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Gaming in Marketing: How Brands Are Playing to Win Gen Z

With gaming on the rise among Gen Z, brands—and even schools—are finding new ways to appeal to gamers in their marketing and advertising strategies.

Revolution Digital  |  May 10, 2019
Gaming in Marketing: How Brands Are Playing to Win Gen Z

When it comes to engaging Gen Z, marketers are playing to win. Literally. By 2020, the video games market is expected to be worth over 90 billion U.S. dollars, so what better way to tap into Gen Zers than by meeting them where they play? From branded avatars to partnerships with some of today’s most noteworthy gamers, brands are finding unique ways to insert themselves into a world filled with opportunities. And with today’s technological possibilities, you might even say they’re leveling up their strategies for an all-out brand battle.

Fortnite vs.TV: Battle Royale
In a world filled with digital entertainment options, consumers are being forced to prioritize, because, hey – there’s only so much time in the day. And for Gen Z, Fornite is where it’s at; it’s the most popular game in the world and it just so happens to be a hotbed of advertising possibility. In a 2018 earnings report, Netflix revealed that they “compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO,” making the game prime real estate for ad integrations, from exclusive content to branded avatars.

And Then There’s Gamers Watching Gamers
With more than 3 million streamers per month in 2018, Twitch became the most prominent livestreaming platform for gamers. And the gamers-watching-gamers trend continues with the introduction of new platforms, like Google’s Stadia, which will enable hardware-free gaming by use of the cloud. So, what does that mean to marketers? There’s a shiny, new sandbox to play in where the audience is already captive and the possibilities are endless.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
That’s what Red Bull did when they recently partnered with professional gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. In an effort to boost brand awareness and drive sales among gamers, who often need to refuel during long gaming sessions, Red Bull teamed up with the Twitch star to help host a fan UGC contest and collaborate on limited-edition cans. The winner of the contest will be flown to a Red Bull event for a gaming session with the master himself.

Campaigns Are Here to Play, Too
Take, for example, luxury automaker Alfa Romeo’s “Soundtrack” campaign, which combines 3D gaming with a musical experience. To appeal to younger audiences, who are more likely to engage with digital experiences over more traditional ad formats, Soundtrack is “available across desktop, mobile and tablets, and resembles a video game where users can drive one of the Alfa Romeo vehicles and hit logos that produce notes in the melody for Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

Even Colleges Are Getting in On the Action
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get students in the school spirit, so colleges are using gamification to encourage student participation. From earning points for taking advantage of campus resources to rewarding students for early course registration, colleges are engaging Gen Z through fun and competitive games. At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, students can even earn distinction for completing the school’s gamified achievement program.

So, how can your brand stand out from the crowd to appeal to Gen Z? At Revolution Digital, we work with our clients to create custom advertising solutions that excite, disrupt and engage in relevant ways. Grounded in audience research, our creative strategies can help bring your brand into exciting, new spaces that move the needle and drive results. If you’re interested in chatting, reach out to us at newbusiness@rev-d.com.

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