In game ads: a new look for the oldest medium?

Gaming is huge. Putting ads into games is also huge. It’s one of those media that you might think is a coming thing but is actually already here, with its own subsections and internal trends. And, as you should be aware, everyone plays games. Yes, it’s a great media for reaching teenagers and young adults, but also for advertising to mums playing Candy Crush when they’re waiting for the bus and grandparents playing Sudoku when they’re enjoying a cup of tea. Basically, if you are not including it in your marketing mix, then you are missing out.
But it does sound a bit weird – an exciting new opportunity rather than a dependable line item on a media plan. This was something we were discussing alongside our lovely clients at Bidstack at the MRS Sports and Gaming Conference on Thursday. Bidstack leverage an astonishing array of technologies to insert your ads into online games seamlessly. They are leaders in programmatic stack integration and employ a passionate and committed team who know the gaming space inside out. But deep down, Bidstack is not just a technology company. Bidstack is also a poster company.
Being a digital out-of-home media owner might sound like a slight anti-climax – although given the astonishing and sustained growth of the digital out-of-home market, it’s not too depressing. But thinking of in-game posters as another form of poster is useful because it helps advertisers and media buyers understand what box to put the media into. In addition to being an IAB-compliant digital ad format, Bidstack also provides in-game digital out-of-home is just another form of digital out-of-home (though, it must be said, an extremely effective one, according to our data). I look forward to a time when advertisers can trade both real world and in game DOOH ad impressions via a service like VIOOH on a like for like basis.
There was a time when business executives were constantly being told that they could make more money creating new markets rather than waste their time competing in existing categories: the ‘blue ocean’ rather than the ‘red sea’. The problem with this approach is that it is not only a lot of work for the companies involved, but it is also a lot of work for their customer too. Trying new things is risky and requires thought. Their very novelty makes it hard to compare them to what you already know. ‘Disruption’ has, in most cases, negative connotations for users: think Southern Railways rather than WeWork (well, actually, think WeWork). It’s so much easier for people to work with concepts that are ‘good to think with’, that fit with our existing categories rather than requiring a transvaluation of values. While the late, great Clayton Christiansen was interesting, Everett Rogers was right.