Advergaming and Gamification: Funny and Effective Digital Marketing Trends
Since its inception in the fifties to the present day, the game industry has evolved in thousands of ways. Video games have been mixed with the world of investments (Forex), education (flight simulators, games to learn languages vocabulary or virtual classes in Second Life) and other social activities, in a way that would have been impossible to predict when our grandparents played Tennis for two. In particular, there are two ways that videogames have evolved related to the world of digital marketing: Advergaming and Gamification. More than two ways to work on Mobile Marketing, these two new digital phenomena are true techniques to promote the creation, communication and exchange of offers for new customers.
It might sound offensive, but according to several animal experiments, every learning process is accelerated when there are games and rewards involved. It is no coincidence that children who play online video games with thousands of other players around the world have better levels of English than others. In fact, the US military has carefully observed the amazing skills of gamers and has taken advantage of it: There are games to teach military training, like America’s Army, and the possibilities of maneuver war machines such as tanks or drones through a kind of Xbox control are very close to reality.
The interesting thing about both forms of marketing is that even though users hate online advertising (they wait for an ad to be over on YouTube, they close popups, delete junk emails…,) they are indifferent to advertising while they are playing. They even accept it and also share it on their social networks in order to improve their gaming experiences. The world of advertising and marketing has also benefited from video games, knowing that by satisfying the need for players to keep playing and competing against others there are thousands of marketing possibilities.
This technique seeks to insert advertising in video games to capture the attention of potential customers by generating a mark of a product or brand. It happens while the user is enjoying his gaming experience. The aim of Advergaming is that during the game, comments, panels and logos directly and subliminally appear and produce a mental mark on the mind of consumers.
However, that is not the only way to develop this technique. Thanks to prolonged exposure of users to the advertised brand, they can assimilate the values of that brand, and it happens consciously. In some cases, for example, the maximum expression in the use of this technique may be experienced by a simulation using the product (something that car brands actually do.)
An example of Advergaming is Get the Glass: an online 3D flash game which was launched in 2007 to encourage the consumption of cow’s milk in the United States. The game is about the adventures of a family who is suddenly facing the situation of living without milk, and the only way to survive is to steal huge vessels of it. Another example is Red Bull Formula Face: a game created by this energy drink brand four years ago, which consists of a car race controlled by the facial gestures of players through their webcams.
On the other hand, Gamification is the use of techniques, elements and dynamics of games and leisure in order to enhance motivation and to reinforce behaviors for solving problems or reaching goals. The main objective of this method is to apply techniques in games outside their contexts, usually with the aim of encouraging certain behavior on the user. In this sense, the user will do things that he would reject in other circumstances. Gamification makes any activity becomes more attractive and exciting, and it does so by developing desired behaviors. This technique can encourage people to perform tasks they consider tedious, like completing surveys, shopping or reading the advertising content of websites.
An example of Gamification is Throne Rush, a medieval-fantasy strategy game on Facebook. Although players are able to play it for free, they can win several benefits with the aim to defeat their opponents more easily by paying money online or by filling out surveys for companies linked to the game, or by to advertising brands on Facebook or by buying products from different companies.
In this way, users become active agents of marketing, and they are no longer passive consumers, massively storing data about trademarks, logos and promotions in their subconscious mind (which they forget very fast due to the constant bombing of information they experience every day.)
These two digital marketing techniques have become very popular in the recent years. This is mainly because games are quite addictive, and a constant source of needs in general. In addition, when Advergaming and Gamification are implemented properly, the consumption of goods and services increases markedly and advertising costs decrease. When some see it as an ethics issue, others see an effective business opportunity.