1,145% more on social media than on retail media, but that’s par for the course given social’s reach.
During a time when advertisers are looking to maximize budgets and limit risk, social media will remain a safe haven. This is likely why we see just a fraction of gaming advertisers invest in retail media.
All major social media platforms could warrant spending in 2023, but those with closer ties to gamers may get more attention.
Twitter, for example, continues to establish itself in the gaming community. In 2021, there were more than 2.4b Tweets about gaming, representing a 14% YoY increase from 2020 and a 10x increase from 2017.
More Twitter-exclusive strategies may be on the table for 2023—at least for advertisers who can stomach the uncertainty that comes with Elon Musk’s tenure.
Gaming advertisers spent $641mm on YouTube, with nearly half going to gaming channels (47%), which makes sense given the platform’s entrenchment in the gaming community.
YouTube has an undeniable stranglehold on gaming advertisers right now, but 2023 may bring unprecedented pressure from Twitch.
In June, Twitch announced it was opening its ads program to more streamers and increasing payouts. For Twitch, this move is undoubtedly a response to losing some of its most popular streamers, including Valkyrae, to YouTube.
More recently, the gaming O.G. pushed chips into ultra-competitive live video shopping, which allows viewers to buy the products they see on the stream and gives advertisers a more authentic way to connect with consumers.
Gaming Advertisers Rack Up Points in 2023
Will gaming advertisers increase their budgets by another 367% in 2023? That’s unlikely, especially with so much economic uncertainty.
That said, increases are inevitable, namely from those promoting the never-ending stream of gaming titles and online games.
Most of those ad dollars will likely go to the tried-and-true channels, but the emergence of retail media will continue as the world phases out third-party cookies and gaming advertisers wake up to the power of first-party data.
For more insights, sign up for MediaRadar’s blog here.