Why phones can’t compete with gamers' focus (and how this benefits your brand)


The fight for attention is one of today’s biggest challenges as a marketer. There’s always something distracting the eyes of our audiences. How do we grab their fleeting attention and draw them into our (branded) stories? According to Alexander van der Pal member of our Gaming Intelligence team, the answer is quite simple: by leveraging the power of storytelling within gaming.

In this article, Alexander takes a deeper look at one of our industry’s biggest challenges and shows how games are used to overcome these.

Even though we keep inventing new ways to grab the attention of consumers, some audiences are harder to reach than ever before. When taking a closer look at why this is, one thing keeps popping up: how often people are on a second screen. Whether they're watching a show on Netflix, having dinner, hanging out with friends, at work and even on the toilet, it has become second nature to grab our phone. So, how can we reach today's consumers in a way that makes them forget about their phone and immerse themselves in just one story?

Reach your audience without distractions

If that’s your goal, you can't overlook gaming. When we look at the statistics, we see that during gaming, the percentage of people actively looking at a second screen is the lowest of almost all available media and even beating certain social activities. That means people are engaged in a way linear TV or even streaming services can’t achieve. But why?

That’s because games are so much more than many people think. The idea that games are just for kids and consist of mashing buttons is way off. It might have been something like that in the early days of gaming, but the world of gaming has evolved into a rich and story filled landscape. Not only have the graphics and gameplay evolved, but the stories and the way we tell them have as well.

How gaming has become such a powerful tool

With gaming, the possibilities for changing perspectives, decision making, character development, plot twists and sheer world-building are endless. That type of immersive and personalized storytelling is one of the biggest reasons players stay engaged, so engaged that even though they can’t get through their Netflix miniseries they can finish a 30-hour storyline in a game.

Hollywood has already picked up on this and is mass-developing TV shows and movies based on games. Look at The Last of Us or Super Mario Bros. Some of the most watched content worldwide last year. A few decades ago video games looked at movies and TV to find good stories; now, it’s the other way around.

It’s time to leverage the power of storytelling in gaming

But what potential does this have for brands? A lot. Tapping into the rich world that surrounds a game can create opportunities to connect with your target audience in a new and more meaningful way. The key insight here is to radically put players first. The way you advertise should never intervene with the player experience and should always be complementary to it. Or even better, enhance it.

The “Adopt a Stray” campaign is a well-executed example. This campaign was based around the game “Stray”, a massively popular game from 2022. In this game you play as a stray cat in a lost city, trying to survive. In partnership with FCB Chicago and Best Friends Animal Society, Fresh Step launched several mods for the game.  When playing these mods, the cats in the game were replaced with real cats which were in shelter at that time.

This way players learned more about the real cats and their unique personalities and stories. This resulted in a stronger bond between the player and the cat they controlled. By adding real cats, the game became more realistic and meaningful. This led to more awareness for shelter cats who are waiting for a new owner. Which in turn led to a 124% increase in adoption applications. These results and the way they used the possibilities within the game were rewarded with a Cannes Lion.

Make sure you do it the right way

To sum up. If you are a brand and you want to reach your audience, without them being distracted by a second screen, you have to consider exploring gaming. It’s an immersive and more personalized way to add value to content as a brand. When you do so, aim for more than just “being in a game”; seek relevant ways to tap into the story and enrich it.

Once you find a natural way into a game, you can begin to expand this approach and spread your insight across multiple media. But remember, to do this, you must put players first! Tell your story in a way that resonates with the gaming community, and you will be able to cut through the noise and convey your message.

Are you thinking of entering the world of gaming with your brand? And do you want to stay up to date on the latest trends and developments? Then make sure you follow us on Linkedin!

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