I have to admit, I’m kind of a nerd. I didn’t grow up on video games, but somewhere in my early 20’s I stumbled upon World of Warcraft and I totally became a big nerd for a while. If you are unfamiliar with W.O.W. it is a MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Roll-Playing Game. With over 11 million subscribers, you could call it the epitome of social gaming. Inevitably I eventually realized that I needed to find a more productive way to spend my time rather than riding around on an over-sized ostrich in a fantasy world killing things and trying to get better gear for my Blood Elf Paladin. ( If you’re clueless, it’s alright. Just don’t ask.) I’ll just say it was fun while it lasted.
There are many facets to social gaming, which centers around competitors who interact in an online community that has predetermined rules and goals. If you’re starting to wonder what any of this has to do with social media marketing, let me give you an example.
Have you ever been playing Call of Duty and upon running in to an advertisement for a Big Mac you had to run out to the 24 hour McDonald’s down the street? The subconscious can be a powerful motivator. A study by Nielsen Entertainment found that brand familiarity rose 64 percent in study participants after exposure to in-game ads. Purchase consideration also increased by 41 percent in this study.
Social games offer a very specific targeted audience for your brand marketing. A “hardcore gamer” (a gamer who has highly advanced skills and must invest extended periods of time into each game-play session) is so immersed within a game, that real world venues and advertisements are necessary to make the game environment believable. Display ads like the one above are a simple way to place your product into a game. You can also use script placements/verbal mentions. These work best in games like Madden NFL who has partnered with Old Spice and Snickers.
On the other hand, casual gamers play games like Words With Friends while riding the bus or waiting at the laundromat. Casual gamers also enjoy games like Candy Crush and Farmville that are connected to Facebook. These games don’t require a lot of time to play and are easy to learn.
I feel it is an oversight on my part that up to this point I’ve overlooked the marketing potential social gaming has to offer. With games offering small target audiences and ads being relatively inexpensive, there may be a spot for your brand. Gaming isn’t just for teenage boys anymore. The average gamer has 12 years of gaming experience under their belt and is 34 years old. Games within the context of social media platforms opened up a whole new breed of casual gamers that includes more women and older consumers, not just younger males