Why grocery giant Kroger made the leap into mobile game advertising

2020/11/17 Innoverview Read

When the topic of video games comes up, most people — and many marketers — tend to think of a particular demographic: young men playing consoles like Xbox and PlayStation at home. But a surge in mobile gaming during the pandemic has shown that the category commands an increasingly diverse user base, including women over 18, spurring more non-endemic brands to jump in.

Kroger, the 137-year-old grocery giant, is a standout example: It recently gave its first crack at mobile game advertising with a display campaign that showed promising enough results that the tactic could become a bigger part of the marketer's playbook as larger disruptions threaten to roil the ad industry, executives indicated. The effort ran across multiple gaming apps, according to a spokesperson, but the brand declined to share which ones.

"As an audience-first advertiser, we were planning for a campaign that was designed around a specific strategic target of ours that skews younger, female, parent," Kendra Clune, associate media director at Kroger, said during a session at the Mobile Marketing Association's Smarties Unplugged Virtual event Wednesday. "We had data that said this group of customers really indexes high with mobile gaming."

The company's first toe-dip into mobile gaming drove efficient CPMs, higher engagement and higher conversion rates, Clune said, although the executive didn't share specific figures. But beyond offering the right audience match, the experiment keyed into two areas of growing importance to Kroger's messaging during the COVID-19 crisis: keeping up with customers who are making the leap to mobile and appearing in brand-suitable environments at a particularly volatile moment for media.

"This was also a campaign that was leading up to the election. We were looking for places that we could have content that wouldn't get lost in the clutter of some of those negative campaign ads," Clune said. "We saw that as an opportunity, kind of killing two birds: reaching the right audience and a great ad space."

Channel chaser

Mobile gaming giant Zynga, which also was present on the MMA panel but is not a Kroger partner, has scored a heavy windfall due to the pandemic as people spend more time seeking entertainment at home. The company behind titles like "Words With Friends," "FarmVille" and "Toon Blast" saw revenue jump 46% year-on-year to a record $503 million in third-quarter earnings reported last week, while the number of daily active users — a key metric of audience growth — grew 53% to 31 million for the period.

The blowout figures could be attributed to blue-chip marketers seeking safe media spaces to promote their brands, as well as the gaming company's aggressive acquisitiveness in recent months, when it's nabbed rising developers including Peak (behind the aforementioned "Toon Blast") and Rollic.

(Source: Mobile Markerter https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/why-grocery-giant-kroger-made-the-leap-into-mobile-game-advertising/588862/ )