Navigating the New Now:  Brand Safety in Gaming

Posted by Victor Z Glenn • May 31, 2024 9:00:00 AM

The initial surge in gaming's popularity during the COVID-19 lockdowns presented marketers with a golden opportunity, from 2020 to 2022. In that timeframe, numerous in-game advertising companies emerged, aiming to integrate traditional programmatic ad formats, like banners, within natural in-game locations such as virtual billboards and signs. This shift not only provided brands with innovative advertising spaces but also highlighted the importance of ensuring these placements are brand-safe.

The gaming industry is an evolving platform for users, creators, and brands alike. Stephanie Latham, VP of Global Brand Partnerships at Roblox, noted this evolution during her recent appearance on Variety's podcast "Strictly Business." Latham emphasized how Roblox has become an experiential hub, allowing brands to create interactive experiences around music, film, TV, sports, and individual personalities. This development has opened new avenues for brand engagement, but it also brings to light reputational risk when brands get it wrong in the fast-paced gaming world.

As the gaming industry continues to expand, new players are entering the market with unique offerings. Notably, Blumhouse Games, with industry veterans Zach Wood and Don Sechler on board as President and CFO respectively, is set to produce and publish horror-themed games for console, PC, and mobile audiences. Their focus on indie-budget games, with creative budgets below $10 million, aims to push creative boundaries and bring fresh, innovative content to the market. Truly exciting but, as these boundaries are pushed, ensuring that horror-themed/controversial content are a clear risk moving forward.  In an environment where player interaction and immersion are key, any misstep in ad placement can lead to negative perceptions and potential backlash – reemphasizing the need to align brand values to maintain safe environments for both players and advertisers.

In this dynamic landscape, maintaining brand safety involves more than just avoiding inappropriate content; it's about fostering a trustworthy environment where brands can thrive. As platforms like Roblox and new ventures like Blumhouse Games continue to innovate, the industry must prioritize safeguarding both consumers and the brand's integrity.  

Topics: Ad Adjacency, Ad Tech, content, Media, Social Media, gaming, content creators, digital advertising, ad placement, content moderation, mobile gaming, multimedia, advergames