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In-game advertising: The “game” Marketers should be playing

Dive into the dynamic world of in-game advertising, where innovation meets engagement. Discover how you can stay at the top of your game!
In-game advertising

To keep pace with ever-evolving consumer behaviours in the digital landscape, brands must embrace the winds of change to stay relevant and captivating to their audience. Here, we’ll delve into the dynamic world of in-game advertising, where innovation meets engagement, and staying ahead of the game is the ultimate key to success.

According to a study by Euromonitor, consumers are becoming more conscious about how they spend their time on their devices, seeking more meaningful and relevant interactions. This shift in behaviour is evident as 57% of consumers deleted apps on their smartphones in 2022

On the other hand, Gaming has become an entertainment leader and has transcended generational boundaries. This once-niche segment is now a mass-market opportunity for businesses to convert players into paying customers.

Nowadays there are more than 3 billion gamers worldwide and the value of the in-game advertising market, which currently generates more than US$300bn, is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 7.70%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$533.00bn by 2027.

In light of these developments, it becomes increasingly compelling for brands to consider the holistic gaming culture and incorporate in-game advertising into their digital marketing strategies. By tailoring their offerings to meet consumer needs, brands can tap into the gaming industry’s vast potential.

But… Do you really know what is in fact In-Game Advertising?

A marketer’s guide for in-game advertising.
In-game advertising for marketers

In-Game Advertising

In-game advertising involves cleverly inserting advertisements within a game, seamlessly merging them with the gaming environment. Picture yourself racing through the streets at a high speed, and voilà! You spot billboards and alluring in-game products just waiting to be snapped up. Unlike those not so user-friendly, in-app pop-ups or banners that plague mobile app games, these ads pack a punch and deliver impressive results.

Gaming consoles and apps are all the rage nowadays, making it the perfect playground for businesses to unleash their creativity. They can strategically place static ads and engaging promotional videos to captivate the gaming community. The beauty of marketing within a game lies in the guarantee of attracting a captive audience, ensuring those ads receive plenty of eyeball action.

The real trick to in-game advertising is like playing matchmaker, pairing the right ad with its ideal audience. It’s akin to finding the perfect dance partner – except in this case, it’s about sparking a connection between the gamers and the products they love. A match made in gaming heaven, indeed.

Facts, myths and compelling Data

An interesting survey of 400 media buyers revealed the following:

  • 81% of media buyers would maintain or raise in-game advertising spending over the next 12 months, with 83% embracing the format to some degree by 2025.
  • In the US, just 33% of media buyer clients demand in-game activity, but 52% of UK clients are interested in this option.
  • The findings also showed that awareness of the potential is excellent, even though knowledge of how to implement it is still lacking. (31% were unsure how to build their gaming presence.)

Presenting compelling data that showcases the vast potential of in-game advertising and its growing popularity. Although there is still a knowledge gap on how to race this world of in-game advertising.

Moreover, if you’re curious about the gamer audience, you might want to reconsider the stereotypical image of a (very) young teenager confined to their room, lacking decision-making and purchasing ability. The truth is, the numbers debunk these clichés.

The potential audience you can target

Here are 4 regular gamers typologies you can base your in-game advertising campaigns on:

  • Casual gamers are mainly 33+ year-old females and play on their smartphone or tablet (not on gaming consoles).‍
  • Convivial gamers play on gaming consoles once or twice a week. Their distinctive characteristic is that they live in a 29+ person household and love the social dimension of gaming.‍
  • Committed gamers are mostly male, between 15 and 19 years old, and play on their PC at least once a day. They are close enough to the typical cliché of the gamer, who’s very invested in his or her favourite games. ‍
  • Geek-techies usually play on their last-generation game console… but also on more than 19 devices! Most of them are male and often students.
In-game advertising environments
In-game advertising environments

In-game advertising environments

  • Gaming consoles
  • In-app gaming
  • Streaming platforms
  • Pc games

Basically, this is where the magic happens. On the one hand, significant opportunities lie in gaming consoles like PlayStation or Xbox. A Newzoo study showed that console gaming represents 32% of the market share. The study also found male gamers are more likely to play on this kind of device.

On the other hand, mobile games remain a magnet for brands, continuously amplifying their appeal. You have the opportunity to showcase your ads via in-app gaming, seamlessly integrated within the mobile gaming app itself. In fact, 37% of mobile gamers purchased a product because of an in-game ad.

And what about streaming platforms such as Twitch or YouTube Gaming? Video games are central on these platforms and keep growing in popularity over time.

Last but not least, in the realm of pc games, 49% of regular players are in this environment, with a higher average age than other media: 42 years old.

Types/Formats of in-game advertising

In-game advertising comes in various types and formats, each offering unique opportunities for advertisers to reach their audience with creative and eye-catching ads. Here are the most common.

Vídeo In-Game Ads

Chances are, you’re well aware that video holds a key role in digital advertising, be it on Social Media platforms or within video games. A dynamic and captivating video content seamlessly aligns with what users crave in their digital experiences. And here’s the exciting part: a variety of in-game advertising video techniques are at your disposal.

  • Pre-roll videos that pop up a few seconds before the gaming experience starts
  • ‍Rewarded videos, consist in rewarding the player for watching the ad.

Static In-Game Ads

These are non-interactive advertisements that are integrated into the game environment as fixed elements. They can appear as billboards, posters, or product placements within the game world.

Native Ads

Probably, native in-game ads stand tall as the most innovative among all in-game advertising formats. The brilliance lies in the simplicity: your core message effortlessly blends into the very fabric of the video game, ensuring a non-intrusive advertising experience. Imagine, for instance, placing an advertising banner within a sports game, strategically adorning the playing field. Unlike ads that disrupt gameplay and force players to hit the pause button, this is your golden chance to craft exceptional ad experiences that resonate with your audience!

Dynamic In-Game Ads

Dynamic ads allow for real-time advertising content updates within the game. These ads can be served from an external source and tailored to the player’s location, demographics, or preferences.


Advergames are games specifically created to promote a brand or product. They feature the brand prominently within the gameplay, aiming to engage players while also conveying the advertising message.

Screenshot of game “Burger Queen" as an example of Advergames.
Example: “Burger Queen” screenshot

Product Placement

Product placement involves incorporating real-world products or brands into the game, where they are visible and interactable by the player. This can range from branded in-game items to vehicles or clothing featuring recognisable logos.

Sponsorships and Partnerships

Game developers may form partnerships or sponsorship deals with brands or companies. This can involve featuring brand logos, sponsored events, or exclusive in-game content tied to a specific brand.

In-Game Promotions

In-game promotions involve promoting other games or game-related content within a game. This can include trailers, announcements, or cross-promotion of other titles by the same developer or publisher.

Extra: Audio Advertising

Are you aware that more and more gamers listen to music while playing? According to a study from Spotify, between 2019 and 2020, there’s been a 34% increase in people who listened to Spotify Free through their game consoles. Moreover, 52% of Spotify gamers say music is a large part of their gaming experience, and 53% say they like to play their own music in place of the video game’s soundtrack.
Furthermore, cutting-edge gaming consoles like Playstation and Xbox now boast dedicated music apps. This presents a golden opportunity for your brand to deploy ingenious in-game ads. Your audience will love this non-intrusive format that doesn’t damage their gaming experience and uses the emotional, powerful format that is audio.

Clearly, an abundance of ad formats awaits your exploration. Each type and format of in-game advertising has its strengths and can be effective depending on the game’s genre, target audience, and overall campaign objectives. Advertisers can choose the most suitable option based on their marketing goals and the gaming experience they wish to create for players.

See more here.

In-game Advertising Players

Intrigued by one of those innovative advertising formats? Well, brace yourself because the in-game advertising market is brimming with various key players you’ll need to navigate. Prepare to encounter…

  • DSP (Demand-Side Platforms) or SSPs (Sell-Side Platforms) such as Google’s Display & Video 360, Facebook or Amazon
  • Data actors such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Verizon or Nielsen
  • ‍Gaming streaming broadcasters, such as YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming or Twitch
  • ‍Video game creators and publishers, such as Overwolf, Gameloft, Bidstack or Venatus‍
  • Other publishers, such as YouTube or Spotify
Platforms where you can advertise your ads in the gamer's world.
In-game advertising Platforms

In-game advertising Platforms

Here are some platforms where you can advertise your ads in the gamer’s world.

Still deciding if in-game advertising is a match for your brand?

If you’re still in doubt about in-game advertising, here are some compelling reasons to consider this marketing strategy:

  • Seamly blended ads. (In general, based on a survey, 63% of the respondents to the survey said they are willing to accept light, non-intrusive advertising to support web publishers.)
  • High viewability. In-game ads harmoniously merge with the gaming experience, making it nearly impossible for players to skip past them. 
  • A great opportunity for brands to increase their notoriety in an innovative and impactful way.
  • Help your brand be more visible on advertising in channels where the competition is still low.
  • Reach a very engaged audience with unique targeting options. As games often have a specific audience, advertising in games allows brands to target particular demographics, interests, behaviours, the time your audience spends playing video games, among others.
  • Transparent measurement. In-game campaigns offer extensive measurability, enabling advertisers to monitor metrics like impressions, audience reach, views, viewability, VTR (view-through rate), dwell time, gaze time & rate, and other vital data. This rich playground of information empowers advertisers to refine future campaigns and potentially enhance overall performance.

Keys to win in this marketer’s Game

In conclusion, if you’re looking to embark on in-game advertising, here are some best practices to consider:

  • Avoid intrusive ads: Ensure your ads seamlessly blend into the game environment without disrupting the player’s experience. Place ads in areas where they will keep the gameplay experience, and make sure the ad appears when the player is the most captivated or challenged.
  • Know Your Audience: Understand the gaming community and your target audience within the game. Tailor your ads to match their interests, demographics, and preferences for higher engagement.
  • Relevance and Context: Deliver relevant ads that align with the game’s content and theme. Contextual ads that resonate with the game’s storyline or setting can significantly impact players.
  • Create a strong emotional bond with your ads and conceive powerful and meaningful advertising messages.
  • Incentivized Ads: Consider offering rewards or bonuses to players who engage with your ads voluntarily. This can encourage more players to interact with your brand.
  • Select the platforms and the ad formats based on your target and business objectives.
  • Test and Optimize: Test different ad formats, placements, and creative approaches to find what works best for your brand. Optimise your campaigns based on the insights gained from the data.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: Consider collaborating with game developers or publishers to create custom and exclusive in-game advertising experiences that align with the game’s design and objectives.

Remember that in-game advertising should enhance the gaming experience and add value for players rather than interrupting or frustrating them. Some companies are already using a thoughtful, player-centric approach will lead to successful and well-received in-game advertising campaigns. And, if you are eager to pursue this strategy, think about it in a holistic way, where this touchpoint is integrated with your whole business strategy, digital and physical.

Joana Morgado is a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at Wise Pirates and carries with her almost a decade of experience in the realms of Digital Marketing and E-commerce.

Throughout her career, Joana has been instrumental in guiding well-known brands towards achieving their business goals and couldn't be more in sync with her purpose, as she absolutely loves what she does.

Currently, she is dedicated to the fields of performance marketing, online advertising, e-commerce, automation, email marketing, and analytics.

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