OOH Advertising and the Video Game Industry

cyberpunk 2077's yellow poster

The video game industry has been booming more than ever in the past decade, with impressive transformations in all areas from gaming consoles, to game development, to distribution methods, it has become a huge portion of the entertainment industry today. With gaming companies experiencing exponential growth, implementing marketing strategies through various advertising mediums, including outdoor advertising, is becoming of greater importance. In this article, we will take a look at how OOH plays a crucial part in a successful gaming advertising campaign and how it’s been thriving especially in the middle of the pandemic, along with some cool examples.

billboard for the game Call of Duty: Black Ops, with the text "There's a soldier in all of us"

The industry

The video game industry is extremely affluent when it comes to monetary investments and spending into  gaming development and marketing. Yamis Mallat, the current CEO of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios, had this to say about the growth of the industry, “My take is that the industry will strengthen its place as one of the main pillars of the entertainment industry”. NPD reports that, during this year’s holiday season, consumers’ spending on video games is expected to reach $13.4 billion, especially with the hype around the recent launches of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S.

So why OOH advertising for video games?

PS4's poster of the game Red Dead Redemption 2, with the text, "Kill Covid-19 by killing deer. Play Red Dead Redemption 2. At home."

Target audience

To contradict the common misconception that video games are mainly for children and teens, a survey carried out by the Entertainment Software Association in 2019, has found that the average age of a gamer in the U.S. is 33 years old. Additionally, roughly 65% of Americans play video games with the ratio between male and female gamers being rather balanced and male players leading only by 6%. Statista also reported that in 2020, 72% of gamers are over 18 years old. This means that the main demographic for gaming products and services is actually millennials and gen Z. In another recent study, WPP’s data research and consulting division Kantar Millward Brown has found that these generations still prefer more traditional ad formats. In particular, OOH is the most popular among the mix of mediums for gen Z-ers, taking up 55% of positive perception.

Standing out in the mix

When compared to online advertising, OOH has some interesting advantages. One of its most prominent features is the inability to be skipped or blocked. Due to millennials and gen Z’s preference for video on-demand and social media, where constant and repetitive ads can get highly saturated, brands are finding it harder to stand out from the crowd and reach the right target audience. For this reason, along with the fact that the attention span of millennials and gen Z are much shorter than the previous generations, 12 and 8 seconds respectively, it has become a challenge for online advertising to keep consumers engaged. This is where OOH can shine, as giant and colorful billboards can easily bring the attention towards them, while they also tend to blend right in with the surroundings and seamlessly become a part of everyone’s daily lives.

2-story bus wrapped in PS4's promo of the new Spider-man game

Synergy Effect

Another key feature of OOH advertising is how it can work hand in hand with other mediums, creating a synergic effect in boosting consumer awareness. According to a research from Ocean Neuroscience, consumers are 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad after being exposed to the same ad on OOH first. Another study from Nielsen also indicates that almost 50% of the population who’ve viewed an OOH ad tend to actively look up the ad of that product or service online. In today’s society, where a product can be purchased with just one single click, this can be really great for the video game industry – since it has become more and more common to sell games online through well-known digital distribution channels like Steam, GOG, or mobile app stores.Rather than going to game stops to get the physical copies, gamers now have the convenience of buying their favorite games from home. 

Another study conducted by COOMB has also shown that OOH is in the top 3 highest media revenue ROI and works better with any other channel in a media mix. Whether it’s with traditional outlets like radio or television, or digital like online advertising, OOH’s strength is to be able to make up for what the other mediums lack, as well as push the campaign’s success even further.

billboard painting on wall by Nintendo Switch, promoting Super Mario Maker 2

Huge profit for a small price

Money invested and ROI are both important aspects when a company chooses their preferred advertising medium, or a mix of a few, to best reach their audience while being cost-effective. OOH is proven to be just that. PJSolomon’s report in July 2019 reported OOH’s Cost Per Mille/Thousand Impression (CPM) rate has a much better percentage of advertising effectiveness when compared with a mix of 4 other main advertising channels (print, online, radio, and television). Even in the case of digital OOH with a higher cost than even billboards, it is the most effective way to make consumers remember a product or service.


Playstation 5 Launch

PS5's billboard with the tagline "Play has no limits"

The latest PlayStation console was set to release globally just last week, beginning on November 12 in the U.S. and Japan. It’s not surprising that whenever a new console comes out, it always creates a buzz in the gaming world – now even more so as its main competitor also released new consoles around the exact same time.

In order to raise the hype of the public, Sony started their “Play has no limits” campaign, starting with a few well-made trailers. On the streets of the U.K., numerous busses and billboards showcased the slogan, some with the images of the console, some with the background of their new featured game Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – a game that’s been hogging all the attention this launch. Additionally, there have been some demo stations set up in the giant retail chain BestBuy.

Pokémon Go

Pokemon GO's billboard in London's subway, with the text, "World leaders in financial services, the arts and Poke ball throwing. GO London"

When it comes to gaming OOH advertising, Pokémon GO is the poster child. Introduced back in 2016, the game by Niantic Labs has been leading the industry in a whole new way through an innovative gaming experience using Augmented reality (AR), a technology that allows live, real-time views of a blend between the physical environment and computer-generated elements. 

While the initial intention was to encourage players to get outside and interact with each other more, it became the perfect opportunity to pair with OOH advertising. Every year in celebration of its birthday, the game launches an OOH campaign around the world, putting up billboards that players can go to in order to get in-game event items. The company also takes advantage of their partnered-up brands’ billboards and posters by transforming their outlets into PokéStops.

E3 Expo

Twitch wrapping the stadium with its logo and the text "We saved you a seat in chat."

One important aspect of the video game industry is the annual trade fairs. The biggest and most important expo is held by the Entertainment Software Association called the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short. In events like this one, multiple game publishers and accessory manufacturers participate to introduce and advertise their upcoming games and game-related merchandise through new trailers and event booths. 

Last year, Twitch, the official streaming partner of E3, covered the convention outdoor space and the nearby areas with giant billboards, posters, and outlets that featured their signature purple and white color combo, as well as information about the event with the intention of increasing brand awareness and driving the traffic towards the site.


The gaming industry is changing constantly and becoming one of the main entertainment outlets in modern society. By taking advantage of OOH’s features both by itself and in a media mix, a game campaign can easily reach their target audience and leave a lasting impact.

Billboard saying "Thank you, Hello Games"

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