The recap: At the IAB's first-ever PlayFronts event, brands like American Eagle and Unilever discussed how they use gaming to promote commercial goals and connect with increasingly hard-to-reach cohorts such as Gen Z. Speakers outlined the scope and variety of gaming audiences, while also pointing out that many businesses have been slow to respond to these opportunities.
Panel of the day: American Eagle spoke alongside in-game advertising provider Anzu (which recently raised another $20 million) and its new ad sales partner NBCUniversal. The brand said it has begun to experiment with Roblox's Livetopia, a top 10 role-playing game on the service.
Schapiro noted to Digiday afterward that 65% of Livetopia users are female, making it more aligned with American Eagle’s customer base—combating the false and dated narrative that only young men can be reached via gaming platforms. More than half of US gamers are women.
Zoom out: PlayFronts took place as many factors push gaming further into the mainstream: pandemic-fueled shifting media consumption habits, the pending cookiepocalypse, a decline in linear TV viewership, and ad oversaturation on connected TV.
Willem Dinger, global director of sponsorships at Unilever, noted that gamers are spending sizable sums on digital avatars. Tapping into that spending is not only a form of opt-in advertising, but has the potential to be a not-insignificant revenue generator for CPG manufacturers like his—a “massive business opportunity,” in his words.
The big takeaway: Vendors and publishers have a generational opportunity to introduce advertising to gaming in an additive way—will they rise to it? The industry hasn’t yet defined consistent, scalable models for in-game advertising, as some PlayFronts speakers suggested.