Sunday, November 6, 2011

Game Plus Marketing Equals Gamification?

     As an Integrated Marketing Communication student at Northwestern's Medill IMC programI am quite embarrassed to admit that I have only heard about Gamification in one of my classes in the last quarter of my school year.  What is Gamification really?  I Googled.  Gamification is the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences. Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes aka "funware” in order to encourage people to adopt them.  While it all sounds quite simple, how do companies and marketers really apply this in real business? 

     As I was browsing through the web for examples of gamification, have I realized that this has really become a very popular idea to enhance audience’s engagement.  It has surprised me how many big brands have already begun to implement this concept in many creative ways.   One example is Pepsi. Pepsi teamed up with X Factor to create Pepsi Pulse and Pepsi Sound Off, which are two gamified social media platforms that allow viewers to compete and communicate while watching the show. 

     Although Gamification is still relatively new but it is growing very fast and its concept, if designed correctly, will surely attract and engage audience to be more involved in the campaign or information that is trying to be delivered.  There are already many Gamification design powerpoints shared with marketers that highlights the power of good gamification design and what potential benefits gamification can help a business achieve.  One author puts that “gamification is: the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users”.  

     Gamification can influence users actions.  By building a Gamification content, players have more incentives to visit the page more often and marketer can interact with players instantly to establish stronger and two way  relationships.  While engagement is one of the most influential metrics because if it is higher, generally the other metrics will be as well.  Gamification is definitely your new content strategy to successfully  achieve high engagement when effectively designed.

     If you want to learn more about gamification, there are some companies such as Xbox, Linkedin, Hallmark, Nike, Facebook, Microsoft, and American Airline etc., who have already used this marketing strategy.  As we can see, many brands are capitalizing on the trend of integrating game mechanism into their marketing strategy to enhance higher engagement.  It’s time for some FUN!

by Tracy Huang (@meowcatyu)
Graduate Student at Northwestern Medill IMC

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