“Gamification” has become a buzz word among mobile advertising circles. Employing game mechanisms within an advertising campaign is nothing new. McDonald’s has been doing this with its popular Monopoly game for years.
Comparing general advertising to the mobile channel, however, may not exactly be apples and oranges. Upstream, a mobile marketing company that serves more than 30 mobile operators globally, including Vodafone and Telecom Italia, has found that the immediacy of mobile marketing makes it a prime target for gamification. The company just added a real-time gamification feature to its Mobile Campaign Suite (MCS).
“What’s new here is that we’re focusing very much on mobile, with pretty extraordinary results,” said Marco Veremis, president and chairman of the board for Upstream. “Essentially, I think the key thing is that game-like mechanics seem to be a perfect fit when it comes to mobile.”
The unique thing about Upstream’s solution, which is essentially an engine that runs within its existing platform, is that it automates the gamification of its campaigns, allowing the use of carrier’s existing data on its customers to target them in very personalized ways.
It’s a strategy that combines all kinds of what the company calls “game mechanics,” which include points, countdowns, repeat and interval bonuses, levels and penalties, among many others. You can imagine the response if you know that your target is a competitive sports junkie.
“If you personalize it correctly, if you don’t just apply a common recipe, when you apply it to the proper segment, you’re getting even better results,” says Guy Krief, vice president of innovation for UpStream.
During a campaign with Telecom Italia, the company measured 30 percent better average profiling results with its automated gamification platform versus a manual approach. Furthermore, customer engagement spiked 60 percent using the platform.
A typical “gamified” campaign might consist of a variety of mechanisms. As an example, a prepaid carrier might give users bonus points for every extra dollar they spend a month. Once the player reaches a certain number of bonus points, they might be graduated to the next “level,” where they get monthly discounts.
Krief explains that the goal is to engage customers in a way that excites them, which isn’t always easy, but in the end it comes down to understanding customers and their varying psychologies.
“For instance, we’ve discovered that women like suprises while men respond better to being flattered,” Veremis says.
So nuanced, in fact, are our like and dislikes, that people respond differently to the slightest changes in the way the mechanisms are presented. Krief says that the company has seen up to a 50 percent increase in engagement by increasing the time a person has to answer a number of questions from 2 minutes to 3 minutes.
Gamification will continue to grow as it proves its effectiveness. Debates around its suitability for certain tasks currently run rampant on Web. Many believe that carrot-dangling tactics could make for more productive workers. Just imagine getting bonus points filling the company printer with paper in the morning.