How Gaming is taking Native Advertising to the Next Level

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Gaming and Advertising! Gone are the days of one-sided advertising, today’s consumers are willing to give you feedback on their preferences and feelings toward your brand, but they won’t give up that information too easy. To start building the open exchange of information between brand and consumer, you’re going to have to play a little game.

What is traditional native advertising?

Native advertising is the reformatting of product and service advertisements in order to look, integrate and blend with real content, articles and media. Native advertising has been around for some time now, first appearing in magazines, sometimes taking up an entire two page spread, disguised as regular content. The layout and size of the Native Advertising would register to most readers as just another article to be read and in doing so would lower the reader’s guard, allowing for customer/brand engagement for better or worse under false pretences.

Native advertising works to interest potential customers through primarily a rented service and lead them back to the type of content that companies do own. This content is targeted to keep customers interested, build trust, and drive conversions. 

Content Marketing and Native Advertising are two similar yet different terms that often get confused. However, content marketing is a much bigger idea and has a wider and more longer-term focused goal. Like native advertising, content marketing provides valuable knowledge to raise brand awareness while targeting a specialised group of potential customers.

While native advertising traditionally runs on a “pay to play” model set up on an external platform, content marketing is owned by the business that is sharing it. Content marketing goes further in that its primary focus is moreover to nourish the lead as part of a long-term process with the end result being sales and conversions.  It is not a single piece of content but rather an ongoing process into multiple streams in which you can integrate into an overall marketing campaign to reach your valued audience.

Native advertising and content marketing have different goals and different methods to achieve them. Combined they can collaborate to bring a significant amount of quality content to quality customers.

How does Digital Native Advertising work?

It used to be a matter of tricking your audience into not knowing the difference between native advertising and their regular editorial content, but with the popularity of websites such as Buzzfeed, consumers have come to not only recognise native ads, but expect them.

In its infancy, the list-and-quiz style site lead the charge on creating a new strategy for monetising content – no banner ads, strictly native advertising. The concept made it possible for Buzzfeed to have more control over how ads made an impact on the site’s look and feel. The strategy proved fruitful – a leak released by Gawker revealed that Buzzfeed’s revenue skyrocketed from $4 million in 2011 to $64 million in 2013, and $46 million just in the first six months of 2015.

The removal of banner ads (an ineffective yet long running staple in digital advertising) for advertising which can blended into your regularly scheduled programming is not only received well by customers but longed for as most forms of digital native advertising have an engaging component to them.

As advertisers continued to look for flashy new ways to engage consumers on their favourite sites, something new was born – Gamified content.

Bringing Games into Branded Content

Gamified content combines your usual branded materials with interactive opt-in tools, like games, giveaways, and freebies to pull the viewer in. These “games” are designed to build a two-way relationship with the consumer and advertiser – by opting in, consumers are giving the brand information on their preferences and online habits.

The greatest native ads employ these gaming concepts, and the evergreen popularity of Buzzfeed’s quiz section is living proof. Today, most quizzes from “Pick a Breed of Dog and We’ll Tell You Which Spice Girl You Are” to “What Your Dunkin Donuts Order Says About You” are taking it a step beyond branded content, and the proof is hidden within each quiz.

In one quiz titled “Go Shopping and We’ll Tell You If You’re an Introvert or Extrovert,” quiz questions that match the style of the original content help gather information for Google Play about player preferences.

Without giving it a second thought, due to most Buzzfeed quizzes being taken in a content-induced blur as a means of passing time on the Internet, consumers are taking their pick and exchanging information with advertisers.

At the most simplified level, Gamified content is a questionnaire or poll, but there is currently a great opportunity, especially with the largely interactive smartphone culture to take it a step further.

Mobile native advertisements allow for seamless integration and customer experience. Interactive games with multiple levels, competitions, and compounding rewards allow brands to gather leads, build social media relationships and gain brand loyalty.

The concept in itself sounds simple enough, but just how hard is it to create content that both advertises your product and gathers information without the consumer either losing interest or feeling manipulated?

How Advertisers Plan for Gamified Native Ads

  1. Know your audience. Great Gamified content is built on knowledge of the consumer. Before creating content, you should have more information on hand than just your average consumer demographics – take into account digital literacy and attention span.

  2. Blend your platform and content seamlessly. The tone and voice of your brand has already been established by the language you use in social media posting, community management, and site content. But the real challenge comes in thinking native – blend your own brand voice with the tone of the article.

  3. Practice hyper-segmentation. Using high level demographics, you can draw conclusions on everything from how many steps in the game a user will tolerate to the quality of graphics they would expect. Some things to keep in mind are income levels, education and the amount of time they’re expecting to spend within the content.

What makes Gamified Content so Engaging?

Gamified content is a truly unique marketing tool, mostly because consumers don’t see it as marketing at all. Brands of all sizes are using games in their native content to gather leads, but some people remain unconvinced. Why would you invest in creating Gamified content?

It’s perfectly mobile optimised. According to Forbes, 80% of smartphone users play games, while 50% of smartphone users playing games daily. 32% of mobile activity involves playing games, followed by Facebook at 18%. By combining social, gaming, and a branding message, you’ve turned the mobile device into your ultimate lead-generating tool.

Games can almost guarantee engagement with their format, When your content is on the right sites, aimed at the correct targets looking to pass time, you eliminate the gap between impressions and engagement, both incentivising and encouraging consumers to participate in a brand awareness activity, while the player has fun. It’s a win-win.

Games also deliver incredible conversion rates, with seemingly endless ways in which to do so such as leaderboards and competitions. This tactics increase the likelihood that players will continue to exchange information for a second chance at cracking the high score, each level can require different information from the consumers, and high levels can reap bigger rewards.

How Gamify is Putting Games to Work

For the fast food franchise Wendy’s, the idea was to engage clients and make connections on social media. “The Ghost Pepper Blow Out” aimed to do just that with a simple swipe-to-match game using real menu items. The game being targeted more towards the smartphone culture could be played on both mobile and desktop with a 1 minute game duration.

What Wendy’s found was that most users played well beyond the allotted 1 minute time frame. Consumers that managed to score over 20,000 points (which could take a couple rounds of practice) became eligible to enter a daily draw for Wendy’s vouchers and see the leaderboard to know where they stand. After each game, players were prompted to challenge their friends, sending a shared invite on social media.

For a game that could easily be played on a short elevator ride, the results were remarkable. Wendy’s new Gamified content garnered a 70-second average engagement, which is especially impressive considering dwindling video results. The average Facebook video watch time is a mere ten seconds, or only 4% of the video. It comes as no surprise that the game was 181% more effective than their previous video campaign.

At Gamify, our goal is to drive traffic, guarantee brand engagement, support social sharing and help customers find new value in brand rewards. Over 9,700 clients have used Gamify’s award-winning services and software. Small business owners and Fortune 500 companies alike have seen the benefits:

  • Gamified ads see 181% higher click-through rates than traditional digital advertising

  • Consumers are more than 220% more likely to enter key details at the end of a game over a generic video prompt

  • Games are 700% more likely to build value and use of a customer’s brand reward, over an end video handout


Every brand stands to gain from using online games as a marketing tool, especially in today’s digital marketing context. To learn how Gamified ads could make a difference for your brand, schedule your free one-on-one consultation through filling out the information field below.

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