Gaming shines on La Croisette: A CEO’s week at Cannes Lions

Jun 28, 2024

Walking up and down the perennially sunny La Croisette last week I was really excited about how this year’s Cannes Lions 2024 truly spotlighted the marketing industry’s increasing focus on gaming as an innovative, impactful, and scalable channel to reach engaged audiences. 

Last year, the Entertainment Lions for Gaming award was introduced for the first time, celebrating the creative work that connects brands to gaming communities. This new category reflects the increasing relevance of gaming, which now surpasses Hollywood and the music industry in economic impact. 

Huge congratulations to this year’s Grand Prix winner, XBOX’s “The Everyday Tactician”. Chief Storyteller at Mojang Studios and Jury President Lydia Winters noted that brands are starting to understand their audiences: “gaming skills transfer to the real world

Throughout the show, creative agencies and programmatic advertising platforms including Dentsu, Equativ (great yacht party BTW!), and Verve (who recently acquired entertainment media advertising platform JUN Group) have leveraged their gaming strategies and access to scalable channels to create engaged audiences for non-endemic brand campaigns. 

So, of course there was plenty of gaming business and chat throughout the week, including a roundtable hosted by our partners Iion where I joined other industry leaders including Enthusiast Gaming’s EVP Brand Solutions  (@)Amanda Rubin, Amplified Intelligence’s (@) Daniel Lyas, Dubit’s CCO (@) Andrew Douthwaite in a discussion moderated by IAB’s EVP and CMO (@) Caryll Pierre-Drews. We delved into the pressing issues of addressability and measurement in gaming. 

A key point raised was the image challenge gaming media faces, as brands often still think of “gaming audiences” as being a specific audience type (usually a stereotypical one), instead of a highly diverse group of consumers. This comment sums up the challenge nicely: “advertisers don’t try to target moviegoers, but somehow we still have not convinced brands of the diversity of audiences that play games, instead of seeing ‘gamers’ as an audience in and of themselves.“

This issue underscores the need for precision targeting and advanced analytics to optimize gaming campaigns to target audiences in the same way, and with the same measurabilities (attention, engagement, etc) that existing digital channels offer. The good news is the trend in in-game advertising is increasingly shifting towards a more data-driven approach, with alignment to more common targeting metrics and KPIs. 

The next step will be to leverage the unique differentiators of in-game as a medium, and shift the conversation towards a more interactive approach in marketing, allowing brands aim to seamlessly integrate into gaming environments while delivering measurable value and commercial results​​.

Both the gaming and advertising industries continue to learn from each other, and further cross-industry insights will be crucial to foster an environment for brands to make  positive impacts in the gaming world.

This year’s Cannes Lions showcased that gaming is not just a pastime, but an experiential platform that when executed well authentically combines brand storytelling and consumer engagement. 

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