Video games trump influencers for higher purchase intent

New research by consumer insights provider Toluna has revealed the remarkable potential of the video games sector for brand building and driving conversions.

Video games and brand building

Toluna, which is the parent company of Harris Interactive, revealed key gaming trends from its latest UK consumer study, Economic Outlook for Technology, Media, Telecoms, and Entertainment Sector, from research which was conducted among 3,086 UK consumers aged 18-74 in May 2023..

The research study investigates how ongoing financial challenges are affecting consumer behaviours and spending in the technology, media, telecoms, and entertainment sectors.

Its in-depth exploration of gaming found brands that advertise in video games are well-regarded by consumers, but gamers have clear preferences for specific forms of advertising.

Brands can level up positive perceptions through video games

Over one-quarter of UK gamers are more likely to purchase from a brand that advertises in video games, making video game advertising more effective than influencer advertising on social media (23%).

Additionally, brands that advertise within video games are viewed positively by UK gamers, with more than two-fifths considering these brands to be innovative, diverse, and progressive.

Of all the ad environments that respondents were asked to rank, only broadcast TV (28%) and streaming services (33%) achieved higher purchase intent.

Given that these environments are exceptional for building audience connections, this highlights the significant potential of video game advertising for engaging consumers.

In-game advertising must respect immersion

The most appealing forms of video game advertising are virtual billboards within game environments and sponsored in-game competitions, both of which are considered appealing by 35% of UK gamers.

Three in 10 respondents find branded in-game items appealing and 28% feel the same for stadium advertising boards in sports video games.

Meanwhile, clickable ads that link to a real-life product page (23%), audio ads during gameplay (21%), and pop-up ads (19%) generate less appeal and are more actively disliked.

Pop-up ads, for instance, are considered unappealing by 51% of UK gamers, indicating that immersion-breaking ads meet strong disapproval from consumers.

Spend and usage: free-to-play PC and console games see uptick in spend

In the last year, UK gamers have been more cautious overall with their spending across PC and console games, as well as mobile games, regarding both subscriptions and one-off purchases.

Free-to-play PC and console games, however, are an outlier to this trend and have experienced a 3% growth in spend over the past 12 months.

Free-to-play mobile games rank as the most frequently played games, with 85% of respondents using these at least once a month and 28% using them daily.

This is followed by purchased PC and console games, which 75% of UK gamers play at least once a month, 43% at least once a week, and 14% on a daily basis.

Denholm Scotford, Sector Head, TMTE at Harris Interactive, Toluna’s research arm said: “Gaming continues to win the most precious commodities in today’s market — consumers’ time and attention.

“A notable proportion of UK consumers game on a regular basis and are receptive to brand advertising when done right.

“There is a huge opportunity for brands to reach and connect with consumers through video games, but it is critical for them to uphold the quality of the in-game experience.”