Gaming Advertising in the Time of Coronavirus

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Have you played Animal Crossing yet? I have, it’s pretty awesome—and I’m not really even a gamer. I’m also not alone, many people have picked up the controller for the first time as Coronavirus has sheltered us to a life indoors.

This goes beyond video games too—a lot of people have dusted off the board games for some quality time with their quaratine-fam.

Why consumers all turning to games might be obvious—they’re looking for a little entertainment (or at least, I was). But in order for advertisers to effectively reach their consumers right now, they need to understand not only why consumers are playing, but why they’re playing certain games, on which devices, and with whom they’re playing.

They’re the simplest questions to ask, and the hardest questions to answer:

  • What emotions drive consumers to choose specific games?
  • How can I stay valuable, relevant and present and consumer navigate a challenging world, while also selling entertainment?

We can help you answer these questions based on consumer’s consumption of content online. Using data from our network of 20,000 publishers, advertisers and digital properties, we’ve surfaced some revealing trends about gaming consumers, including their current interests, when and how to reach them online, and creative strategies to support you in building an effective advertising campaign.

As we speculated, video games and board games alike are having a moment—both have seen upwards fo 300% spikes in pageviews in the last 45 days, posing a big opportunity for advertisers to reach audiences while they’re engaged.

But, simply knowing that there’s a trend isn’t really enough. You have to know why and also how to reach those consumers effectively—let’s zero in on those needs.

Gamers are Reacting to What’s Available, Right Now

The grocery stores weren’t the only ones with empty aisles at the start of this pandemic—video game hardware manufacturers also found themselves facing a demand they hadn’t expected to have to meet.

Consumers reacted based on what was available to them, and turned to the devices and games available to play.

For advertisers looking to reach gaming consumers, focusing specifically on availability, or maybe even on the non-availability of your competitor’s game, could prove to be effective while consumers are looking for new releases.

Build Creatives that Align with Today’s Gaming Consumer

A sense of availability and urgency might get you top of mind, but for real performance, you have to capture consumer’s attention with creatives that entice them.

Ads on publisher sites always include a headline and an image—they’re all you have to get your digital game on.

Using the millions of ad creatives running through our network each week, we surface image and headline trends that increase advertiser CTR with Taboola Trends.

Gamers want to see photos with animalswithout text and with food—this is in direct contrast with other verticals where we’re currently seeing trends leaning away from animals and food.

To accompany your image, you’ll need a strong headline that grabs attention. We’ve surfaced keywords we know are working now, those that might be seeing creative fatigue, and also keywords we think have high potential.

Use these keywords to inspire headlines that align with the current mindset of the gaming consumer. Based on our readership trends we mentioned earlier, and these keyword trends, here are some headlines that’ll likely hit the mark:

  • Unlock Animal Crossing Secrets with This Walkthrough
  • This New Game has Xbox Users Hyped
  • This is the Hardest Game Out There—Only Really Smart People Win
  • Learn and Play When You Download This App
  • Gamers are Going Crazy For This New Online Alternative to PS

You’ll of course want to A/B test the headlines that work well for you, but if you’re just getting started, our predictive title tool analyzes your headlines for their predictive CTR, and will rank them depending on which our algorithm thinks will be the top performer for you. Here’s how those example headlines stack up against one another:

Combining these trends leaves you with a batch of creatives that are likely to drive clicks, and hit the mark with a gaming audience. Here are some examples to illustrate what that could look like:

Nine seems to be the magic number when it comes to creative testing—easily reach nine creatives by pulling together three images and three headlines that you can mix and match.

Target Gaming Consumers When They Want to Hear From, On Devices Where They’re Present

Gaming sort of a has a reputation as a night-time and weekend activity, and a reputation for tying gamers to their computers (depending on the game).

We’ve seen some recent changes in how and when gamers are responding to content from advertisers, and identified some new opportunities for gamers to capitalize on.

In order to determine the best opportunities for advertisers when it comes to targeting, we take a two things into account: click-through-rate (CTR), or demand for content (if you’re clicking on content, we assume you want to see it), and spend % across our network, or supply of gaming-related content available to consumers. At times where there is a low supply of content, and high demand for that content, that’s the biggest opportunity for advertisers to capitalize on.

MondaysTuesdays and are now the best days of the week to reach gamers, whereas the weekends used to be a good time for advertisers to shine.

Evenings are still best to reach the gaming audience, however, we have seen times shift a bit earlier than the very late nights we saw previously, to 6pm and 10pm.

One thing’s stayed the same—when it comes to gamers, stick to video. That’s the biggest opportunity for advertisers on publisher sites by far and is among the most engaged with content.

Even at home, gamers are still mobile. Target these audiences on mobile and tablet devices (especially tablet devices) for a non-saturated environment and high engagement.

Once you’ve got your targeting strategy down, find the right people by using relevant data segments, like these:

  • Interest > Entertainment > Online Gamers
  • Interest > Online Gaming
  • Lifestyle > Entertainment > Online Game Engagers
  • Interest > Hobbies > Gaming

Maximize Your Bid

If you’re a newbie to publishers sites, we recommend bidding as high as you’re comfortable with for the first few days to a week, to capture as much traffic (and therefore data) as you can in order to determine how to target more effectively.

Across the board, here’s our recommendation:

  • Pause every ad with low conversions if it’s served 300-500 clicks
  • If your CPA is high, adjust your bid per site before blocking specific sites altogether
  • Only bid down on a site entirely after delivering 500 clicks with no conversions
  • Increase bids by 25%-50% for top-performing sites to increase their competitiveness

Our Smart Bid feature automatically bids for you based on your goals, allowing advertisers to rest assured their getting the best rate for each click.

Examples of Gaming Campaigns to Inspire

Kueez Sees Engagement with Online Games Skyrocket

Kueez is a popular online personal content platform that drives tens of millions of views a month. Using creative execution, Kueez exceeded their target traffic goals by acquiring approximately 100 million page views per month, with a 20% decrease in bounce rate.

Goodgame Studios Sees a 300% Jump in Players with Optimized Landing Pages

As people see more and more ads on the web, the ability to make content that is relevant for them allows the user experience to be more fluid. They were able to triple the number of players, and achieve their ROI goals.

Innogames Acquires 50K New Players Each Month

InnoGames is a leading developer and publisher of online games, including the popular crossplatform title, Forge of Empires.

With an inbound strategy, Innogames wanted to focus on its core markets with an ROI approach. In order to drive users to their desktop and mobile games, they were looking to run native advertisements internationally, and it worked.

Conclusion: Paying Attention to Gamer’s Needs Right Now Drives Performance

Gaming advertisers have an opportunity right now to be really valuable in a time where people might be looking for an escape, or to entertain themselves at home. Right now, that means capitalizing on what’s available, and what consumers can access right away.

The key to successfully reaching those consumers is founded in being empathetic to their current challenges, desires and needs.

Create Your Content Campaign Today!