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What Ecommerce and Gaming Advertisers Can Learn from Each Other

Written by: Ryan Kelly, VP Marketing

Gaming and ecommerce companies may appear to be distinct and separate industries, but they’re united in one goal: getting consumers to take action online.

Like all businesses, both aim to acquire new customers and better monetize existing ones. But ecommerce and gaming companies are different than most businesses in that brand exposure and purchasing take place online where it’s easier to see what’s working and what isn’t.

"Retailers are masters at combining push notifications and ad retargeting to reach lapsed users. Gamers could do more of this type of outreach by running retargeting ads offering discounts for players with top scores."

Over the years, specific strategies have worked for both. Gamers focus on mobile and video advertising, while ecommerce companies excel at brand loyalty and dynamic ads and retargeting. Yet the lines between gaming and ecommerce aren’t so rigid. They can learn from each other’s strengths.

What ecommerce can learn from gamers

1. Don’t underestimate video

Ecommerce companies could learn a thing or two from gamers about online video. Our own Facebook advertising data shows gamers dedicated 88% of their ad spend to video in Q2 2018 versus 29% for e-commerce firms. Retailers are big TV advertisers, so it’s a bit of a mystery why their online video ad spend is so low.

To be fair, it’s harder for retailers to use video for ad retargeting. To do so effectively, you’d have to create a video for every product or stitch together static images to make a “flipbook” style ad. Since that’s labor-intensive, most rely on static images for retargeting. It’s simply easier for gamers to create video ads.

That doesn’t mean that ecommerce brands should lay off video. New formats such as Instagram and Facebook Stories are reinventing what video ads can be for retailers. Fashion brands especially could capitalize on short format video ads within Stories to show how clothes and shoes look on real people in the real world.

2. Up your mobile app game

Gaming publishers excel at making their native mobile apps engaging with vivid and interactive visuals and audio. How else can they stand out from the other 800,000 gaming apps in app stores?

Comparatively, retailers tend to present their native apps as a copy of their web sites. That’s a wasted opportunity. Retail apps should use all the tricks that gamers use, including colorful imagery, video, audio, movement and social sharing to make their apps more of an experience.

Related post: Navigating the 3 Ecommerce Audience Types

Some are doing that via AR (augmented reality). Large ecommerce players such as Amazon, Ikea, Wayfair and Target are using AR to let customers visualize through their phone screens how furniture and other items look in their homes. “The Gap’s “DressingRoom” feature applies AR to trying on clothes and Sephora’s “Virtual Artist” feature lets users virtually apply make-up using AR.

3. Timing is everything

Time-sensitive offers are another strategy ecommerce companies could poach from gamers. In the game Golf Clash, for instance, coin chests won’t open for four hours, prompting visitors to return.

Retailers have been known to use similar tactics. EBay, for instance, makes its bids time sensitive and users have to decide whether to bid up or abandon their bids. If they win a bid, they get a feeling of satisfaction. Most retailers, though, don’t use time-sensitivity as effectively as they could. I know I’d be motivated to buy that sweater sitting in my shopping cart if I get a discount for buying it before 5pm.

What gamers can learn from ecommerce

1. Retailers keep ’em loyal

Retailers are better at brand loyalty than gaming companies and keep customers coming back with loyalty programs and discounts. The king of loyalty programs is Amazon Prime, but L.L. Bean, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and many others have thriving loyalty programs.

Retailers are also masters at combining push notifications and ad retargeting to reach lapsed users. If a consumer has abandoned a shopping cart, retailers remind them of their intended purchase. Gamers could do more of this type of outreach, maybe by running retargeting ads offering in-app discounts for players with top scores.

2. Create your own content

Retailers prioritize content marketing in the form of blogs, buyer’s guides, catalogs and even — in the case of Costco — full-fledged publications. As proponents of content marketing know, content can be hugely helpful for a brand’s customer engagement, SEO (search engine optimization) and inbound marketing.

Related post: Report: Retailers’ Ad Budgets Favor Black Friday Over Cyber Monday

Few gaming companies make full use of content marketing though, preferring to rely on advertising instead. Some of the best-known mobile gaming companies don’t even have consumer-facing blogs.

3. Change with the seasons

Retailers are also great at releasing new and updated products throughout the year. Whether it’s a seasonal clothing line or holiday-related candy, gaming publishers could follow this tactic and tie in with events to give users new reasons to talk about their games.

One pioneer in the gaming space is Rovio, which has released Angry Birds Halloween and Angry Birds Star Wars. Subway Surfers, meanwhile, sets its game in different cities, while FIFA updates its game each year to incorporate the relevant players. Other gamers should follow suit and change with the seasons.

Walk through an interactive presentation of our 2018 Retail Holiday Ad Spend report

Holiday retailer ad spend

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