In recent years, video games have become increasingly popular, with millions of people around the world actively engaging in virtual spaces. As the number of active video gamers worldwide is predicted to exceed 3.2 billion by 2023, the opportunities for marketers to reach customers through intrinsic in-game advertising are seemingly endless. But what exactly is intrinsic in-game advertising, and why has it become such an important part of the gaming industry?
Intrinsic advertising is the process of blending real-world ad experiences into a virtual environment. Instead of interrupting the player’s gaming experience with pop-up ads or banners, intrinsic ads feel natural to the experience. For example, you might see a billboard along a street in a game landscape or a KFC restaurant in the fictionalized city of San Francisco in an arcade game.
One of the leading firms in the intrinsic in-game advertising space is Frameplay. They provide game developers with the monetization opportunity to display in-game ads without interfering with the gamer’s experience. Combined with Kochava measurement and attribution solutions, creating a Frameplay ad campaign has proven to be a successful marketing medium for many advertisers.
But what makes intrinsic ads so special, and why are they preferred by gamers? According to a survey by Frameplay, intrinsic ads are viewed more fondly by gamers and are possibly more effective than interstitial ads. They found that one-in-three gamers say that ads “negatively impact their experience,” and interstitial ads were the second most disliked. By contrast, intrinsic ads feel natural to the gameplay and enhance the gamer’s experience, making them more likely to incite action and generate positive brand association.
Intrinsic advertising is a form of in-game advertising that appears naturally within the game environment, rather than interrupting gameplay with banner ads or interstitial advertising. The IAB Gaming and Esports Advertising Framework notes that intrinsic in-game advertising offers a seamless experience for players and can be used to deliver ads that are more effective and engaging than traditional advertising formats.
Cary Tilds, the Chief Strategy & Operations Officer at Frameplay, explains that the company’s platform enables game developers to place impactful advertising within video game environments without disrupting the gameplay performance or experience. The result is amplified brand exposure for advertisers, additional revenue for developers, and an enjoyable, uninterrupted experience for gamers.
One of the main differences between intrinsic advertising and other forms of advertising is that the ads are “in the game,” making them a seamless part of the gameplay environment. This makes them more effective than ads that are “next to the game” or “around the game.”
According to a report by Frameplay, intrinsic ads are viewed more fondly by gamers and are possibly more effective than interstitial ads. The report found that one-in-three gamers say that ads “negatively impact their experience,” and interstitial ads were the second most disliked. By contrast, intrinsic ads feel natural to the gameplay and enhance the gamer’s experience, making them more likely to incite action and generate positive brand association.
Frameplay’s Intrinsic Time-in-View attention metric is an intrinsic in-game viewability duration metric that offers valuable insights to brands and developers using intrinsic in-game ads. It is a way to measure how much time players spend actively engaging with the ads. This metric is up and running well before the newly released IAB intrinsic in-game measurement guidelines 2.0, which Frameplay contributed to.
This sentiment is echoed by industry experts. According to Jonathon Troughton, CEO of the in-game advertising company Frameplay, “Intrinsic ads feel natural to the gameplay, and they don’t disrupt the experience. This creates an environment where the gamer is more likely to engage with the ads and to associate them with a positive experience.”
But not all intrinsic ads are created equal. Some game studios have taken a more immersive approach, integrating brands into game worlds in more meaningful ways. This has led to a growing tension in the world of gaming advertising, with stakeholders divided into two camps: those porting programmatic adtech into games via intrinsic in-game ads and those integrating brands into more immersive gaming experiences.
While some executives in the space share Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney’s dislike for in-game billboards, many believe that both approaches have their place in the world of gaming advertising. For intrinsic in-game ad companies, the challenge is to make their programmatic ads as seamless and natural as brand integrations in Fortnite and Roblox. If they can succeed in securing premium console inventory, particularly in sports and lifestyle games, they may be able to compete more effectively with immersive brand experiences.
However, the tension between these two forms of in-game advertising is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. As gaming continues to evolve and new technologies emerge, the future of intrinsic in-game advertising remains uncertain. But for now, it continues to offer an exciting and innovative way for marketers to reach customers as they explore virtual spaces.
According to Malph Minns, managing director of the agency Strive Sponsorship, “Intrinsic in-game advertising has a lot of potential for brands to reach gamers in a natural and engaging way. As the gaming industry continues to grow, we can expect to see more and more opportunities for brands to integrate themselves into the virtual worlds that gamers love.”
So why should brands consider intrinsic in-game advertising? The benefits are clear: intrinsic ads are less intrusive, feel more natural to the player’s experience, and can enhance the gamer’s experience. They can also make a game world seem more realistic and are constantly viewed by a player during the normal course of gameplay. By blending real-world ad experiences into a virtual environment, intrinsic in-game advertising can create a sense of familiarity and authenticity, helping brands build stronger connections with their target audience.
As the gaming industry continues to evolve, it’s likely that we’ll see more innovative approaches to intrinsic in-game advertising, from dynamic product placement to interactive branded mini-games. However, for brands looking to capitalize on this exciting new marketing medium, it’s important to work with experienced partners who understand the unique challenges of the gaming industry.
As education about intrinsic advertising continues to grow, it is expected that more agencies will start to focus on the opportunity. Companies such as dentsu Gaming, Publicis Play, and IPG Media Lab Gaming have already begun creating unique capabilities for advertising in games. The industry will need to rethink planning and buying tools to categorize gaming correctly in the context of other opportunities.
Whether you’re looking to create an immersive branded experience or simply integrate your brand into the virtual world, there’s never been a better time to explore the possibilities of intrinsic in-game advertising. As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, so too will the opportunities for brands to connect with their target audience in new and exciting ways.