Even with a slight decrease in 2021 compared to 2020, game advertising is still a booming market. The 2022 gaming industry’s trends and the development of the latest technologies have forced brands to rethink their marketing and communication strategies.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, many industries have faced formidable challenges all over the world, but the gaming industry thrived. Just the mobile game earned almost $1.7 billion a week in the last quarter of 2021, 13% more than the same quarter in 2020. In its 2021 Global Games Market Report, NewZoo also estimated that mobile gaming will generate $90.7 billion in 2021, up +4.4% YoY, and by the end of the year it represents more than half of the global games market.
The gamers’ data seems to confirm this growth. According to the same report, the number of players was predicted to reach 3 billion by the end of 2021. The main drivers for this growth are:
- increased online population
- better internet infrastructure
- affordable smartphones and mobile internet data plans.
These drivers have the most impact especially in Latin America and MENA countries, which are also the fastest-growing regions by the number of players. At the same time, Facebook Gaming stated in Games Marketing Insights for 2021 that the new mobile gamers (who started playing after March 2020) are playing more hours per week than the existing ones.
Some other gamers’ characteristics are:
- In the US, UK, and Germany, the new gamers are significantly younger than existing players, while new South Korean gamers are significantly older than the existing ones.
- 64% of the American new gamers are more likely to own a gaming console (v. 58% of existing gamers). This is also true in Germany (55% v. 50%), while in the UK there were no differences (66% v. 64%).
- Relieving stress, passing time, and generating a sense of accomplishment were consistently the top 3 reasons for playing games, both for new and existing players.
With this explosive demand, it’s no wonder that the number of online mobile games has increased in Q1, reaching 477,000 games in the Google Play Store and 316,000 in the Apple App Store.
While this is great news for players, it also comes with challenges in terms of game advertising and communication. In a such competitive and saturated market, it’s not easy to achieve success. But if you want to meet your goals, then you have to consider a strong user acquisition (UA) strategy that is based on a detailed knowledge of your buyer persona(s) and the latest advertising best practices.
In this post, we’ll detail the latest game advertising trends that game marketers need to know in 2022.
1. Take the most of social media
With 3,6 billion people using social media in 2020, it was one of the most popular online activities. This number increased with 409 million new users in the last year, which means that the number of social media users has seen strong growth in the last 12 months, on average 13 new users being added every single second. The typically active user spends about 2 ½ hours daily on social media, which means more than 10 billion hours if we add them together.
In addition, Statista forecasts that the number of social media users worldwide is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025. Considering that gamers are internet users by default, there are very big chances that your target audience to fall in this category. In other words, if your game is not on social media, you just don’t exist for your fan base and are missing a big opportunity to find new players for your game.
To get the advantage of social media, identify the platforms where your target audience is active and spends the most of its time, You can start with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For example, you can use Facebook for longer posts, Twitter for short news, and Instagram for screenshots or concept art. The smart use of hashtags like #gaming, #gamedev, #videogames, #gamer, #instagame, or #gamigirl, to name just a few, is one of the best practices.
Make sure your game has its own social media profile where you regularly post captivating messages to connect with your audience. Game-related tips and tricks in the form of screenshots, short videos, or target content are just a few ways to start conversations with your potential users. If big games like Angry Birds use Facebook and Twitter to have regular, enjoyable conversations with their users, why don’t you?
2. Video content is the king in game advertising
Video continues to be the most powerful way to communicate online. It’s visual, it’s engaging, and it creates a lasting impression on your audience. In fact,
- with 82.5% of all web traffic, online video is predicted to be the leading source of web content in 2022
- 87% of businesses state they use video as a marketing tool, and it provides for positive ROI
- 69% of responders say they prefer to watch short videos
And gaming industry doesn’t make any exception. With one mention: it is known for creating extremely long-format content pieces (a gaming video on YouTube has a length of about 30-45 minutes), and the audience loves this.
However, in a recent survey, 69% of people said they’d prefer to watch a short video when learning about a product or service, and 30% of marketers plan to invest more in short-form videos than any other social media marketing strategy. As a response, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media channels were launching ‘reels’ and ‘YT shorts’, motivating the long-format content creators to experiment with short-format content.
Speed-running as a concept has gained immense popularity among the gamers community – and you’ll see gamers creating ‘speed-running’ videos on YouTube Shorts.
When speaking about video content, we have to talk also about live streaming. Statistics show that 45% more daily live streams took place on YouTube since the beginning of 2020. They allow the gaming developers to interact and play with their fans and community and many brands sponsored live streams for YouTubers as a part of their influencer marketing campaign. So, we can say undoubtedly that this trend is here to stay and grow in the future.
3. Gaming influencers align with the creative game advertising trend
34% of marketers say they invest in influencer marketing, which is the most popular trend and has the highest ROI. By working with an influencer who has gained trust and expertise in the gaming industry, you can get awareness, traffic, and potentially conversions from their dedicated fan bases.
All you have to do is to develop and implement a user acquisition strategy that fits your particular audience and try working with those influencers who are relevant for your potential players.
For example, you can use sponsored live streaming and freebies as parts of your influencer marketing strategies, both long- and short-term (when you launch your game or release an update). This way, you will allow your potential audience to get an in-depth and authentic look at your game from someone they know and respect.
Another method is to create specific events to promote your game and select influencers you think will fit into your campaign. Exclusive physical articles, free subscriptions, or access to your event are just a few examples that you can use to attract players.
Some of the leading brands use influencer marketing as part of their game advertising strategy. For example, PlayKids XD partnered with CloutBoost to promote their game via relevant gaming influencers in several regions.
4. Growing the community of gamers
Video games are known for creating virtual bonds, and this has become a whole social phenomenon for a while now.
According to an Accenture survey:
- 84% of gamers say that video games allow them to meet people who share common interests
- 80% of gamers believe that video games allow them to meet new people
- 77% of gamers find that video games help them stay in touch with their friends
In addition, the Facebook Gaming study shows that currently, there are more than 230 million people who are active members in over 630,000 gaming Groups on Facebook per month. From January to August 2020, were created over 185.000 new gaming Groups and over 130 million members joined new or existing gaming Groups.
These data tell us that social interactions in the video game world and its community are essential. They bring both certain sociabilities for the average player, but also a daily presence for people who are sometimes more introverted and who want to get rid of their loneliness.
The game also means sharing some great moments with online friends or with members of the same guild, and gaming platforms have an exponential increase in the number of users. For example, Discord users increased from 45 million (2017) to 300 million (June 2020) (Statista).
Due to this trend, multiplayer games have seen dramatic increases in sales. For example, nearly 21 million copies were sold for Animal Crossing: New Horizon between April 2020 and March 2021.
Players took advantage of the multiplayer mode (up to 8 players simultaneously on the same island) to connect with each other and visit their respective islands – a great way to cope with the pandemic travel restrictions.
5. Ad formats are evolving in game advertising
This year Apple changed its rules for identifier for advertisers (IDFA). This damaged the marketers’ ability to measure their promotional performance and make it harder to acquire players for specific mobile games.
If IDFA was previously enabled by default, with an opt-out option for users, now it’s opt-in. This will significantly reduce its effectiveness in measuring mobile gaming ads and Facebook suggested it could reduce developer revenues by 50%. Google’s Android Advertising ID is following suit, adjusting its privacy features to the detriment of targeting and retargeting ads. These changes will push mobile advertisers and developers to try new and creative approaches, with playable ads appearing to be the most effective. In short, playable ads are interactive ads that let users try out the core functionality of an app or game and act like a free demo.
One of their main advantages is the ability to use in-ad data for ad performance analysis. Plus, they allow users to experience different touchpoints throughout. This interactivity is the key and playable ads for casual games saw a 113% growth in 2020. As result, they’ve been considered the most effective in-app ad format. For example, the gaming company Me2Zen increased the click-through rate by 10X and saw a 50% ROI through playable ads on Facebook.
6. Dive into guerilla marketing
Regardless of the industry, guerrilla marketing is an unconventional way to market your product or service. Unfortunately, it doesn’t receive the attention it deserves, although it’s a strategy that can be used especially by small budgets. And this is true for the gaming industry, especially in the current marketing landscape, when everything is focused on SEO, ASO, and content marketing.
For those who don’t know, guerilla marketing is all about thinking outside of the box; and this is exactly what makes it so eye-catching.
Some of the main benefits of guerilla marketing are:
- it’s low budget
- targets emotions
- it’s memorable
- it’s targeted
- it typically has positive feedback
- it’s viral and generates buzz on social media
Guerrilla marketing usually requires a lot of creativity and is widely used in places where people least expect an ad to appear.
Some types of guerilla marketing involve viral marketing which means creating and distributing shareable content that is both engaging and interactive. The sky’s practically the limit if you exercise your creativity.
How to do guerilla marketing for your game?
The principles are easy:
- know your target market
- be creative, original, and unexpected
- make your guerrilla marketing campaign interactive
Guerilla marketing brings you a low-budget viral success if you play your cards right. But if you want to get optimum results, you should always mix it with other marketing methods.
There are two main ways to increase your brand awareness and get more users:
- organic user acquisition (app store optimization, social media marketing, website, free influencer campaigns)
- paid user acquisition (paid advertising, paid influencer campaigns).
A quick example: when Jake Sones, developer of Zombie Match, was rejected to showcase his game at IndieCade, he made something different: instead of giving up, he dressed up as his mobile game. He created a Zombie Match arcade cabinet costume that had an iPad as a screen.
The people he met were intrigued and not only played his mobile game, but many downloaded it right then and there.
The game advertising industry is tougher than ever, but the market doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. On the contrary. It becomes more creative and competitive than before, while the generic promotion strategies used previously by many gaming companies will be not so efficient anymore.
If you want to stand out of the crowd, you have to identify and implement those game advertising trends that fit your brand and create buzz around your game. This way, you’re able to distinguish yourself from the competition and find success.