Two of my passions are gaming and marketing. Whenever I have the opportunity for the two to intersect I am overjoyed. Previously, I have written on the topic of advergaming (imedia) and brand integrations (IEG). This article will highlight case studies of advergaming as well as introduce edutainment case studies.
Gaming is big business. According to Gartner, the projected worldwide video game market size in 2014 will surpass $100 billion dollars. In 2014, 58% of Americans have played a video game and 68% of gamers are 18 or older. With the fragmentation and shifts in media consumption, gaming provides significant dwell times with a hyper-connected audience. Brands that create authentic and relevant value that empowers gamers will “unlock” value beyond impressions.
Let’s start with a terminology refresher. An Advergame is an electronic game – often low-cost or free – designed to promote a brand or product.
ADVERGAMING – Advergaming is closely associated with above the line, through the line and below the line integration where the advertisements or brand integrations are either explicit and may be an integral part of the game or products are embedded seamlessly into the existing gameplay.
ABOVE THE LINE EXAMPLES
Burger King – Xbox 360 Licensed Games
Coca-Cola – Mini Me
Taco Bell – The Waiting Game
Kellogg’s – Coco Pops
Skittles – Darkened Skye
Key points to consider are ATL executions are normally executed with the brand primarily in creative control of the project. As a start-up or independent developer, this is where there is an opportunity to license your product to be distributed through the brand’s channels. This type of execution would take a brand partner willing to make a significant investment to cover development, distribution, promotional and non-development fees.
THROUGH THE LINE – Through the line examples are more commonly tied to alternate reality games (ARGs). This is when consumers interact with links, websites and promotional material outside the game. I have written about ARG integrations such as the Hanso Foundation ARG tied to the LOST television show. Other examples are:
The Dark Knight ARG
HALO – ilovebees
BELOW THE LINE – Authenticity and relevance are the keys to successfully executing below the line integrations. For additional insight and behind the scenes access to how partnerships are actually executed I turned to the reigning king of below the line integrations, Chris Erb. Formerly of Electronic Arts, Legendary Pictures, and co-founder of the gaming agency TripleClix. Chris and I have served on boards together and have spent time over the years discussing this topic.
Chris is the architect of some of the most successful and authentic below the line integrations over the past few years. His partnerships with Coca-cola and Frito-Lay redefined how brand integrations can not only provide access to new audiences but also drive business results such as aligning traditional CPG products into new areas within the retail setting.
According to Chris, “A number of prominent brands have or want to get into the gaming space. The issue is that publishers and brands don’t always speak the same language. It is less about selling ads in games and more about seamlessly connecting the brand and the game in an authentic way.”
Chris’ statement also aligns with existing consumer behavior. When I recently conducted primary research on motivations tied to consumer pre-order behavior, two key elements were consistent. Gamers want exclusive content or early access. Everything else was of secondary consideration. The goal of brand integration should be to empower gamers.
EA – Coca Cola = FIFA
EA – Doritos = 3D
Rolls Royce – Forza
By empowering gamers and creating opportunities for brands to seamlessly integrate into the gaming experience, brands that choose to implement below the line programs in an authentic way have the opportunity to increase brand perception as well as reach a highly coveted audience.
EDUTAINMENT – Edutainment is any content that is designed to educate as well as entertain. This is an example of consumers playing an ordinary game and product promotions are embedded into the game. There has been a rise of educational content that is also meant to entertain. There is also an opportunity for brands looking to extend the reach of an altruistic cause through education and awareness through the lens of branded entertainment.
Here are examples of edutainment:
Telefonica – A sponsored initiative to boost youth literacy in Brazil
Limbs Alive – 3D game designed to aid recovering stroke victims
SMARTeacher – One of my favorite examples, this is an educational game that uses biofeedback to enhance the experience
Here is a short video outlining the Prodigy Experience
Consumers will continue to seek gaming experiences across devices. There is a significant opportunity to break through to a highly engaged audience. This goes beyond simply running display ads in games. The key is to enhance the experience of the consumers in a very authentic and contextual way. It is also important that the essence of the brand aligns with the potential gaming properties. The brands that can leverage publisher partnerships to truly collaborate on enhancing the experience will reap the rewards of empowering gamers.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360
Follow Chris Erb @ChrisErb
Follow TripleClix @TripleClix