The Big Gamification in Canada

IAB Canada hosted a Business of Digital Marketing to Gamers event on January 20, 2022, taking in solid insights about the Canadian gamer landscape and its enormous potential for sweet-spot engagement across several platforms and environments.

We kicked off the discussion with a lay of the land in Canada. Over half the online population in Canada games and killing the notion that gaming is limited to Gen X, Pieter Van Rekom, Manager Corporate Sales at Quantcast shared Audience Planner stats indicating that only 24% of gamers are in their twenties. Shaking another misperception about the typical gamer profile, Van Rekom went on to highlight that a whopping 44% of Canadian gamers in 2021 were, in fact, women. 

This was followed by a panel moderated by Karim Kanji, Director, Active International featuring Amy Venier VP of Gaming & Esports, Fandom, Robert Rames, Account Director, Brand Partnerships, Enthusiast Gaming and Chris Lombardi President and Co-Founder, Apex Mobile. The panel went further into the details about the landscape with exciting insights about current opportunities as well as providing a glimpse into the future of advertising through gaming. The group spent time discussing the opportunities presented by the growth of eSports and cited how much this area of gaming has mainstreamed the channel for marketers. Touching on the idea that gaming offers an inclusive marketing environment, Rames described the eSports experience as one that offers everyone the opportunity to excel in the sporting arena who may not have had the opportunity in real life. 

Venier, expressing how marketing to gamers was in its infancy, talked about the challenge of segmentation and how critical it has become to understand the motivations of gamers as opposed to limiting strategy to one-dimensional targeting. The entire panel felt passionately that Canada is a global leader in game development with Montreal often being referred to as “the game development capitol of North America”. There were so many examples of Canada’s achievements that marketers should feel naturally drawn to show support by advertising in the sector. 

When looking at the future, Lombardi was firm about the importance of understanding environments and the different audiences that they bring. This is of particular importance as we head into cookieless environments. Contextual advertising takes on a new meaning when it comes to gaming and provides a whole new world that marketers can explore. Chris also felt that the future is in the metaverse stating that every brand is going to need some presence in the metaverse just as every brand once needed to have a website. Venier agreed and went further to describe the value of deeper partner integrations and more robust strategies that would respect privacy while leveraging the awesome technology that is rapidly evolving. Rames stressed the community aspect and made it clear that audience is the key to any strategy. He also expressed that the “play to earn” space is growing exponentially and reminded the audience that the digital assets that make up the digital version of ourselves is almost as important as our IRL personas.

Kevin Johnson, Senior Account Executive, Team Lead North America at Gameloft then took us through the sales funnel and how gaming can easily address each area. Gamification was key to his talk, and he described the ubiquity of this strategy across mainstream brands. Citing executions from the likes of Tim Hortons and Starbucks, Johnson made clear that awareness, engagement, and loyalty are all available through a gamified approach to marketing.

Sarah Looss, Head of Sales for the Americas at Twitch presented the dynamic capabilities of the live streaming channel that built its reputation solidly on the foundation of live gaming and showed several case studies that demonstrated how marketers could get in on the excitement of live-streaming experiences. 

To wrap up the discussion, Neal Pedersen, at MKTG, a sponsorship marketing agency subsidiary of Dentsu, described gamers as a diverse audience with different interests and touchpoints and went on to explain the importance of connecting with audience passions. This presentation provided a lot of food for thought on how to activate sponsorships and extend presence into branded content for maximum impact.

We would like to thank our presenters for an insightful afternoon of discussion. A big thanks also to our moderator, Shawn Lowe, VP, Growth & Partnerships, Time + Space and IAB Canada Atlantic Council Chair. 

Attendees will have access to all presentations and recordings.