Facebook has added a new feature to its platform to spice up its content offering. Starting today, users can enjoy fast-loading gaming experiences that Facebook dubbed “Instant Games” right in Facebook Messenger and their News Feeds. Instant Games are HTML5-based and thus work on both mobile and the web without installing additional apps. The first patch of Instant Games comes with 17 titles that include household names such as Pac-Man. Pepsi is among the first brands to take advantage of this new feature to launch a branded game on Messenger to connect with mobile consumers.
What Brands Should Do
As mobile gaming continues to absorb consumer attention, a number of brands have experimented with branded games in recent years to connect with mobile consumers. Last month, Chipotle created a branded memory matching game to reward players with free food, and Michael Kors launched a series of casino-themed mini-games on WeChat for its Singles’ Day event. Just yesterday, Pepsi launched a chatbot-powered branded game on Messenger to connect with mobile consumers.
Given Facebook’s brand-friendly track record, it seems safe to assume that more brands will soon be able to leverage Instant Games to create branded gaming experiences to engage with consumers on Facebook.
Over one month has passed since the global viral hit that is Pokémon Go was released in the U.S. on July 6th, and it has had quite a phenomenal month. Over the first weekend of August, the game hit 100 million installs worldwide, cementing its place as the one of most downloaded mobile games ever. Financial Times reports that Pokémon Go has racked up $250 million in revenue through in-app purchases since launch, and AdWeek’s social media tracking shows 231 million people engaged in 1.1 billion interactions that mentioned Pokémon Go on Facebook and Instagram during July.
For brands, Pokémon Go’s exploding success has presented new opportunities and challenges to reach mobile consumers. Game-maker Niantic and Nintendo have been cautious about opening up the game for ads and sponsorships, but it did make an exception in Japan for McDonald’s, whose stores are assigned as Sponsored Gym locations as the fast food chain became the first brand to market in Pokémon Go. And the campaign was immediately effective, as McDonald’s Japan posted increased sales by 27% in July.
What Brands Need To Do
If those numbers were any indication, it looks like Pokémon Go is more than just a fleeting fad, but rather a sustainable mobile phenomenon that brand marketers need to continue to pay attention to. While it remains to be seen whether the in-game sponsorship opportunities will be extended to markets outside Japan, there is still plenty that brands can do to capitalize on the game’s viral popularity in the meantime. For example, brands such as Zipcar, T-Mobile, Nike, and yogurt brand Stonyfield have all come up with their own Pokémon-related marketing efforts to capitalize on the game’s viral popularity. Stonyfield, in particular, cleverly leveraged location-based ads to target Pokémon Go players at over 10,000 PokéStops in the U.S. with ad copy that specifically seeks to engage with players.
For more suggestions on how brands can capitalize on the continuing success of Pokémon Go, check out our in-depth Fast Forward analysis on the matter here.
Sources: as cited in the article
Zynga, the game maker behind popular mobile game franchises such as “FarmVille” and “Words With Friends,” has developed a new ad product called Sponsored Play, which inserts branded levels into its games that play just like a normal level. Brands will work with Zynga’s in-house agency Studio E to create those branded levels, which are part of Zynga’s push to attract more ad dollars to subsidize its largely free-to-play games. Clorox and Naked Juice are reportedly among the first brands to test this innovative in-game ad format.
What Brands Need To Do
By giving brands the option to sponsor game levels, Zynga has essentially created the equivalent of product placement in mobile gaming. It replaces the disruptive in-app banners that usually populate free mobile games today, and offers a fun, native way to engage with the players instead. For brands that aim to reach young millennial audiences, this new ad unit provides a unique way to make a lasting impression on mobile gamers.
Rockstar Games recently launched its hotly anticipated installment to the Grand Theft Auto franchise with GTA V, to much success. Now the gaming giant is planning to re-release Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a classic originally released for the PS2, for a handful of major mobile platforms, just as it already has with GTA III and Vice City. The game has been revamped for the platform, and is sure to score big with mobile gamers who enjoyed the console version. While re-releasing classic games for different platforms is nothing new, Rockstar’s commitment to releasing large-environment games for mobile platforms could serve as an example to other game houses to do the same.
MediaSpike, a company that aims to make it easier to run product placements in mobile in social games raised a $5.2 million Series A. The clever technology, which is integrated with iOS and Android games, but tied to no particular platform to allow for the frequent updates demanded by the gaming industry, allows developers to create listings for standardized placements in their games, which advertisers then bid for. The company’s network already reaches 20 million unique users, reflecting the rapid growth they’ve experienced in the last 6 months. Mobile gaming is a booming field, and advertisers are looking for a way to natively advertise to their users. With millennials and Gen Z’ers being particularly difficult to advertise to, this sort of integration could be an indicator that some progress is being made with the efforts to advertise to them.
Taking a big step off of mobile screens and into the world, Words With Friends is taking its Scrabble-like model to the streets of NYC. On Wednesday evening, Crystal Light will partner with the mobile game and bring the experience to players in real time at the Maritime Hotel courtesy of an eight-story-high board. Players who enter a word during the game will automatically be entered to win various prizes. This marks the first time that the game will be brought into real time, and into real world experiences, as well as one of its first partnerships with other companies.
Google took social gaming to the next level with its Augmented Reality adventure game, “Ingress,” and it recently partnered with Duane Reade to expand its boundaries inside of the pharmacy’s locations throughout New York. In brief, Ingress is a sci-fi AR game for Android handsets where the player collects exotic matter (XM) to be spent at other locations, known as portals – which can be found at accessible public locations like libraries or subway stations – to unlock missions. Now, players can pick up that XM or start new missions in Duane Reade stores. Each Duane Reade location will have a participation sticker outside, alerting gamers that game items are hidden inside. Once gathered, players can scan the asset for one-time use codes or in-game weapons, adding a live-action scavenger hunt aspect to the game. Zipcar and Jamba Juice were already ahead of the NYC-based Pharmacy chain in partnering on Ingress, creating an advertising strategy for Google that’s specifically designed to combat in-game banner ads. The game is currently in closed beta, but when it goes public it has the potential to bring AR to Android users in a very tangible manner.
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