Digital marketing startup bidstack has unveiled a native in-game advertising platform, allowing brands to target ad content, tapping into a captive audience of 2.2 billion gamers.

The announcement represents a unique addition to the established and growing native advertising industry, which accounted for £1.17 billion in ad spend in 2016 across the UK, just under a third of that of display advertising.

The platform will be rolled out gradually across video game titles, beginning with Sport Interactive’s Football Manager 2018.

Uninterrupted advertising

“Video games offer perhaps the largest untapped digital advertising audience ever,” said founder & CEO, James Draper; “This is largely because games and ads have never mixed well — games are all about the experience and ads are seen as an interruption. We wanted to change that.”

Advertising in the video game industry has been a notoriously tricky area owed to a lack of scalable methods and the overall negative impact on the ‘escapist’ experience of gaming, which saw game publishers generally avoid ad platform partnerships, commented Draper.

“We discovered the answer was to make in-game ads completely native, meaning they feel like they’re meant to be in the game. That way, the player’s experience goes completely uninterrupted,” he added.

According to bidstack, publishers will be able to serve ad content directly into video games, allowing players to see the ads while playing online. Advertisers will have the flexibility to target their audience on parameters such as location, time of day and gaming title, and track impressions and engagement in real-time.

Utilising bidstack in the forthcoming Football Manager 2018, Miles Jacobson, studio director of SEGA’s Sports Interactive said the in-game pitch-side advertising offers a “perfect route” for advertisers to reach out to football fans in a “more authentic environment”.