Game-Changer: Programmatic advertising takes centre stage for gaming marketers

Research suggests that by 2030, gaming-related advertising will be worth $17.6 billion globally. A large part of this will be programmatic ads, said experts.

By  Kashmeera SambamurthyJan 17, 2024 1:37 PM
Game-Changer: Programmatic advertising takes centre stage for gaming marketers
Programmatic advertising has always been considered by gaming companies as an effective tool to add users since it came into existence. (Representative Image: Alex Haney via Unsplash)

Programmatic advertising, known for its wide-ranging customer acquisition benefits, is making waves beyond traditional sectors. Gaming marketers are now embracing programmatic advertising extensively to boost their user base. According to gaming companies, this strategic move not only promises an enhanced gaming experience for users but also establishes programmatic advertising as a pivotal driver for expanding and captivating audiences within the space.

“We use programmatic ads whenever we are live streaming any of our matches for people where they can watch it on different platforms be it YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, etc,” said Akshat Rathee, co-founder and managing director, at esports and gaming B2B company Nodwin Gaming.

According to Raj Swaminathan, senior director, revenues and new initiatives, Globale Media—a mobile advertising platform—40 percent to 45 percent of buying occurs through programmatic channels, spanning diverse industries such as gaming, BFSI, auto, FMCG, retail (e-commerce) and digital natives.

Allied Market Research reports suggest that by 2030, gaming-related advertising will be worth $17.6 billion globally. A large part of this will be programmatic ads, said domain experts.

The pros and cons of programmatic advertising

The benefits programmatic advertising offer are real-time targeting and personalisation. These advantages help a marketer or a brand cater relevant ads to gamers which in turn would enhance their gaming experience.

Globale Media’s Swaminathan agreed. “The ads’ targeting capabilities elevate advertising precision by enabling contextual, behavioural, predictive and even location-based targeting,” he said.

This not only enhances the relevance of ads but also maximises their impact.

Additionally, programmatic buying also brings about operational efficiencies by minimising media wastage and granting advertisers control over ad spends through strategic budget limits and bidding.

According to Rohit Agarwal, founder, AlphaZegus, an online-focused marketing firm, programmatic advertising helps in reaching a broader audience with different interests, spending capabilities and behavioural traits.

“This type of advertising will craft individual campaigns, identify individual platforms and further take decisions on the type of platform, ad budget and the demographics the ad would be relevant to,” said Agarwal.

Another key advantage lies in the transparency programmatic advertising offers—the visibility on sources and inventories.

“The ads integration features provide single-console access to all channels, including display, video, audio, connected TV (CTV) and out of home (OOH), streamlining the entire process for advertisers,” said Swaminathan.

Inspite of surface level similarities with cookies, programmatic ads work differently said Rathee.

“If programmatic advertising was targeted or similar to third-party cookies, why is a charge not levied on cost per click but air cover? The fact is that digital has never been able to beat television when it comes to air cover. Since digital is programmatic in nature, there is a necessity to be specific around it,” he said.

The other disadvantage of this medium is inefficient downloads.

Even with its benefits, according to Rathee a good program manager always beats programmatic advertising.

How programmatic ads fit in with esports and real-money gaming?

Online gaming can be broken down into two segments. One is esports, which constitutes the likes of BGMI, Valorant and Call of Duty. The other is real-money gaming which includes rummy, poker or fantasy games.

Programmatic advertising helps better in real money gaming (RMG) , said experts.

In the real-money gaming segment, the audience is massive. It also includes people from the low-income set, and cuts across age brackets. Overall, it has a much more pan-India presence.

“For RMG doing programmatic advertising makes a lot of sense because their audience is massive, they constantly need to keep evolving their media approach and their media strategies. And programmatic advertising lets them do that more quickly and more efficiently,” Agarwal pointed out.

Rathee agreed. According to him, companies with a B2C business model and the real-money gaming sector will find programmatic advertising beneficial because 90 percent of real-money gaming brands are dependent on it.

Types of ad formats

There are three kinds of ad formats which can be run on any digital media programmatically. The first is display advertisements. They are basically banners that don’t remain static. The second is video advertisements which surface while watching videos, especially on YouTube. The third, which India is catching up with, is audio.

The scaling of audio and gaming within the programmatic sphere signifies an evolving and diverse landscape, which underscores the dynamic future of programmatic advertising.

Video ads also turn out to be effective in the gaming ecosystem compared to static ads.

Measurability

Gamezop’s co-founder Gaurav Agarwal highlighted an example to explain measurability in this space.

“Let’s say A spent Rs 1 lakh on advertising a scooter on a website or across publishers. An advantage here is that it can be computed how many people clicked on the advertisement or how many visited the website, thus expressing their interest,” he said.

But if the same was put out on a billboard or in a newspaper, some people would stop to read, some people would pass it by and for some, it would just be read and forgotten. Of course, some would express their interest. But the return on investment (ROI) here is tough to measure.

“Hence, in programmatic advertising, it is measurable where one can measure the ROI and see how much money was spent and on a near-accurate basis,” Agarwal added.

By eliminating audience duplication and implementing frequency capping (a feature limiting the number of times video or display ads are shown to the person), programmatic advertising optimises campaign performance.

Additionally, the integration of various ad formats under a unified platform not only streamlines the buying process but also enhances return on ad spend, said other experts.

The future of programmatic ads in gaming

Overall, gaming marketer feel the need of programmatic advertising in gaming to go beyond performance, and offer performance-based results.

“Looking into the future, the trajectory of programmatic advertising is poised for remarkable advancements. The integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning will refine targeting precision and campaign optimisation. The emphasis on large-scale utilisation of first-party data is expected to play a pivotal role, fostering more personalised and targeted advertising,” Swaminathan said.

First Published on Jan 16, 2024 7:14 AM

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