Written by Emma Withington
What I Learnt During Gaming Week
Gaming Week – What I learnt in Gaming Week
This week at Manning Gottlieb OMD we have been hearing from a range of speakers, both internal and external, all hugely passionate about the potential and the opportunities for brands in Gaming.
Needless to say, it has been entertaining, interesting and eye opening. As a planner, my mind is now whizzing with questions and ideas that I want to explore more but there are four things that have really grabbed my attention.
The first thing that stood out is Gaming as a community. This is not new news but I don’t think I really appreciated it before. For every genre, for every passion, for every interest area, there is a community within Gaming that you can become a part of. In a world where conflict flares up in social media between strangers on a daily basis, it’s wonderful to see an inclusive space where people can come together to share, enjoy and support each other through their collective passions. This is particularly true in the case of Twitch where the anonymity of people’s profile names means you connect on shared passion and can be your authentic self, without the pressure of what you look like or where you live. For brands, integrating into these communities presents a real opportunity to reach people who are positively engaged with an interest area rather than because they tick a demographic box. Anything which moves us away from demographic targeting and into a world where we can connect to audiences with greater empathy is a good thing.
This leads me to the second interesting area which is authenticity. In order to credibly integrate into the gaming world, you need to be authentic. I heard many examples of brands who had tried to adopt the same approach that they do in traditional media and as a result upset the gamers because they didn’t pay attention to the world they were in. The fact is advertising doesn’t have permission to enter this space in the same way that it does with traditional media channels. The rules are different. Whilst there are opportunities for more traditional media placements within game environments, to really make an impact it is critical to understand the environment you are in, be respectful of the audience and tailor the experience. We must tread carefully and gain the respect and trust of gamers in order to be accepted into what is THEIR world.
My third area is experience. By its very nature, Gaming is a highly engaged medium. People are there to solve problems, to be rewarded, to compete and to be entertained so brands must consider this in their approach too. The opportunities for the advertising to enhance the experience mean that the engagement for those who get it right will be far higher than in other more passive channels. And that’s what we want, engaged audiences who are choosing to spend time with our brands. It’s a value exchange and one that can be mutually beneficial if brands get it right. Using the rules of gaming in our communications style can really unlock value for advertisers and deliver a better experience all round.
Finally, the last point to make is about collaboration. Gaming is booming, there is no doubt about that but at the moment it doesn’t have the same structure for planning and buying that other channels have. There is no centralised or consistent measurement currency, the audience data is disparate and navigating the role of media owners, publishers and hardware suppliers is complex. That might be a good thing to be honest as it’s not technically a media channel so why would it conform to same structure? It might actually make for more innovative, more creative work. But it makes planning tricky. How do we really understand where our audience is? Which types of activity will deliver the best experience for different audiences or genres? What are the industry benchmarks that exist to know whether we have been successful? Where does Gaming sit within the wider media ecosystem?
The way around this is collaboration. Collaboration with the publishers, with the media owners and the gamers themselves. Handing over the reins of your brand to consumers is a brave move for clients, but giving those consumers a sense of ownership and involvement can deliver connection that more passive comms can’t.
There is so much innovation happening at such pace that even if we figure out the rules of the game, it will evolve again, and we will have to start from scratch. Working together on briefs and campaigns will enable us to deliver the best work we can, to keep learning and to encourage more brands to invest in this space. We will all learn as we go. I have learnt so much this week and feel like I have only just cracked the surface!