Mobile devices are the remote controls of our personal and professional lives. As they become ever more sophisticated, we’re seeing even the most fervent members of the gaming community turn to their smartphones as their gaming platform of choice. Our 2016 Mobile Entertainment Research showed that 13% of self-confessed ‘Avid Gamers’ download games solely onto a mobile device rather than a laptop or PC, shifting the perception of the ‘traditional’ console gamer. We have no doubt that this figure will grow exponentially in the next few years as mobiles deliver the best, most immersive experiences to consumers.

For the marketing and advertising community, it therefore seems logical to unite this growing love of mobile gaming with advertising, grabbing precious attention through an increasingly popular format on a device that sits at the heart of consumers’ lives. And the stats are already there to prove that it works. According to research from creative adtech platform Celtra, gaming features in ads have triple the engagement rate of direct response, significantly outperforming more traditional methods.

Critics of gamification argue that throwing virtual points at someone is unlikely to change their behaviour in any meaningful way, and this may well be the case if an ad isn’t clearly linked to the message you want to communicate. Yet a surprising, creative piece of mobile gaming content targeted at the right audience can be hugely impactful, demonstrating the importance of well-planned and executed campaigns.

And brands should be bold – even the most traditional sectors have plenty of opportunity to reap the benefits of mobile gaming campaigns. A gamified mobile ad from an unexpected sector can be even more captivating than if it were to come from the usual suspects of entertainment, leisure and FMCG.

With that in mind, here are a few pointers on what, universally, makes a great mobile gamification ad, and how brands across all sectors can easily translate that into their own campaigns.

Firstly, creativity is paramount. While the campaign needs to be relevant, why not make it unexpected? Try something that other brands haven’t in order to distinguish yourself and really create engagement with consumers.

Take car insurance as an example. It feels like a chore to many, and it can be hard to envision how to truly engage an audience. However, Brazilian bank Bradesco ran a fantastic campaign to promote their car insurance, showing how touch can stimulate a more emotional response. Bradesco created a fake car ad within a digital magazine. When the user attempts to swipe through the ad, the car accelerates forward and crashes into the left side of the screen, accompanied by the headline, “Unexpected events happen without warning. Make a Bradesco car insurance plan.”

It's such a creative way to engage consumers who may otherwise have completely glossed over the ad. And when it comes to mobile advertising, if you’re not asking your user to swipe or tap, it’s simply not a mobile ad, let alone a great mobile game. Leveraging the unique power of touch not only prevents poor user experiences but is also more in-sync with how our brains are wired. For brands, this offers an exciting opportunity to establish a closer connection with consumers.

And on that point, make sure you maximise the technology you have available to you. Think of all the things your phone can do that no other media can. Our phones contain dozens of sophisticated sensors, and with the development of technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, we’re pretty spoilt for choice. As an example, working with BMW we placed users behind the wheel of their 3 Series GT. Using the phone’s gyroscope, BMW customers were able explore the interior of the car in 360 degrees simply by moving their phone.

Another campaign we ran for Sky Movies saw us create a mobile Easter egg hunt, using augmented reality to enable users to hunt for Easter eggs in their real world surroundings. The engagement rates were fantastic, with dwell time 2.5x higher than the Celtra benchmark – and the longer the dwell time, the longer you have to drive action. The campaign resulted in 54% of consumers saying they were more likely to take a brand action as a result of playing the game.

Finally, it doesn’t matter how engaging the content of the ad is if it’s not targeted at the correct audience. Using rich insight based on consumer behaviour, interests and preferences helps build stronger relationships with your target audience by delivering the right content at the right time that they find both interesting and useful, gaining their trust and therefore, continued permission to engage.

Engagement rates through the gamification of mobile ads should only go up as technology develops and as we explore ever more exciting ways to create something fun and interactive for consumers. If we work hard to use the tools at our disposal, we can take sectors considered quite dull into realms of much higher engagement previously thought impossible.

In this interactive, mobile-first world, consumers expect us to work harder to tell engaging stories through their personal devices. And if we’re prepared to step up to the plate and deliver the most relevant content to them, the stats show that the opportunities for brands are there for the taking.


By Timothea Horwell, junior marketing & research manager at Weve

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