Blog Advergaming: Why your brand needs a mobile game

Advergaming: Why your brand needs a mobile game

When it comes to mobile advertising, innovation is the name of the game. If your audience is no longer responding to traditional types of advertising, it may be time to consider something new — like advergaming. Much like content marketing, which focuses on gaining consumer trust by providing valuable content, advergaming provides your potential customers with something they enjoy in order to create brand awareness and encourage engagement.

Research from SocialPeta indicates a quarter of all iOS app downloads in 2020 were mobile games. During pandemic-driven lockdowns, downloads and time spent playing games surged — 62% by some estimates — and the mobile-game habit is here to stay, making advergaming a smart way to reach new potential customers.

Let’s explore the rising popularity of advergaming marketing, examples of advergames, and whether or not it’s right for your brand.

What is advergaming?

Advergaming is exactly what it sounds like — an advertisement disguised as a game.

In advergaming marketing, brands create digital or mobile games designed to promote products or services. The in-game protagonists or objects are often related to the brand or product being sold — i.e. a racing game from Subaru where the car you drive is the latest WRX model — and help build brand awareness in a non-intrusive way.

While advergaming may seem like a new entrant to the mobile advertising market, it’s actually been around long before smartphones. Back in 1996 Chex cereal made waves with Chex Quest, a first-person shooter computer game in which the protagonist — dressed in a Chex costume — had to save other cereal-based characters from aliens. And the game is still going strong today!

Three advergaming examples

The casual gaming market is huge, and turnover is high. Creating a fun, easy-to-play game is a great way to get new eyes on your brand. The potential of advergaming is limited only by your creativity — and, perhaps, your budget. Here are three examples of advergames that show what’s possible.

Chipotle Scarecrow

Chipotle teamed up with Moonboots Studio to create a mobile game that supported its Food with Integrity campaign. The free game, dubbed Scarecrow, quickly shot up the charts to top out at #15 among the free applications on the U.S. iOS app store — underlining the potential of free games. If brand awareness is your goal, it’s important to get in front of as many people as possible, and making your app free is key to achieving that goal.

Doritos VR Battle

Want to work off that bag of Doritos you just ate? Strap on your VR headset and start battling your way through a geometrical universe, littered with monsters to collect as many Doritos as you can along the way. The player with the highest score wins. By the end, players may just be hungry for another bag of Doritos! This fully-immersive VR experience requires users to purchase the game — not to mention a VR headset — limiting its reach, but ensuring users are invested.

Magnum Pleasure Hunt

Magnum took teamwork to new heights when it collaborated with a number of brands to create a virtual treasure hunt across the web where players looked for chocolate on participating websites. Users could challenge friends and share their results on social media, making it easy for the game to go viral. Just seven months after launch, the site had over 6 million visitors — with people across the globe spending hundreds of thousands of collective hours with the brand.

Five benefits of advergaming marketing

Creating a mobile game can require a significant investment of resources — but the benefits of advergaming offer a significant incentive to take the plunge.

  1. Advergames are a non-intrusive form of advertising that delight and entertain your users. Unlike interstitial ads, for instance, advergames do not disrupt the user experience. In fact, they are the user experience. The people engaging with your product have sought out the game — possibly even downloaded it to their phone — making them truly valuable
  2. When you create your own mobile game, players are essentially a captive audience who have already indicated an interest in your product. Take Chipotle’s Scarecrow, for example; people who downloaded and played this game were perfect targets for in-app offers or retargeted ads for other deals.
  3. Your advergame’s impact is easily measurable. As with any app, your game can generate tons of first-party data about your users, which is increasingly important as privacy measures make third-party data less reliable and harder to come by.
  4. The social nature of games makes it easy to go viral. Social mobile games are the future of mobile gaming. Allowing users to challenge friends or share their products is not only a great way to bring new users into the fold, it makes your advergame far more likely to go viral than most other ad formats.
  5. Thanks to new technologies, it’s easier than ever to create a mobile game. No-code (or low-code) apps have lowered the barrier to entry for brands developing apps — including mobile games. With the help of no-code solutions, you can significantly reduce the time and money developing an advergame can require. Some tools may even allow you to create a simple game for free.

Is advergaming right for your brand?

Just like any ad format, it’s important to consider whether an advergame is right for your brand and your growth goals. For instance, advergames seem to be a better fit for consumer brands than B2B or SaaS brands. However, advergames bring together many of the best aspects of different kinds of advertising — allowing you to garner valuable user data without intrusive ads or tracking while building user trust — meaning they should definitely be a consideration. And as the barrier to entry lowers, and games become easier to create, more brands will embrace this unique and engaging form of advertising.

If you want to learn more about mobile gaming trends, check out our report: Hyper casual gaming in 2020: The rise of a blockbuster genre.

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