Are you debating if a branded game is right for your brand? (Hint, it is!)
Wondering why branded games are on the rise?
The answer — because branded games are the best form of advertisement. Why, you may ask? Here are our top 8 reasons.
1. Follow the money: people love games — especially on their phones
In 2019, mobile games took the highest share of the gaming market, bringing in 45% of total gaming revenue! Why so much? People enjoy playing games on their phones. Half of all cell phones in the world are used to play mobile games, with 2.2 billion mobile gamers worldwide. Games allow you to take advantage of the innate desire for play and to capitalize on your consumer’s attention, spreading your message in such a way that people want to hear it.
People love games!
As we talked about in Why We Play Video Games, people prefer games over other media formats, because they allow us to:
- Explore our natural human curiosity without taking risks or facing cultural taboos.
- Control teams, governments, and worlds without having to deal with responsibility.
- Be surprised by unexpected twists and turns.
- Satisfy our need for accomplishment with: clear goals, defined rules, and a grading system (points, stars, levels, etc).
- Share our progress with our peers on social media, validating our victories.
- Master skills in a very short time — within a few hours you could be driving a racecar or playing a guitar solo.
- Connect with others by working together in teams towards a common goal.
- Nurture a shared interest that connects us with peers.
So how can you take advantage of the human love for gaming in order to boost your bottom line? The answer: advergames.
2. Games are the ultimate in permission marketing: players engage by choice
Games are unique in the way that consumers choose to participate. On the other hand, video ads and pop-ups are forced upon their viewers — that's no one's idea of fun!
As we have discussed in Why People Hate Traditional Advertising, 9 out of 10 people skip ads when they can. Not even social media ads are immune, as people spend less than one second looking at a digital ad, with 65% of ads not even viewed at all! So why are people in such a hurry to dodge advertisements? Here are a few main reasons:
- Consumers are not able to choose whether they interact with the ad — it is forced upon them, becoming an interruption rather than an attraction.
- Most ads are annoying and flashy, causing stress and cognitive overload.
- These negative reactions towards advertisements increase the use of ad blockers and can even risk creating a negative association with your brand!
- Ads can be personalized with cookies, geotagging, and other technology, but a game molds itself to the player, transforming with each decision that the player takes.
- The consumer becomes a key part of the game, allowing them to form a connection between themselves and your brand.
How are games the answer for engagement? Because time flies when you’re having fun! By being immersed in a challenging and satisfying activity that you enjoy (like a game), you are able to pay attention for a long stretch of time in a meditative state called flow.
For just how long are people playing games? The average player clocks in around 24 minutes of games per day, while the top 40% of gamers play an average of 62 minutes of games per day! That’s a lot of attention — and a fantastic opportunity to feature your brand!
3. Games move people emotionally: connect with your customers
What is the most deciding force when making a purchase? Emotion.
Every purchase that a consumer makes is influenced by emotion. In order for a customer to want to buy what you are selling, they need to feel an emotional pull towards your brand. A game is the perfect way for you to create and maintain this pull so that your consumers choose you over the competition.
Many brands have used emotion in their branded games in order to generate excitement, and satisfy their customers’ craving for a thrill. This connection keeps customers coming back to play, and allows the associated brand to be put front and center in the mind of the player. Advergames allow you to:
- Feel the thrill of a never-ending mid-air water slide in Barclaycard Waterslide Extreme.
- Explore and construct other worlds in Pritt Knutselwereld.
- Enjoy the surprise of finding ice cream bonbons on a webpage and start a treasure hunt in Magnum Ice Cream’s Pleasure Hunt.
- Become part of shared excitement like the Air France passengers that participated in Cloud Slicer before boarding their flight.
- Savor the satisfaction of learning a set of rules and win coupons in Free the Juice from Boost Juice.
These branded games were able to capture and keep the attention of their players by catering to their emotional needs for thrills, satisfaction, and accomplishment. These emotions can only be attained by way of active participation on the side of the consumer. Games give participants the opportunity to actively participate in them, and in turn, give them the emotional response that they (sometimes unknowingly) crave. This positive exchange of interaction and emotion allows players to enjoy the game and associate your brand with the fun of the game!
4. In games, the consumer is the hero
Games go one step beyond simply catering to the emotional needs of the consumer by making them the hero of their own story! We have discussed how your brand’s story can be used as a powerful tool to connect with your customers, but what is it about a game that makes you feel like a hero in that same story?
- In the branded game featuring Skittles, Darkened Skye, you play the role of Skye, a young woman who’s on a mission to save her mother while using Skittles as her weapon. If you win and save Skye’s mother, you will get the satisfaction of being the heroine in the story!
- The U.S. Military has also used advergames to generate more interest in the military, with games such as Navy Training Exercise: Strike and Retrieve. In this first-person shooter game, you get to take part in a secret mission. Experience first-hand what it feels like to be an American hero if you’re able to successfully complete the mission.
- Coca Cola also wields the hero-factor in their branded game, Crabs and Penguins, in which you play the role of a ‘hero’ crab who returns a lost ball back to Penguin Island. During the journey you have to navigate various obstacles, including sharks and volcanoes, but upon winning you become the hero of all of Penguin Island!
With branded games, you can incorporate your brand into the story behind the game. When your consumers play the game, they can then become the hero within the game and associate your brand with their heroism! Not only will the consumer remember their experience with your brand, but they will hold it close as a memory of victory, inspiration, and protagonism.
5. Efficient rewards - motivate your consumers without going over-budget
Your brand, like most others, probably runs promotions to increase consumer loyalty and overall sales. Ever wonder why they stop working or never get off the ground in the first place? A major reason — you’re offering rewards that don’t work.
- A prize that has taken time and skill to win is more valuable to the person who won it, increasing their interest in the prize and their rate of participation. For instance, you could receive a $2 prize in your email, but winning the same prize is much more exciting!
- In fact, due to lack of interest and low participation rates, hundreds of millions of discounts go unclaimed in loyalty programs that just are not being used!
- Because of their increased value to players, prizes that are earned are more likely to be used, making efficient use of the investment that you have made into customer retention.
- Physical prizes are great to get customers in the door, but you may not have a large-enough budget for quality physical prizes. In this case, you may be forced to offer either lots of small prizes (think 5% off of a $2 product) or one large prize (like one free tropical vacation). Small prizes are easy to ignore, and no one cares about large prizes, because let's be honest, no one wins those.
- So what can your company do if you can't afford to offer quality physical prizes — include virtual item prizes in your game!
- Virtual prizes are already proven to have a high value to players, with a virtual item industry currently worth $50 billion!
- Virtual items allow players to customize their characters and environments within the game, making for a more personalized experience.
- These items are also highly valued because of how difficult they can be to acquire, as they usually are either won with amazing gaming skills or cost a large sum of money.
Within a branded game you can have a variety of prizes that consumers actually have a chance to win. Because winning is dependent on using their skills, players place a higher value on prizes that they win in a game, which results in satisfied players that are more likely to continue to play your game. You will also make the best of your customer retention budget (big or small) by offering physical prizes that customers actually want to redeem and/or virtual prizes that keep your customers returning to your game.
6. Teach by doing
How can you educate your customers without disrupting them? The secret is games! A branded game can take a set of rules and procedures and place them within the context of your brand. As your consumers learn to navigate your branded game, they will in turn learn more about your brand — in a way that they will never forget!
- Use the rules of the game to show customers the processes and principles that are key to your company.
- Teach your customers the step-by-step processes that your brand takes every day in order to uphold the promises that you make to them.
- By virtually participating in what your company does, your customers can learn more about the commitment that you have to them.
- Interacting with your company’s brand through the game allows customers to learn about your brand in a way that’s not disruptive, actually, it’s fun!
Your commitment to your customers and your mission is something that is difficult to showcase without coming off as cheesy or cliché. However, games provide an environment where your customers can feel personally inspired by your mission. The Scarecrow game by Chipotle did just that by allowing players to save a small farm town from an industrial food corporation. Chipotle’s game allowed consumers to identify with the mission of saving a family-farm by giving them the role of personally defending it. The Scarecrow connected Chipotle to its customers through its mission, and educated them about their commitment to ethically-sourced food by allowing customers to participate.
Branded games can be a whimsical and unexpected means of interacting with a brand. Rather than continuing to communicate at customers, forward-thinking brands are bedazzling their customers with an advergame.
7. Games are likely to produce viral content
What does everyone like to do when they’re proud of something? Share it! Now more than ever, we share our proudest accomplishments on social media. For gamers, this means scores, virtual items, and other game accomplishments. What does this mean for your branded game?
- Games allow user-generated viral content for your brand.
- By giving players a way to share their accomplishments on social media, they will share your brand message for you, in places that you couldn’t reach effectively otherwise.
- Fellow gamers that see their friend’s new high score, level-up, or virtual item will want to play your branded game to compete, increasing your brand’s exposure.
- The association between games and fun will also allow those that see your branded game to associate fun with your brand itself.
- Even if your brand is not Instagram-worthy on its own, the context of your brand being a game allows it to transform into a sought-after Instagram post!
- In this way, even if your brand is in an industry that’s not the most glamorous (such as insurance or healthcare), a game can make your brand not only shareable but memorable.
- Being memorable in a highly-competitive and rather consistent industry is a huge advantage against the competition and a major win in brand recognition!
Looking for an example of a brand that has spiffed up its image with the help of a branded game? American Family Insurance not only made their brand more shareable, but also more fun in their game titled iAMFAM. The game was played by over 586,000 players who enjoyed the life decision game reminiscent of The Sims. The game incorporated elements of insurance, such as making large purchases and filing claims. It was played on Facebook, so it was easy for players to share their progress in the game with their friends!
By using an advergame, American Family Insurance not only made a rather mundane industry fun, but the game also enabled players to actively participate in the company’s mission and share their progress, and the brand, via social media!
8. Games allow dynamic messages that adapt to individuals
Another great thing about games is that they are adaptable! A game changes with every decision that a player makes. Everyone makes decisions based on experience, goals, interests, and personality. Why is this an advantage for your branded game?
- By ensuring that specific content is triggered by a certain type of person, you’re able to cater your message to the person who will be seeing it.
- A more personalized connection between your brand and your customers is more impactful and memorable — giving your brand an advantage against the competition.
- By customizing shareable content to the person playing the game, you also ensure that this content resonates deeper with their friends and followers, who likely have similar interests and personality traits.
- Alphabear is a great example, as you’re able to post to social media every time you get a new bear in the game. Each post is also customized with words that you have made in the round, making it a personalized post!
- Our game, Touchdown also allows you to personalize your character in the game, and you can then share your progress with your friends on social media.
With a branded game, you will not only be able to bond players with your company’s mission, you will also share it with their friends and followers! The customized content that your players share is even more likely to connect with their friends and followers than a stagnant social post.
So are you ready for the next boost in your company’s advertising strategy? Do you want to not only impress your followers, but make them feel good? It’s time for you to think about turning your brand into a game — and bring a little fun into your marketing strategy!