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  1. Using viral games to build brand awareness

    Using viral games to build brand awareness

    The benefits of using viral games to build brand awareness and how to do it.

    By Adam Keene

    To discuss this topic we really need to take a step back and define what a viral game is and how it works.  In a corporate sense, a viral game is an interactive piece of web content that promotes a brand.  A viral game is only a viral game if it is shared extensively; otherwise it is just a game.

    Aside from brand awareness, viral games can be used to create email databases through data capture and distribute a discount voucher or other incentive.

    As you may expect, a game goes viral when multiple users share it with others.  Traditionally this was done through email and most viral games encompassed ‘send to a friend’ data capture functionality to propagate this.

    The benefits of this are that data capture is done in a pain-free manner; the user feels compelled to pass along an email address in order to publish their name on a high score table or be entered into a prize draw.

    Due to the Facebook revolution, the vast majority of sharing games comes through social networking now.  Due to the advent and subsequent explosion of social gaming, brands are climbing over each other to create a relevant piece of content that they hope will be the next ‘Farmville.’

    Whether through social media or email, the key to a viral campaign is content.  To get to this point, brands need to have a thorough understanding of the following:

    Target audience

    This is a basic for any brand, but in the context of gaming, you need to know what your audience plays and why.  Providing a fast paced action game to your over 55’s audience will likely NOT have traction!  The 18-30 male audience will probably love it however.

    What type of games do the brand’s audience like?  What demographic do they fit in to?  ‘Game’ is a loose term and can encompass anything from interactive ‘brain-training’ to puzzles, quizzes and platformers.  Brands just need to work out what their target audience enjoys and is relevant to them.

    What do brands need from a game?

    Brands need to define their expectations and then create the least amount of barriers possible for the audience to achieve that goal for them.  In the obvious example of collecting data, the leaderboard should ask for no more than a name/screen name and email address.  Any more will result in a massive drop off in those playing versus those that submit scores.  To this end, viral games are spread more effectively and create a higher volume of genuine data when there is a prize on the line.  The prize will need to be brand relevant but also unique.  This will ensure that that audience is incentivised to not only play, but also to impart their details.

    How to reach their audience

    If the aim is to reach a high volume of people, then the game needs to be accessible through a number of gaming portals and also social media.  However, some brands have very specific audiences, in which case promoting the game through sector relevant blogs, forums and publications would work better.  Brands need to look at their communications strategy and adapt.  Games are a unique piece of content marketing and should be treated as such.

    Not over-branding

    No-one wants to play a game that is so branded that the fun factor is sucked right out of it.  Many brands make the mistake of basing the entire game around their product rather than associating their product with an exciting piece of content.  In this sense, creating a viral game is no different to any other form of advertising or marketing in that it is up to the brand to create something memorable that people can associate with them.  A well-crafted, addictive game is a phenomenal way of doing this.

    These are some simple rules to go by when considering how a viral game might best suit your brand.  This is but the tip of the iceberg.  However, no matter how deep you go, the basics are all the same!  I look forward to writing some more on this exciting topic soon so watch this space!


    • Posted on July 1, 2011 by Nick Moutter


      Long time no speak! hope your well. interesting read, this is something i am in the middle of at the moment for our site to help raise brand awareness in conjunction with other viral activity.


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