Virtual gaming has brought some massive changes to the world of marketing. Our world is slowly becoming a gamer’s paradise and it’s something people in marketing are starting to notice.
Whether we’re talking about mobile games, MMORPGs, sports games, or augmented reality and virtual reality experiences, there’s so much space for marketers to work with.
Given how beneficial digital marketing is, marketers have decided to make their brands visible in the digital worlds that exist in gaming. In case you’re wondering how digital marketing experts do this, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a deeper look at how digital marketing works in virtual gaming worlds.
Playable ads in virtual gaming
Anyone who has ever spent some time online knows what banner ads are. While these things still play an important role in digital marketing, they’re starting to take a different form.
2D images are no longer enough and digital marketers are replacing them with playable in-game ads. The best part of it is that there are so many ways to implement these ads in a game. For example, some digital marketers worked with game developers to create ads that serve as a tangential distraction from the game narrative.
They usually don’t affect gameplay and allow players to take a short break before starting the next match or round. Other in-game ads do, however, affect the gameplay.
Most often, players get to choose whether they want to engage in an ad in exchange for bonuses and power-ups. Sometimes, engaging in an ad can also get you discounts on in-game purchases.
Some games are entirely based around a brand, which is a strategy that has proven to be quite effective. These games send an effective marketing message without sacrificing gameplay or taking the fun out of it.
Real items in virtual gaming worlds
It was only a matter of time when digital marketers will come up with ways to integrate their products into virtual worlds. As soon as gaming hit it off, we’ve seen real items and brands appearing in video games.
For example, if you’ve ever played a game from the NBA 2K franchise, you could’ve noticed players drinking Gatorade. While it’s only a virtual Gatorade, it still sends a strong marketing message, especially given how large the 2K player-base is. This is just one of the many examples of real items appearing in the gaming world.
With the introduction of augmented reality, new opportunities opened up for digital marketers. With the emergence of consoles such as Nintendo Wii, you no longer had to use a joystick when playing video games.
We’ve seen fishing rods to golf clubs controllers emerging and digital marketers included them in their marketing strategies. The digital marketing team behind Prince Sports designed their own virtual tennis rackets you can use on Nintendo Wii.
Another good example of how real items are promoted in virtual worlds is the way Louis Vuitton and Tissot have characters in League of Legends and NBA 2K MyPlayer mode wear the clothes they designed.
Selling virtual items in the real world
Earlier, we talked about how companies use virtual worlds in gaming to promote their products. You might think that’s it but there’s more. Things work vice versa as well and there are companies that specialize in selling in-game items, like DLC collections such as the Fortnite Rebirth Harley Quinn or Apex Legends expansion packs.
Basically, what they do is turn to digital marketing to promote items they sell in virtual worlds. For example, let’s take a look at the popular FIFA franchise. Ever since the FIFA Ultimate Team mode has been introduced, players became obsessed with building their own teams.
They do so by buying in-game coins with actual money and exchanging them for playing cards. While people behind FIFA are trying to stop people from selling coins for real money, they still haven’t done it. That’s why you’ll see companies selling FIFA coins advertising all over the internet.
They work with FIFA YouTubers who promote their sites and give players discounts for buying coins. It’s crazy how virtual gaming worlds have created entirely new markets. What’s more, these markets are constantly growing and we might see a lot more from them in the future.
Putting a stop on disruptive ads
While we already discussed ads that intertwine with gameplay, it’s an important topic in virtual gaming world marketing to discuss. For quite a while, digital marketers were unable to find a way to include their ads in virtual gaming worlds without making the player watch them.
While this often worked, it also resulted in a negative gaming experience. There’s no need to say that that’s not what neither game developers nor digital marketers want. No matter what sector, we’re talking about, companies emphasize user experience and they wanted to do the same.
That’s why they’ve been looking for new ways to promote products and services within virtual gaming worlds. The emergence of virtual reality was exactly what they needed to utilize these new ways of promoting in the gaming world.
Just imagine walking into a virtual reality bar as a part of the gameplay and being able to order a drink designed by an actual company. Ads like this only enhance the gameplay and make virtual reality even “more real.” It’s up to digital marketers to develop new ways to promote items in virtual reality. For now, things are looking bright for digital marketing in virtual reality.
Reaching the target audience
The term “target audience” is widely used in the marketing world. If a company wants its marketing campaign to be a success, they need to know who their target audience is.
By identifying their target audience, they get to shape the campaign according to the audience’s likes and tastes. What digital marketers like about virtual gaming worlds is that they give them a clear idea about people they can reach. For instance, studies have shown that 54 per cent of gamers are between 25 and 44 years old.
This gives them a clear idea of who is going to see their ads and whether they’ll think about buying their product or service. Also, it’s no secret that gamers are tech-savvy, especially those who own VR and hop into virtual reality. That’s why you’ll often see companies that sell technology turn to virtual gaming worlds when advertising.
Also, the finest virtual reality casinos have been designed according to players’ preferences. So, don’t be surprised if you see companies turning to them when looking to attract gaming enthusiasts to their products or services.
Promoting eSports teams
eSports is a relatively new type of sports that has been evolving for quite some time. Real-life FIFA and 2K leagues have been taking place for years and League of Legends has its own world championship. Fortnite tournaments have become a regular occurrence and the Fortnite World Cup has become a huge event. The sudden rise in popularity of eSports opened up plenty of opportunities for digital marketing.
Just think about the sponsorships “real-life” sports team get and you’ll get the idea of what’s going on in eSports. Companies such as Intel and MasterCard are sponsoring not only players but entire eSports leagues. So, the next time you an eSports event taking place, don’t be surprised to see some of the biggest companies in the world being involved.
Whether it’s team or league names, familiar brands are guaranteed to come up. With eSports being on the rise, it’s safe to say more opportunities for digital marketing will open up in the future. We’re not too far away from seeing brands becoming fully-integrated into virtual worlds in which eSports takes place.
Advertising in the menu
In the gaming world, there are so many ways for companies to advertise their products or service. We talked about in-game ads and virtual reality ads, but marketers have come up with even more. As mentioned previously, digital marketers don’t want to upset players with their ads impacting the gameplay.
The problem is, creating effective ads that don’t affect the gameplay is tough. Some companies cannot afford to design in-game items while for others, it’s the nature of their business that stops them. This is why they came up with menu advertising which has proven to be quite effective.
The way it works is that ads show up in the menu and loading screens. This means they’re not the part of the virtual world the game takes place in, but they’re as close as they can get to it. What they seem to like the best is the number of ways they can include their ads in the menu and loading screens. Expect the popularity of this type of digital marketing to rise even more.
The bottom line
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the gaming world is constantly evolving. New games, virtual and augmented reality, and rising eSports competitions, all open up new digital marketing opportunities.
There’s no doubt there will be even more companies who see the potential virtual gaming worlds have and decide to include them in their marketing operations.
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