The gaming audience is in the right frame of mind to be receptive to advertising messages: Vaibhav Odhekar, POKKT
The rise of gaming is also opening up a new touchpoint for marketers

The gaming audience is in the right frame of mind to be receptive to advertising messages: Vaibhav Odhekar, POKKT

The rise of gaming is also opening up a new touchpoint for marketers
  • The Indian gaming industry has been witnessing a good growth for the past few years, a trend that was only further boosted by the pandemic where people stuck at home took to gaming to keep themselves entertained.
  • More and more brands are realising the scope in-game advertising has.
  • We speak to Vaibhav Odhekar, Co-Founder & COO at POKKT to understand the ecosystem better and to gauge advertiser’s response and why they are excited about gaming as an effective marketing tool.
India’s gaming industry has been witnessing healthy growth that has only been further boosted by the pandemic. In fact, a recent report by a report by Boston Consulting Group and Sequoia stated that India’s $1.8 billion gaming market is growing rapidly on the back of mobile-first games.

The report further stated that mobile gaming could triple to a $ 5 billion market opportunity by 2025, with over a 300 million user base, a number that will grow further due to the ease of access, a spike in new adoption, and leading companies actively shaping market evolution with increased marketing spends.

The rise of gaming is also opening up a new touchpoint for marketers. Brands want to follow their consumers and the last few years have shown us more and more are spending an increasing amount of time on gaming, not just on consoles and PC but also on their smartphones. In-game advertising has been giving brands a way of connecting with an engaged set of audience. This has given rise to companies specializing in in-game advertising that are trying to come up with novel ways through which brands can use gaming to connect with their consumers without hampering their experience.

POKKT, a mobile video advertising platform has had a strong focus on rewarded Video Ads within Mobile Games. It has worked with over 200 brands which include HUL, P&G and McDonald’s amongst other brands. To understand the ecosystem better and what lies ahead in this dynamic segment, we spoke to Vaibhav Odhekar,Co-Founder & COO at POKKT who took us behind the scenes.


Q) What kind of increase has there been in brands showing interest in in-game advertising?

The gaming industry is no longer just a domain of boys and men as it witnesses huge participation from women over a period of time. This trend has further attracted brands across sectors to promote via in-game advertising as it gives them a diversified platform. Over the last several years, there has been a major increase in interest in dynamic in-game advertising, with worldwide companies embracing and spending more on it. Brands in the sports, automobile, leisure and entertainment industries are especially excited. This rise has helped us get a larger bouquet of advertisers who are now regular spenders. While earlier, it would be focussed towards top-30 spends, contributing to the bulk of the spends, we now have around 100 + brands spending every quarter with us.

Q) Can you share some data about POKKT's scope of work? The kind of brands you have worked with so far, the quantum of business and why brands should look at you if they want to connect with a gaming audience?

Our company is one of the largest aggregators of gaming content. Being in the industry for 7 years, we have gained trust from advertisers and as a result, across these years we have had double-digit to sometimes triple-digit growths. The gaming audience is in the right frame of mind to be receptive to advertising messages. Today there is a huge diversification of the audience, so whatever the target audience is, it can be found in some form of gaming.

Q) Within mobile advertising, what part of the pie is going towards game advertising. What kind of growth do you anticipate in the next few years?

It is much more diversified now. FMCG continues to be the biggest category, but other sectors such as QSR, Mobile / Electronics / Auto / Digital - New Age / OTT are some of the other categories which are seen increasing their spending. Digital advertising should itself grow around 30% and we definitely plan to improve that.

Q) How have you been measuring the effectiveness of these ads? What sort of ROI are brands looking for?

It has become simpler for brands to track the effectiveness and ROI of in-game advertisements, because the ad targets–gamers–are active participants, KPIs like targeting and completion rates can be easily tracked. The advantage of digital is its measurability at every level and across parameters. Every campaign is measured from impression to completed views to click and engagement levels. We measure viewability, we measure in-target, engagement levels. This is over and above all the regular parameters like time of day, location, handset, frequency, app name, carrier etc. So depending on brand objectives, various measurement criteria are deployed. Data has become the king and the main reason for that is its linkage to measurability across multiple parameters.

Q) What has the consumer response been to the ads, considering ads can hamper the overall experience?

The consumer journey is the key for rewarded videos, majority of gamers love rewarded ads because they need not pay real money, they can pay through watching ads to get access to items that help them keep playing further in the game & progress faster. Additionally, rewarded ads also engage with gamers by giving them the option to engage with ads. When it comes to progressing in a game, 74% of Indian gamers prefer to watch ads than to pay in-app purchases, according to a Gaming Report.

Q) How are brands coming up with innovative ways of placing their ads within the games where it's a win-win for all stakeholders?

Blended in-game advertising, a form of in-game advertising without clicks, can be an incredible tool for boosting brand awareness. With today's advanced ad technology, brands can deliver programmatic campaigns that align with both players' interests and remain compliant with all data privacy regulations by taking advantage of the extensive targeting options available. Any in-game object can be used for advertising, including billboards, banners, player jerseys, etc. This is the new ‘native’ form of advertising in games.

Q) Gaming is still a growing segment in India. How are you convincing brands to advertise?

Over the past 2-3 years, there has been tremendous innovation in gaming. The smartphone penetration wave has fueled casual gaming. With the increase in mobile game usage, brands can now use gaming applications as an effective and diverse marketing channel. Publishers and advertisers benefit from symbiotic relationships involving in-game advertising. These brands use in-game advertising to communicate with users in an interactive and engaging way.

Q) Are brands open to experimentation when it comes to advertising on these platforms?

Brands are definitely excited. In advertising, ‘something new’ has become the key word for such experiments as gaming becomes an ideal platform. A wide range of creative solutions is available, ranging from rich media ads to mini games and in-game integration. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years, with brands increasingly integrating their marketing efforts into the game in a non-intrusive manner.