Survey finds gamers prefer native ads

A new gamer study from Frameplay shows the top ad formats in the $196.8 billion videogame industry.

Native, or intrinsic, game ads are the top format to drive gamers to action, according to a new Frameplay survey of over 1,200 gamers. That means the ads are part of the gameplay environment, as opposed to more distracting or disruptive ad formats like interstitial, adjacent or audio ads.

Why we care. Frameplay is an intrinsic ads platform, but the worldwide growth of gaming and in-game ads is real. Games tracking data and research firm Newzoo estimates the gaming audience at 3.2 billion, and places the 2022 global games market at $ 196.8 billion, up 2.1% year-over-year.

It’s worth considering not only the amount of interest in advertising on games, but also the playbook for successful ad experiences indicated by the gamers themselves. For marketers just getting into the gaming ad space, note the negative response gamers have to audio ads.

Mobile first. When thinking about elaborate in-game experiences, marketers might imagine their audience in front of a large screen hooked up to their PC. But that’s not how most games are experienced.

The device on which gamers said they played the most was mobile (43.2%), followed by console (31.1%) and PC (24.8%).

Ad formats. A full 45% of gamers in the survey said interstitial ads were the dominant ad type they experienced in games. This means that gameplay is interrupted while the audience watches the ads.

Intrinsic in-game ads were less frequent, with only 22.8% identifying those as the ads they saw the most. Behind those top two types were adjacent ads (banners, etc.), at 11.8%, and audio, at 4.5%. Sixteen percent of the gamers surveyed said they mostly didn’t see any ads.

Preference. Gamers prefer ads that don’t interrupt gameplay, so they ranked intrinsic in-game ads as the preferred format. Behind that, adjacent ads ranked next-highest, followed by interstitial. Audio ads were the least preferred.

Less distraction, more action. Gamers don’t want distractions that can diminish their gameplay and enjoyment of the experience.

Here are the ad formats, ranked by the percent of gamers who thought they were distracting:

  • Interstitial (54%)
  • Adjacent (42.9%)
  • Audio (41.9%)
  • Intrinsic (23.9%)
  • None (6.5%)

It’s a little odd that gamers would find a lack of ads (e.g. “none”) distracting, but this goes to show just how enmeshed ads are in the gaming experience.

Finally, here are the ranked responses to the ad formats that would compel gamers to take action, based on what they saw in the ad.

  • Intrinsic (34.1%)
  • Interstitial (27.2%)
  • None (27.1%)
  • Adjacent (24.1%)
  • Audio (15.3%)

Note, again, that audio ads really don’t make gamers happy. Gamers use audio to talk with other gamers while they play, or to listen to music or consume other media. Audio ads interrupt this flow.

As ad opportunities open up for advertisers, getting in the right way is crucial. It’s all part of adapting to the culture of gaming and making your brand’s presence known and appreciated, not loathed. The full study by Frameplay can be viewed here.

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About The Author

Chris Wood

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.