In-Game Advertising

Contextual Advertising and Why It Matters in a Cookieless World

December 4, 2023
7 Minutes

For the past decade, advertisers and brands have relied on the browsing behavior of targeted internet users to create relevant advertisements. However, there has been a global shift towards user privacy. This has led to software giants such as Apple and Google curbing user tracking, which is likely to make contextual advertising a better alternative 

Currently, advertisers are shifting their approach to advertising as they swap behavioral targeting for contextual advertising. It is projected that contextual advertising will be worth USD 376 billion by the year 2027.

Interestingly, the context of a game can significantly influence a player’s perception of brands that advertise within the game. 

That’s why it’s crucial to understand how gaming context can enhance brand awareness and promote positive brand associations. 

Let’s dive into how brands can use the content of a game to achieve their advertising goals.

What is Contextual Targeting and Advertising?

Contextual advertising is about selecting ad placements that are highly relevant to the viewer.

Contextual advertising uses several factors to regulate which content is most relevant to users while placing an ad. In simple terms, it identifies the most appropriate and suitable content against which to display an ad.

Contextual advertising goes beyond just keywords and content; it includes text, image, audio, location, and even content semantics. 

By evaluating the placements, marketers can reach their target audience in the most suitable environments. Contextual targeting offers a great alternative to audience targeting by evaluating placements based on:

  • Categories - What is the genre of the game?
  • Sentiment - Is it negative or positive?
  • Emotions - What emotions are being conveyed?

This approach is ideal for advertisers looking to adjust to a cookie-less world for their digital advertising campaigns. So, if you want to engage with your audience and boost your advertising ROI, contextual advertising is the way to go.

How can Contextual Targeting and Advertising Be a Game-Changer in a Cookie-less World?

Contextual Targeting and Advertising

Contextual targeting is a secure option for advertisers concerned about data privacy. Unlike third-party cookies, which can raise privacy concerns, contextual targeting relies solely on the content or keywords of a website. 

This makes it a safe and trustworthy option for advertisers to reach their target audience.

For many, gaming is more than just a casual pastime - it’s a passion, a hobby and for some pro gamers a source of income. 

The gaming industry has taken on a life of its own with the rise of the play-and-earn business model, which has seen gaming become even more popular and extremely lucrative. 

Thanks to machine learning, contextual data and behavioral metrics on gaming habits, advertisers can easily create player personas. Advertisers can analyze the behavioral metrics to determine whether players are late-night gamers or hyper-casual commuters. 

They can also gauge emotional responses, such as whether a player won or lost a game battle, or whether they are regular in-app buyers. 

The possibilities are endless. Advertisers need to embrace change and leverage contextual data and machine learning to connect with players on a deeper level. Advertisers need to invest more time into targeted advertising to be prepared for a cookie-less future. 

Let's explore how emerging technology can drive more effective contextual ads and revitalize the gaming ecosystem.

Understanding Your Gaming Audience 

The gaming industry has been around for decades. However, recently brands and advertisers have recognised the space as a lucrative advertising opportunity. Game advertising offers various customizable ad formats like display and video. 

There is a massive advantage in adding game advertising to your media mix, but to do this effectively it is vital to understand who gamers are and what they want. A detailed understanding will help you build campaigns that reach your goals. 

Remember, gamers worldwide are not a marginal sector, in fact, according to a Newzoo report on the number of gamers worldwide in 2022/2023, there were  2.69 billion gamers at the end of 2020. 

Growth has been steady, with an average of 5.6% year-on-year (YoY) increase. This figure will rise to 3.07 billion in 2023 based on a 5.6% year-on-year growth forecast.

Why Do Demographics Matter? 

There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to gaming audiences. By 2025, it is expected that the online gaming community will surpass 1.3 billion

Another study found that mobile gaming was expected to drop in 2022 and while it slowed according to an article published by CNBC (2023). 

There was an 11% increase in first-time mobile app downloads for the period, forecasts currently show a return to growth in 2023 and beyond, with the industry rising at a 5.6 percent CAGR to $117 billion in 2026.

What does this mean for gaming? 

It means that gamers have significant spending power. We can consider anyone a gamer today. So if you want to reach a vast and varied audience with actual purchasing power, game advertising presents an opportunity to bolster revenue.

The Mode of Interest 

Gamers come from diverse backgrounds, age groups, and socio-economic positions. For example, a gamer could easily be a parent, student, or performer interested in learning a new technology that might benefit them later. 

A gamer could also be a working professional interested in the latest fashion trends. It is vital to identify that gamers are a vast audience of purchasers with multiple interests and different buying intentions. 

Be careful not to pigeonhole gamers, as users that are only interested in hardcore gaming. 

Psychographics Is Vital  

Gamers are influential and savvy. They are early adopters of new technologies, products, services and fashion trends. Gamers are heavily influenced by their community, which often influences their purchasing or buying decisions.

The gaming space is a great place for brands to reach consumers at the start of their buyer journey and influence their purchasing decisions in the awareness stage. 

Gamers are a valuable audience, as they recommend products to their diverse networks and can influence the buying decisions of others. As a group, they are inherently interested in new and novel ideas. 

This makes this group ideal for advertisers looking to expand into different audiences. 

Contextual Targeting Isn't About Simple Context 

Contextual advertising goes beyond demographics. For example, present contextual targeting in mobile apps isn't the same as on the web. 

On the web, Google or other ad networks have crawled a video or page, and understand the context and semantics of the content, and target a relevant ad to an audience based on the collected information. 

On mobile, this is also a slightly different process, context comes from the app or category. 

However, some AdTech platforms might ‘decode or decipher’ app content and use that as insight or data for contextual targeting, assuming the correct SDKs with the proper privileges are in place. 

Yet, several critical aspects of contextual targeting come via less visible data points. Contextual targeting and advertising rely on many 100s of signals, such as

  • Cellular connection or WIFI 
  • Pricing or Bidding information from the ad network
  • Rough estimate or granular location
  • Device information like OS version, device version, brand  

Also, you need some technology. It probably goes without saying; that there is a lot of data that can be extracted via multiple privacy-safe sources:

  • App or publisher data
  • Device data
  • AdTech platform data
  • Environmental data like weather/calendar/events 

With the right approach, you can build sophisticated models that use IDFAs or GAIDs to gauge the effectiveness of your advertising and improve your contextual targeting. If you don't have the resources, you can always rely on your AdTech partner to do the heavy lifting for you.

According to the IAB Europe report, 74% of marketers are using contextual data to improve their advertising without device ID and third-party cookies. That's more than those leveraging first-party data (60%) and more than those relying on (and paying for) publishers to do their targeting (45%). 

What Are The Contextual Campaign's Best Practices? 

  • Audience Targeting and Scale: Successful contextual targeting campaigns depend on a good understanding of user profiles. Contextual targeting is a tool that lets you plan content to create interest and reach your desired audience. Pay attention to the type of content that is driving conversions and work with your contextual vendor to add similar types of content to your targeting strategy.
  • Creative Messaging: Increase the effectiveness of your advertising by matching the creative of your campaign to the content. This improves the relevancy of your advertising. Use the context of the ad environment to engage gamers. Be sure you Identify the correct contextual strategy that aligns with the profile of the gaming audience you are targeting. 
  • Campaign Measurement: While campaign targeting setup is critical, it is also necessary to have a campaign measurement strategy in place to ensure optimizations. Look for holistic campaign measurements that can offer insight into delivering quality, like viewability, brand safety, audience delivery metrics, reach, frequency, age, and gender. According to eMarketer, 98% of marketers believe that attention to the right metrics helps improve campaign performance and advertising outcomes. 
  • Data Insights for Advertisers: Can help advertisers create impactful display ads with high-quality artwork and videos. It will expand contextual advertising by targeting the right audience with the right ad, at the right time. Data will help you achieve true hyper-personalization by supercharging audience micro-segmentation. 

Ready To Get Ahead of The Game? 

Game advertising offers an opportunity to develop relationships with a growing, influential and diverse audience. Marketers can leverage the ever-evolving gaming landscape to reach engaged, and focused users to build brand awareness and loyalty.

contextual game advertising

Taxonomy, metadata, and sentiment analysis for games across mobile, consoles, and PC can amp up your advertising By using up-to-date data advertisers can craft targeted, ad content that is positioned for the right audience segment which is key to effective brand-building and awareness

Always be sure to optimize campaign performance and use the right message target at the correct audience at the right time. 

Contextual advertising insights will help you measure and improve outcomes by providing insights on the performance of content based on user engagement and ad exposure, which can be used to optimize campaigns.

Get the best of both worlds with iion's game advertising platform, designed to capture every type of gamer across all gaming environments. 

Our purpose-built platform allows contextual targeting at the ad unit level by genre, sub-genre, demographic, and platform, to ensure brand appeal, while securing a worldwide reach through its extensive game inventory. 

Combining contextual targeting with a self-serve creative tool, brands can efficiently build, test, serve, and track personalized campaigns hassle-free.

Our proprietary suite of buying and selling game tech connects brands with untapped audiences and highly engaged gamers worldwide.

Reach out to your iion representative to learn more about contextual targeting and game advertising. 

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