Tshiamo Tladi
Tshiamo Tladi

Marketing cheat code for gaming

by Tshiamo Tladi. We need a different way to approach in-game advertising opportunities.

by Tshiamo Tladi. From the days of Snake on Nokia to Candy Crush on any smartphone, gaming has become a default to buying time and keeping ourselves preoccupied. This habit has presented marketers with a new digital channel to engage with its audience. However, it’s still up for debate how truly effective in-game advertising is in driving conversion vis-a-vis furthering awareness efforts.

We need a different way to approach in-game advertising opportunities. There is merit in using in-game advertising in a more effective manner rather than the slapstick approach that we have come to accept within the region. In-game advertising; in its current iteration, still forms part of a broader marketing tactic called gamification.

What is gamification? Gamification is a marketing technique that takes inspiration from the reward methods used in classic video gaming to deepen brand engagement in a fun entertaining way. Its aim is to use elements like point scoring and competition to encourage user engagement with a product or service. The easiest example of this is how consumers are rewarded with either an additional chance to play or a chance to unlock a reward for watching an in-game ad. Although the task is simply to watch an in-game ad, the premise of it is still rooted in gamification, without players having to over invest into the game itself. Despite this, I do believe that there is still merit in reconsidering your stance on the aforementioned approach in favour of investing a little more into it.


In-game advertising, much like TV and some digital advertising platforms, has a spray and pray approach to it. How many of us have found ourselves being fed ads that have been a clear miss to you as the user, as well as in terms of relevance to the game you are playing? This for me is where I believe that choosing to go the route of a more robust approach to investing into in-game advertising could be the trick to seeing how engagement and love for your brand can be elevated to something more meaningful to the consumers. How? Currently, in-game advertising serves the purpose of achieving incidental brand awareness, which doesn’t quite work in driving education with users. This is because most ads do not have a natural relevance to the game they are in, nor do they feel better integrated to the overall narrative of the game.

Why is fit to in-game narrative particularly important? Given how highly engaging most mobile gamers are, seamless integration with the game’s store and or objectives prompts better resonance with why they would be fed a particular ad; and also creates tactical opportunities to land targeted messaging to users in a manner that makes sense to them. For instance, imagine seeing a fruits and  vegetable retailer, running an advert in a game like Farm House Heroes, coupled with a call to action like, ‘Become your own Farm House Hero with us!’ How relevant would that be to you as a gamer and consumer?

Simple and aligned integration can truly be the key to meaningful advertising impacts on in-game advertising. The challenge, however, is to find the most relevant manner to integrate their product or service into the gameworld, in the most authentic and engaging way. The more authentic and seamless the fit into the in-game advert is, the higher the probability of consumer real-life consideration. The best example of this is the recent experiential collaboration between, popular hip hop artist Travis Scott, with Fortnite and Balenciaga’s new-range launch in mobile game, Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow.


The collaboration came to life with Balenciaga leveraging the game-play to collect points and items, in order to get succeed in the game, to invite users to take part in brand-related in-game challenges. The objective was to allow users to seed and showcase the new range brought to life as prize items users could acquire in the game in order to complete unlock the digital items and stand a chance to win real-life vouchers. The results of this tactical launch via gamification led to a 23% increase in sales, as well as a whole new audience of consumers the brand would not have been previously within their consideration set to begin with.

However, not all of us have the budget to get a full on in-game brand activation. Rather I would propose that we could explore offering something a little more meaningful like vouchers that could be redeemed in real-life, in similar fashion to how McDonald’s activated the launch of a new product. Much like the same intangible rewards offered within games, offering something as a voucher of coupon for successfully engaging with an in-game add could improve efficacy of the activation.

Although this is truly uncharted territory for a number of local brand managers and marketers, the merits of this are many. For example, something like this could improve efficacy of cost per contact for digital spend. Additionally, it could serve as a greater tool to track reach and engagement. There are a number of local game developers who are able to bridge this gap for brand managers to optimise this tactic. We could be a little more imaginative in how we use in-game advertising and dialling up the incentive to engage with an ad could be the trick to truly make it worth the investment. So, are you ready to play player one?


Main image credit: Photo by Harsch Shivam from Pexels.


Tshiamo Tladi is Strategy Director at 34 Degrees, the specialist through-the-line and retail agency. Tladi is a seasoned strategist and shopper marketer with years of experience developing winning strategies that have guided creative work and commercial growth from both agency and client side.



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