In-Game Advertising

Performance Marketing vs. Brand Marketing in Game Advertising

November 21, 2023
5 Minutes

In the dynamic landscape of the gaming industry, advertising isn't just about visibility—it's about making the right impression. 

As brands vie for attention in a saturated market, the debate between brand ads and performance ads takes center stage. 

This article cuts through the noise to give you a clear understanding of these two marketing approaches, helping you make informed decisions for your next gaming ad campaign. 

Whether you're looking to build brand equity or drive immediate action, we've got the insights you need.

Brand Marketing vs Performance Marketing 

In the gaming sector, the distinction between brand marketing and performance marketing isn't black and white. 

  • Brand marketing is your long-game, building relationships and loyalty. 
  • Performance marketing on the other hand, delivers quick, tangible results.

However, the real magic happens when you blend the two.

By smartly integrating both types, you can elevate your ROI and offer a unified, impactful user experience.

For instance, consider the PUBG Mobile and Coca-Cola partnership. This brand ad campaign cleverly utilized in-game elements like Coca-Cola-branded crates to leave a lasting impression. 

It's a prime example of how a brand ad can thrive in a performance-driven setting, especially when backed by research indicating its effectiveness among the game's core demographic.

What is Performance Marketing: Goal-Driven Short-Term Growth

Performance marketing is designed to achieve specific, measurable goals within a set time frame, targeting short-term results rather than brand marketing's long-term focus on awareness and recognition.

The rise of mobile gaming has seen an increase in performance marketing as more publishers and brands look to leverage the opportunity this space provides.

Common performance marketing goals include driving sales, downloads, or app installs. 

When comparing advertising models in marketing, it's crucial to understand that the main differentiator lies in the pricing structure. 

Brand marketing primarily relies on brand advertising, while performance marketing distinctly focuses on specific actions, often employing cost-per-action (CPA) pricing models. 

This pricing model disparity underscores the fundamental contrast between these two marketing approaches. This means advertisers only pay when the desired action occurs.

Performance marketing allows brands to target highly engaged audiences while offering publishers opportunities to grow revenue.

Many prominent games have used performance ads across channels to execute goal-oriented campaigns. 

Advantages of Performance Marketing in the Gaming Industry:

  • Measurable ROI: Goal-oriented ad campaigns to boost return on ad spend (ROAS). Performance marketing allows for real-time tracking of key metrics like clicks, conversions, and customer acquisition costs. This data-driven approach enables gaming companies to quickly assess the effectiveness of their campaigns.
  • Cost-effective structure: You only pay for actual results, be it clicks, downloads, or in-game purchases. This makes performance marketing a cost-effective strategy, especially for startups and smaller gaming companies with limited budgets.
  • Targeted campaigns: Remind users about the brand while promoting value-adds to drive favorable actions, such as app installs or purchases.
  • Quick results: Provide short-term benefits and cater to targeted audiences for higher conversions.
  • Scalability: Once a campaign proves successful, it can be easily scaled to reach a broader audience. This is particularly useful for games that gain traction and need to quickly expand their user base.
  • A/B test campaigns: The real-time nature of performance marketing allows for easy A/B testing. Gaming companies can experiment with different ad creatives, landing pages, or calls to action to find what resonates most with their audience.
  • Competitive analysis: Performance metrics can offer insights into how your game stacks up against competitors in terms of customer acquisition costs, lifetime value, and other key performance indicators.

What is Brand Marketing?

Brand marketing is about building a unique identity for a company to set it apart from competitors and foster customer loyalty.

It combines visual elements, messaging, and strategy to create a lasting impression on consumers. Unlike direct sales tactics, brand marketing focuses on long-term relationships and customer retention.

Brand Marketing in Gaming

In the gaming industry, brand marketing is crucial for building a loyal community. 

Companies like Blizzard and Riot Games excel in this by making players feel part of something bigger. 

This loyalty makes launching new games or features easier and more cost-effective. For example, the "Call of Duty" franchise leverages its strong brand to make each new release an event in itself.

Brand Marketing in Gaming Examples:

  1. Nintendo: Known for family-friendly and iconic games, Nintendo has a fiercely loyal community.
  2. Fortnite: Beyond the game, it's a cultural phenomenon, thanks to in-game events and brand collaborations.
  3. Rockstar Games: Their open-world games like "Grand Theft Auto" have a distinct brand identity that promises a unique blend of storytelling and action.

Advantages of Brand Marketing in the Gaming Industry

  • Player loyalty: A strong brand keeps gamers coming back. A well-crafted brand marketing strategy can turn casual gamers into loyal fans who not only stick with your games but also become ambassadors for your brand. This loyalty translates into consistent revenue and less reliance on acquiring new customers.
  • Easier market entry for new game titles: Existing brand equity makes marketing new titles less risky and costly. Those who already have a relationship with your brand are more likely to try your new offerings, reducing the marketing spend and risk associated with new launches.
  • Diversified revenue opportunities: A strong brand can extend beyond the game itself into merchandise like clothing, toys, and even movies or TV shows. This diversification creates additional revenue streams and further solidifies the brand's presence in the market.
  • Premium pricing: Gamers are willing to pay more for a brand they trust because they already have a perception of what you offer so are more likely to pay for new titles or additional products and services from your brand.
  • Global reach: Strong branding can transcend local markets and achieve global recognition. This opens up new avenues for revenue and diversifies the customer base.
  • Competitive advantage: In a crowded marketplace, a strong brand stands out. It can be the deciding factor for consumers choosing between your game and a competitor's.\
  • Community building: Strong brands often have robust online communities. These communities not only provide free marketing in the form of word-of-mouth but also offer valuable feedback and insights.
  • Reduced marketing spend: Over time, the cost of customer acquisition decreases as brand strength increases. Your marketing campaigns become more effective because they are amplified by your brand's existing equity.

Brand Marketing vs Performance Marketing In The Gaming Industry

In the gaming industry, both brand ads and performance ads play vital roles in driving success for companies. Each kind of ad serves a distinct purpose and yields varying results, catering to different objectives and audiences. 

By strategically combining these ad types, companies can build a strong brand presence while driving revenue and achieving scalable results.

In-game blended ads offer a rich ad experience
Brand Marketing in Game Example: Blended Display Ad Format

Interstitial ads are a prominent ad format in around the game advertising
Performance Marketing in Game Example: Interstitial Ad Format

Utilizing a mix of brand and performance ads in the gaming industry allows companies to leverage the highly engaged gaming audience and enhance their advertising strategies. 

By understanding the unique purposes of each ad type and effectively implementing them, gaming companies can achieve both short-term and long-term success while simultaneously building a strong brand presence and driving revenue.

What is Difference Between Performance Marketing and Brand Marketing

Performance marketing and brand marketing serve different purposes and offer unique advantages. 

Performance marketing is designed for immediate impact; it's all about driving specific, measurable actions like clicks, conversions, and sales. It's the go-to strategy for quick, quantifiable ROI. 

On the other hand, brand marketing is a long game. It focuses on building brand identity, awareness, and loyalty, aiming for long-term customer engagement and emotional connection.

To help you build your next marketing campaign, here's an overview of the key differences between brand ads and performance ads:

Differences Between Brand Ads and Performance Ads

Choosing between performance and brand marketing isn't an either-or decision. For a well-rounded marketing strategy, especially in today's digital age, a blend of both is often the most effective approach.

5 Steps to build the right mix of brand ads and performance ads:

  • Define your goals: Clearly outline your marketing goals, whether it's raising brand awareness, driving app installs, or increasing sales. This will help you choose the appropriate ad type.
  • Understand your target audience: Analyze your target audience's demographics, interests, and gaming preferences to tailor your ads to their needs and preferences.
  • Choose the right game environment: Select a game environment that complements your brand and advertising goals. For example, if you're targeting casual gamers, choose games with a large, diverse user base.
  • Test and optimize: Continuously monitor your ad performance, analyze the data, and make adjustments as needed to improve your results. This may include adjusting your ad creative, targeting, or overall strategy.
  • Allocate your budget wisely: Determine the right balance between brand and performance ads based on your goals and target audience. This may require adjusting your budget allocation over time as you test and learn from your campaigns.

By following these steps and leveraging the unique benefits of both brand and performance ads, you can create a successful advertising strategy that drives results in the gaming industry.

In summary, knowing when and how to deploy each ad type can give you a competitive edge. 

iion enables brands and advertisers to execute the optimal ad strategy and reach a highly engaging and diverse audience through games. With a suite of next-gen tools offered by iion, advertisers can catalyze growth and drive conversions.

Want to know how to build the right mix of brand ads and performance ads? 

Connect With Us Today!


Question: What are brand ads?

Answer: Brand advertising is a form of advertising that aims to foster better relationships with the viewer, in the long run, to drive conversions in the future.

Question: What are performance ads?

Answer: Performance advertising is an ad strategy executed to achieve measurable goals within a specified time, which can include app installs, sales, email collection, and more.

Question: How do the ads differ in terms of the target audience?

Answer: Brand ads traditionally use a broader audience, as the end goal is to create brand awareness. On the other hand, performance ads utilize audience targeting to reach the ideal demo for maximum returns.

Question: What are the key advantages of brand ads and performance ads?

Answer: Brand ads are the ideal ad strategy to create brand awareness in the long run and offer unique experiences related to the brand, which can result in conversions later. Performance ads can be helpful in executing a goal-oriented ad campaign that aims to increase ROAS and drive a specific goal from the users.

Question: Which ad type is best for advertising in the gaming industry?

Answer: Brand ads and performance ads in the gaming industry serve different purposes and bring in different results. Companies can succeed by using a combination of both types of ads to achieve the best results.

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