In part I of this series, we looked at social gaming primarily from a web-based Facebook standpoint. In part II, we will take a look at the types of solutions that enhance the environment the most, leading to better consumer adoption and performance.
1. Find the Best Partner to Navigate Your Social Gaming Landscape
As previously discussed, there is no shortage of companies and methods for advertising within social gaming, both for web based and mobile devices. There are certain experiences that lend themselves to stronger performance; integrating a brand “within” the social game itself is one such example. Many companies will offer solutions “around game,” but not actually ‘in game.” By integrating within the gaming experience, that is to say within the flash experience itself, you are setting yourself up for a far more aesthetic and contextual experience. “Around game” experiences can lead to “banner blindness” which will impact performance and eliminate one of the key advantages of advertising within such an immersive environment, and one that should clearly differentiate itself from standard banners across the web.
2. Advertising type matters more than ever
Next, let’s look at “type” of advertising. As explained above, banners simply won’t perform as well as integrated solutions within this environment. On the other hand, video performs extremely well, and is very relevant for casual gaming. At TrialPay, we notice anywhere from 80-90% (and beyond) completion rates for both short and long form video. We believe that video in and of itself has inherent value as a standalone product, but we also spend considerable time building “brand engagements” that go beyond the video itself and enable the consumer to electively engage with surveys, polls, mini-games, etc. that drive even stronger performance. For instance, we notice secondary CTA’s (calls to action) that result in over 60-seconds of time spent with the brand and between 15-30% CTR’s (Click through Rates) to third party websites or Facebook. Obviously, a “post” engagement interaction rate like this results from thoroughly customizing a campaign based on objectives clearly laid out and understood by the brand within the RFP (Request for Proposal). Aside from its obvious advantages from a performance standpoint, online video is growing faster than any other web ad format (source: eMarketer, June 2011). It will clearly be a driving force for brands moving forward.
3. Optimize for Mobile Gaming
As it pertains to mobile, much has been written on the benefits of 4G and video. With faster download speeds, it goes without saying that video on mobile devices will clearly be a significant growth area in the months and years to come. The majority of Facebook app users (87%), as well as Smartphone users (61%) prefer “free” ad supported environments to “paid” experiences (Source: MediaPost, Aug. 2012), which lends itself very well to the future of advertising on mobile devices, as well as video within this environment. In fact, overall brand recall, favorability and purchase intent are all significantly higher on mobile devices than on web and television video (Source: Nielsen and eMarketer, November 2012). Some of the more popular social games in existence are played on mobile and consumer adoption is growing rapidly, regardless of operating system or device. In fact, tablet growth is exceeding Smartphone growth and is a very robust environment to place advertising simply based on the screen size alone.
As is the case online, the virtual item currency market for mobile enabled devices is expected to more than double in growth from 2011 – 2016, from $2.1B to $4.8B (source: Juniper). Similar to web based brand engagements, the equivalent on mobile also lend themselves to higher impact and better performance as measured by completion rates, CTR’s and CTA’s, particularly compared to standard display ads. The “fat finger” phenomenon is also eliminated, i.e. the process of clicking without pure intent.
Regardless of device or platform, social gaming and brand advertising go hand in hand. As more consumer facing brands run video online and within mobile, it is clear that the social gaming audience will become a “go to” strategy, particularly since recent trends in social gaming indicate developers are building truly “cross platform” games that work across web, mobile and social networks. With proper thought given to the contextual fit and customization elements discussed earlier, consumer adoption will continue to increase and brands will benefit from this unique and immersive environment.
Chris is the VP of Brand Sales for TrialPay. Chris is passionate about working with brands to create unique marketing campaigns that help tie their Web and offline digital objectives together. He has been at the forefront of the social digital world for more than 12 years, including almost a decade-long run as VP of Ad Sales at MTV Digital Networks’ NeoPets. Currently, Chris heads Brand Sales at TrialPay, where he helps brands connect with Facebook’s 300+ million social gamers through premium, in-game brand engagements.