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article imageBig brands utilize mobile gaming to increase marketing ROI

By Jessica Oaks     Jul 2, 2015 in Technology
Mobile gaming continues to boom and advance many areas of our lives. Businesses are seeing an increase in ROI within many departments-marketing being one of them.
The mobile segment of the gaming industry is poised to outperform consoles in the worldwide market as soon as this year, so it's no surprise that big brands are taking notice. After all, hundreds of millions of people in the US regularly crush candy and clash with clans and many of these players are women (a demographic that makes 85 percent of household buying decisions and drives $20 trillion in consumer spending). That's a lot of gamers and a lot of wallets waiting to be tapped via mobile. The question up until now has been just how to tap them.
Some big brands are banking on the answer being the games themselves. According to Forbes' 2015 State of Marketing Survey, 34 percent of marketers worldwide will launch a mobile app this year, and mobile gaming has caught the eye of the big data industry, too. Entering the mobile space seems like a slam dunk – a surefire way to increase customer awareness, engagement and marketing ROI while also collecting the kind of demographic data companies crave.
As to why this is happening now, it's important to remember that the growing focus on leveraging the enormous gaming population is only possible thanks to advanced mobile technology. Many of today's mobile games are comparable to sixth gen console titles in terms of look and feel, attracting millions of players who might not otherwise consider themselves gamers. And even better from a marketer's point of view, players are now thoroughly used to in-game advertising. A prominent logo won't detract from most people's gaming experience – as long as that experience is a good one.
Creating games as a marketing strategy is nothing new, after all. Consider the long-running, heavily-branded Monopoly game from McDonald's, which is a very successful example of using a game to keep people engaged and to drive sales. In the mobile space, however, competition is fierce. These days anyone can build a game which means simply having a game to your name isn't enough to put a brand in the spotlight. Many brand-driven mobile games have come and gone without doing much other than accruing downloads.
Increasing ROI usually means having a gimmick, which can be more important than actually having a game. Hundreds of big name fashion brands including CBG Max Azria, Rebecca Minkoff, Kara Ross and Rachel Zoe signed on to be a part of CrowdStar's hugely popular Covet Fashion app. Lexus, rather than creating its own game, teamed up with EA to be a part of Real Racing 3. Instead of banner ads or in-game videos, players had the option of driving a virtual Lexus on a number of custom courses.
“We basically gave someone the keys to our vehicle,” Scott Wensman, Group Media Director at Lexus’ agency Team One said in a Wall Street Journal piece. “This was the deepest engagement we’ve done in mobile games. There’s definitely a client appetite for more.”
Early analysis suggests that mobile games can influence consumer opinions about products and brands, so companies pursuing game development or mobile partnerships as part of their marketing strategy are likely doing something right. The still-expanding audience for mobile games means that new market segments can be reached via gaming and constantly-evolving technology means that new opportunities to innovate are continually emerging. But as noted above, marketers need to be careful when pitching game development as a strategy. Thanks to a saturated mobile games market, the key to maximizing your ROI after development is creating a branded game (or branded in-game option) that is not only a curiosity, but also compelling enough to keep people coming back.
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