The growing impact of gamification on interactive marketing

As the influence of the games culture continues to grow through social media, mobile apps and multi-player online games, marketers and designers are increasingly turning to gamification – the application of video game techniques to online, mobile and social user experiences – to market their products.

The combination of ever faster broadband speeds and more powerful and easy-to-use rich media development software is creating a perfect environment for marketers to design high engagement, game-like promotions.

This influence is across marketing channels, including display advertising, websites and microsites, email, social media, mobile and others. Two recent examples are worth noting, both from a global camera manufacturer.

The first example is a high engagement campaign that cleverly ties in the product to the “game play”. Customers are directed to a landing page with a densely populated beach scene. The rules of the game are displayed alongside a “play now” button. On clicking the button, the digital camera view screen is displayed which allows the player to zoom in their view of the beach scene as it is dragged around the image.

Just above the screen fold appears three close up snippits of the beach scene. The goal is to find those scenes and snap a picture of it with the camera within 45 seconds. Upon completion of the game, the player is rewarded with a significant instant discount on a bestselling digital camera.

What sets this campaign apart from the more simple interactive game display ads that have been around for some time, is its high production values, strong tie to the product and more complex and rich user experience.

Another example from this manufacturer is a promotion where the offer is communicated, but the actual discount varies and is not know until the “game” is played. This offers high engagement potential, because customers are curious about what their discount could be. In this version, customers are sent an email with a “Play to Save” headline and a mock slot machine image.

Recipients are directed to “Give it a spin to find out what you’ll save on your next purchase!”. The “play now” button links through to a landing page with the same mock slot machine. A click spins the slot machine reels and the pay line reveals the discount. The entire user experience is very engaging and effective.

These are just two examples of many that marketers are using to leverage the increasing popularity of games in their target markets. Because online games have jumped across demographic groups and segments around the world, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the gamification of interactive marketing.

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Jim Wehmann serves as the senior vice president of global marketing for Digital River, a leading provider of global e-commerce solutions. Prior to joining Digital River in 2003 as its vice president of global strategic marketing, Jim served as vice president of marketing at Brylane, a company with more than $300 million in annual online sales and the nation’s third largest consumer cataloguer. Jim is a graduate with distinction from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, where he earned a Master of Business Administration. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He also has considerable experience and academic study in finance and is a CPA.