To wrap up 2023, Mediaweek is looking at the biggest trends, events, platforms, and brands of the year. Welcome to Mediaweek’s A to Z of 2023 … and beyond.
By Gareth Leeding, Chief Strategy Officer, Livewire
Before we look forward to ‘24 it’s important to glance back at ‘23
‘23 was the year that gaming drove culture en masse. The NPC meme was one of the biggest on social media, The Last of Us was the breakout TV series, Super Mario was one of the year’s highest-grossing films, Eminem landed in Fortnite, Cannes launched a gaming category and EA killed FIFA.
And brands, well… At a glance, there were all kinds of activations. Whether it’s in-game, around game or purpose-driven initiatives for the love of the game, they all made an impact in their own way. Nike launched the Airphoria experience in Fortnite with collectibles, Uber Eats partnered with Starfield to deliver items from Space and Maybelline called out toxic gamers.
What will 2024 look like in the world of gaming marketing for brands?
Gaming is the next big opportunity for brands with 3.38 billion gamers globally, playing for at least 8.9 hours per week. Gen Z is spending more time on Roblox than most major social platforms and Fortnite had 44m players on one day in November.
2024 will be the year that we see brands recognise the audience opportunity, treating gaming as one of the first lines on a media plan, with multi-year gaming strategies built on deep audience insights not broad brush strokes. There will be deeper investment and strategy in the sector. Think about it – brands wouldn’t launch an Instagram channel, drop one campaign and forget about it, so why do you see brands doing it in gaming? Just like Spotify, Porsche and Pizza Hut, we will see more brands commit to the space by developing long-form strategies with highlight beats throughout the year.
2024 will be the year that Fortnite and Roblox explode into mass consciousness. They’ll go from toy to tool, providing more than play. A shift from engaging games to providing utility. We’re already beginning to see it with educational experiences on Fortnite and calling on Roblox. The brand safety measures, age-gating and age-rating measures will give brands confidence to meet the mass migrations of audiences from social to gaming.
2024 will be the year that marketers recognise gamers aren’t gamers. Way back in 2015, Pew Research stated that only 15% of men and 6% of women identify as gamers, yet most marketeers don’t seem to be listening. Once brands step away from using catch all terms to recognise a 3 billion plus audience we will see highly impactful, targeted campaigns that players love because they’re meaningful, add value and entertain. There’s genuinely an audience in gaming for every brand, you just need to do the research to find them, understand them and provide value.
2024 will be the year we see gaming-native CMO’s rise through the ranks. Breaking down the barriers of their play-it-safe predecessors. As measurement of gaming campaigns mature, brand safety measures on Roblox and Fortnite evolve and the opportunity for limitless creativity is realised we will begin to spread their wings. What’s heartening is the more that brands play, the more positive sentiment increases and game enthusiasts are found to have more positive brand attitudes than non-game enthusiasts.
It’s for all of these reasons why 2024 will be gaming’s breakout year in a marketing context. It will be the year that brands go from being watchable to playable. Brands will evolve from trying to take traditional broadcast advertising approaches and shift into creating playable experiences that add value and unlock fandom.
Top Image: Gareth Leeding