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“Gamifying” Marketing?

30 Jun, 2010 McKell Naelge

Did you know that Farmville (a game that allows players to tend to a virtual farm with their friends in Facebook) is currently played by 70 million people per month? That’s 1 in 4 Americans! Sure, you may hide your friend’s game results in your news feed, but did you stop to think what a powerful marketing tool online games can be?

Behavioral psychologists have studied what motivates people to perform specific actions – specifically the impulse to purchase. Online game designers have transformed this theory into the rules and rewards of their games. Farmville and other social games combine highly addictive positive feedback loops with viral social play. Gamers are able to interact with other people on line while they play, ask their friends for resources and post their achievements for all their followers to see. Users compete with each other for status, measured in “levels,” while paying real money for virtual items that enhance their gameplay. Incorporating rewards points and loyalty programs between an online game and your brand can be a powerful marketing tool.

How can you use this captive audience to benefit your company? Check out a couple real-world examples:

  1. Farmville just launched a massive in-store campaign with 7-Eleven that includes broad in-store co-branding while rewarding cash purchases of hot dogs and Slurpees with Farmville currency.
  2. Bunchball is a San Jose-based start-up whose technology allows brands to integrate challenges, leaderboards and virtual rewards into their website. Their customers, which range from NBC to Victoria’s Secret, are excited to be able to map any activity to a reward. For example, a user might be given 500 points to visit a particular page on the site or 1000 points for joining the brand’s Facebook group.

(Smartbrief “Why Marketers Should Pay Attention to Booming Gaming Trend” by Reuben Steiger)

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