Marketers who had moved from traditional advertising spaces to digital platform strategies are now tasked with finding new and innovative ways to promote their brand message. Such a solution is now available in games.
Those whose hobbies include gaming or esports will no doubt already be familiar with the interactive live-streaming service Twitch. To help brands understand why they should expand their reach in this new playground — and how to do it — Twitch’s Brand Partner Studio Manager for APAC, Gemma Battenbough, hosted an insightful presentation on “Gaming 101 for brands” at the 2022 Spikes Asia x Campaign Party. Here are the main takeaways.
The rise of mainstream gaming
Generating approximately half of the global gaming revenue (approximately US$88.2 billion), the Asia-Pacific gaming market is the largest and fastest growing region in gaming, with revenues for the next two years which should reach 9%.
Once considered a niche subculture or pastime, gaming is now a mainstream activity, especially among digital natives of Millennials (25-34) and Gen Z (16-24) . In fact, 87% of millennials and 91% of Gen Z surveyed by Newszoo play video games and identify as gamers. In the APAC region, 1.62 billion people identify as gamers, representing just over 60% of the online population.
Gaming is a lifestyle choice that is leading the attention economy, and live content is in turn driving the gaming industry. By tapping into the gaming market, brands can directly access a younger, tech-savvy demographic and maintain brand relevance.
How should brands start getting into the game?
While Twitch offers many mainstream social media features, it has its own nuances, thanks to its nature as a live streaming service and its strong roots in the gaming community. To help brands understand the key to success on the service, Twitch has designed a game-inspired seven-step tutorial to help marketers adapt and refine their communication strategies.
Level 1: Check your quest log
The first questions brands need to ask themselves are: why does your brand want to get into gaming and why has it identified gaming as an opportunity for the business? Determining a solid rationale for entering the gaming realm is crucial, as this ultimately dictates where and how brands present themselves, and what they must do while gaming. It’s also important to look at business goals, decide if and how the game aligns with your marketing strategy, and be clear about what your brand expects in return.
Level 2: Showcase your special abilities
“Players always think in terms of buffs, special abilities and boosts,” says Battenbough, “so what special abilities can your brand give players to help them do what they love, only better? ” Using Pringles as an example, Battenbough explained that the chips’ non-greasy recipe and positioning of the brand as an enabler of shared experiences lends itself perfectly to gaming audiences.
Level 3: Identify your experience and level of commitment
Next, brands need to think about where they want to rank in the gaming space. In terms of gaming, are you beginner, casual, generalist, or esports pro? Brands also need to consider how long they want to be present in games. For example, a short-term campaign would work to market a gaming-peripheral product, while fostering strong brand alignment would be long-term, and building a brand endemic to the gaming universe would be a global project. Identifying your brand’s commitment to gaming will establish the parameters within which your brand will operate.
Returning to the Pringles case study, Battenbough pointed out that the brand laid its foundations in the gaming community beginning with short-term tactical campaigns through partnerships with Xbox. Over the years, the brand has been able to strengthen its credentials within the community, create more ambitious and engaging campaigns – such as its “Meet Frank” zombie campaign – and partner with influential esports games such as League of Legends.
Level 4: Customize your character
If your brand could be embodied by a game character, what would their avatar look like? As with branding on social media, being authentic when deciding on presentation can go a long way in appealing to millennials and Gen Z, as these audiences demand authenticity from the brands they identify with. As Battenbough says, “In the meme culture that is gaming, you don’t have to be cool, but you have to be real.”
Level 5: Select your genres
Think about the types of games your brand would play and why. Deciding on a genre that makes sense for your brand can provide a foundation for effective strategies, connecting you to a particular playstyle or moment in gaming history. This can then serve as an entry point into the audiences that form the essential foundations of gaming communities, streamers, and competitive gaming.
Level 6: Check your inventory
What is your brand going to offer people in exchange for their most valuable asset: their time? Celebrating and rewarding the community is key to earning the trust and fame of the gaming generation, and also encourages the voluntary participation so sought after by marketers. That’s why Twitch recommends a community-driven approach when marketing to gamers. What is in your brand inventory that can add value to your potential audience’s gaming experience?
Level 7: Enable two-way chat
Live games operate in real time and are inherently participatory and interactive, so gaming audiences will expect no less from your brand if you choose to enter the field. Be ready to invite the audience and let them interact directly with your brand using two-way chat during the game.
With these valuable tips in their arsenal, brands can create effective and strategic briefs to help them achieve their goals in the gaming market, regardless of their existing industry affiliation. Speaking about the future of in-game marketing, Battenbough notes that the types of brands entering the arena have become increasingly diverse.
“We’re already seeing the gamification of food, beauty, shopping, music and streaming sports. So for audiences who have grown up with gaming, it’s really natural that the ideas and mechanics of games such as risk and reward or role-playing are found in other categories,” says Battenbough.
In short, there’s never been a better time for brands to enter the world of gaming and find new, innovative ways to connect with audiences. After all, anything that increases interactivity has the potential to create a brilliant brand moment.