Cultivating Active Audiences is the key to brand relevancy and gaining exponential growth

21st March 2024 by David Fenlon

Gaming content highlights where the media industry is headed for engaging active audiences

Active vs. passive audiences

One of the main battlegrounds of the future of advertising is how brands adapt their message between active and passive audiences. This is a split between the live audiences that proactively interact with the content as it is released and everyone else. Active audiences, whilst much smaller in comparison, tend to be both highly influenced by any calls to action present in the content(1) and influential to passive audiences. In contrast, passive audiences tend to have a significantly greater reach. Together they make a community of interest: they are both very valuable to brands and require nuanced and integrated approaches.

Active audiences were unleashed with the rise of social media platforms – suddenly brands were messaging loosely associated groups that could answer back immediately or take the message and run with it. Viral campaigns such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge saw mass mobilization of online audiences resulting in over $220m in donations for the charity.(2)

What this showed was that communities of interest needed community advertising. This methodology switched out generic advertising messages for a more contextually relevant approach. This appeals to active and passive audiences in different ways and requires careful management of the feedback loop from the community. Fortunately, this has been accompanied by a variety of tools to help marketers navigate and optimize their campaigns.


Community advertising through verticals such as gaming use metrics which strongly enrich the CPM / CPT ones of old. Not only do streaming platforms, influencers, and gaming sponsorships look at the overall number of impressions, reach and frequency of any message; but they crucially take into account concurrent viewership (CCV) and the content it is associated with. Whilst this primarily is a Twitch metric, this means that brands can measure in real time when and why engagement spikes and plummets. It also allows for measurement of the performance of the associated content / messaging with it. Thus, they can determine which advertising message is relevant to that content, and which is given short shrift by the community. This increases both a brand’s nimbleness to respond to audiences positively and the compliance of any media owner / platform where content is being consumed.

Gaming content as a tonic to the risks of a highly active audience

We have learnt through these metrics that audiences are far more discerning with content than previously because of the choice available to them. Our main finding on this is that contextual relevancy is key for successful engagement. Furthermore, audiences are trending towards niche areas which mirror their interests, and with social media functionality being the standard for most applications this has built strong communities with clear identities and interests. They are highly engaged, can be deeply affected by messaging delivered to them, and can mobilize en masse quickly.

Active audience participation can be tricky to manage. The risk of the messaging being highjacked and taken in a direction not anticipated increases in these circumstances. Herein lies the rub: the upside is potentially enormous, but the downside can be disastrous if the messaging or subject matter of engagement is poorly positioned. On the one hand the success of Prime, the soft drink by KSI and Logan Paul, stemmed from huge community mobilization which meant at one point they could charge $120 per bottle – an outrageous margin (4). On the other, Bud Light suffered a 30% drop in sales following a boycotting of the product by their core audience in response to a post by Dylan Mulvaney (something that was not Mulvaney’s fault)(5).

Gaming advertising provides an opportunity to raise active engagement and its related upsides whilst minimizing risk. This is because gaming content is innately interactive, non-political, and self-contained. It is quite easy to identify controversial areas to navigate around depending on a brand’s risk appetite. This is as simple as deciding which games a brand is willing to associate with and which it is not. The media owners in this area are often proactive in their recommendations for successful activations and tend to have a good feel for what will land well. This typically revolves around how the brand relates to the common point of interest: the game itself. A decent community analysis combined with a clear plan to integrate into the content will drive relevancy and sales. It’s all about approach.

Gaming content shows the future of audience measurement

Concurrent viewership metrics on the likes of Twitch and, to a lesser extent, Youtube could prove to be a game changer for measuring brand awareness, engagement and consideration. The power of these have gone somewhat under the radar as they have predominantly applied to influencer and esports streams. In these lies a goldmine of data points which brands can react to.

Furthermore, the value of a concurrent view significantly outweighs an impression. The format drives more active audiences and gives a more accurate picture of what is going on. Not only can audience behavior and reactions be measured, but it is difficult to game. There is no obvious financial incentive for fraudulent bots to dwell on streams as their presence does not guarantee more money for any party. It would be both very expensive and highly speculative for a fraudster to have bots idly sat on streams pretending to be active users. Realistically there is easier money to be made from simple CPM or CPC models which have guaranteed returns.

This is an exciting opportunity for brands and provides a transparency into audiences that marketers have never had before. Gaming audiences are accustomed to this approach and brands should trial it via gaming media campaigns for best results. With the right brand safety parameters in place, brands can hit great ROI on their campaigns whilst mitigating the risk attached to this new media.


(1) Active Audience Theory

(2) https://www.nationalgeographic....

(3) Typical figures found in MEG campaigns verified by StreamsCharts