ADOTAS – The online community has just about run the notion of “engagement” into the ground, don’t you think? Trying to move beyond eyeballs and click-throughs as proof points that ads are seen and make an impact, lots of companies have tossed around the amorphous notion of “engagement,” since it seems to imply that users somehow “engage” with ads. Problem is that “engage” can mean anything from a simple exposure to an ad, to quickly closing a pop-up, to a mouse hover, to a video only partially viewed.
Perhaps the solution lies in the movement towards gamification. This is the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and grab the attention of audiences. And why not? After all, we all love games, and anything that puts the fun into otherwise ordinary or mundane tasks is far more compelling than sitting through the same old “expected” experience. And it can be big — I mean really big: There has even been much written speculation that Farmville killed daytime soap operas, drawing moms away from TV and to their computer screens. Gamification techniques are starting to be used for everything from education to social awareness from market research to solving complex medical collaboration problems. According to Gartner, more than 50 percent of all organizations that manage innovation will gamify those processes by 2015.
Brands have slowly adopted gamification to drive their consumers to take some sort of action, whether it be creating virtual currencies that can be converted to real discounts to their products in exchange for completing a survey, or promoting their brand by creating a branded virtual environment where fans can meet each other, play branded games for rewards and unlock branded virtual goods.
Gamification can truly give users an immersive experience that can result in (pardon the pun) game-changing behavior. For example: Recyclebank, a company that rewards consumers with coupons and discounts for taking small, everyday green actions, launched Gaming for Good in association with Google and ROI Research, Inc. The initiative took the form of an online gamified website called the Green Your Home Challenge, where participants visited the site throughout the month to learn how to be more environmentally conscious and to take simple green actions throughout their own homes. Engagement through the month was driven by the sequential opening of rooms in a virtual home on the website. The outcome was extremely positive:
• Fifty- eight percent of participants surveyed said they are very or extremely likely to take additional green actions in the future as a result of participating in the challenge.
• Participants who visit the Recyclebank website at least once a week went from 23.7 percent to 45.4 percent (a 91.6 percent increase).
• Recyclebank saw a 71 percent increase in unique visitors and a 42 percent increase in new members.
There is no reason why other brands can’t achieve these kind of metrics. Already brands can measure the impact of their online video ads with aspects of gamification technology challenging consumers to play the commercial instead of hoping they watch. Utilizing game mechanics and overlays, standard commercials can be turned into games where the consumer is encouraged to interact with the brand messaging. By adding in brand rankings and real rewards, the consumer is scored on how well they understand the commercial, offered up real rewards or incentives to take an action, and allowed to share the now-commercial game experience with their friends and family across social media.
Gamification is more than hype or the current “buzz.” The human consumer is psychologically predisposed to engage in gaming. All it takes is a little imagination and the right approach for gamification to make a lot of “cents” (and dollars) for brands.