Gamification is not a new concept in marketing, particularly from the perspective of securing brand loyalty. Back in 1896, marketers sold stamps to retailers who used them to reward loyal customers. Fast forward to the 21st century, brands are still applying fun and engaging methods to stand out positively and reinforce buying behavior, engagement, brand loyalty and fuel online.
My earliest memory of a Brand -developed viral online game application is the Red Bull Roshambull game app, an online version of the old schoolyard game “rock-paper-scissors” which was launched on the Facebook platform back in 2007. It was fun, engaging, and due to its addictiveness, a perfect match for embracing the early days of Facebook’s growing community. It did wonders from a Brand visibility perspective, back then, as it was simply more interesting than just poking a friend!
In today’s world, everything is turning into entertainment and there is increased demand for new customer experiences and engaging content presented in a unique and fun way. Hence, the convergence of gaming and eCommerce (G-commerce) is inevitable.
While the common perception is that the typical gamer is very young and with little decision making and buying power. The truth is the average video gamer is 34 years old parent and homeowner (and women like me represent 33% of this gaming population!)
In 2019, there were already more than 2.7 billion video gamers worldwide. The gaming market has since exponentially grown and is due to continue to grow to $256 billion by 2025.
According to Forbes, 80% of smartphone users play mobile games on their device, and nearly 50% play games every day. Additionally, mobile game apps are used equally by both men and women. While more teens play mobile games than adults, 62% of adults do use these apps.
If you are not tapping into the gamer market, you have got to ask yourself, “Why not?”.
Here is how some brands are successfully using games for marketing and generating a new revenue stream through G-Commerce.
Live Streaming Game Platforms
In September 2020, British heritage brand, Burberry became the first luxury fashion brand to collaborate with Twitch and livestream the BurberrySpring/Summer 2021 show from London Fashion Week. The hour-long stream garnered approximately 42,000 concurrent views. It has not only unlocked a new space to connect with the Burberry community but also enabled the luxury fashion brand to tap into a potential new customer base.
As Twitch is owned by Amazon, there is possibility to now extend the Twitch partnership further and create a seamless linked customer experience on a new eCommerce storefront – Amazon Luxury Stores.
ESports has always been popular and not just in the US. With game genres ranging from fighting games, first-person shooters, strategy, sports, racing and all sorts of multiplayer online battle arenas, it is no wonder that the esports market is valued at over $900M and growing at an exponential rate. It has certainly come a long way since the first ever FIFA game was released in Dec 1993 on consoles like SEGA. (While the game only included a national team, without player names, there were sponsors on the background billboards!)
Companies looking to grow their brands are partnering with specific esports leagues or tournaments to sponsor the events. These partnerships offer an opportunity for high engagement since they often feature live performances and, extensive media coverage – online and offline, which helps brands connect with enthusiastic gaming fans. Beyond event sponsorships, companies have also adopted product placement to boost brand awareness with in-game branding such as billboards, player jerseys, digital signages and customized arenas.
Red Bull tops the list of ESport sponsors, and their investment has a return of a whopping USD 1.8B+ in revenue from ESport sponsorships alone
One of my favorite brand tie-ins is EA Games and Italian fashion house Moschino from 2019. They collaborated to create in-game packs that would unlock virtual Moschino clothing and fashion-themed career paths in the Sims Universe. Not only did the luxury brand creatively position their garments as part of the in-game experience, but Moschino also adopted the game theme in-store by launching their ready to wear line under the Moschino x Sims moniker.
More recently, Balenciaga recently released their 2021 Fall Collection in the form of an immersive online video game titled “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow”.
Influencers & streamers
Like Travel, Fashion and Beauty influences, Gaming influencers are extremely impactful. Most of
these streamers have millions of followers, and sponsoring their streams is an effective strategy for brand marketing. Similar to other advertising on broadcast channels, a streamer might include your brand in a sponsored stream title or on a tile on their channel page. Other options include brand placement on the video stream itself or behind the streamer on their webcam.
Brands can monetize on this when streamers share unique promotion codes with their fans to receive discounts or value adds when they transact on Brand eStores.
Adidas collaborated with gaming streamer Ninja (Tyler Blevins), to launch a new sneaker collection. As Ninja is one of the most followed Twitch gamers (14M+ followers!), this collaboration helped Adidas tap into his massive following.
Programmatic advertising in games
In-game advertising has significantly evolved, not just in the sophistication of gamer audience target segments but also with the use of AI technology, tools and technique that are less disruptive to game play while still being engaging.
With programmatic advertising now integrated into mobile devices and console-based games, it has opened up a whole new channel for Brands to engage with their desired audience while using the same sophisticated and customized audience-based targeting.
For those of you who are still deliberating on whether gamification should be part of your overall marketing mix, perhaps start with a small test on your next programmatic media buy and take things from there. Or, you can contact us and we can help develop a strategic approach with you.
POV by Farah Sadiq, Acronym’s EVP, GM International