Contrary to what you may believe, social games like CityVille, FarmVille & Mafia Wars, created by Zygna, reach a tremendously large, very engaged audience. Immersive marketing experiences have proven very successful for brands like McDonalds, Nike, and Farmer’s Insurance.
One in five Americans are playing social games. Zygna’s gaming audience is more than 290 million monthly active users, and 57 million interact with their games daily. And the average user plays 68 minutes per day. These games actually have a larger audience reach than American Idol.
And 53% of all of these players are women between the ages of 25-44. “More women are playing FarmVille than watching soap operas,” said Manny Anekal, Zynga’s Director of Brand Advertising.
Social gaming has grown so rapidly in the past few years, because:
- The games are easy to play: Unlike the Xbox or other gaming systems, the games are simple. This attracts a completely different audience than your stereotypical “gamer.”
- The games are inherently social: They focus on fostering cooperation, not competition. In order to succeed in the games you have to enlist the support of others and support them in return. This cooperative model encourages peer sharing and also attracts a different demographic than competitive games.
- Everyone wins: Because the games are based on friends helping friends, they foster a feeling of community, of belonging to a “tribe,” where everyone bands together for mutual benefit.
- And (last but not least): They are Free!
How are brands leveraging this largely untapped opportunity?
Brands are working with the game developers to create brand experiences that exist within the game and encourage engagement that supports the brand’s objectives.
- Getting a pair of Nike shoes in the game that help your Avatar run faster
- Positioning a Farmer’s Insurance blimp on your Virtual Farm to protect your crops from withering
And one of the most interesting partnerships is where 7-Eleven offered more than 30 items co-branded with Zygna games, like FarmVille. Consumers could then connect back to the social games with product redemption codes for limited edition 7-Eleven goods, within their favorite games. According to Mr. Anekal, this was one of 7-Eleven’s most successful redemption campaigns ever.
Social gaming is growing and reaching different audiences than you might expect. There is a great opportunity for brands to create engaging experiences that these audiences will appreciate, and that can be tied directly back to product sales through redemption codes.