Is Mobile Gaming the Next Digital Marketing Frontier?


Is Mobile Gaming the Next Digital Marketing Frontier? - Eric Sachs SEO

Most of us have a smartphone. Some of us, particularly those of us under the age of 40, have multiple smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, Kindles and other electronic devices. Our devices are integral to everyday life at this point. They help us do business, they let us relax, and they encourage is to connect with the world.

The result of all this focus on mobile devices has been a dramatic increase in brands utilizing mobile apps for outreach. Whether it’s to market produces and services or simply to raise brand awareness, there’s tremendous opportunity for brands to get and stay noticed when they branch out to mobile.

Here’s where things get weird: it isn’t necessarily mobile advertising making the most impact – it’s mobile gaming. As Digital Marketing Magazine reports, it’s rapidly becoming the number one brand advertising and awareness platform for marketers, even surpassing functional apps. What’s causing this spike?

By the Numbers

Before we get into exactly why this trend is happening, let’s take a look at the numbers driving change. According to IPSOS’s report, “SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: Why the growth of mobile apps is good news for brands”, around 90 percent of mobile device users now use apps. Given that 95 percent of all Americans now own smartphones or similar devices, we can assume that means the mobile market contains just over 300 million people.

Next, consider that the global games market itself is expanding. Studies like this one suggest that mobile gaming now holds up to 42 percent of the gaming market, which is now worth around $100 billion every single year. There’s potential for money-making, brand awareness, and outreach all in the same niche.

Kind of shocking, isn’t it? Get into mobile gaming and you just might have the potential to reach 300 million people (in the U.S. alone) and make money at the same time. That’s the heart of what’s driving more advertisers to mobile gaming, but it’s just the beginning of the story.

Evolution and Growth

Gaming isn’t new – in fact, the first gaming console was the Magnavox Odyssey Video Game Unit in 1972. But it wasn’t until the Internet as we know it today came to be that online gaming really became a possibility – at least enough of a possibility for advertisers to take notice. Even then, advertisers didn’t really jump in feet first; that change came just a few short years ago.

Eventually, smartphones and computer technology reached a point where it was possible for advertisers to place notifications and ads within their game. Suddenly, it was possible to reach an entire growing sector of people in a way that was entirely new and broke free of tired, old spam tactics through browsers.

Around five years ago, mobile technology took a significant leap. We began to see incredible advances, including the integration of augmented reality, which came with augmented reality ads. We’re currently seeing the same advances in VR.

Creating and rolling out apps for mobile platforms also became more accessible, and more developers got involved with making gaming apps. More marketers saw the potential for everything from brand awareness to straight-out money making through games and gamified branded apps or in-game content.

Which takes us to where we are now: more people than ever use mobile devices, and the vast majority download and use apps. Moving into mobile gaming is a must for businesses because there’s a significant corner of the market in this sphere; it makes no more sense to ignore it than, say, social media marketing.

Why Mobile Gaming?

Hard statistics and history aside, what is it about mobile gaming specifically that makes it such a compelling resource for digital marketers? And how are digital marketers using it, especially when they themselves aren’t necessarily in the entertainment industry?

First, understand that games are inherently more engaging than traditional forms of advertising, especially for people under the age of 30. Unlike text, banner, image, or flash ads, (or really even some forms of email marketing), they hook and hold attention much more readily. If the game in question is highly targeted to a specific audience, it’s possible to ramp that engagement factor up even higher.

The reason many people find games so engaging is that most are built on the human concept of risk vs. reward and skillbuilding. We all know the feeling of tackling a new skill, activity, or sport, and really succeeding for the first time – it feels good to learn, grow, and adapt, especially if you’re rewarded when you succeed. And, as you might expect, most games function through progressive skill-building that consistently rewards players for improving.

Lastly, there’s one other major driving force behind the gaming and advertising romance. Games provide something of value to the end user – an elimination of boredom, an exciting storyline, fast-paced competitive action, or even socialization (in the case of multiplayer games). That makes the transaction more of an exchange, rather than one-way marketing to a lead. They get something, you get something, and the whole marketing process feels slightly more human.

The Digital Marketing Connection

When someone plays a mobile game designed specifically for the purposes of marketing, they’re much more likely to be receptive to an advertisement or suggestion to buy, especially if it ties directly into the product or service. If the game is well-made, it will place these calls to action in the right place at the right time without being overly intrusive.

Digital marketers can capitalize on this in a few different ways. One, they can bank on providing something of value to end users by creating minigames or gamifying their processes. Wish’s “Deal Dash,” where the user spins a wheel to unlock a certain amount of discounted products, is a great example.

Another great example is “Farmville.” If it feels like it’s been around forever, that’s because it has: Zynga first launched the Facebook version in 2009. Over that time, they’ve used in-game items with branded names to raise awareness for many different brands, including Green Giant and Dr. Pepper.

At one point, you could also “like” Bing search to gain in-game cash or credits, too, subtly driving attention to Bing when it was seriously struggling against Google. Other games, including Sim City, Pokemon Go, have also allowed brands to snap up advertising space and grab attention in-game while players are already enjoying themselves. Consuming advertising in this manner feels more like being rewarded than being sold a product.

It isn’t just small-time gaming studios capitalizing, either. Even the U.S. Army, Nike, and M&M’s have all used gaming to further their campaigns.

Gamification Counts, Too

And then you have gamification – the process of adding game-like motivators and elements to a pre-existing business process. These mobile apps are everywhere, and include most reward programs, most loyalty programs, and a whole swarth of recruiting and social loyalty platforms. Leads build brand awareness, loyalty, and foster positive feelings toward the brand when they “play; they’re rewarded for their attention in the form of points, inspirational messages, prizes, or in some cases, by competing against other users to be in the “top spot.”

Gamification doesn’t always come in the form of a concrete and separate game. Instead, it’s often integrated with the business’s generalized app as a small section of the app or an adjunct program. Don’t assume this means it isn’t as powerful; used correctly, it certainly can be every bit as powerful as a full-on game. And it’s a great way to improve your chances with the incredible 1.2 billion mobile gamers who actively use and rely on mobile gaming apps for everything from fun to education.

The Wrap: It’s the Future

The takeaway is this: games are engaging, and even simple gamification can make the most boring sales funnel or process interesting, especially for millennials and Generation Y or Z. These demographics feel more engaged when they feel like they’re receiving something of value in the exchange, like being being rewarded for their patronage.

You don’t need to rush out and develop your own multi-platform gaming studio and go for the big bucks. You don’t even need to develop an entirely separate gaming app for your campaigns. But you should consider how you can use games and/or gamification to improve campaigns, CTR, conversions, and success rates. It’s out there, and it’s only growing – even just being aware of it is a step in the right direction.

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

2 responses to “Is Mobile Gaming the Next Digital Marketing Frontier?

  1. Mobile games sure are a good way to venture into when it comes to digital marketing. The advantages of this platform enables you to catch users’ attention in their most receptive state possible.

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