PlayFronts 2024 Round One: Play Your Ads Among Gamers of All Ages

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
Cover image for  article: PlayFronts 2024 Round One: Play Your Ads Among Gamers of All Ages

PlayFronts, the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual exposition of videogame advertising formats and trends, unfolded March 26 from Convene's Rockefeller Center branch. Day one of this two-day affair focused on how businesses and their brands can reach audiences who prefer to play their games on smartphones, tablets, personal and laptop computers.

The Big Message: If you've yet to place ads in or surrounding videogame play, whether the target demographic is millennials, generations X, Y, Z or Alpha, now's the time to move in and do so. If you're already engaged with videogame campaigns, now's the time to expand your engagement with more spending, going after a range of audiences and in-game messaging. "Gaming is not a key piece of an industry, but an integral part of our here and now," proclaimed David Cohen, IAB's Chief Executive Officer.

Host: Zoe Soon (pictured above), Vice President of IAB's Experience Center unit. Always authoritative and engaging when on stage, and has the ability to move from one segment to the next down pat.

What Worked: Presentation after presentation throughout the day that delivered valuable information to attendees, whether coming from a game developer or specialized ad sales agency. Videos, graphics and vital stats were extremely well-synchronized and displayed in Cinerama-like fashion above the presenters and panelists.

What Also Worked: Inclusion of recent advertising campaigns in most of the presentations. Attendees appreciated the opportunity to see for themselves how brands can win over gamers concerned about sponsors interrupting the action, or spoiling their experience, especially with Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite and similar game platforms. Examples of responsible in-game tactics range from billboards and signage along a race course to appropriate clothing logos. One of the more unique campaigns in some time: Intuit TurboTax's pre-game feature for Fortnite launched early March, where users could work on their tax returns prior to play, put together by agency Bent Pixels. Over the first week, as many as 8,598 players could use the app simultaneously, and 1.2 million players used the app by mid-March. Average session time: 40 minutes.

What Didn't Work: The absence of news on new games—and new advertising opportunities -- in the coming months from Activision Blizzard Media (now under Microsoft ownership), Ubisoft and other presenting game developers.

Data Points: The U.S. videogame-playing population stands at 213 million people, according to new IAB research. Forty-six percent of gamers are women, and more than 90 percent of both the Gen X and Alpha population are active videogame players. Recent data from Activision Blizzard Media infers 57 percent of games do not want their play interrupted by ads or be forced to watch commercials during play. More than 58 percent of Roblox's daily users (71 million) are age 13 or over, with age 17-24 the venture's fastest-growing audience base. Sixty-five percent of people playing smartphone/mobile games are age 35 and up, according to research from Zynga. Seventy-seven percent of all mobile gamers Zynga surveyed for their findings play while watching TV or hearing music.

News: Videogame advertising sales agency Super League is now working with Common Sense Networks on a variety of initiatives. Common Sense Networks distributes reviews of videogames, TV and other entertainment media that address their suitability for children and parents, and programs Sensical, the on-demand service distributing kid/family-friendly video content and games through smart TV sets and devices. Ally Financial, through the agency Super Awesome, will introduce a new game playable on Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft, where players can earn rewards for reaching or exceeding score levels. In a few weeks, IAB will launch "Gaming 360," a series of four-hour virtual training sessions educating advertisers, agencies and media buyers on the videogame scene and gamer demographics.

Bonus Points: A variety of thirst-quenchers available throughout the day from iced tea to fruit-flavored sparkling waters, ending with a choice of plentiful pasta at the day-ending reception - penne pesto or shells with tomato sauce.

Parting Words: "Gaming is more than entertainment. It's entertainment plus interactivity, social connection, relationship-building, achievement, creativity and commerce. The gateway into the future."—IAB Experience Center Vice President Zoe Soon

"The reality is gamers are not a monolithic proposition. They are a tremendous ecosystem. They are multi-platform players." -- Jordan Shlachter, Measurement and Insights Head at Activision Blizzard Media

"The future of gaming is making it easier for people to play the games they love." -- Activision Blizzard Media Senior Vice President and General Manager Clement Xue

"You want your brands in immersive gaming platforms."  -- Super League President Matt Edelman

"Keep in mind that the next generation of gamers will be default creators, not just default consumers." -- Super Awesome Global Chief Revenue Officer Ryan Moore

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