Why defining ‘premium’ experiences is essential for advertisers (and gamers)

Melinda L. Spence, head of global advertising insights, Activision Blizzard Media

Players have high standards when it comes to the games they play and the media they consume — and with good reason. More so than other audiences, gamers are characterized by their attention to detail and the frequency with which they engage with content. 

For example, Activision Blizzard Media’s most recent research, Premium By Design, showed that gaming is a daily ritual among players. Specifically, 79% of mobile players and 47% of console gamers game daily. However, capturing their attention continues to get more competitive as the audience is offered more and more avenues to enjoy content — and they’re developing higher expectations of what’s worthy of their notice. 

With so many games to choose from and limited hours to play, a game’s quality matters dramatically to the 3 billion players who consume them

When considering the value of their time and resources, it’s no wonder gamers find subpar experiences frustrating. However, given their appreciation for high quality, they are a unique group of consumers who welcome in-game advertising experiences if done in a way that feels connected to the overall game experience.

To reach most gamers, advertisers should target them via mobile games

As highly engaged consumers, player perception can and should be a coveted rubric for advertisers. 

Meeting players where they’re at — on mobile games where their attention is locked in — is a powerful and effective way to reach this leaned-in player. Engaging with the most popular gaming IP in a genuine, relevant and brand-suitable fashion is the most successful approach, especially when considering how dialed-in gamers are with their communities and favorite titles. 

Yet, there’s a fine line between enhancing the player’s gaming experience through advertising and disrupting it — it’s the difference between sparking their sincere consideration and leaving a negative impression. So, advertisers face two simultaneous challenges: selecting the right high-quality game for partnership and creating a premium ad experience that fits right in.

In pursuit of those goals, there’s the continuing belief that most gamers are PC and console gamers. However, among the 3 billion gamers worldwide, 90.6% of them are mobile gamers. The distinction between traditional and mobile gamers is an increasingly dated notion. Individuals play games when and where they can. Forty-two percent of mobile gamers also play on a PC or laptop, and 55% also play on a console. Advertisers wanting to reach PC or console gamers will likely find them playing mobile games as well.

Advertisers want placements in premium games, while gamers want premium ad experiences

The framework by which premium games have previously been defined hasn’t evolved to recognize the exponential growth of mobile gaming. To stand out, a premium video game on any platform must score highly in a few different categories: quality gameplay, high-quality graphics and audio, compelling story and carefully crafted game mechanics, to name a few.

Ninety-nine percent of mobile gamers say at least one attribute can make a mobile game premium, and 69% of players who primarily play on PC and console think of mobile games as high quality. Far beyond popularity or price point is the careful mix of qualities that equal an all-around premium experience. Overall, when players think of premium mobile games, they think of experiences that are fun (92%), satisfying (90%), relaxing (87%), imaginative (87%) and competitive (86%) —  and most are playing because it’s convenient.

The halo effect is alive and well — especially in gaming — making a studio’s reputation a critical factor in a player’s perception of both a game and its ad experiences. Like a matryoshka doll, premium advertising is advertising that fits seamlessly into the experience of a premium game. It’s unlikely anyone would consider a promotion to be high-quality when placed in a perceived low-quality game. The in-game ad should be made with the acronym GRINS in mind: graphics that are high-quality, reward-based, intrinsic to gameplay, non-intrusive and short.

When looking more generally at player preferences, what’s clear is a desire for something short in length and rewards based. Among them, 2-in-5 say they like product placements and integrated ad experiences. However, how well the advertising is executed is just as important as having it. 

Smaller-screen experiences are winning bigger bets for advertisers

While the legacy of PC and console gaming has lived largely in part due to their big-screen nature, the fastest-growing opportunities are in mobile gaming. In 2022, mobile gaming made up 53% of global gaming industry revenue.

Mobile technology has advanced consumer behavior and entertainment habits specific to gaming and beyond. And as consumption increasingly shifts to smaller screen experiences, the quality of mobile games has increased. 

As advertisers realize the majority of gamers they traditionally perceived to be playing on PC and consoles are also playing on mobile, they’re understanding the value of these games and the experiences they’re bringing to gamers. With this, advertisers are bringing premium ad experiences to the table and squeezing out every drop of premium impact they can. As they understand the new reality of smaller-screen experiences winning bigger bets, choosing the right studios to partner with becomes even more essential.

Sponsored by Activision Blizzard

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