Publicis Media On What Has To Happen Before In-Game Ads Can Take Off

Publicis Media’s Samantha Lim speaks at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview on February 7th in New York City. Click here to register.

The video game advertising market is “not very mature, but it’s growing,” said Samantha Lim, senior vice president of game strategy and innovation at Publicis Media.

Still, there are more advertisers running tests, many of whom are “interested but just haven’t figured out how to fully dive in yet,” Lim said.

One of the challenges is advertiser sensitivity. “They don’t want to hurt their brand,” she said, and many still see gaming content as an unsafe environment for brands. Not to mention that if the campaign isn’t suitable for the game they’re running, the brand runs the risk of incurring the ire of gamers.

But recent events have led to new standards for in-game advertising (such as ads appearing within gameplay rather than on traditional displays or video formats) and console giants such as Sony and Microsoft offering free-to-play games. I’m trying to monetize my title with ads.

Lim spoke to AdExchanger about navigating these new ad opportunities, growing organic in-game ad inventory, and next steps for in-game programmatic.

AdExchanger: What are the major developments in the video game advertising market over the past year?

SAMANTHA LIM: With more opportunities for integration and customization, the immersive experiences brands are building are making industry headlines. We also often hear about companies hiring people to devote themselves to gaming.

What is the outlook for game channels in 2023?

We will see more game publishers and studios have test models that incorporate intrinsic in-game advertising. Of course it depends on the game. There’s also been a lot of discussion about in-game ads specific to the console. Will it be 2024 or will it be 2024?

As the gaming industry continues to experiment with monetization models, we wouldn’t be surprised to see new ad formats being tested. And we continue to see the development of game integrations that feel like rewards.

How can brands effectively reward gamers?

Provide a different look, such as a wearable or some kind of customization [is effective] Gamers care about making their games a reflection of who they are. Gamers are drawn to anything that shows an interest in style, and that’s where brands are experimenting. [virtual] Then the world where you need to drive traffic.

Will console-specific in-game advertising be the next big thing, or will advertisers focus on pursuing custom integrations in metaverse-inspired online games like Roblox? Are you there?

It will be both a custom integration and an embedded console. This means looking at different in-game touchpoints where your brand can activate, rather than doing one-off campaigns. Ideally, you should combine various in-game, per-game, and out-of-game touch points.

How important are “out-of-game” activities, such as esports sponsorships and influencer marketing?

Critically important. Depending on what you want to do, it can be too expensive or have a long lead time, especially if you’re aligning it with an experiential event. But these activations are important because there’s a community built around them, and community is such an important part of the game.

How well developed is the programmatic infrastructure for intrinsic in-game advertising compared to “in-game advertising” such as interstitials and rewarded videos?

The amount of inventory that can be done programmatically within the intrinsic game is underdeveloped. One of the inherent in-game programmatic challenges is the creative side and the need for human review of ad creatives. Especially if you want to make sure that you know who is doing the advertising game he interacts with the developer. If you have more custom units, they should usually be direct IO.

Around-the-game ads are arguably more programmatic.

What advertising campaigns are video games best suited for?

Essential in-game advertising tends to be higher in the funnel, with a focus on brand metrics and performance comparisons. This is because you can rarely click out of a game through an essentially in-game ad. But around-the-game placements can be more performance-driven.

How big a role do DSPs play in building programmatic infrastructure for in-game advertising?

I don’t think it’s just a DSP issue. Also, it is up to the industry to agree on methodology and purchasing standards. Even if there is a new IAB standard, it is not widely adopted. More standardization is needed for DSPs to play a bigger role. From a technical point of view, there are things you can do. For example, by integrating with companies to provide measurement and attention metrics. However, creative will continue to be a challenge as long as developers have a say in the look and feel of the original in-game ads.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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