Gaming content is great for YouTube. In the gaming space, videos are generally long, audiences generally have a high level of engagement, and so people end up using the platform for long periods of time. This means that gaming channels on YouTube have the potential to generate significant revenue.
When the platform launched YouTube Red, for example, it was decided that advertising should be distributed based on minutes watched, not on total views. Gaming videos such as livestreams and let’s plays should therefore be considered as financial opportunities for advertisers.
However, not all campaigns are the same, because not all games are the same. As an advertiser, the best way to use gaming videos to your advantage depends on the nature of the game that is to be advertised. So, the question is – how do you go about choosing which type of campaign to use for your game type?
Below, we focus on three major game types and lay out the campaign types that have been shown to be successful for them. For each type, we explore what defines it, how those characteristics determine how it should be portrayed, practical information about its demographics, and strategic insight that you can use to make the best choice.
Casual & Hyper Casual Games
Casual and hyper casual games can be a little slippery to define, but it mainly comes down to the level of commitment of potential players. Casual games are designed to have a low level of commitment in the form of simple gameplay, a simple interface, and relatively short playing sessions. Hyper casual games take that idea even further – short loading times, and very short sessions.
Candy Crush is a good example of a casual game. Its appeal comes from the fact that a player can load it and start playing a level in seconds. Completing a level will then take time, and that’s where the engagement comes from.
Examples of hyper casual games include Balloon Pop and games by FRVR. These games load immediately, and their play sessions are rarely designed to last longer than a couple of minutes. Gameplay is even simpler than in casual games, and the level of commitment required is minimal.
Though it might be tempting for advertisers to seek out YouTube channels that feature these types of games, in reality, none of these channels are generating meaningful views.
Thinking more about the demographics, ask yourself what your ideal audience would be. When reaching out to gamers, that usually means reaching out to a younger male audience. Could your ideal group be consumers of entertainment, for example?
Also, ask yourself about the nature of this type of game. Considering the fact that casual and hyper casual games are designed for short attention spans, it is safe to assume that people won’t enjoy longer, dedicated videos.
A good test for this is to ask the question: is it going to be more enjoyable for my friend to watch me play this game, or is it more enjoyable for them to download it and play it themselves? If so, you will need to advertise in a different way. A better approach would be 60- to 90-second integrated videos.
Here is a good example of promotion for a casual game on the channel Brianna. The advertiser understood that it would be more enjoyable for people to download and play the game themselves, so a 76-second integrated video was used that very quickly showed off the games features.
In contrast to casual games, YouTubable games are much more immersive and offer an element of continuous novelty, which is why they lend themselves so well to video platforms – they are enjoyable to play and to watch. Action-type games, or synchronous PvP games in general, need to have a replayable factor so that they can realistically be watched for 10 minutes straight.
Probably the most well-known examples of this type of game are Fortnite and Minecraft. It is not uncommon for videos featuring these games to reach five million views. FIFA is also extremely YouTubable because every match is different, as is Grand Theft Auto V because of its expansive gameplay. The other key property that makes a game YouTubable is, of course, sociability – that is, the ability to play for extended periods of time with friends or strangers.
With YouTubable games, you can work with most YouTube channels (as the name might suggest). But, there are different routes depending on the type of channel you’re dealing with. As a rule of thumb, dedicated channels should make use of dedicated videos, but as soon as you start going outside of the gaming category (for example, in the entertainment space), it would be better to utilise creative integration videos.
Identifying the key groups that you should focus on as an advertiser depends on what type of YouTubable game you’re dealing with. Promoting a YouTubable game is normally quite straightforward. If you’re looking to promote a shooter game, for example, then focusing on shooter channels while experimenting with related types (within the action or action-adventure genres) can be a good strategy.
It is important to note that there are many YouTubable games that are so popular that they have already reached critical mass (i.e. a significant number of people know about them). If, despite this, people have not already become interested in those games, it is unlikely that people will do so in the future. In that case, it might be a good idea to target non-gaming channels.
Here is a good example of promotion for a YouTubable game on the channel Mr. Fruit. Oh Bibi chose to advertise here because the channel is dedicated to gaming, and so it is much more likely to hold the attention of the right audience. The entire video (whose length is 13:42) is dedicated to the game because it is YouTubable, and the game is YouTubable because there is a heavy social element, with realtime battles being one of the game’s main features.
Strategy games, as a whole, can be categorised in different ways, but common iterations include wargames (such as Wargroove and Total War), turn-based tactics games (such as Fire Emblem), turn-based strategy games (such as Civilization).
Like casual and hyper casual games, turn-based strategy games aren’t as enjoyable to watch as their YouTubable counterparts, but for the opposite reason. The gameplay of these games revolves around performing an action (which is engaging), and then waiting (which is not engaging).
In general, the faster paced a game is, the younger its audience will be (i.e. the audience for a turn-based strategy game is more likely to be older). Slow-paced games should be promoted through short integration videos that display the key features of the game.
As such, dedicated videos are not the best option for this game type. It is difficult to illustrate what the gameplay in these games is actually like, and 10 minutes is not enough time to highlight everything about the game. These games can still be promoted on gaming channels, but this would need to be done through integrated videos. Having action packed trailers created by developers that are 60-90 seconds can be quite successful, and more able to capture and convert an audience.
Where Matchmade Comes In
Here is a recent example of a Matchmade campaign where the campaign type complements the type of game being advertised. The video, on the Orange Juice Gaming channel, is sponsored by CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars, which appears at the 1:34 mark.
CATS makes use of simple visual features and mechanics, but at the same time, each match will be different. This means that the game can fall under either the casual or YouTubable category. Because of this, an integrated video has been used, as that works for either of those types.
Once you are familiar with the type of campaign you want to use (and how it relates to your game type) you can feed that information into the Matchmade platform. Matchmade uses a “games with similar audience” function as part of its algorithm, which identifies relevant channels from the millions of available gaming channels online.
The added value comes from the recommendations that Matchmade can make, based on the number of users that have played games similar to the target game type. During campaign creation, we ask you to guide us towards games that have a similar audience to yours. Based on the selections you make, our algorithm will suggest the influencers that will most effectively be able to boost your game.
e.g. If the audience for your game consists mainly of females over the age of 40, you can select popular titles aimed at the same group to achieve stronger results.