Gone are the days when video games were only popular among children who would eagerly clamber around the television set after school to play in their favorite make-believe worlds. The industry has evolved significantly since the late 1970s and early 1980s when Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong first made their way into American households.
Today, the video game market has become mainstream and is on an upward trajectory estimated to exceed $200 billion in value by 2023. Verticals such as esports, along with technology like augmented reality, have accelerated widespread interest in video games in recent years, creating a massive opportunity for publishers and advertisers alike to reach their audiences in new ways.
In this article, we’ll put the spotlight on an important gamer demographic that publishers and advertisers must pay attention to—women. We’ll also explore how publishers and advertisers can engage female audiences through the medium of gaming apps.
Women and gaming apps by the numbers
It’s widely acknowledged that to reach your audience, your brand needs to show up where your audience spends their time. In the case of video games, 43% of women play mobile games over five times per week, compared to 38% of men. With this many women on the platform this frequently, it makes sense for brands to have a presence there as well.
In addition, advertising to women on gaming apps translates to money well spent. Women are 79% more likely than other audiences to make purchases in these apps while they’re playing, so as a brand, it’s a wise move to allocate a portion of your advertising dollars to this demographic in this specific medium.
Research suggests that there’s an opportunity for the link between women and gaming apps to become even stronger. Currently, 60% of female mobile gamers believe only 30% of these games are designed for women. Publishers and advertisers can address this gap by creating content for these platforms that is targeted to women and delivers value to them.
“Female users and male users focus on different aspects of games. Game developers and advertisers need to pay attention to female users’ needs and habits to seize market opportunities,” according to this Business of Apps article.
Gaming apps set for continued growth
The Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated mainstream use of gaming apps since people are spending more time at home and less time engaging in social activities. Across the video game industry as a whole, 2020 revenues for mobile, desktop, and console are estimated to surpass last year’s figures by 9%, totaling nearly $160 billion.
Among those three platforms, mobile games are leading the pack, and are three times more popular than console and desktop games. These apps also command the majority of market share in the industry, and are set to bring in 60% of consumer spend by the end of 2020.
Several factors have contributed to the success of mobile games. First, mobile games are more accessible than desktop or console games. Over 40% of the world’s population owns a smartphone, and many of these games are free to download, compared to console games that can run you hundreds of dollars for the console alone. Second, convenience plays a role. You can start a mobile game while you’re in the waiting room at your doctor’s office, put it down for your appointment, and pick it back up again on the subway ride home.
As a result of the mobile gaming phenomenon, advertisers are shifting their budgets to respond to changing consumer preferences. For example, some brands are moving ad spend from TV to gaming apps. Publishers and advertisers who haven’t taken this approach yet would be wise to follow suit, even if it’s only temporarily to test the results.
How brands can engage women through gaming apps
It’s clear that gaming apps are an important platform for brands to engage their audiences, especially women. Large multinational companies such as Coca-Cola, Ford, and Unilever have already invested in the medium, nodding to its potential and paving the way for smaller players to join them.
“Many of the early adopting brands look at mobile gaming as the new social media in terms of the opportunity to engage with consumers at scale,” according to this article in The Drum.
In the same way that social media gave brands a platform to connect with consumers on a personal level, gaming apps can enable them to do the same. In-app content that features rich character development and a sense of community resonates well with women, so publishers and advertisers should keep this in mind when creating content for ads. The content should also be story-driven and interactive—for example, guiding a user on a journey to click to a product page as opposed to simply showing them an ad.
Women are a captive audience on gaming apps, and they’ve expressed that they want these games to better reflect their preferences. As a publisher or advertiser, this sentiment is your green light to step into the gap and fill the market need.
Explore more digital advertising trends
Mobile games aren’t the only vertical that will make waves in 2021. Publishers and advertisers should keep their eyes on rising brands in the food delivery and home exercising industries, as well as on developments related to streaming media services.
For details on these trends and more with commentary from industry experts, download our 2021 Digital Advertising Trends white paper so you can stay up to date with consumer preferences—and ahead of your competitors.