Blogging Out Loud

Connecting You with the Latest Marketing Tips and Trends.

The Game of Life.

The new games in town are virtual ones, and industry leaders are relying on them to attract consumers.

People who grew up playing games such as Monopoly learned the value of healthy competition. Now, smart brands are banking on that same spirit to drive consumer awareness in the virtual gaming world.

Unlike many of my coworkers, I’m far from being considered cutting edge when it comes to technology: I don’t track the latest and greatest developments in cell phone and computer technology (although I do manage to acquire “hip” accessories, i.e. iPhone, MacBook, etc.); I’m hard-pressed to operate a home entertainment center without breaking a sweat; and I social network with gusto one day, and utter disdain the next. Naturally, when my Facebook and Twitter feeds became clogged with FarmVille, Foursquare and Mafia Wars updates, I tossed my virtual hands up in despair. I started using these services to keep up with friends; what I didn’t realize was that “keeping up” meant more than family photos and the occasional work update, it also meant staying apprised of the evolving day-to-day marketplace. But then I read this. Leave it to a designer knockoff discount chain to get me to listen. And apparently, I’m not alone. In its May 31, 2010 issue, Advertising Age reported that a “gaggle of brands, from 7-Eleven to JetBlue, H&M and Tesla Motors are counting on people’s attraction to competition to get them more engaged.” Whether playing for badges, points or simply bragging rights, consumers are turning to alternative realities for more than entertainment. It should come as no surprise that it’s working.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but evolving online communities seem to be trumping real ones in getting our attention. At the very least, they’re raising the bar of consumer expectation and the potential for business outreach.

As the line between real and virtual lives becomes more blurred, it makes sense that smart brands are engaging consumers across all levels. According to a recent Nielsen report: “For US households with Internet access, 75 percent visited a social networking site in May. And more than half of online adults have at least one social networking profile.” It would be downright foolish for marketers to not target this demographic, especially when considering another Nielsen report that found that top social media users are 1. affluent and 2. urban. In plain language, these are the people who have ready access to goods and who have money to spend.

Take, for example, this report from digital marketing news site ClickZ. It asserts that while Foursquare is “hands-down the leader of the location-based/geo-social marketing space when it comes to hype [and I’d be quick to point out it is by far the favorite among my young, professional friends], other services are making their marks among both brands and users.” It then goes on to site successful online campaigns to engage consumers from The Gap, Olay and Pepsi. It’s no coincidence that these brands are both industry leaders and ahead of the virtual game. That is, after all, what this is. It’s the Game of Life. Whether they realize it or not, consumers are in it to play, and smart brands – should knowingly – be in it to win.

What team are you on?

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
Photo credit: therichbrooks
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About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

10 comments on “The Game of Life.

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  4. Joanna
    July 14, 2010

    I have to admit, the whole Farmville thing is very much lost on me but then again I was never into Second Life either and way back when was only slightly interested in The Sims. I do love the idea of getting real rewards and putting them towards something really important- you know like a new dress from H&M. I am checking out MyTown right now!

    Like

    • JJ Nelson
      July 14, 2010

      I think you hit the nail on the head, Joanna. There’s a “game” out there for everyone. The challenge for marketers is matching their product and their audience.

      Like

  5. Cristina Vazquez
    July 14, 2010

    Great promotional and relevant tactic, I am on FB constantly but to this date never been tempted to play one of those Farmville or Mafia Wars games. But there are hard core gamers out there, and that’s enough spark to get their FB friends intrigued and/or join as well.

    Like

  6. Ryan Bish
    July 14, 2010

    The more value you give your consumers the more attracted/comfortable they will be the next time. There’s nothing like good old entertainment & creativity to throw into your product to attract more and more people. Virtual games are the latest invention to attract more consumers. An example would be the McDonald’s Monopoly game that is currently trying to make its way onto the virtual stage as they both offer a paper board game card and an online game. People always will enjoy the excitement of the “what if I win” mentality.

    If you want to take it a bit further, if you go to a ducks game, they always seem to play the chase the puck game on the scoreboard, this alone wouldn’t cause you to go to their games but it does add some sort of competitive entertainment in between whistles. I can see the next step in this would be to have some personal interactivity with the scoreboard with your phone, I can just see when you pick the right number by texting, you will win a coupon or prize sent directly to your phone.

    Facebook and other sites had the right idea with some of their virtual games to attract consumers, but I believe you only can go so far with most of them. The bragging lines and messages get old real quick and the updates are becoming annoying.

    Like

  7. Diane
    July 14, 2010

    I no longer use facebook as I couldn’t keep watering everyone’s plants and feeding their farm animals. I don’t know about the rest of you – but sometimes Facebook seemed like a full time job. But from the vast # of users that like these games, etc it is a perfect fit for promotions.

    Like

  8. Jeff
    July 13, 2010

    “It should come as no surprise that it’s working.” Is is really? When your facebook wall is constantly being bombarded with “junkfeed” that is pushing everything else aside, there will come a point very soon when we will throw our virtual hands up and say, “enough is enough!”

    As for me, I am now actively removing from my friends list anyone who is playing and posting their progress with Mafiawars or Farmville!!

    Like

    • JJ Nelson
      July 13, 2010

      Farmville and Mafia Wars are but two of many online communities, and although I agree with you that the “junkfeed” associated with the two of them is especially annoying, I think that’s besides the point. People — consumers — use them. They might not be you and me, but others do. This might be a good example of knowing your audience and engaging them in the appropriate forum.

      Like

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This entry was posted on July 13, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

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