Advertising agencies are in the race to add diversity in their talent pools. From content creators and journalists to gamers, people covering a wide variety of skills are now joining agencies as strategic planners, designers and copywriters. There is also a set of ad landers who are gamers working on new-age digital projects and working with brands from the sector.
Varun Khiatani, who works on strategy at creative shop Talented, is a passionate gamer too. He says many times he teams up with his colleagues over gaming sessions as an exercise to brainstorm. Khiatani explains, “Gaming is an engaging activity. You are alert about what’s happening around yet you have free-flowing thoughts. Ideation over gaming is refreshing and it opens up your imagination.”
Advertising agencies are looking for people like Khiatani to come on board.
A senior creative director of a celebrated independent group is meeting gamers week after week to understand what goes on in their minds and plans to pick a couple of them for a new team he is building from scratch. “The enthusiasm that gamers have is infectious. They are observant and know a world that many in the agency world haven’t bothered to explore. It’s the right time to hire a few in the talent mix,” he tells Storyboard18.
Currently, there are about 3.2 billion gamers worldwide. The global gaming market reached a value of US$ 184.6 Billion in 2021. Market research firm, IMARC Group, expects this number to reach US$ 314.8 Billion by 2027, exhibiting at a CAGR of 9.2 percent during 2022-2027.
By the financial year 2021, India's gaming market grew close to 2.2 billion USD. At a CAGR of nearly 30 percent, industry reports suggested that this market in India was likely to be worth 7 billion USD by the financial year 2026.
As per a survey by Rakuten Insight, a majority of gamers spend between one and two hours on each game session and about 3 percent spend more than five hours per gaming session.
Driving creativity in the gaming universe
Khiatani observes that in the gaming world the UI and UX experience is far superior. Gamers understand this. “In the web 2.0 world, brands have access to the X and Y axis to play with. In a gaming world, there is also a Z axis. An axis that gives marketers the ability to play with the depth and core of the gaming platform.” A lot of global work done by agencies shows this trend.
For instance, when Wendy’s wanted to make a point about its beef - ‘fresh, never frozen’, to a generation of consumers in the gaming industry they partnered with WPP-owned marketing service company VMLY&R. Rather than behaving like a brand with targeted ads and paid sponsorships, the team at VMLY&R took up the role of a player and transformed the brand’s message into interactive video game-play.
Each week on Twitch, Wendy came to life in some of the most popular video games, then played each game with an 'anti-frozen' twist. VMLY&R played with gamers, created custom content for gamers, and even inspired gamers to play as Wendy themselves. Wendy’s became one of the top 1 percent of all streamers on Twitch, gaining 988,000 downloads of its custom-branded in-game content.
To fuel real-time understanding
Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, global CEO and co-founder of independent digital marketing services company Gozoop, says it becomes easier to work with brands from the category if you have gamers on the team.
The agency has been working with Dell’s gaming laptop brand Alienware for many years now. It is one of the buzziest clients of Gozoop. “The gamers in the team understand the pulse of the category,” he says.
Naqvi also observes beyond the massive number of players who marketers can target during gameplay, there are millions who watch when these gamers stream.
Brands like Flipkart, Amazon, Intel, HP, Pizza Hut, Godrej, PhonePe, CoinDCX, Unacademy, Byju’s, Chingari and Josh, among others have been seen on streaming platforms in the recent past.
Some ad agencies are looking at their talent mix differently these days, understanding the power of a new generation of consumers who want different experiences and building capabilities in-house to deliver on those expectations.
As the gaming industry in the country grows by leaps and bounds, and its user numbers swell, ad agencies that have added gamers to their ranks certainly stand to gain from their inside view of what is quickly becoming one of the biggest opportunities for marketers now and tomorrow.
Note to readers: There has never been a better time for gaming and esports in India. While user traffic has skyrocketed in the last two years, 2022 is also a year of firsts for the industry. From winning the first medal at the Commonwealth games to the first televised BGMI series on primetime Star TV, the year has seen some big developments. With new brands and new players entering the market, esports and gaming have also become a popular marketing tool for marketers across the board. The esports market size in India has quickly scaled to Rs 3 billion in FY2021 and it is expected to reach Rs 11 billion by FY2025. Keep up with the big trends and big players in the space in our In-Focus special series.