Livewire’s CEO: ‘Now is the time for brands in gaming’

Advertisers need simple solutions to bring their thinking into gaming

Earlier this year, global gaming marketing company Livewire expanded internationally, opening a new global office in London and appointing Tom Simpson as CEO.

Overseeing Livewire’s vision, purpose, and positioning, Simpson brings 20 years of experience to the role. He recently spoke to MediaCat Magazine about Livewire’s global presence and the future of gaming marketing.

Can you tell us more about your plans for expanding Livewire’s global presence, including the new London office, and what markets you are looking to enter next?

Tom Simpson

Here’s how we see it: Social media ad spend currently sits at $268bn annually, and the growth of social media ad spend has been the story of the past 15 years. Gaming ad spend is $97bn — but the majority of current gaming ad spend rests on endemic gaming businesses, mostly mobile gaming. The big opportunity is opening up the gaming ecosystem to brands, and that’s exactly what we’re aiming to capture with Livewire. It’s a global brief.

So our new London office will be the strategic hub for our European expansion. We’ve already got an awesome team on the ground to help us grow our business in the region and build relationships with brands and agencies. We’ve also recently expanded into North America and are currently hiring there. These new markets supplement our existing footprint in Australia and Asia. We will be strategic about our approach, targeting markets where we see the biggest opportunity for growth.

With your experience in tech, growth, marketing, and startups, what key insights do you bring to Livewire’s leadership, and how do you plan to leverage your background for the company’s growth?

If you’re trying to say I’m old, you’re probably right! But yes, after 20 years in this business, I have a pretty good understanding of the tech industry, the challenges and opportunities facing startups, and how to grow a business. One of my key priorities is building a world-class team of experts in gaming advertising — people are always the core differentiator. We actually do incredibly well here already, and I’m blown away by the breadth and depth of talent in the business.

We also want to invest in developing innovative marketing and tech solutions that meet the needs of both brands and gamers.

Given the rising importance of gaming as a media vertical, what opportunities do you see for Livewire, in terms of engaging with gaming audiences?

Marketers and agencies are beginning to catch up with consumer behaviour and media habits — and with gaming now the most engaged media audience of all media verticals with 37% of consumption time, gaming is the next major touchpoint to reach a highly-engaged, fast-growing and diverse audience. The opportunity for brands in gaming is huge and we’ve proven this with the fast growth the business has achieved since its inception, two years ago.

With your background in gaming marketing, what trends do you see shaping the future of gaming advertising?

Gaming is by far the largest channel for connecting with Gen Z, and it’s going to keep growing. It’s now a space where brands can reach customers at scale. In fact, mobile gaming has a higher audience than social media in many markets. It’s still true that the most successful mediums (just like the most successful content) are socially driven. Part of this is purely social pressure — the ‘watercooler’ effect means that in order to participate in culture, you need to consume specific media. We’ve seen this dynamic played out countless times before, in TV, sport, movies, music … the list goes on.

As more people play games, the social and cultural importance of participating, the ‘fun’ of gaming, and the signalling value of being ‘good’ at gaming, or owning specific items within games, all increase.

Gaming has become a massive and diverse industry. How does Livewire plan to tailor its advertising strategies to cater to different segments of the gaming audience?

Gaming isn’t about platforms or titles, it’s about the audience, the people. It’s built on human insight, innovation, community and culture; delivered at the scale of billions of engaged gaming eyeballs. The gaming audience is highly diverse, and gamers have different preferences when it comes to advertising. In many ways the concept of a ‘gamer’ is already redundant in a world where everyone games.

Livewire uses a variety of targeting methods, such as demographics, interests, and in-game behaviour built on our data and smart programmatic tech, to tailor advertising strategies to cater to different segments of the gaming audience

We are also developing new advertising formats that are specifically designed for different types of games. For example, we are developing shorter ad formats for mobile games, and more immersive ad formats for console and PC games.

What is your vision for bridging the gap between traditional advertising and gaming, and how do you plan to make gaming advertising more accessible to a broader range of brands?

For us, connecting brands, consumers and gaming publishers is a win-win-win — publishers get more investment, meaning consumers get better experiences, and brands get access to billions of engaged eyeballs. This is as long as it’s done well, and sensitively to build out a better ecosystem, and that’s our key focus. Advertisers need simple, scalable solutions to bring their thinking into a gaming environment. Everything we do, we do for the love of the game — take traditional brands and make them gaming native.

How is Livewire staying at the forefront of technological advancements to deliver advertising solutions to clients?

Our focus is simple: building and acquiring the strategic, tech, data and creative capabilities to help marketers win in this new paradigm. For example, we’re developing new ad formats that leverage emerging technologies, such as retail media, augmented reality and virtual reality. We are also working with game developers to create sponsored content and in-game product placements.

We are also investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve our targeting and measurement capabilities. This will allow us to deliver more effective advertising campaigns for our clients.

Now is the time for brands to get into gaming — it’s how brands are growing in this next generation.

Featured image: Yan Krukau / Pexels

Grace Gollasch, Former Content and Social Media Editor at MediaCat Magazine

Grace relocated from Australia to London in July 2023, joining the MediaCat Magazine team in September 2023. Before making the move, Grace spent a year and a half at Mediaweek, Australia’s largest media trade publication, where she was a journalist and social media manager.

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