By Rumbi Pfende : Head of Advertising Europe - GameHouse

Following on from our last post, this week we will be looking at how Gaming compares to that old media stalwart, Radio. Let’s make this clear from the outset, there is no denying that Radio is still a big player in terms of the audience it reaches – Ofcom estimates that in 2012, there were more than 66 Million radio sets in the UK, equating to roughly one per person (Source: Ofcom, 2012). But, how effective is Radio in terms of carrying an advertising message? And how does Gaming fare as an alternative?

Just think for a moment about when you listen to the radio... in your car? at your desk? Gone are the days when the ‘wireless’ sat pride of place in the living room with the entire household huddled around it, listening intently. The fact is that nowadays, many people use the radio as ‘sound wallpaper’ –it’s a secondary, passive, background element to many people’s lives. Independent research, commissioned by GameHouse in 2012 found that almost 20 million people, (a massive one third of the UK population) are consuming less than 3 hours of radio per week (Source: NewZoo, 2012) so clearly, Radio is being consumed in a totally different way than it once was. But, this change in consumer preference should not be feared by the modern marketeer, it should be embraced.

Many see Gaming as the ‘new kid on the block’ in mainstream media terms and it has long been placed on the periphery of the Media advertising strategy. Gaming however, is rapidly gaining credibility as an advertising medium. It’s the media’s rising star, and now it’s beginning to threaten advertising’s ‘premier league’ players, especially Radio, which has seen a decline in recent years. Between 2009 and 2012, the total average time spent per week listening to the radio decreased by 13% for the UK population (Source: NewZoo 2009-2012). In sharp contrast, Gaming has enjoyed dramatic year on year growth, with total average time spent gaming per week more than doubling (a 109% increase) between 2009 and 2012 (Source: NewZoo 2009-2012).

The fact that gaming provides such massive levels of consumer engagement is incredibly powerful from a planner’s perspective. Your favourite game is at the front of your mind and therefore, any in-game adverts or product placement will also be by proxy. Whilst playing a game, a user is actively, positively, engaged with it. Radio in comparison is an altogether more passive medium, you choose your level of engagement with the content– allowing you to drift in and out of it.

Furthermore, Gaming has undergone something of a revolution in recent times – no longer is it the sole preserve of nerdy teens and the ‘bingo brigade’, Gamers now come in all shapes and sizes, ages and genders. GameHouse’s independent research into Gaming demographics found that there is now a 50/50 gender split and a near even distribution across the age ranges (Source: NewZoo, 2012).

So next time you’re sat in your office or in the car, think about how responsive you are to radio messaging - are you listening or just hearing? Gaming may not possess the Premier League history and reputation that Radio has enjoyed throughout the years, but what it lacks in history, it more than makes up for in user engagement and progressive growth. With over half the UK population (33 Million people) actively playing games (Source: NewZoo, 2012), surely now is the time for this rising star to gain promotion to the Premier League?

See last week’s piece on how Gaming compares to TV here:

Published on: 12:51PM on 21st February 2013