ADOTAS – I’m a little sad that Bunchball gamified Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” rather than “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” For the latter I can only imagine the joy gleaned from a quick-draw-like contest where you see who can throw wine in the other’s face first. Or maybe a game in which you cake on as much makeup as possible without suffocating the housewife. The virtual points earned can go toward virtual plastic surgery.
Even “The Real Housewives of Washington, DC” would have been more exciting: Do you have the gall to sneak your way into a White House state dinner?
Not that the gamification of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” is anything shabby — users can build a housewife avatar that they clothe through earning points via watching episodes and visiting other Bravo pages. Then users square off in a fashion showdown, where members of the community vote who is looking the most stylish that week.
It’s not as gloriously trashy as throwing a massive temper tantrum in a five-star restaurant because you were served tap water instead of Perrier, but it’s still pretty damn engaging — the user update stream is full of activity.
Even though gamification as a marketing tool has been gaining velocity — as well as skepticism — in the last few years, Bunchball has been “gamifying” websites since 2005 and is arguably the frontrunner in the space. Gamification is the practice of introducing social gaming elements into marketing campaigns or customer loyalty programs to enhance engagement.
Bunchball just announced that it has doubled its customer base in the last year and now tracks 2.5 billion actions by 70 million uniques every month. Clients include major media operations — television networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, Bravo, USA, Syfy and Telemundo as well as movie studios like Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox — as well as retailers and consumer product goods companies.
Through using Bunchball’s Nitro platform, these companies have seen their page views double, pages per visit increase by 60%, unique jump 30%, time on site increase by 100% and a doubling in repeat monthly visits. Bunchball suggest clients typically witness ROI of 400%.
A good deal of the skepticism around gamification revolves around the idea that virtual rewards cannot draw long-term brand engagement — games like FarmVille and CityVille could be called the exceptions to the rule, but those are games first with marketing efforts embedded. CrowdTwist made a splash by adding physical rewards (discounts on tickets, etc.) to its gamification element. Mobile ad network Kiip offers real rewards (free soda!) to mobile gamers.
It’s a growing market with plenty of room for innovation — eMarketer recently suggested that gamification will grow from a $100 million industry in 2011 to a $1.6 billion one in 2015.