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A guide to video game advertising on YouTube

While a solid 49% of Americans regularly play video games, many advertisers are failing to reach them where it matters most: on YouTube.

At Strike Social, we examined a year’s worth of YouTube campaigns across 25 industries in the U.S., using our proprietary artificial intelligence, machine-learning and data science tools. In doing so, we discovered that valuable gaming audiences, such as females, older adults and business professionals, often go ignored by advertisers.

The global games market is projected to produce $212.4 billion in 2026. If you’re trying to reach gamers around the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — one of the biggest gaming events of the year and a prime time to showcase new trailers and demos on YouTube — you should adjust your marketing plan now to get the most for each ad dollar spent.

The tips listed in our free guide (available for download below) are designed to help you succeed when trying to reach new audiences, especially gamers.

So what do gaming advertisers get wrong?

When investing in video game ads, advertisers either go too broad around the “gamer” interest or too narrow around sub-interests like “first-person gamers” and leave their entire campaigns at that. What advertisers need to realize is that gamers visit YouTube to watch more than just gaming videos.

Strike Social’s data proves that the gaming audience is much more diverse than most media plans assume — and failing to account for these nuances only leads to lower view rates and a higher cost-per-view.

Another issue is that many brands assume all gamers are younger males. Our data, however, shows that isn’t the case at all. In fact, women have a higher monthly view rate than men in the second half of the year. Women displayed better results as early as May, when their VR was 38%, while men’s was lower, at 30%. In spite of this, the gaming industry allocates 84% of its YouTube ad budget to men versus 10% to women and 6% to people listed as unknown.


Our report also finds that gaming brands see the second-lowest view rateout of the 25 industries studied, coming in just above retail, when it should be the highest, considering how ripe the gaming market is. In fact, according to Newzoo, the U.S. gaming market brought in $24 billion in revenue last year.

How to improve your YouTube video game advertising plan

To succeed around E3, you can improve your YouTube campaigns by adding audiences, getting more niche and knowing how to optimize in a smart, scalable way.

Breaking up YouTube campaigns into hundreds of micro-campaigns is the best way to get a much better return on ad spend. That way, you can multivariate test and shift your ad dollars to the targeting groups that are performing the best in real time.

Advertisers should also experiment with targeting that goes beyond males. Our report offers numerous suggestions for more sophisticated targeting. As a start, here are some of the groups that tend to respond well to gaming ads:

  • World music fans
  • Business professionals
  • Females

Another tip is to keep an eye on trends across other industries, setting clear benchmarks for view rate and cost-per-view. The highlights of our findings across the 25 industries analyzed include:

  • Seasonality isn’t gender neutral, with women and men having different patterns for peak VR and CPV at various times of the year.
  • Older audiences (those 45+) are more expensive to reach but also more likely to watch YouTube ads.
  • VR on computers is significantly higher than on phones or tablets.

Upgrade your YouTube video game advertising plan

Take these tips into consideration, and check out our free data report when setting up and managing your YouTube campaigns, especially around E3. We also recommend 24/7 optimization in order to reach audiences when YouTube views are at their peak (between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. during the week as well as throughout the entire weekend).

When most media teams have gone home and are asleep, a lot of gamers are just getting started. So make sure you have a plan to optimize your YouTube campaigns around the clock. Otherwise, you won’t be hitting your targets at critical hours — and you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table.

Expand your expertise. Browse Strike Social’s latest blogs here:


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