OPINION: Why is games TV advertising down year-on-year?

Generation Media account executive Joe Phelan looks at the decline in games marketing so far this year and finds out in which sectors TV ads are concentrated.

Following E3, many will be looking forward to the end of the year, but we have decided to look back on 2016 so far to see how the games TV ad market has been performing.

Generally, spring and summer is a quiet time for the games market, and, a few notable periods aside, 2016 has been largely the same.

There was a total of 69 campaigns on air delivering 7,554 individual TVRs across various channel mixes. However, as the graph (below) clearly illustrates, year-on-year ad pressure has seen a substantial drop, 21 per cent down on the same period in 2015 which achieved 10,802 individual TVRs. February saw the only positive percentage increase, reaching 29 per cent, which was driven by the releases of titles such as Far Cry Primal and continued support from the likes of LEGO Avengers and Activision’s Skylanders Superchargers. In spite of this, it was May that saw the largest spike in individual TVRs, delivering 2,021 over the month yet not reaching the figure of 2,248 set in 2015.

When looking at why 2016 has seen a decline, it can be contributed to a number of factors. The first being that there were 84 brands on air in the same period in 2015, which would have increased overall viewing to advertising activity. Additionally, it is worth considering that Sony and Microsoft ran minimal software-only campaigns in 2016. In 2015, Microsoft was still running software creative in the first part of the year, delivering 257 individual TVRs while Sony ran a modest campaign as well. This, coupled with decreased support on category drivers such as King.com and Machine Zone, had an effect on growth resulting in ad pressure decreasing year-on-year.

In regards to the IPs leading the way in 2016, it was no surprise to see mobile apps seeing the highest level of support. Machine Zone with Mobile Strike was both the top advertiser and top brand in spring and summer 2016. It held an 18 per cent share of voice across all campaigns, with second placed title, King.com’s Candy Crush Jelly Saga, making up 38 per cent of Mobile Strike’s activity in terms of TVR delivery. Much like 2015, app developers utilised strategies involving high levels of TVRs across sustained periods over the season.

"Decreased console games ads, coupled with reduced support from the mobile space, has resulted in a dip in ad pressure."

Joe Phelan, Generation Media

In spite of mobile gaming’s dominance in individual title support, Nintendo ended up as the No.2 placed advertiser with a total of 14 titles across its 2DS, 3DS and Wii U platforms. In addition, triple-A IPs that were released across the season generated far larger noise year-on-year. Five notable titles – Uncharted 4, Doom, Overwatch, The Division and Far Cry Primal – delivered a total 1,245 individual TVRs with a 17 per cent share of voice in total.

It can be concluded that demand amongst TV advertising is lower than during the same period in 2015. Heavy weighted mobile gaming campaigns and continued software support last year resulted in an evident drop in ad pressure. Despite this, the roster of games at the end of the year – including latest entries in the Final Fantasy, Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises alongside the launch of VR on PS4 – is sure to see substantial TV advertising in autumn and winter. We will be observing this period and document how much the TV landscape changes as we approach the vital Christmas period.

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