Businesses Betting Big on Engagement through Gaming

As the gaming industry continues to grow and diversify, there is a great opportunity for businesses to advance their branding in new and innovative ways.

According to some recent statistics researched by Software Entertainment Association:

  • The average gamer is 30 years old and has been playing for 12 years. Sixty-eight percent of gamers are 18 years of age or older.
  • Forty-seven percent of all players are women and women over 18 years of age are one of the industry’s fastest growing demographics.Chex Quest game
  • As the video game playing population expands and diversifies, in-game advertisements and advergames are increasing as well. Massive, Inc., a creator of dynamic video game advertisements, estimates the in-game advertising market could grow to $1 billion globally by 2014.

A report by Newzoo indicates that the total number of Americans that play games on their smartphones, tablets or iPod Touches has now surpassed the 100 million mark, a year-over-year increase of 35 percent. In Europe, there has been a growth of 15 percent, for a total of 70 million gamers across seven key territories. Men slightly outnumber women in the U.S. (52 percent), as well as in key European countries (55 percent). Furthermore, the share of in-game spending continues to rise to 90 percent in the U.S. and 79 percent in Europe.

As marketing costs increase, it is becoming ever more important to be judicious about the types of audiences you attract and how you retain them. The more they interact with games, the more opportunities there are for in-game advertising or other engagement methods. Here are some ways companies are using gaming to “click” with their audiences.

Advertising in real-time with games.

From dedicated consoles to mobile devices and browsers, games are a multi-platform stage for brands to get in front of consumers. According to a research done by Forrester,almost 40% of Europeans ages 45 to 54 who are online are playing PC games at least weekly. And across mobile devices, more than 50% of U.S. adults ages 18 to 44 who are online, engage in game playing. Advertisers are tapping into this segment by placing their ads alongside browser-based games to integrate in-game advertising on consoles. Many of today’s in-game ad campaigns use dynamic advertising which, unlike static advertising, can be altered remotely by advertising agencies. Firms can tailor these ads to geographical locations or times of day, allowing more flexibility for time-sensitive campaigns, such as movie or product launches. Because dynamic ads do not have to be hard-coded into the games by programmers, advertisers no longer need to formulate and insert their messages months in advance.

Dynamic advertising also allows companies to track and receive information from players’ consoles about the performance of advertisements. Advertisers can record data, such as time spent looking at the ads, the most-viewed ads and the viewing angles, to determine the most successful ads and provide valuable insights for future campaigns.

Attracting potential customers through “advergaming”.

The term “advergaming” refers to organizations that develop video games to promote products or services. Companies are providing interactive games on their websites in the hope that potential customers will be drawn to the games and spend more time on the sites or simply become more product-aware. In recent years, advergames have proliferated, often becoming the most visited areas of websites and helping to reinforce brands in the minds of potential customers. Users registering to be eligible for prizes help marketers by sharing valuable personal details for their databases. Gamers may also invite their friends to participate, which further promotes brands through word of mouth. Some examples of early adopters of this technique are Taco Bell, Reebok, Coca Cola and Chex Quest.

Taco Bell tasty Temple Run

Using games to motivate customers.

As the generation that grew up with video games enters and assumes leadership positions in the work place, computer and video games increasingly play a role in business operations. Major companies from automobile manufacturers to beverage producers use video games to find and train employees and increase sales among their younger, tech-savvy customers. A gaming environment rewards people for their interest and engagement. Chances to play games and win prizes are much stronger calls to action than simple invitations to click through to websites because the incentives are greater. According to a Gameasure/Interpret study, consumers actively engaged in contests and games online are 22 percent more likely than the general population to seek information about new products and 36 percent more likely to switch brands.

Improving employee satisfaction and productivity.

Combining work and play might sound counterintuitive, but companies that do so have noticed measurable results. Samsung, for instance, mixed frivolity with serious business initiatives when it created the social loyalty program Samsung Nation through the behavior platform Badgeville. The purpose? To grow its user-generated content and traffic on its global website. Fueling competition, the game lets users level up, unlock badges and gain subsequent rewards and recognition. Samsung, in return, saw 66 percent more users submitting 447 percent more product answers on its global website.

Companies could use rewards and competition commonly found in the gaming world to make tasks such as management training, data entry and brainstorming seem less like work. You might let your team members receive points or badges for completing jobs or meeting deadlines for assignments. You could also use leaderboards to let team players view each other’s scores, to encourage friendly competition and to motivate performance.

Providing excellent learning environments.

In addition to being great ways to keep students engaged, researchers have found that video games have real potential as next-generation learning tools. Games use new technologies to incorporate principles crucial to human cognitive learning. As Dr. Jeffrey Taekman, the director of Duke University’s Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center noted, “serious games and virtual environments are the future of education.” Many companies have realized this potential and are using it to continuously challenge and develop their employees. Global consulting firm Deloitte employs digital games for its Deloitte Leadership Academy, an executive education program it uses to train clients and its own consultants. Users receive virtual badges after completing training courses and “unlock” more complex training courses when basic levels are completed.

An IBM report entitled “Virtual Worlds, Real Leaders” comments “Leadership happens quickly and easily in online games, often by otherwise reserved players, who surprise even themselves with their capabilities.” Online games such as World of Warcraft can involve an overriding goal for a team of players. For example, there are a series of raids or missions that make up the journey, each of which requires leadership of player groups of varying sizes. This gives many players the opportunity to “try on” leadership roles. The study asserts that there is no reason to think that the same cannot be done in corporate settings of various sizes, missions and markets.

Given universal broadband communications and ever-faster computers and mobile devices, online gaming could revolutionize the business environment.

Have you used games to make your communication more fun or your marketing more engaging? How do you plan to excite your customers and colleagues by gamifying your interaction?

About Kriti Adlakha
I have been working in the field of marketing and brand development for more than eight years. My experience ranges from hospitality to media and IT products to outsourced services. During my journey, I have worked with print and new-age media and have enjoyed developing content. I have also learnt and worked on marketing tools like adwords marketing, analytics, CRM and the list is steadily growing. Having acquired post-graduate diploma in business management from IIM, Calcutta, I love new challenges and learn from each experience. In my blog, I share marketing strategies that enable small and medium businesses to market in a small budget. I also discuss how to use different online tools that can help businesses to monitor returns of their marketing investments. Above all, I love to hear back from my readers!

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