Opinion – 2016: A new gaming advertising landscape

Generation Media’s account executive Joe Phelanexplains how the advertising market for games has changed since 2015, both online and on TV, with regards to both mobile and console gaming.

It’s the lead up to Christmas that sees the industry juggernauts pit their wits against each other with huge campaigns promoting their latest hardware, flagship titles and seasonal offerings in a congested ad space. Before we enter the festive promotional onslaught, it’s worth assessing the year that has preceded it and the changes in comms strategies that brands are embracing. To that end, Generation Media has investigated how 2016 compares to 2015 in regards to TV and online.

TV advertising for the games market has seen a downturn compared to last year. Total equivalent individual (Eq Ind) TVRs (see bottom) recorded by this year’s campaigns are 32 per cent down at 15,199.

Despite increased campaign support in 2015, the table (see below) clearly highlights a similar pattern to the year when comparing monthly airtime deployment.

For example, the months of May and October remain heavily weighted for both years as publishers push titles in key months before the summer and winter respectively.

The anomaly in January 2015 was largely driven by Argos deals for consoles and increased support from mobile developers King and Supercell.

Herein lies the reasoning into 2015’s higher individual TVR total. Of the top ten titles over the period in 2015, eight of which were mobile games produced by King, Supercell and Machine Zone (6,766 Eq Ind TVRs in total).

In 2016, five of the Top Ten were mobile games (3,881 Eq Ind TVRs in total) alongside five campaigns promoting console software. The most heavily supported mobile title in 2016 was Mobile Strike with 1,714 individual TVRs.

When compared with the top title for 2015, its stablemate Game of War, it recorded 37 per cent less ratings than the medieval RTS app. This decrease in TV ad support for mobile games could suggest there is a petering interest in the genre.

On the contrary, the highest placed console game entry, Overwatch, amassed 466 individual TVRs, four per cent higher than the highest entry in 2015. It would be ignoring the wider picture to assume the higher concentration of console games in the Top Ten suggests a switch to the medium, but it definitely shows TV is no longer as relied upon to reach consumers of mobile games.

While TV ad spend data and analysis is fairly mature, the dispersed nature of the digital online space means that measuring spend effectively is a lot more challenging.

However we are able to piece together insight which can be supplemented with knowledge from media owners to decipher 2016 gaming ad spend.

What we do know is that online ad spend across all sectors grew by 16.4 per cent year-on-year, the fastest rate since 2008 (IAB UK, 2016). In fact, digital has overtaken TV and now makes up 50 per cent of all ad spend (eMarketer, 2016) with growing sectors marketing to younger demographics, such as games, leading this charge.

While Addynamix has improved measurement of online activity the tool fails to report activity, outside of standard display formats. Our strong relationship with media owners within the games market helps us to a fuller understanding.

The largest spending online campaigns of 2016 to date have all been console games: Titanfall 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Uncharted 4 which goes against the findings from a TV perspective. Although the growth of mobile games ad investment seems to be well documented on TV, this is not reflected across the measurable online space.

While we do not have the full picture, the landscape does appear to have changed for mobile gaming. TV is now less paramount for the genre and the growth of programmatic buying means that measurement of digital ad spend continues to be challenging.

The question is still, what percentage of budget should be allocated to each medium? And
for that, Generation has a bespoke tool, The Media Aggregator, which assesses varying market factors and product specifications to advise the most efficient communications strategy.

TVR explained

A Television Rating Point measures the reach of a programme or advert by comparing the number of target audience viewers against the total available. One TVR is equivalent to 1% of a target audience. If an episode of EastEnders gets a Men 16-34 TVR of 5.0 that means that 5% of all Men 16-34 viewed the episode. Over a campaign with multiple ads TVRs do not account for duplicate viewings allowing a notional 100% to be exceeded.

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