Over the course of the pandemic, the gaming boom drew fresh interest from advertisers and agencies into the space. Gaming always had a strong proposition for advertisers, given the level of engagement and the inventive creative opportunities available. But the pandemic really helped blow away lingering stereotypes around the size and makeup of gaming audiences, with sceptics finally convinced that gaming had gone mainstream.
Since the return to relative normality, gaming has seen a post-pandemic dip, with major players like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all reporting drops in gaming revenues. But the long term trend remains one of growth, and advertisers and agencies’ enthusiasm for the space seems undampened.
Omnicom Group is the latest to double down on gaming. The agency group has announced the launch of ‘LevelUp OAC’, a new unit which will sit inside the Omnicom Advertising Collective (hence the ‘OAC’), drawing talent and resources from existing agencies TMA and GSD&M.
Both of those agencies already have years of experience working in gaming. TMA says it specialises in gaming brand strategy, content creation, and gaming influencer marketing. GSD&M meanwhile runs in-game activations, including custom experiences designed for AR and VR, as well as esports partnerships.
By combining talents from these two agencies, Omnicom Advertising Collective says the new unit will act as a one-stop shop for brands interested in gaming. “Marketing to gamers requires specialised skillsets and seasoned professionals who live and breathe the gaming culture,” said James Fenton, CEO of the Omnicom Advertising Collective. “LevelUp OAC brings together our most passionate and seasoned talents in the gaming space and offers a single source solution for brands who want to engage with gamers in an authentic, 360-degree way. It’s one of the unique ways that the Omnicom Advertising Collective can leverage the capabilities of its agency portfolio to drive client success.”
Other Omnicom agencies will also be brought on to contribute to specific products on a case-by-case basis, according to Fenton.
Not playing around
LevelUp OAC isn’t Omnicom’s first dedicated gaming agency. Omnicom-owned agency DDB launched DDB FTW at the end of 2020, which quickly grew to 17 offices around the world by August of last year.
Other holding groups have rolled out their own gaming-focused offerings too. Publicis Group launched Publicis Play at the start of last year, while Dentsu launched DGame in the UK and Ireland at the end of 2020, followed by global gaming brand Dentsu Gaming last September. In fact there’s something of a trend of agencies rolling out small, local gaming brands, before going all-in on global gaming-focused offerings – suggesting there’s plenty of appetite from clients for these kinds of services.
Advertisers clearly haven’t yet been put off by falls in gaming revenues, and there’s good reason for this.
Firstly, as mentioned, while gaming might have seen an audience drop since the pandemic peak, the overall trend is still upwards. And a lot of the reports touting a decline in gaming are more to do with gaming revenues rather than engagement, which is partly a product of the popularity of free-to-play models. This actually creates more space for brands, as game developers turn to advertising to help boost income.
And with Microsoft and Sony both working on integrated in-game ad offerings within their own platforms, we’re likely to see a flood of quality inventory come onto the market in the not-too-distant future.