The week after the advertising industry got behind global climate change protests, it felt appropriate that Advertising Week NYC shared Manhattan with the UN’s 74th General Assembly gathering. It certainly added a sense of gravitas to my first experience of the event.
I was reassured to find this year’s AW event featured a full day of content focused on esports and gaming – proving this clearly isn’t the passing fad some have billed it to be.
There was a full complement of companies on stage from brands like Mastercard, agencies like Carat, game developers like Activision Blizzard, an agent from CAA, Neilsen’s gaming team and Twitch, who drew the biggest crowd of the day.
Esports is en vogue, that’s clear, with growth expected to continue. So everyone wants to understand it, engage with it, get a piece of the action – and the revenue.
"One speaker summed it up when they said, “but of course, a brand cannot actually engage within a game."
But even on this world stage, there continues to be a lack of understanding of how consumers interact with games.
One speaker summed it up when they said, “but of course, a brand cannot actually engage within a game, which is why we have to look around the gaming environment”. But that’s not accurate.
Brands can of course engage within a game – with the right approach, such as the programmatic placement of real world ads in real world positions such as pitch-side hoardings, race track banners or open-world game billboards – they can actually enhance the user experience, making it more realistic. They just need to dig a bit deeper and understand how.
The growing gaming audiences will appreciate it – and the brands who take the initiative will realise the benefits.
Rob Dembitz is CCO at Bidstack.