Gaming: Winning Ways for Marketers

Technology plays a central role in the life of today’s teenagers and young adults. It’s a crucial element for marketers to recognise in their attempts to attract the attention of these young consumers.

Multiple marketing solutions are required, with engaging and relevant content. Content that can be interacted with, customised and shared. Casual games provide the perfect combination of these factors.

The tech-savvy teen consumer

Teens are influenced by peers, enjoy absurdity and odd humour and speak their own language. Of course these generational traits are not new and could be said of any of the previous generations of teens. But what distinguishes this generation is the digital nature of their activities.

Teenagers are always connected. They spend 60% less time watching TV and 600% more time on the Internet than their parents– almost 17 hours a week. They text over 50 messages a week. As a result of digital media, they skim text and information quickly, get bored easily and are digitally expressive and creative.

The digital interactivity challenge for marketers

In order to successfully connect with teens, marketers need to find common ground with them– not only by using digital methods, but also by incorporating the characteristics of digital interaction in their marketing approaches.

Marketing material needs to be digital, and allow teens to customise content to suit their preferences. Everything needs to be shareable, downloadable, playable.

Casual games - a perfect marketing medium

Worldwide, 217 million people play casual games. Their attractions are myriad: stress release, boredom relief, relaxation, challenge and recognition, social interaction, and self-development. Casual games are fun, easy to learn and addictive. Gamers show high levels of loyalty and commitment– not only to the games, but to the game providers. Not surprisingly, a significant proportion of gamers are teens. More surprising, but no less true, is that female players make up a higher percentage than males.

Gaming is also not a solitary activity. Casual games provide plenty of opportunities for social interaction and community building. This is a big reason why casual gaming sites have found such popularity amongst teens. They are able to create their own identities using avatars and profiles, and use message boards and chat facilities. Tournaments add a competitive edge, with trophies, badges, power-ups and rankings adding a further aspirational component.

Casual game marketing success stories

Neopets is the original and largest global, youth-focused, online virtual world, launched in 1999, with over 40 million registered users. It averages nearly 12 million unique visitors a month and 30 000 new accounts created daily. Daily content is published simultaneously in 11 languages. The salient point is that 80% of the audience are children and young teens, attracted by Neopets’ rich activities and depth of characters, stories, games, quests, creativity and economy. The key to Neopets’ success has been listening and responding to its loyal audience.

Closer to home, the very successful KTV Games website reached 9 500 users within the first two weeks of launch and has since increased to more than 100 000 game loads per month. KTV Games aligns MNet TV themes with over 600 online games and tournaments.

The marketing benefits of casual games

Games offer plenty of branding and advertising opportunities and benefits. Traditional banner advertising on websites and game pre-loaders are used as games advertising mediums. Companies can brand games or have custom games developed. Gaming offers new promotional opportunities such as links to special events and product promotions. Cross media promotion opportunities are also opened up.

Gaming enables cost-effective and measurable community building. They are a proven user retention and acquisition method, with a 70% average daily return rate. There are limited barriers to entry and games can be made available in multiple formats: instant online play, mobile and downloadable.

With multiple marketing and advertising avenues, up-to-date technology, social media functionality and community-building capabilities, casual games are the perfect marketing vehicle to cost-effectively connect with the modern teen and young adult audience.

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