Home Gaming Women-Led Gaming Agency Skip4 Launches To Grab More Media Budgets For Video Games

Women-Led Gaming Agency Skip4 Launches To Grab More Media Budgets For Video Games

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The in-game advertising hype cycle is encouraging more brands to lean in. And Skip4, a new gaming-focused ad agency led by women who proudly wear the “gamer” label, is leaning in to grow the channel’s share of media budgets.

The new venture, which launched today, was co-founded by President Erin Schendle and VP Rachel Alexander.

The idea is to educate brands about the ways they can reach the more than 3 billion gamers worldwide using targetable and measurable solutions, similar to how they would in other digital media channels, Schendle said.

“Gaming has become so mainstream in what we do in our personal lives, but it’s really not mainstream in marketing plans yet,” Schendle said. “That’s where we come in.”

Beyond sponsorships

The two founders have led partnerships for OpTic Gaming for the past two years. But they’ve worked together in various media marketing roles since the mid-2000s, including in radio for CBS and Cumulus Media and in TV for more than a decade at TEGNA’s WFAA Media. And they added fellow OpTic Gaming and TEGNA alum Sonya Artz to head up client services.

Together, they plan to help clients craft effective strategies for the gaming space using their experience bringing brands into media channels as they mature – like the co-founders did in their WFAA days during the rise of OTT and CTV, Schendle said.

One way they recommend brands tweak their gaming strategy is to think beyond video game and esports sponsorships, because the budgets for those can be limited, Schendle said, and tap into media budgets instead.

In-game and mobile ads should be a bigger part of media budgets because they can be bought programmatically, they’re just as targetable as other media formats, and they offer one-to-one connections with highly engaged audiences, she added.

Custom experiences

That being said, not every opportunity in gaming uses turn-key programmatic tech. Skip4 is also consulting with brands on custom in-game experiences, Alexander said. (Think of the Barbie Dream House Mattel built inside Roblox.)

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When it comes to custom experiences, Skip4 sees itself as the connective tissue between brands, the game developers who design those experiences and the platforms that host them, Schendle said, though she declined to name any partners at this time.

Building a content studio with in-house game development capabilities is on the road map for Skip4, but not an immediate priority, Schendle added. Instead, the company will prioritize growing its three-woman team by adding more sales and partnership support over the next six months to a year.

Besides, while custom experiences are currently trendy, they’re not a perfect fit for every brand, and there are plenty of opportunities that don’t require such a heavy lift, Alexander said.

All audiences

Instead of chasing what’s trendy, Skip4 defines a brand’s performance or branding goals and reverse-engineers a strategy that will work for them.

The company considers itself audience-agnostic, although brands seem most interested in reaching the 17-24 age range, Schendle said. That’s likely because it helps them future-proof by building loyalty with younger consumers while avoiding potential pitfalls associated with targeting ads to kids.

Most brands still need educating on the full audience opportunity available to them, Schendle said. For instance, some marketers are still surprised they can reach women, parents or people earning six figures through video games, she added.

In fact, Schendle and Alexander said they often meet with female CMOs and media buyers who play extremely popular games like Candy Crush but who don’t see themselves as part of the gaming audience. “So it’s helpful to have a group of women in the gaming space talking about this and leading the charge,” Schendle said.

But Skip4 wants to be clear that just because it’s led by women doesn’t mean it’s focused exclusively on women gamers.

“We’re all in for girl power,” Alexander said, “but we’re here to tell the story that everyone’s a gamer.”

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