Advertising and world of gaming: As part of The Drum’s deep dive into all things gaming, Verizon Media’s Josh Partridge discusses why brands should consider gamifying their advertising – and how they can do it.
With the rise of interactive formats in all forms of entertainment — from Netflix’s decision on the “Black Mirror” episode of Bandersnatch to retail AR trials to VR movies in which you find yourself “in the movie” — the lines between traditional linear “recliner” entertainment and “games” (in the sense of an interactive experience that you control through story) are blurring.
Advertisers considering game strategy have to look for new opportunities to place in or near games. That’s in addition to in-game OOH opportunities (or is that “out-of-the-world” advertising?), video and Xbox seating to reach millions of people on the big screen, menu ads for mobile gamers and sponsorships in esports tournaments.
While the gaming context can’t be ignored as a fantastic way to reach audiences, there is a way to communicate your brand to an even broader audience that tends to have an interactive, engaging experience outside of a purely “gaming” context: gamification.
No, it doesn’t mean designing and creating entirely new games and trying to publish them. It’s simply a way to bring gaming experiences into everyday formats and contexts that draw people into interacting with your brand, offering them a richer and deeper interactive element to what would normally be a passive, browsing-only experience.
Here are some hints and tips we’ve learned from our recent experience moving the gaming experience beyond the world of gaming:
Make it interactive, not passive: simple, interactive mechanics are simple and effective ways to continue or complete audience familiarity with your brand. Mechanics such as a branching video can provide an interactive challenge, that is, choosing the right path to complete the experience. If it’s interesting, enticing and has a clear reward (with a promotional or competitive element), people will want to participate. (The game Resident Evil 2 tried this on YouTube).
Introduce competition: It doesn’t take much effort to make media more fun and engaging, using techniques often found in games; you can reward users for participating with a prize or the opportunity to compete against others. We recently hosted an international treasure hunt using blockchain technology, asking people to search for and find digital Doritos packs to win a Playstation 5 and other prizes, such as the ability to instantly exchange the packs in-store.
Bring 3D interactive ads to life in a 2D environment: using webAR formats, you can use flat 2D images to create a web browser-scale augmented reality instead of relying on apps and QR codes to animate them. From simple product placement to interactive characters, this simple upgrade can provide a much more engaging connection with consumers than simply asking them to watch your video. (Pizza Hut grew PacMan on its packaging this way).
Immersive: With live events like concerts, sports games and tournaments, or even retail, you can enhance the physical experience by overlaying a digital experience, or bring people together in the digital world to interact directly with your brand. Find ways your brand can enhance the overall experience that consumers typically get. You can provide halftime entertainment with a group gamified AR experience in a sports stadium, like the NFL did with its Ultra Toss game, which asked viewers to land their ball in the back of an AR truck that appeared to be on the field and win prizes. Or creating a virtual fashion experience – like The Fabric of Reality, which we created with the Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion and the Museum of Other Realities. The virtual world allowed designers to create things without any physical limitations, to showcase their creativity in entirely new ways.
Connectivity and device adoption (especially in VR) have traditionally been considered a barrier to these types of immersive experiences. But as 5G proliferates and new AR/VR devices become smaller and cheaper, the appetite for such interactive, immersive experiences will only grow.
A recent study we conducted on consumer appetite for these types of events found that 69% of British consumers are excited about VR and AR, and 66% said they now expect their digital experiences and interactions with brands to be seamless, innovative and enhance their real world. So it’s important that brands rethink their digital strategies and use new and interesting ways to engage with their audiences to entertain and inspire them, as well as educate and inform them about brand products and services.
Scaling webAR ad formats across browsers as well as apps means you can scale your advertising to the open web. In addition, we can reach audiences through Xbox and all the major in-game ad providers to bring your ads directly to the gaming audience.
So if you want to have a full game strategy, get into gamification of advertising. Experiment, be relevant, and improve, not interrupt, people’s real and digital experiences. Do that, and people are much more likely to appreciate and engage with your efforts. Let the games begin.