Joseph Thomas

Did you know Internet marketers will spend upward of $271 million on social gaming ads in 2012? In-game advertising is the next big trend in the industry, with analysts expecting ad spend on social games to reach $900 million annually in less than three years. The stakes are higher than ever for brands as they budget ad spend on laptops, mobile devices, and consoles.

Three of the biggest players in the gaming space – Zynga, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts – made their way to the Keynote Stage at ad:tech San Francisco. Paul Gunning, CEO of Tribal DDB Worldwide, Stefan Pepe, General Manager of Revenue at Zynga, Shawn McMichael, General Manager of Global Advertising Channel at Microsoft and Dave Madden, Senior Vice President of Media Solutions at Electronic Arts. explain why social gaming will dominate ad budgets in 2012 and beyond.

Redefining Gamers in a Social and Mobile Environment

According to Madden, the video gaming market has changed drastically in the past few years. Content within video games is exploding but consumers are becoming much more demanding. The vast majority of gamers who are playing games, (95 percent) do not multitask, compared to 66 percent of people who watch TV. As a result, they are increasingly engaged with the content.

Madden says the day and life of a gamer is vastly different from what it once was. Referencing EA’s flagship game, The Sims, users check into the game sporadically throughout the day on mobile and Facebook. When they come home, users play the game for longer periods on their tablet or console.

Madden claims social gaming is the next big trend because users are very passionate about their gameplay. He says there are tremendous opportunities for brands to step in and enrich the user experience. For example, in the Sims, brands can “gift” items to users that improve their home while simultaneously learning about a new product.

Xbox More Than a Video Game Console

According to McMichaels, the Xbox has transitioned from a video game system into a media platform. Video consumption on the Xbox has more viewing hours than multiplayer gaming. Microsoft is transforming the living room and the way we interact with the TV via their Xbox Kinect device.

Microsoft leveraged their Kinect device to deliver a comprehensive brand experience for ABC’s new TV show, The River. According to McMichael, the campaign had tremendous ROI, with 18 percent of users completing all actions. Interestingly, the click through on an average banner on the Xbox is 1.5 percent, phenomenal compared to traditional web.

The Future of Social Gaming

Users are spending tons of time playing games, whether on Facebook, their smartphone, tablet, or console. This is advantageous to brands because consumers have short, frequent bursts of interactivity, which improve brand awareness.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech San Francisco event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.