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The Engagement Game

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If I were to glance through your media plan, I'm sure I'd discover it contained all the usual, well-known media options. The TV and radio ads, the print ads and the outdoor advertising. We've all been going with these options for years, decades in fact.

We've always known we wouldn't be fired for nominating them. Just like an IT guy wouldn't be fired for installing an IBM solution.

But this security is fast disappearing. One day soon, you will be fired for your adherence to these options.

The computer gaming market's revenue is many times greater, and more rapidly growing, than that of the global movie industry. In 2004, Nielsen was already predicting that, by now, the movie industry would be just one-third the size of the computer gaming industry. So where is Hollywood's marketing power drifting? Online.

Are you ready for the brand building potential inherent in this scenario?


It's fascinating to reflect on the fact that almost every medium has a price which, at a click, you can Google and find out about within seconds. These are fixed and well-known prices, except in once case: the computer gaming channel.

What's the price of placing a commercial message in a computer game? I'm sure you haven't got a clue. Is it $1 per user? A million up front? One cent per second? Who knows? No fixed model exists. No media agency has, yet, really specialized in booking space in computer games.

This is new territory for brand-builders. And new territory often means new prices. New low prices.

Let's do the math. Research from my book, BRANDchild, showed that kids now, for good or bad, spend almost the same time in front of computer games as they do in front of a TV. These numbers will soon trend away from each other as computer games take the lead in the way kids allocate their time.

But here's the really crucial difference: Your TV commercial probably secures some 30 seconds with consumers; your potential computer game commercial is very likely to spend hours with them.

No wonder that Red Bull, the energy drink, claimed it had secured its success because of its appearance in one of the first PlayStation games. "Want more energy?" was the message. I don't have to tell you what the answer was.

If you belong to the IBM gang, inclined toward the secure solution, stop reading now. However, if you believe that TV is no longer the one and only path to brand success, you should be already considering your opportunities in the wonderful world of computer games.

The prices are still low as this is currently unexplored territory. The results are still high as branding clutter is limited. But it's full steam ahead in the computer gaming world.

Sims Online, one of the world's best-established computer game creators, no longer operates in a non-branded world but in a world where players buy McDonald's outlets and sell the company's branded food products, earning "simoleans," the game's currency. Eating that food will also improve players' standing in the game.

This is building brands through interaction. In the past, brands haven't interacted with their customers or been able to engage them in their philosophies. Now the relationship between brand and customer is set to change. Brands are learning that to create an engaged consumer, you have to... engage them. Surprise!

The potential for engagement represented by computer games is kick-starting a wave of brand movement from passive relationships with consumers to relationships that demand constant interaction. These relationships demand that brands adopt a role, play to it, and give constant feedback to consumers.

The ever-dawning world of branding has written another new chapter, this time online. I hope you're part of the story.


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Martin Lindstrom (www.martinlindstrom.com) is the author of Brand Child, BRAND sense, and Buyology (October 2008).

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  • by Demetrius Brown Mon Jun 2, 2008 via web

    I agree with this article 100% and I also believe that TV and Radio can compete if they stay focus and also get creative. The gaming industry kelp its focus on the people who are playing the games and while TV, radio, and the music industry focused on the hype of the on line market place. If these three mediums focus on their listeners , viewers, and build an action plan for growth which includes offline and online I believe they can be back on top again. These three medium took their audience for granted.

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