New Xbox and PlayStation launches ‘will bring halo effect for brands’

Nov 9, 2020 | Marketing through gaming, Online advertising

New Xbox and PlayStation launches ‘will bring halo effect for brands’
There is an opportunity for brands to engage with video gamers, as the launch of new consoles may inspire new interests and purchases - from football to fishing, according to new research.

As Microsoft and Sony release their latest game consoles over the next fortnight, advertisers should consider opportunities to reach gamers in unexpected places. That’s according to new insights from eBay Ads UK, which reveal how new game launches fire up the nation’s gamers and inspire them to shop, not just for consoles and accessories, but for fishing, gardening and football equipment too – a halo effect that could be amplified during national lockdowns.

Key findings include:

• In the week that FIFA 20 was released in 2019, searches for ‘football shirt’ rose 39% compared to the week before
• Two weeks after the release of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons in March 2020, searches for ‘seeds’ and ‘gardening’ rose 246% and 150% respectively
• Gamers invest in new equipment around releases – on the day that Nintendo released its latest game in the Legend of Zelda series, Link’s Awakening, searches for ‘controller’ on ebay.co.uk rose 29% overnight

While the worlds created by video games are virtual, an analysis by eBay Ads of keyword searches by the 32 million unique users on its UK site demonstrate the power of games to inspire real world interests, passions and purchases, and the extended opportunity for brands to connect with gamers outside of the usual gaming categories. In the week FIFA 20 was released in September 2019 – some six weeks after the new premier league season kicked off – fans showed renewed interest in ‘the beautiful game’, and searches for ‘football’ and ‘football shirts’ on ebay.co.uk shot up 17% and 39% respectively, compared to the previous week.

And, with the beginning of lockdown also coinciding with the release of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons (on 20th March) – an instant lockdown hit, Nintendo sold over 11.71 million copies worldwide in its first 2 weeks – the game’s wholesome and lockdown friendly tasks, such as gardening and home decoration, may have also prompted people to take up these activities in real life. Two weeks after the game was released, searches for ‘home décor’ surged 92%, searches for ‘seeds’ and ‘gardening’ sprung 246% and 150% respectively – and searches in the Home & Garden category grew 47%. Meanwhile, with many players enjoying a spot of fishing in the game, searches for ‘angling’ and ‘fishing’ leapt 42% and 21% – despite the sport being banned under lockdown rules.

As expected, there are still plenty of opportunities for brands to engage with gamers looking to invest in their gaming set up, too. On 20th September 2019, the day that Nintendo released its latest game in the Legend of Zelda series, Link’s Awakening, many fans looked to get the best gear for their gaming experience. Searches for ‘controller’ on ebay.co.uk rose 29% overnight, and searches for ‘HDTV’ jumped 88% in the same time frame. Meanwhile, in the week that FIFA 20 was released ebay.co.uk saw search volume for ‘surround sound’ amplified by 29%, compared to the previous week. Interest for consoles shot up too, with searches rising 38% for the keyword ‘Xbox’, 37% for ‘PlayStation’ and 42% for ‘Nintendo’ in the same time period.

Harmony Murphy, GM Advertising UK at eBay, commented: “In recent years gaming may have moved up the agenda as a channel to reach highly engaged audiences, but these new insights demonstrate that video games also play a powerful role in inspiring consumer behaviour, passions and purchases beyond the platform and the category. And, with new exciting games and consoles lined up to launch in the next days, weeks and months, advertisers have ample opportunities to reach these vast and varied gaming audiences. But, with so much changing right now – including people’s habits and interests – brands need to ensure they’re using the freshest possible data insights to inform their audience and targeting strategies.”
With findings from the first national lockdown revealing a surge in interest in gaming related products on ebay.co.uk, brands should also be ready to connect with lockdown gamers as people look for ways to keep themselves busy over the next few weeks. In the first week of the March lockdown, searches for ‘gaming pc’ jumped 32% compared to the previous week, climbing a further 27% in the second week of lockdown. Meanwhile, consumer research commissioned by eBay Ads at the end of the first lockdown indicates that the numbers of gamers grew during this period, with an additional 9% of the UK adult population claiming to have taken up playing video games as way to entertain themselves.

Ahead of Black Friday, analysis by eBay Ads also suggests that brands could have an extended opportunity to reach the gaming audience, as savvy shoppers put key items of equipment on their wishlist and wait for the sales. When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released on Xbox, PlayStation and Windows on 25th October 2019, ebay.co.uk saw a small but significant uplift in search volume for gaming equipment, compared to the previous week: searches rose 8% for ‘headset’; 8% for gaming mouse’; and 12% for ‘gaming chair’. However, the site saw much bigger uplift interest in these same items in November – most likely due to people waiting for Black Friday deals. From the first to the last week of November 2019, weekly search volume for keywords ‘headset’, ‘gaming mouse’ and ‘gaming chair’ jumped 21%, 20% and 70% respectively.

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