Gaming branding matrix


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Gaming branding matrix

  1. 1. THE GAMING ANDBRANDING MATRIXThree Entry Points for Engagement ENGAUGE.COM
  2. 2. THE GAMING AND BRANDING MATRIX Introduction Human beings now spend 3 billion hours every week playing online video games. This is a staggering expenditure of time and energy on an activity that has often been considered frivolous and escapist. So it’s worth asking why. Why are people staring at screens for 3 billion hours, clicking on cartoon pictures, when they could be cooking, jogging or hanging out with spouses and kids? In her book Reality is Broken, the futurist and video game designer Jane McGonigal offers a surprising answer: we don’t play video games because they’re “fun. We ” play video games because they allow us to fulfill our human potential in a way that reality sometimes doesn’t. For an increasing number of people, life is better in video games than it is in reality. It’s easier to win, easier to unlock achievements, easier to overcome obstacles, easier to bounce back after failure. In the virtual reality of the game world, we are better problem-solvers, more creative, more successful, more fully alive. “Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, McGonigal writes, “and it turns out that almost nothing makes us ” happier than good, hard work. ” The psychology of gaming is deep, and it helps explain the recent success of Procter & Gamble in the social-gaming space. In mid-June, P&G, a company that has spent 100 years marketing Bounty paper towels to housewives, launched a brand integration with Restaurant City. The game gave users the chance to unlock two special tools to clean their virtual bistros: One, a roll of Bounty paper towels that enabled quicker cleanups, and, two, a Bounty janitor who could clean 30 percent faster than the game’s standard mop-and-bucket bearer. By the end of the month, 2.5 million players had earned the paper towels and one million had unlocked the speedy janitor. It worked because Bounty wasn’t running a blinking neon banner ad on the middle of the screen, begging for clicks. Instead, the brand was offering players a chance to be creative in a heightened virtual world, while also driving sales in the real world. It was giving gamers some good, hard work. Entering the Modern PlaygroundBY JEFF HILIMIREAND NICOLA SMITH Gaming used to be something that you did by appointment. You sat in front of a TV. You held a controller. You pressed the “on” button of your console and you played. Then you shut off the console, walked away and did something else. But, today, gaming is both more casual and more ubiquitous. It is an activity that has escaped the confines of the TV room, spreading to the kitchen, the back porch, the schoolroom, even the office. And while hardcore gamers are still devoted to their Xboxes, Wiis and Playstations, the fastest-growing group of gamers is made up of people who have never picked up an Xbox controller in their lives, but they do have Facebook accounts. They have iPads and smartphones. They carry around their gaming platforms in their pockets 24/7. And their seemingly insatiable hunger for “casual” games is disrupting the entire space. We don’t play video games because they’re “fun.” We Gaming is the new social space—the fully interactive playground that Facebook play video games because alone can’t offer. It’s a place of incredible flux and energy, a place where old college roommates are reconnecting by tending virtual crops in FarmVille, a grandmother they allow us to fulfill our is catching up with her granddaughter by typing in the chat window of Facebook’s human potential in a way that Scrabble app and a lonely kid in the suburbs is gathering a global posse to mount reality sometimes doesn’t. a raid in World of Warcraft. “Gamers are virtuosos at weaving a tight social fabric, ” McGonigal has said. “There’s a lot of research that shows that we like people better after we play a game with them. When people play a game online with friends, the ” game functions as extension of their social life. When they play with strangers, they develop new networks; games become an interactive community. This is the challenge for brands: How do you stake a claim on this wild frontier? How do you find an entry point into an ever-shifting market where as many as 100 million Americans spend upwards of ten hours a week? THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 2
  3. 3. Entry Point 1: Getting in the Game Here’s how not to do it: Slap up a static billboard that sits in the background of a racing game or a first-person shooter. These types of in-game ads often step over the line between subtle and obtrusive. The more obvious the ad, the more it pulls the gamer out of the experience, generating frustration and resentment. And, anyway, 1 why go with a digital billboard when you can offer consumers real interaction? A good example from the PC/console market: This summer, Ford debuted their 2012 Focus model as a download for Sims 3 players. The new model tallied 200,000 downloads, part of 8 million virtual Ford vehicles that have been downloaded by Sims users in the past few years. “The overall goal is not to get players to think, ‘Oh, I have to go directly to my dealership now,’ as you might expect consumers to do with a lease deal, Brian McClary, Ford’s social and emerging media specialist, told ” Marketing Daily. “It’s about broadening favorability and awareness. ” There’s evidence that a campaign like this can have impact. In 2009, a study in the International Journal of Advertising found that driving virtual car brands made gamers think better of the real-world versions of those cars. The Gran Turismo racing series has been credited with single-handedly propelling the popularity of several Japanese car models and, like Ford has done with Sims 3, automakers often97% use Gran Turismo as a virtual brand proving ground, unveiling new models and prototypes within the game world. This sort of integration works in the mobile space as well. When Universal Pictures sought to promote their movie Hop, they worked with the mobile game Doodle Jump to build a bonus level that included the main character from the film. Andof American teens play video Twentieth Century Fox recently partnered with mobile monolith Angry Birds on a special version of the game that tied into the movie studio’s new animated flick,, according to a 2008 The Rio app debuted at number one in the iTunes store in March and reached 10Pew poll. million downloads in less than ten days. THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 3
  4. 4. Entry Point 2: Follow the Party Brands have a tendency to want to create their own gaming spaces to help control the message. It began with clunky Atari games in the mid-1980s—a Space Invaders knock-off from Coke, a bizarre Tooth Protector game from Johnson and Johnson. Today, it’s Apple Jacks’ “Race to the Bowl” iPhone game in which you steer a little cartoon car around a track and collect cereal pieces as you go. General Mills’ “Honey Defender” promotes Honey Nut Cheerios through a series of mini-games and a create-your-own-comic utility. McDonald’s has created a massive interactive site for kids, McWorld, which offers mini-games and the ability to unlock new games and levels with purchase codes from McDonald’s food. The site’s creator told The New York Times that “companies are realizing that, when going online, the best strategy is to forgo immediate sales in order to build lasting emotional relationships with children. Marriott recently released a social ” game, more as a recruitment tool, where people can create their own My Marriott restaurant. But why spend so much time and energy trying to build your own game from scratch? Why not just go to where the gamers already are? Why not go to Facebook? Facebook’s massive, near-ubiquitous social platform has propelled social games into the mainstream. Its most popular game, FarmVille, created by Zynga, boasts 68 million users—part of a community of 148 million people who play Zynga games each month. Brands as dissimilar as Stouffer’s, Farmers Insurance and NASCAR have plunged into the social-gaming space. To be effective, though, brands have had to abide by the new rules of online-game advertising. Don’t lecture. Don’t clog screens. Instead, engage. Do what Bounty did and hook into the deep psychology that explains why 180 million Americans now consider themselves gamers and why 61 percent of senior executives at American companies play video games on a daily basis, during breaks at work, according to a survey published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Here’s the right way to enter the Facebook space: When the animated children’s film Megamind came to FarmVille, users could visit their space to get free FarmVille2 decorative items and a special “Mega-Grow” formula that allowed for instant crop growth. Some brands have even used this virtual space to spur retail sales. 7-11’s presence on FarmVille allowed users to unlock special features using UPCs from special in-store purchases. Last year, Green Giant Fresh Produce put a sticker on select pieces of its produce that could be redeemed online for FarmVille currency. In all, $100,000 worth of currency was redeemed in five weeks. “This isn’t about showcasing, it’s about engagement, Peter Wexler, of transactional advertising platform TrialPay, explained ” during a presentation at the Social Gaming Summit. Even consoles—not the games, but the consoles themselves—are beginning to offer opportunities for brands to develop interactive tools. In June, Xbox unveiled a new form of interactive TV advertising made possible by their Kinect system. See an ad you like? Simply shout the words “Xbox tweet” and the system will promote the ad on your Twitter feed, spreading it across your social network. Want more information about a product? Speak the phrase “Xbox more” to receive an email about it. Microsoft told Advertising Age that the idea is to make ads “part of the platform. This unprecedented level of interactivity allows brands to create more ” subtle, sophisticated ads, opening up new opportunities to connect with consumers and slip through the filter. THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 4
  5. 5. Entry Point 3: Real-World Rewards Here’s where Jane McGonigal’s vision, which she calls “Gamification, becomes ” increasingly relevant. Her goal is to harness the power of games to change the world for the better. McGonigal literally wants to make a game that could win the Nobel Peace Prize—a game to fix hunger, poverty, global warming, obesity. So she is trying to figure out how to motivate gamers to take actions in the real world. McGonigal’s innovative, socially progressive games tend to superimpose reward systems on top of everyday actions; they “gamify” life. For instance, in a McGonigal game called World Without Oil, she sent a fictional news feed about an oil crisis to 1,700 players, asking them to imagine how they would live their lives if the items in the fictional news feed (skyrocketing gas prices, exploding oil pipelines) were true. After tracking the 1,700 players for three years, McGonigal found that the game had transformed their views about oil usage. A video game had actually changed gamers’ real-world habits. Taking a cue from McGonigal and other Gamification evangelists, young entrepreneurs are beginning to explore ways to gamify real-world behaviors and help brands connect with consumers. Facebook built the social layer on top of the world. Now a number of companies are vying to build the game layer on top of the world. For instance, the mobile start-up Kiip, which launched in April 2011, gives companies a way to reward gamers in the real world for achieving certain tasks in the game world. Algorithms ensure that even beginning gamers are awarded gifts so that they don’t lose motivation. The rewards are targeted according to the game’s genre and the demographics of the players – a game that attracts women might offer eyeshadow, while a shooting game might offer its male players t-shirts or DVDs— which has helped keep the redemption rate of prizes at more than 50 percent. Another young start-up,, lets advertisers offer rewards to gamers included in’s network of 5.7 million customers. Brands are usually tied to a game theme. A tool that allows you to gather more game coins might be sponsored by a restaurant’s value menu. If a player chooses the tool, brands can send coupons or other rewards to the player’s inbox. Recycle Bank has a reward system. The more you recycle, the more points you earn, a great tatic to acheive more than one goal. One of the oldest examples of gaming for social good is FreeRice. People answer SAT-like vocabulary questions, and for each correct answer the organization donates ten grains of rice. 3 This is not only a smart business model; it’s psychologically astute. A recent study of children’s gaming habits in the Review of General Psychology confirmed what had always been assumed: part of the appeal of gaming is the competition. More than four out of five boys and 61 percent of girls in the study said so. “In gaming, when you level up and attain top scores, the moment when you hit that achievement is actually a very powerful one where you feel like you’ve accomplished something significant, says Kiip’s 20-year-old CEO, Brian Wong. “So instead of putting a banner ” ad there, which would be a major buzzkill, we decided, what if a brand was there to provide you with actual, tangible rewards?” In other words, the value for brands in this model isn’t in capturing people’s attention, but their bliss. Imagine running a marathon with your iPhone attached to your armband and your Nike+ app running. Once you hit the finish line, you get a coupon for $30 off new running sneakers. Imagine winning an upgrade to first class by solving puzzles on your phone as you wait to board. Seth Priebatsch’s Google-backed start-up SCVNGR is another company that builds a game layer on top of the world, but in a way that’s significantly different. In the5.7million SCVNGR model, businesses offer location-based challenges that earn users points good for coupons and free merchandise. For instance, you might use a mobile app to answer questions about menu items at a restaurant or trivia about the company. Users can even design their own SCVNGR challenges to earn more points. In a trial for Buffalo Wild Wings late last year, SCVNGR users created 9,950 new challenges for the chain, which had provided users with only eight.Another young start-up, “The last decade was the decade where the social framework was built, Priebatsch ”lets advertiser sponsor mobile told The New York Times. “The next decade will be the decade of games. ”in-game rewards in its networkof 5.7 million. THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 5
  6. 6. Conclusion: Soon We Will All Be Gamers There used to be a hard line between games and life. Not anymore. As young visionaries like Priebatsch and Wong are showing us, the line is becoming increasingly permeable. Game mechanics are seeping into more and more realms of human experience. Angry Birds is cocktail chatter. Wii Bowling is the talk of Bingo night. For brands that may never have considered extending their presence into gaming—mortgage lenders, health food makers, retirement communities – there is a whole new world of opportunity. “It’s inevitable, a gaming journalist named Rob ” Fahey said in 2008. “Soon we will all be gamers. ”4 •Entry Point 1: Getting in the Game The gaming environment isn’t the place for traditional ads. The channel demands creative executions that integrate with, instead of disrupting the game. There’s no place for banners or billboards. Wallpaper doesn’t play here. •Entry Point 2: Follow the Party For brands with a limited budget, there’s no option but to join the party. Why spend precious resources aggregating your own community of gamers when finding ways to engage with these communities can yield the same result? An invitation to the party isn’t required, but there’s no point being there unless a brand finds a compelling way to build engagement in a brand relevant way with the right audience. •Entry Point 3: Real-World Rewards As we enter the era of Gamification, it’s not just hardcore gamers brands can target. Moreover, the rewards are no longer virtual ones. Not only are there psychological needs brands must fulfill if they want to play in this space, there must be a higher purpose to play. And, perhaps most fertile, is the opportunity brands now have to serve as a bridge to link the better side of human nature by driving action in the real world. THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 6
  7. 7. The Players Brand Marketers Need to WatchRoblox: A kind of MMOG for kids, this network boasts more than 4 million uniquemonthly visitors, with an average session of 20+ minutes. It offers traditional in-gameadvertising, as well as contests and branded viral campaigns.FarmVille (and all things Zynga): Zynga’s collection of uber-popular Facebook games—FarmVille, CityVille, and FrontierVille among them—attracting 266 million monthlyactive users (most of them females over 30). Connects real-world purchases withgame progress.Electronic Arts: Longtime console gaming brand and new owners of causal gamecompany PopCap, which is famous for the Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies mobilegames; digital sales to pass $1 billion this year alone.OnLive: The streaming Netflix of the video game industry has over 100 gamesavailable and has tentative plans to fully integrate this online, PC-style gamingnetwork into Facebook.Rovio: The mobile game maker behind Angry Birds with downloads reaching morethan 300 million people globally forecasts 100 million downloads in China by the endof 2011.ShuffleBrain: A game design studio that develops compelling games and encouragespeople to stay socially connected and also had a hand in helping design Bejeweled 2,The Sims and Rock Band, among others.NUads: Interactive television ad model developed for users of the motion- and voice-detecting Kinect system for Microsoft’s Xbox. But can Microsoft create an engagedexperience between people and television commercials? Set to launch in Spring 2012.SCVNGR: A social location-based mobile gaming platform. Encourages users tointeract with businesses, hundreds of companies, institutions and organizations fordiscounts and freebies.Kontagent: Through researching user behavior, Kontagent has become the leadingsocia-gaming analytics provider. It tracks more than 150 million monthly activeconsumers.Kiip: A mobile gaming rewards system allowing brands to reach an engaged audienceand more than 15 million users to win real-life prizes through in-gaming achievements.Exent: This subscription-based service for mobile games in the Android marketplacehas over 1 million users and plans to have a 200+ game selection by the end of theyear.Wooga: Wooga is the second-largest social game developer on Facebook and is knownbest for Diamond Dash, which is currently the tenth most popular game on Facebook,attracting over 10 million users per month.Overwolf: Allows game developers and publishers to overlay social mediafunctionality of top online games. This overlay allows users to utilize Facebook,YouTube, Twitter, Skype, Meebo and MSN along with web-browsing, all while playingthe game. This is part of a larger trend of social functionality integration that ishappening across the gaming world.DreamBox Learning: An edutainment company that was bought by Netflix CEO ReedHastings last year and can now boast that its DreamBox Learning K-3 Math game hasbeen proven effective in helping students achieve math proficiency, thanks in part to arecent study by SRI. THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 7
  8. 8. An Inside Network study found that the gender breakdown of FrontierVilleplayers was 68% to 32%, women-to-men, and that the two largest agegroups were 26-35 (26%) and 36-45 (23%). In a study released in Februaryby mobile app analytics firm Flurry, researchers found that mobile and socialgamers earn between $50,000 and $80,000 yearly, make 50% more thanthe average American and are twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree. A2008 study from researchers at USC and the University of Delaware foundthat females are more hardcore in their online gaming, playing MMOGs for fourmore hours a week than their male counterparts. The PlayStation Network has77 million users and Xbox LIVE claims 35 million. The average player of socialgames is a 43-year-old woman. Source: PopCap Games. Nearly 43% of all videogame players are female. Source: The Electronic Software Association. In the past 2years, the number of female users has risen for both the Xbox 360 (up to 21%from 17% in 2009) and the PlayStation 3 (up to 16% from 12% in 2009).Source: Interpret. Nearly 40% of Xbox LIVE users are female. Source: Xbox. Theaverage gamer today is 37; 29% of video and computer game players are overthe age of 50, an increase from 9 percent in 1999. Source: The Electronic SoftwareAssociation. Family-friendly video game titles continue to top charts. Last year,Wii Fit Plus was the sixth best-selling video game in the country and Just Dance2 came in seventh; “Life-simulation” game Sims 3 and its various add-ons andexpansion packs have dominated the PC best-seller lists for the past 2 years.Source: NPD. 36% of gamers 65 and older say they play games every day oralmost every day, compared to 20% of both the 30-49 and 18-29 age ranges.Source: Pew Research. 97% of American teens say they play video games. Source:Pew Research. The top three best-selling video games of 2010 all hit that 18-34male demo: Call of Duty: Black Ops, Madden and Halo: Reach. Source: NPD. 70%of Xbox LIVE users are between 18 and 34. Source: Xbox. THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 8
  9. 9. About the Authors Jeff Hilimire, President and Chief Digital Officer With a compelling vision of the future of marketing, Jeff oversees the company’s operations and ensures that its clients remain at the forefront of new digital technologies, developing innovative strategies for consumer engagement across emerging channels and traditional media. He also leads the agency’s fast-growing Digital Innovation Group, which guides clients in exploring new platforms and crafting campaigns that achieve business goals and facilitate authentic conversations between brands and their customers. Nicola Smith, Vice President, Innovation Since her childhood in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nicola has always been fascinated by the imaginative ideas and theories that emerge from the sci-fi genre, and as Engauge’s VP of Innovation, she continues her lifelong passion for the pursuit of “the next big thing” by bringing her insightful knowledge of emerging technologies, user behavior and overall digital trends to our internal teams and clients alike. Her focus on strategic thinking in relation to the applications of trends and technologies helps clients better navigate the ever- changing marketing landscape and create impactful, engaging campaigns.FOR NEW BUSINESS INQUIRIES: About EngaugeGreg Davis One of the nation’s largest independent advertising agencies, Engauge leveragesExecutive Vice President, creativity and technology to connect brands and people. The agency’s client rosterBusiness Development includes Nationwide Insurance, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Coca-Cola, Best Buy Foremail: Business, Chick-fil-A, Brown-Forman, Food Lion, The State of Georgia, Donatos, NGKmobile: 914.645.4381 Spark Plugs and more. Engauge, which has offices in Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, Orlando and Pittsburgh, is a portfolio company of Halyard Capital. Image Credits: p1: The World According to Marty, p2: Toca Boca, p3: Vancouver Film School, p4: Toca Boca, p5: Johan Larsson, p6: Robert Scoble, p7: Dan Taylor, p9: Ginny, THE NEW GAMING MINDSET | 9