Refuting the myths about advergames

Advergames, or branded games, as a marketing platform has been around for years. With the growth of gamers in Asia - Four out of five smartphone owners have played a game on their device, and 46% play games on a daily basis - this marketing tool has become a more creative and effective way to promote the brand. In the past, due to prohibitive development costs, only the largest global brands could afford to develop and roll out advergames. This perhaps led to the stunted and disjointed progress of utilising advergames as a tool in rolling out new campaigns.

However, with the advent of mobile technology, access to bandwidth and cost effective development tools, Advergames are rapidly increasing in popularity as critical form of marketing communications.

The interactivity and elective involvement make them a more appealing form of advertising in comparison to banner or pop-up advertising. Games educate users about the brand in a much more hands-on, active way instead of passive learning through other forms of ads, such as banners or video and allows them to share their experience via social features.

In KFC Indonesia’s Music Factory Advergame campaign, users had to correctly match the song title to the singer in order to complete the game – on average, each user played the memory game 20 times, with 76% of users successfully completing the game. By relating successful game completions to brand/product recalls, marketers can be assured of accurately tracking the number of users who learn and remember the key facts of their product or promotion.

Moreover, marketers can include a prize or reward for game users. This is beneficial not only because of greater potential for leads, but also generates enjoyment and excitement among users, emotions with which every brand wants to be associated. With reward-based advergame campaigns, this tends to boost replays per user by 2X and users responding to a brand’s call-to-action by 3X, on average, as compared to regular advergame campaigns.

Yet marketers are still hesitant and concerned about the effectiveness of advergames for their campaigns.  Here are some common myths:

MYTH: “Only large, global brands can afford to develop an advergame”.

FACT: This may have been the norm in the not too distant past where branded games were developed from scratch by game development companies. The cost of development was significant and in many cases prohibitive to smaller companies and campaigns.

Brand marketers can use a template approach, customers can customise best performing and popular consumer games to their brand and product images. The platform also allows them to use it for free, so they can start creating their own advergames at relatively no cost.

MYTH: “My industry doesn’t use games in its marketing”.

FACT: It is important to remember that your customer is social. In Asia-Pacific and Japan, 44% of overall internet users are active gamers. They are also on social media and probably use a smartphone. What a better way to differentiate your marketing, or add excitement to your industry than using games.

They share the fun, the exhilaration and excitement with friends, peers and family. This is a powerful and very cost effective way to promote the brand and with significantly more impact through the social network. In Krispy Kreme Doughnut’s Advergame campaign, 36.4% of its users shared or ‘liked’ the game on Facebook, generating awareness to their friends on Facebook.

MYTH: ‘We need an App’

FACT: This is an automatic assumption - all games for mobiles need apps (Applications). Or, that you need to create different versions for different mobile platforms. The reality is that there is no need for an app. Games are created using HTML5 which can be accessed on all smart devices, computers and mobile browsers. Internet access and speed is now so good on mobiles that games can be played from any location.

MYTH: ‘Advergames don’t really generate leads’.

FACT: Not true either as advergames allow customers and brand owners to include call-to- actions to generate responses and sharing of information. To be part of the competition or to get your name on the leaderboard, you provide your contact details. This generates leads for business. According to Branded Mini-Games, 1 in 3 Advergame players provide their contact details to the brand, after playing an Advergame. With social sharing, the game can also generate new leads as the games get recommended to other friends and colleagues.

Myths about Advergames can prevent marketers from exploring and working with a platform that can be very effective in promoting their brands. Advergames deliver significant cost savings and provide greater returns in terms of engagement and sharing.

Digital marketing and expectations of users are constantly changing. Digital marketing spending averaged one quarter of total marketing budgets in 2014, hence marketers need to innovate and be on the lookout for solutions that will provide them with effective marketing and deeper engagement with their target consumers,.

In-game advertising and Advergames are forecast to reach over US$2.67 billion by the year 2017. Advergames are set to grow in Asia which is a very strong market - with gaming accounting for 13% of total mobile ad spend. . This according to industry analysts is expected to only grow at an estimated 19% year- on-year in Asia. The effectiveness, the ubiquity of technology and the cost benefits make Advergames a very compelling proposition that marketers should consider.

The writer is Danielle Kuek, producer and global project manager at Branded Mini Games.