Gaming is usually associated with young men, but a report tells advertisers they have two untapped audiences: women and the unknowns.

Strike Social, a company that focuses on social media advertising, analyzed a year’s worth of YouTube campaigns from the U.S. across 25 industries, paying particular attention to gaming. Their findings were published in the report, "Game On: How YouTube Advertisers Can Reach the E3 Audience."

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U.S. gaming revenue in the U.S. in 2016 was $23.5 billion, the second largest market behind China ($24.4 billion) by revenue globally, the report said. Forty-nine percent of Americans play video games, with 10 percent specifically identifying as “gamers,” the Pew Research Center found. Data also show nearly the same proportion of men and women report playing videos games, 50 percent men and 48 percent.

Ignoring this information, advertisers tend to target men rather than women, which can be a mistake.

“All too often, gaming media plans tend to target a mostly male audience,” the report said. “But at Strike Social, we see that campaigns targeting females perform just as well in both VR [view rates] and CPV [cost-per-views].”

Men accounted for 84 percent more of the ad spend in the gaming industry compared to averages in all industries. However, the report found ad campaigns that target women perform just as well as men when it comes to view rates — 23.9 percent for males and females. Cost-per-view numbers are also at the same level, with women being just a bit more expensive than men, 49 cents to 46 cents, respectively.

The report found the month of May is a good time for advertisers to reach women as female view rates jump to 38 percent. Meanwhile, view rates among men remain flat at 30 percent in May and tend to do better in January.

“Men have a slightly higher VR and lower CPV at the beginning of the year,” the report said. “Women, meanwhile, consistently have a higher VR in the second half of the year while having a higher CPV almost all of the year.”

Here’s a breakdown by month:

social strike gaming ads report gender Gaming ads report: cost per view and view rates broken down by gender and month. Photo: Strike Social

The Unknowns

The report suggests advertisers shouldn’t focus on just men and women since there’s another category that performs significantly better than average: the unknowns.

This group is called the unknowns because there isn’t much demographic data on them. Demographic information on a user is obtained when a person edits ad settings and is logged onto a site from which Google gets information, such as YouTube. If the user isn’t signed in to his or her account, Google uses activity on its various properties to identify certain actions that can help categorize people. It then stores that data on people’s web browsers using a cookie. However, not everyone surfs the web logged onto Google accounts.

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The unknowns are actually pretty good for advertisers and could be the key improve view rates and cost per view, Strike Social said.  

Here’s a graph that shows the unknowns have a lower cost per view and more view rates, compared to men and women.

Gaming ads report social strike Gaming ads report: women vs. men vs. unknown. Photo: Strike Social

Why The Unknowns Perform Better

Strike Social lists three reasons why the unknowns do better than men and women. First, there’s less competition per person, which means costs per view are lower. Second, ads for unknowns are based on behavior rather than exclusive demographic information, which leads to higher view rates. And third, the unknowns are less targeted since advertisers are skeptical about reaching out to groups that are not within their target market.

The full report can be read online here.