As a marketer, you should always be seeking new channels to reach and engage with your customers regardless of whether or not your campaigns are struggling. Whether offering special offers or simply trying to increase your brand’s awareness, investing in in-game marketing can do wonders for your advertisement campaigns.
In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of game marketing through free mobile games, the unique benefits that they provides, and how you can get started today!
What is Game Marketing?
Have you ever downloaded a free game for your smartphone and noticed that it features prominent advertising for a specific brand? Branding isn't placed in mobile games by accident, and some notable brands will even go as far as to develop an entirely new game around their products or services.
What separates game marketing from traditional video campaigns is the genuine value that it provides the user. Assuming that the game is engaging and fun for the player, they will find more value in game advertising campaigns than traditional video campaigns because they have a chance to derive entertainment value out of the game along with special offers. It’s practically a win-win situation for both the brand and the player.
Game marketing can be as simple as having a logo prominently placed throughout the in-game environment or companies can choose to have an entirely new game designed around the brand. We've found that most brands have success when creating a game designed around their brand that offers rewards or special offers when players can reach a certain level or score a certain amount of points.
When simply given a reward or special offer from a video, customers don't receive the same sense of accomplishment that a game provides. People are more likely to use a reward that they earned from a game because it wasn't simply given to them. If they don't use the prize or special offer, they might feel that they wasted their time playing the game without receiving any real benefit for the time they spent playing.
Video Campaigns vs. Game Campaigns
Traditional video campaigns are wildly popular across the Internet and do indeed provide value for many brands. Once the video is created, spreading it across the web, targeting different audiences is easy. The main problem with video campaigns is in its lack of genuine engagement and value creation for the viewer. Don't get us wrong; videos can be a great way to generate more traffic, but wouldn't you instead provide customers with value through a channel that isn't overcrowded with competitors?
In-game advertisements and branded mini-games are a channel that most advertisers and brands have yet to embrace fully. Many believe that it can be too complicated to develop a game or simply don't know the tremendous ROI that branded mini-games can provide. Here are some statistics that we’ve gathered from our experience creating branded games for prominent brands across the world:
- In comparison to videos, games receive 181% more clicks.
- Customers are 2.2 times more likely to enter details at the end of the game, leading to valuable leads for your brand.
- Players are seven times more likely to value and use the rewards that they won.
As you can see, branded mini-games are not a waste of marketing, money or time at all, and can, in fact, provide tremendous value when compared to traditional video campaigns. The secret to achieving success with a branded mini-game campaign is to come up with a solid plan and team up with the right developer that has the experience to put your plan into action.
After the game is complete, there are a few different ways to publish it. Most commonly, businesses have the choice of either self hosting the game, working through a publisher, or posting the game in a store. Here is a summary of each option:
Because a HTML5 game is just like any other website, if you’re a developer, you can just upload it to your remote server and pick a domain name. From there you can host it on your server like any other website. One thing to consider if you want to make money from the game is the source code. You must take steps to protect it; otherwise, someone could steal it, claim it as their own and profit from your hard work.
As you would assume from the title, with this choice, you simply let a reputable publisher take care of your game. There are hundreds of publishers out there, each specialising in different aspects. You should decide your goals with the game before going this route. Since we assume you’ll be making this game to promote your brand to as many people as possible, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a publisher to host your game, allowing everyone access to the game.
The most straightforward route is to directly upload the game to one of the many online marketplaces or stores for users to directly access. Each OS and store will have different requirements so you'll want to make sure that you're formatting and packaging the game so it runs smoothly across devices.
How Games Are Distributed
When it comes to distribution of your branded game, there are two options: desktop or mobile. Each provides its benefits. However, for the more basic games with the sole purpose to create an engaging way to advertise to users and provide special offers, we've seen more success with mobile games on smartphones and tablets.
Gamify specialises in mobile games and recommends them to your clients for a couple of reasons:
First, it's hard to compete with desktop games directly. Desktop games have been around longer than mobile games, meaning that developers have years if not decades of experience creating these games. Branded games are typically more basic forms of more traditional games, desktop users may be deterred unless there is a worthy incentive attached.
In the mobile gaming industry, however, HTML5 technology has a chance to run optimally. Because Flash is over, HTML5 can show its real advantages while remaining fully multi-platform.
That being said, if you want to expand and tap into as many markets as possible, you can port your game over to desktop at some point in the future to be published on popular platforms like the Chrome Web Store or Firefox OS
Developing a Branded Game Marketing Plan
Much like the start of any marketing campaign, you need to determine your goals with this game before getting to work developing it. A lot of the plan comes down to determining the level of involvement that the brand would like to have in the development process. Do you want to have a say in exactly how the game will look and function or trust a development studio to handle the technical details?
Additionally, the product should match the game format. If you take a look at our case studies, you can see how we were able to help match different clients’ products with various game formats. Different demographics will be more attracted to different game formats, and a professional development team should be able to provide information connecting customer segments to game formats such as puzzle, adventure, or sports games.
Apart from the game itself, landing pages and special offers should be optimised to ensure maximum engagement with the players. The fastest way to ruin the user engagement is to lead them to incorrect, broken, or irrelevant links that have no relevance to the game itself.
Once you have a game plan in place, you can then start shopping around to different branded game developers and agencies to find the one that fits your needs.
What Services will a Developer Offer?
Game marketing can take a few different forms depending on the involvement the company would like to have in the development of the mini game.
Services might be different depending on the company that you choose. At Gamify, we offer four different service levels to meet the individual needs of each brand. We can either function as:
- Direct Customer
- Marketing Agency
- Marketing Agency + Designer
- Test Engine
Here is a little more information about each service level:
We work through a marketing agency to suit the client’s brand to customise the marketing campaign for maximum ROI.
This gives the brand the most control over their mini game. We provide the company with our award-winning software platform so they can develop the game however they would like while saving money and time.
Marketing Agency + Designer:
If companies don't want to go through the trouble of developing the game on their own or outsourcing their development, our team of in-house developers has the experience to get it done! We've developed hundreds of original games for companies and agencies around the world.
If your company is still experimenting and testing out the market, our game engine is perfect for powering your mini branded game. You can create mock games to show clients how they would look and function and then make final decisions before moving forward with development.
Because a vast majority of these branded mobile games are based on existing mini games, many of the times we can simply apply branded graphics throughout the mini game to advertise the brand with minimal effort.
If the brand is looking for a more original game, it could take a larger budget and more time; however, the potential return on investment could be greater.
The Future of Campaign Marketing
Mobile games provide a way for users to engage with their favourite brands rather than simply taking in the advertisements as passive viewers. Mobile branded games are typically alternative versions of existing games with a unique "skin" featuring the brand's logo and other graphics. Depending on the goals and budget, a branded game can be genuinely entertaining and immersive for the players and the better the game, the better the sponsor appears.
With hundreds of marketing channels available for brands on the Internet, branded gaming is a channel that many small businesses have not gravitated towards because they assume it is too complicated. Large brands have seen the value in creating mobile games for a few years, but it’s time for small brands to integrate it into their marketing mix as well. It's easier than ever with the right team behind the project, and the game doesn't have to be built entirely from scratch to be effective.
How Gamify Can Help You Drive Traffic and Sales
You might be dumping tons of ad dollars into other online advertisement campaigns but have you ever considered creating your own branded game? At Gamify, we are at the forefront of developing branded games. Having worked with prominent brands across industries, we know what it takes to engage your audience in a way that feels genuine.
From small business owners to large Fortune 500 companies, 9,700 brands have had success using our services and software packages to engage with their customers better than traditional campaign channels, generating more high-quality leads than ever before.
With Gamify, you can drive traffic to your sites, practically guarantee stronger brand engagement, support social media sharing to reach a larger audience, and help customers value their rewards to help generate more sales for your business.
Ready to Get Started?
Is game marketing the next step in your campaign marketing efforts? Many companies have found success with this channel regardless of their industry or products and services. When working with a professional development agency, you will be able to reach your customers and boost engagement in ways you hadn’t before.
If you would like to learn more about Gamify’s services, feel free to contact us.