Digital advertising has brought tools that allow greater and deeper reach, but it’s also made audiences more wary and harder to connect with. For The Drum’s Digital Advertising Deep Dive, Drew Townley, managing director at gaming specialists Kairos Group, argues that success in the digital ad ecosystem is all about forging genuine connections – and streaming is the perfect conduit for those relationships.
When we talk about digital advertising, what springs to mind? Too often it’s intrusive sales messaging – pop-up adverts that slip through adblockers.
As consumers we don’t necessarily want to be advertised to. We like to think we’ve made up our own mind about our purchases and will often scroll past adverts on websites and social media. That doesn’t mean advertising is dead. Just look at options such as curated, personalized, regional and influencer marketing.
The double-edged sword of digital advertising
Digital innovation has made advertising more accessible than ever, but it’s also made audiences more aware. With so much information out there and businesses vying for prime spots on Google Ads, consumers don’t have the time or patience to concentrate on everything they scroll past. Advertising needs to not only stand in front of but also stand out to the right audience.
Modern advertising needs to be not a passive piece of communication, but a relationship.
Communicating with target audiences must become more personal. Customers want to feel something when they’re being spoken to. They want to purchase from brands with values that align with their own.
The personal approach’s natural home: streaming and gaming
This personal approach has mostly been seen in influencer marketing, which has soared to a market value of $13.8bn in 2021. One area that combines these trends of personalization, influencer marketing and enormous advertising opportunities is streaming – especially in the gaming space.
In 2020, the video gaming industry experienced a boom in popularity, with people looking for home activities, translating into an industry valuation of $178bn in 2021. But we weren’t just playing games. Streaming of gaming content across platforms such as Twitch, Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming experienced a huge increase too.
This activity prompted brands to consider how they can speak to gaming consumers more effectively. This hasn’t been limited to gaming brands; non-endemic brands have been vying for a piece of this lucrative market too.
Does in-stream advertising mean ripping up the advertising playbook? Not necessarily. But if you want audiences to trust you, particularly if you’re a non-endemic brand featuring on a creator’s Fortnite stream, there’s a relationship that needs to be built.
Here are four ways to create effective advertising relationships in-stream.
1. Consider your platform
Consider what the most appropriate platform is for your brand. If you’re looking to sponsor a gaming tournament, consider what the platform actually looks like and what the opportunities are. Is there only space for a tiny banner advert and some occasional pop-ups in between breaks? If so, you’re likely to be ignored.
Customizable platforms – such as Kairos’s own tournament platform, Kairos Versus – go beyond usual brand sponsorship by immersing brands into the overall experience between creators and fans. With Kairos Versus, we found that viewers had a 99% higher brand recall than with competing software.
2. Community is everything
The gaming industry is known for its ability to create tight-knit communities. Tapping into these groups is an essential for getting noticed.
Look at platforms such as Discord and Facebook groups to talk to consumers on a more personal level. This increases trust and engagement, while giving you an idea of what matters to your audience.
3. Choose your creator wisely
Want your brand to be shown with a creator playing Elden Ring? You’d just approach the creator with the most viewers, right? Maybe not.
Research individual creators. Instead of going for the numbers, look at factors such as engagement, current audience and personality. Look back at their history. Have you checked previous posts and found any controversies that may be relevant now?
Teaming up with a creator who aligns to your brand’s values is imperative. They’ll be happy to talk about your brand, and their audience is more likely to be interested as well.
4. Know the audience
Find out whether a creator is speaking to the audience that you want to target. If you’re sure it’s the right one, make sure you’re offering something of worth that will prompt them to take action.
Exclusive discount codes for specific products or freebies can engage potential customers and are great for tracking effectiveness beyond an initial campaign.
Advertising in-stream may not be advertising in the traditional sense as we’ve known it, but it can be an extremely effective way to engage with audiences on a personal level. By working with creators, you can speak to consumers how they want to be spoken to, rather than just putting an advert out there and hoping for the best.
by Drew Townley