Engaging the Virtual Audience: The Role of Online Gaming in Modern Marketing


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In a highly competitive business field, brands cannot reach the top solely relying on billboards, social media posts, and merchandise. The current business landscape, with its limitless marketing methods, has raised the expectations of consumers. Traditional ads in typically expected locations no longer resonate with clients seeking creativity and out-of-the-box ideas; this is why companies are targeting their marketing efforts toward consumers’ gathering places, and what better place than online games? The extended hours many online gamers spend in front of their PCs and consoles create the perfect scenario for a brand to make its presence known.

In gaming, where virtual worlds come to life, the possibilities for innovative marketing strategies are endless. Take popular games like CS:GO, for instance, where players immerse themselves in intense competitive battles. While traditional ads may go unnoticed, brands have recognized the potential to reach gamers during these adrenaline-fueled moments. Similarly, sports betting platforms have found their niche within the gaming community, capturing the attention of enthusiasts who enjoy placing bets on their favorite teams.

Online card gaming has also evolved as a worldwide industry, and joining America’s go-to online gaming platform Ignition Poker showcases the size of this industry as players gather around virtual tables, strategizing and testing their skills in various available games. Therefore, brands strive to make their presence known by sponsoring high-stakes tournaments, offering exclusive rewards, or other forms of creative marketing.

In this article, we will walk you through the role of online gaming in modern marketing and provide real-life examples of successful campaigns.

The Growing Popularity of Online Gaming

Online gaming, the multi-billion-dollar industry, has exploded in popularity over the past two decades, with an estimated 1 billion online gamers worldwide and expectations to reach 1.3 billion in 2025.

This major industry welcomes gamers of all genders, preferences, and backgrounds. As an active, engaged, and enthusiastic audience, injecting an advertisement or video content is no better environment.

Building Brand Awareness through In-Game Advertising

Familiarizing clients with a brand requires some visual exposure, and achieving that in an organic, natural way through in-game advertisement grants online gaming marketing a huge advantage over other methods.

Brands can integrate their ads in front of an engaged audience by using highly viewable, non-disruptive messages. As a result, brands can gain global reach, considering that online gamers are distributed in every region on Earth.

Leveraging Influencer Marketing in the Gaming Community

According to surveys, influencer marketing has proved to be one of the most effective marketing tools. That’s attributed to the fact that virtual audiences will receive recommendations from people they love and trust, directly influencing their decisions.

Many successful influencer marketing campaigns have been conducted on platforms, such as Twitch and YouTube, as demonstrated in the following case study:

Ninja and Adidas Collaboration

The popular Twitch streamer and Fortnite star Tyler “Ninja” is no stranger to sponsorships, having previously entered into deals and collaborations with Samsung and Red Bull. However, apparel marketing through gaming influencers is a relatively new concept for Ninja and the influencing field in general.

Ninja has partnered with Adidas to release a new collection of sneakers called “Time In,” featuring his signature colors of blue and yellow and his branding on the sneaker’s tongue and sock liner. This collaboration proved a win-win scenario, with Adidas benefiting from Ninja’s large following and Ninja receiving significant financial compensation.

Gamification: Turning Marketing into Play

Gamification is the incorporation of gaming elements into non-gaming activities. Simply, it involves using games as part of a business’s marketing plan. This technique has been proven to motivate existing clients, attract new clients, and increase brand awareness.

Many businesses have successfully implemented this technique, and their success is measured through clients’ engagement, as demonstrated by the following case study.

Starbucks for Life

Starbucks for Life is an annual promotional game that typically takes place during the holiday season to engage customers. During the campaign, users are given one free chance every day to collect prizes, while additional gameplay can be purchased for an extra winning chance.

The grand prize is awarded to two users who will enjoy 30 years of free food and beverages from Starbucks’ standard menu. Additionally, 25 other winners receive the same privilege for six months.

Despite the promotion starting in 2014, it has had a significant impact and a great buzz. Each year, Starbucks customers are increasingly motivated to purchase, strengthening the emotional connection between customers and the brand. Customers enjoy games and challenges while simultaneously earning big prizes.

Engaging with the Gaming Community

Social media is where gamers voice their opinions and share their thoughts about everything, and gaming is no exception. So, when a brand engages with the gaming community on different social media platforms, it can develop an understanding of its target audience’s needs and preferences. Consequently, they can shape their online gaming marketing plan accordingly.


Marketing through online gaming has become a popular and effective method that many brands are currently utilizing. However, adding a special touch or an unprecedented idea to this approach can maximize its impact and create an unforgettable buzz.