Mythbusting In-Game Advertising Measurement

Frameplay Corp February 22, 2022

Everyone thinks gamers are 17-year-old kids playing in someone’s basement. The reality is there are 2.7 billion gamers globally according to NewZoo Global games market report. The average age is not 17, it’s actually 34 according to ESA’s Essential Facts.

People play more video games than watch linear TV! They play over eight hours a week in the US, and in other countries, even more! Further, according to Limelight, in the US 52.8% of people prefer playing video games as their pastime, which is more than the 47.2% who prefer to watch over watching movies or TV Shows. This pattern is even more profound in many other countries around the world!

If the gaming channel is so significant, why haven’t we as an industry paid attention to it? The industry has been busy with so many significant growth areas or challenges including the growth of video, many years of mobile, big data, the rise of programmatic, consumer privacy and identity crisis, and of course, cookiepocolypse. Certainly, all of these are really important topics. However, gaming is a significant opportunity we can’t ignore anymore. 

For advertisers that want to get started with gaming, it’s important to understand that not all gaming opportunities are the same. This fall, the IAB US and UK collaborated and published the Gaming and Esports Advertising Framework outlining the various types of opportunities within the gaming space. This new framework clearly identified there are BIG differences between people who play video games and people who watch people play video games.  There is a difference between people who play alone and people play with others.  Advertising differences exist between ads intrinsically inside the game versus ads next to or around the game editors. All of these nuances directly affect how we measure them discreetly. 

The newest ad unit in the gaming space is called intrinsic ad context, where the ad is placed inside the game design by the game developer. These ads provide realism to the gaming environment, much like product placements. The quality of this brand exposure is very significant because the ad is embedded in the game itself and does not disrupt the performance or experience of the game. 

Measurement and targeting for intrinsic in-game ads has some similarities and differences to web or app approaches. Brands are able to target audiences based on leveraging trusted ID resolution approaches, led by waterfall approaches using IP and MAID signals.  

Impression measurement is provided by the ad server that connects with the game engine mechanics. Brands can also implement third party impression verification tags that reinforce the intrinsic in-game ad server data. 

Viewability is calculated very differently within the intrinsic in-game advertising space. The spatial difference between the person playing the game and moving around inside the game requires different calculations like skew, lighting, ration, and obstruction. This calculation is not the same as the current MRC certification for viewability for web-browser and app standards. 

In September 2021, the MRC issued an interim in-game advertising measurement guidance updates that reinforces this notion:

…MRC believes the current requirements for viewable impressions in desktop and mobile environments do not fully address the full range of considerations that are appropriate for In-Game ads, which include attributes like changing ad sizes, screen angle, lighting, opacity, and focus. As a result, MRC strongly discourages the direct application of existing viewability requirements for current In-Game ad measurement, and will not accredit services for In-Game viewability metrics until more specific guidance related to In-Game ad viewability has been developed as part of the aforementioned MRC/IAB Tech Lab working group efforts.”

In September 2021, Frameplay took a leadership position posting a memo in support of the need to update the guidelines noted in the MRC memo so that intrinsic in-game advertising placements properly measure 3-D gaming environments. Unlike traditional banners and interstitials, these ads appear within the game itself rather than the browser or app. Intrinsic in-game ads are served through the connection between technology, like Frameplay’s SDK, that is integrated with the game engine, enabling the ad to be served within the game creative. In this scenario, the ad served is not based on web or mobile protocols, but rather game engine and proprietary new ad serving technology, such as Frameplay’s 3D impression viewability calculation.

Intrinsic in-game ads shouldn’t be clickable. Gamers don’t want their game disrupted by erroneously clicking on ads while actively playing the game. When we put the gamer experience first while they are actively playing their games, everyone can win. When we try to apply antiquated digital measurement techniques to advanced, virtual experiences like the world of gaming, we lose. Frameplay is proponent of the IAB UK initiative to “don’t be a clickhead”, as it supports getting intrinsic in-game advertising right for the gamer experience.  

Instead, brands can measure impression to conversion attribution using MMP embedded measurement capabilities. In November 2021, Frameplay, working with Kochava, a leading mobile measurement provider, launched a first-to-market impression to conversion attribution campaign in a mobile video game environment for a leading powersports company.  

The results of the first-ever impression to conversion campaign proved to be extremely successful, with a 2% view-through attribution rate. For context, Google Ads Industry Benchmark reports an average conversion rate for display networks at 0.57%. Gamers that were new to the powersports brand were averaging 2.5 brand site conversions from Frameplay’s intrinsic in-game ads, with an audience consisting of 80% new users and 20% returning users.

Brand lift studies are also possible when evaluating the performance of advertisements inside of the game. Focusing on the intrinsic in-game advertising category, the new brand lift survey series is designed to study and highlight the value of this highly lucrative and emerging advertising space and the enhanced creative standards brought forth by Frameplay’s capabilities. Over 15 studies have been completed across automotive, retail, insurance, and entertainment channels that showcase double-digital point lifts including a leading snack brand study showcased by Comscore that showed a +31.8 point lift in Mobile Ad Recall, +32 point lift in Fit as a Game Sponsor, +46.4 point lift in Like the Brand’s Sponsorship of the Games and +26.2 point lift in Purchase Intent.

Every day, a Super Bowl-sized audience is playing video games. With nearly three billion gamers globally, 215 in the US alone, it’s time to get your brand in the game. You can have trusted measurement approaches that reinforce the value of these high-quality, in-attention brand moments. Game on!

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