Using branded online games for advertising and marketing purposes, so called Advergames, has been around as a tactic for years. At AdAsia we see that this tactic is increasingly part of the marketing mix of brands, now that costs have come down, while mobile broad band coverage and smart phone gaming grow rapidly. Here are a few considerations, observations and data points that Branded Mini-Games, a company active in this area, shared with us.
Some data points
Branded Mini-Games gave us a few data points about games and mobile in APAC. 46% of smart phone owners play games on a daily basis. Most smart phone users, 4 out of 5 in fact, have at least once played a game on their device. The sheer amount of mobile phone connections, which according to Wearesocial stands at 3.7 Billion in APAC, leads to the conclusion that there are nearly 2 Billion gamers on mobile alone. Advergames are forecasted to reach over US$2.67 billion by the year 2017 worldwide. They are set to grow in Asia too – with gaming accounting for 13% of total mobile ad spend. Industry analysts expect the growth to be an estimated 19% year-on-year in Asia.
Why games as ads?
Branded Mini-Games says that games are about interaction, while they also have a social component, because gamers generally like to share their results or play against or with others. Brands can benefit from the interaction and social components. Where online banners are usually one-dimensional, a well-designed game can be a more enticing proposition. It allows a gamer to discover a brand through interaction. In addition it increases the likelihood of recommendations through social media, provided the game experience is positive. This contributes to the NPS score. Brands and game-development companies alike claim that branded-games can have up to three times the conversion rates on call-to-actions, compared to online banner advertising.
Advergames as a channel or tactic should be approached with care, according to Branded Mini-Games. As stated before a game will only be successful if it is well designed. The game should have a purpose that goes beyond a simple ‘play and stand a chance to win’ concept. Discovery, purpose and relevance for a gamer, beyond the commercial objectives of a brand are of paramount importance. The branding can be very subtle and ideally increases only when the engagement, i.e. stages completed, increase.
Up till now producing a game was relatively expensive and required a lot of effort from both the brand’s marketing team and the game development agency. Native apps e.g. can be prohibitively costly when you want to scale across the wild diversity of smartphones. Change is happening as there are a few companies out there that offer template, pre-developed game concepts that can be modified to fit a brand’s identity, design and values and that scale more easily.
It is worth noting that most of these template-based games use html5 instead of a proprietary smart phone OS such as iOS or Android. If you think that this limits the interaction design of the game, you could be in for a surprise. There are some beautifully designed interfaces out there with a high complexity level, completely designed for and built with html5.
These apps run in a browser or in a browser-like app and can easier scale over the wide variety of smartphones currently available. Most will require a connection to function but with the increasing availability of fast mobile broadband, the use is no longer limited to home or work. Most Facebook games e.g. are developed in html5. In combination with Facebook advertising and the analytics engine behind it, Facebook is a very compelling game distribution and through that an advergame platform with global reach, except for China where other alternatives are available.
According to Branded Mini-Games, the availability of more affordable and scalable game concepts mean that it is no longer the privilege of large global brands to develop an advergame. Apart from a good design concept another question might be if your audience is ready to interact with your brand through a game.
With the growing popularity of games this might surprise you. There are examples of games for niche audiences and even for B2B. It is worth trying it out on a small scale, something that is now more affordable than before.
The information and data points in this article were provided by Branded Mini-Games, except for where otherwise indicated.
Branded Mini-Games can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by Matthieu Vermeulen