OMD UK and ‘Game on’
If there was a league table of industry buzzwords ‘engagement’ will undoubtedly be right at the top.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that in a hugely cluttered world, consumers are becoming less and less tolerant of traditional advertising messages.
One way to overcome this is to offer what is now referred to as ‘content’.
But there seems to be a huge tension between these two models of communication, stemming from their two different start points.
Advertising is about communicating brand messages, content about ‘engaging’ consumers. Rarely do the two co-exist happily.
How are clients and agencies to resolve this tension? This is what OMD UK set out to answer by studying arguably the most ‘engaging’ of all the new communication vehicles - Advergames.
A business worth £4m in the UK now, but predicted to be worth £12m by 2010.
Our belief was that there shouldn’t be the need for a trade-off between ‘branding’ and ‘engagement’ – that it would be possible to maximise both without one detracting from the other.
Along with Skive Creative and Yahoo, OMD UK’s mission was to prove that advergames are an effective method of communicating with a wide range of audiences and when implemented correctly, can deliver positive results across a number of key brand metrics, whilst simultaneously giving them an entertaining and enjoyable experience.
‘Game On’ would allow us to set industry standards and structure to this fast growing form of marketing.
But more than this, we hoped it would provide valuable and totally useable insights into how to both construct and measure campaigns in this new era of ‘engagement’ planning. It would certainly not be a piece of research that would gather dust on a shelf in the research department.
Making it happen
Gaming research has predominantly been undertaken using qualitative focus groups, with small sample sizes, young audiences and nearly always out of the US.
'Game On’ adopted an online approach surveying 6,500 UK adults, making the study not only the first into the UK market, but the largest of its kind anywhere in the world.
Survey respondents were asked to experience and evaluate 1 of 9 online games (either branded or unbranded), and complete a questionnaire covering a wide-range of topics including attitudes to gaming and key brand metrics.
The 2 brands tested in the study were ‘Ocean Spray’ and ‘Juice Boost’ – a fictitious brand created to act as a control group.
Fruit juice brands were used because findings from another OMD study have shown it’s a category that consumers are ‘indifferent’ towards, so we are not dealing with polar opposites in terms of affinity.
For the first time, Game On has revealed just how effective ‘advergames’ are at delivering a positive experience through engaging content, whilst simultaneously communicating brand messages and significantly shifting key metrics such as awareness, affinity and propensity to purchase.
Aggregating together the results of the study has enabled us to create a bespoke ‘Game On’ planning tool, ‘Gamestation’.
We now know everything from what genre of game certain audiences enjoy playing, right down to the drivers that will help with data capture.
All this information and best practice helps digital planners and creative agencies to build tailor-made games for our clients target audience.
Using this tool has allowed clients such as Virgin Money to develop their online strategy by applying learnings from ‘Gamestation’ to create the most engaging content for their target audience.
For example, ‘Game On’ has shown that a cool, funky soundtrack is a key variable for increasing enjoyment and creating a viral effect amongst Virgin’s core audience.
Four weeks into the game and ‘Wrecking Ball’ has received 350,000 plays, 65% global coverage, press coverage in 4 daily titles and continues to get 4,000 plays a day.
From the results we have also been able to derive the ‘Game On Golden Nuggets’ – basically a set of insights that demonstrate how advergames can maximise engagement and also maximise brand take-out.
However, it’s not just about advergames, this study can act as a stepping stone to understanding this new communication model across other media.
Game On is not only the biggest study of its kind ever to be conducted, but also sets the standard for measuring engagement.
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