Fun & Games: How To Win Big With In-Game Advertising

The popularity of games has not been lost on the advertiser community. From a market opportunity perspective, the number of gamers worldwide is expected to surpass 1.2 billion by the end of this year, according to Newzoo’s 2013 Global Games Market Report. What’s more, the same report found that the global games market will reach […]

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The popularity of games has not been lost on the advertiser community. From a market opportunity perspective, the number of gamers worldwide is expected to surpass 1.2 billion by the end of this year, according to Newzoo’s 2013 Global Games Market Report. What’s more, the same report found that the global games market will reach $86.1B by 2016. This is a strong market for advertisers.


Unlike other media, in-game advertising doesn’t interrupt the viewer with an ad because players opt in to engage with placements and, when done well, the experience is woven into the game. While there are tremendous opportunities in this market, seizing them requires more than just showing up.

For a closer look at the growing in-game advertising market, I interviewed Paul Capriolo, CEO and co-founder of Social Growth Technologies (makers of Social Ingot, the in-game advertising platform). As a successful start-up in this space, Paul has some great advice for advertisers.

Q. How Do You Entice Players To Engage In In-Game Advertising?

Paul: Gamers are excited to engage with advertising because they have the value-added benefit of receiving in-game rewards for interacting with branded marketing actions. They are then able to seamlessly return to their game without interruption.

Q. How Does Mobile Differ From Desktop With Regards To In-Game Advertising?

Paul: When it comes to reaching consumers on mobile devices versus desktops, advertisers should be aware that mobile devices allow for a larger variety of promotional engagements, such as app downloads and location-based actions. Advertisers also need to note that with mobile campaigns, tracking and targeting capabilities could differ from traditional desktop campaigns.  Oftentimes, mobile campaigns and desktop campaigns can work simultaneously and in parallel, which increases the number of gamers who can engage.

Plain and simple, gamers are more inclined to play social games on their mobile devices because they can be used anywhere and are more convenient. Furthermore, mobile ad spending will jump from an estimated $7.7 billion this year to $28 billion in four years — compare that to desktop ad spending, which will top out at $35 billion before gradually declining to $32.5 billion by 2017, according to a recent forecast by eMarketer.

Q. Why Is Social Gaming So Popular With Advertisers Now?

Paul: Social gaming is popular with advertisers now because it has a worldwide reach and allows for highly-targeted placements with a captive audience. Advertisers enjoy having the ability to control the entire user engagement and can be confident they will see an ROI since they are paying on a “per action” model.

There is also no other medium where advertisers can reach an audience that is appreciative of the opportunity to engage with a brand during peak entertainment experiences. This also increases positive association with the brand, since gamers specifically seek out ways to engage with advertisements that they relate to and are interested in. Allowing the gamer to seek out advertising that targets them is unique to this type of promotional method versus other traditional digital methods.

Q. What Is The Market Opportunity For In-Game Advertising?

Paul: The Entertainment Software Association estimates the in-game advertising market could grow to $1B globally by 2014.

More specifically, we’re seeing strong adoption of our Social Ingot platform. Today, it has a reach of more than 250 million unique gamers monthly around the world, spanning more than 50,000 social and mobile games with an average demographic of females 25+.

What we’ve learned is that, to succeed in this market, advertisers need to able to target by geographic region, gender, age, game genre, and other critical factors. When done right, in-game advertising enables advertisers to tap into a new model that builds positive brand recognition and entices users to complete the advertiser’s defined marketing actions.

Q. Could You Describe The Typical Gamer?

Paul: The “typical gamer” is a woman in her 40s who enjoys playing social games because they are engaging and entertaining. She tends to play for small intervals several times a day and uses social games to interact with her family and friends.

Q. Can You Talk About The Role Of Virtual Currency From The Perspective Of The Advertisers As Well As The Player? (Is It Important For Branding? Do Players Really Care?)

Paul: Gamers and advertisers are able to exchange value simultaneously. Virtual currency creates a more meaningful experience for the gamer, thanks to the advertiser’s involvement. For advertisers, they’re able to use virtual currency to create that initial positive engagement and keep their audience captivated throughout the experience.

 Through this value-exchange model, the majority of gamers pay attention to the brand message while brand perception increases significantly. Also, gamers who are exposed to value-exchanging engagements are far more likely to visit the brand’s website and also more likely to shop for the brand at a physical store location.

Q. What Are The Primary Marketing Offers You Use?

Paul: The offers that have the best user response range from video views, social actions (via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest), registrations, and subscriptions.

Q. How Does The Affiliate Channel Play Into Your Larger Business Strategy?

Paul: Social Ingot leverages the affiliate channel to get high quality campaigns up and running quickly and easily. Integration is simple and turnaround time is fast, which affords us the opportunity to test new types of campaigns and work with new brands efficiently.

Q. What Types Of Companies Are Most Successful With In-Game Advertising?

Paul: Any company can be successful with in-game advertising, but the most successful companies are ones that truly understand their consumers. If a company is able to analyze and articulate the value of certain user’s actions and their user psychographics, that allows us to cater the user experience properly and guarantee a higher ROI.

Q. Can You Share Some Examples Of Successful Campaigns?

Paul: Social Ingot has successfully run hundreds of high-budget brand campaigns for companies such as Coca-Cola, Pilot Pens, eBay, Samsung, Cosmopolitan, NBC and Kellogg’s.

One specific engagement we built for eBay prompted users to watch the eBay Last Minute Valentine’s Day gift video in its entirety.  Afterwards, they were asked to share the video via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  This campaign was targeted for games that catered to males ages 18-35 and the conversion rate was 83%.


In-game advertising is an exciting new marketing opportunity that many search marketers can take advantage of depending on their industry, offerings and target market.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Liane Dietrich
Liane Dietrich is Chief Operating Officer, and is responsible for the planning and execution of Rakuten LinkShare's vision to deliver world-class online marketing solutions. Since joining Rakuten LinkShare, now Rakuten Affiliate Network in 2003, Liane has contributed to the company's success in the areas of service delivery, strategic direction and international expansion in her roles as Director, Vice President and Managing Director in Chicago, New York, and London.

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