- Turner, a division of AT&T's WarnerMedia Group, is working with in-game sale-side platform (SSP) Anzu and cybersecurity vendor Cheq to pilot a new solution that verifies that ads are delivered to people who play video games on a console like Microsoft's Xbox or Sony PlayStation or on a personal computer, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Turner's ELeague Esports will promote Anzu's in-game inventory to advertisers that can track viewability metrics for media placements in games like Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto" or EA's "Madden," Adweek reported. Media buyers can buy placements through a preferred demand-side platform (DSP) or AppNexus, the programmatic ad exchange that AT&T acquired last year.
- The ad-verification service aims to help advertisers reach the 2.4 billion people worldwide who play video games, which is a $148 billion market. Pete Scott, VP of emerging media at Turner Sports New Media, said in a statement that his company met Cheq and Anzy through The Bridge startup commercialization program that aims to connect startups with established global companies.
The news suggests that console games, which typically haven't been ad-supported, could be the next wave in media placement. The media landscape is increasingly fragmented as over-the-top streaming and gaming grow more popular. With OTT programming not offering ads in many cases, brands are looking for new avenues to get in front of consumers who aren't watching traditional linear TV as much.
Turner parent AT&T clearly has its eyes on esports from both a programming and ad revenue perspective, with the latest news pointing to how it could expand upon its existing efforts in mobile gaming to drive ad sales from console games as well. AT&T has made a bigger push into mobile gaming this year as the founding sponsor of a mobile esports league called the ESL Mobile Open, created by esports organizer and producer ESL. The year-round league started its first season in March, and was open to any amateur who wanted to compete on their smartphone for a chance to win a cash prize. AT&T became ESL North America's official telecommunications and mobile gaming sponsor in June 2018.
As the new owner of WarnerMedia, AT&T has the potential to promote the media company's video game titles and host meet-and-greets with esports stars at its wireless stores, per Bloomberg News. Those synergies are already evident with AT&T's sponsorship of "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite," the mobile game published by WarnerMedia's WB Games division and game developer Niantic. The game combines characters from the popular fantasy franchise with the augmented reality (AR) playability of "Pokémon Go," giving marketers a chance to run location-based campaigns that drive foot traffic to stores, restaurants and other real-world destinations.
Gaming consoles and PCs aren't as popular as smartphones for playing video games, according to GlobalWebIndex data cited by researcher eMarketer. Game consoles are most popular among people ages 25 to 34, although only 27% of the group said they the use the platforms for gaming, compared with 73% who play smartphone games, per GlobalWebIndex. Two-thirds of men and women globally use smartphones to play mobile games, compared with only 27% of men and 18% who use game consoles. More than of half (54%) of men and 41% of women use a desktop or laptop computer for gaming, its survey found.
U.S. spending on in-game ads will grow 16% to $3.25 billion this year from $2.8 billion in 2018, a figure that mostly consists of mobile gaming, per eMarketer. Mobile gaming is popular because it doesn't require any specialized hardware, and billions of people worldwide own smartphones.