E3 is Christmas for YouTube advertisers

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Trying to reach gamers on mobile might not be the best idea. During the run-up to E3, anyway.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo—more commonly known as the gaming world's biggest conference of the year, E3—may be a few weeks away, but something counter-intuitive is already happening with view rates on YouTube among gaming audiences leading up to the event. Marketers who advertise on YouTube may want to pay attention.

View rates on desktop YouTube videos climb as high as 23 percent during E3 season, a full 5 percent higher than phones and 4 percent higher than tablets, according to a recent study by the social media advertising firm Strike Social.

"You can find hours and hours of gaming content on YouTube ... Watching this content is taken very seriously, which we can tell by the desktop view rate of the gaming industry," says Jason Nesbitt, VP of media and agency operations at Strike Social. "These viewers are willing to hunker down in front of a computer to take in this content rather than consume brief content on their smartphones."

This means marketers—particularly those targeting gamers before and during E3—may be misplacing ad dollars by investing too heavily into mobile. Additionally, many marketers still play into the male gamer stereotype. While gaming is a top category for men on YouTube, women share the same view rates, especially around E3 when the view rates are about 24 percent.

"It's unclear why the female view rate soars in May: We know that gaming advertisers are missing out by ignoring it," Nesbitt says.

Even beyond E3, gaming dominates YouTube. It dominates in culture in general. Yet, gamers are still viewed as a niche demographic by many. If nothing else, E3 represents an opportunity to connect with a massively engaged audience at a time when they are consuming more video, and staying with videos longer.

"There is a ton of hype around this event, and as a result, a lot of content is created. People are going to YouTube in droves to consume this content, so hitting the right people at the right time can pay off huge if you do it right," Nesbitt says. "Just based on the sheer amount of gamers on YouTube, there is a good chance that someone who is interested in your brand or product is also a gamer. The way to approach this is to test this targeting group out for your brand."