LEVEL UP: GAMIFICATION, AUGMENTED REALITY AND ADVERTISING

While audiences have for a long period of time, been subject to popular marketing ploys such as points based reward systems,’ gamification’ is a new technique brands are utilising with advertisers aiming to increase incentives for content viewing , attract more interaction, engagement and even retention from the player, and fundamentally alter consumer behaviour all facilitated by a guise of entertainment. Weaving fun into the fabric of our everyday lives could have highly positive outcomes; firstly however the term ‘gamification’ must be broken down.

According to Juul (2005), ““A game is a rule-based formal system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable”. Gamification therefore as defined by Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, and Nacke (2011, p. 9) is, “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts”.

In its purest form, gamification targets our human desires and needs, connecting to participants on a far more emotional level, sometimes even enabling them to fulfil these needs as a form of self-expression, similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Self-actualisation level. The competitive nature of these game advertisements can bring a sense of status and achievement, appealing to all consumers which can partially explain the newfound proliferation of gamification in the advertising sector (Playgen, 2012). Delo (2012) cited that in 2011 social-gaming ad revenue reached $368.9 million, with this figure projected to almost double by 2014.

One brand which successfully took advantage of this trend in the Australian and New Zealand market is Expedia, an online travel company. Their gamification project/campaign, “Tag Me If You Can” featured an online interactive game and follows a former Amazing Race contestant to 15 secret destinations across the globe. The game concept invited participants to guess and tag his location within ten metres for a chance to win a part of $150’000. A new game was released every weekday at 11am, and participants had until 10am the following day to guess and tag where he might be. The “Tag Me If You Can” campaign also used traditional television advertising however was more heavily promoted online via Facebook or Twitter (where additional clues were given) along with the Australian and New Zealand Expedia sites (Campaign Brief, 2012). The campaign also utilised transmedia storytelling through its adoption of different platforms, each to further intensify the Expedia world and campaign itself.

Today, we also see Augmented Reality becoming more prevalent. Though still a niche technique, advertisers are already harnessing this innovation as a kind of extension of gamification, and for good reason. The advances in mobiles (particularly camera resolutions and image recognition software), wireless connectivity, and Global Positioning System tracking have provided a foundation for the next wave of devices and software to augment views of world, drawing contextual information from the internet (Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service, 2010). This whole platform could a provide a completely new, original way to promote products or brands which is sure to elicit interest from all potential customers. For example, Lynx set up an interactive augmented reality game in a subway in London, which involved commuters stepping onto a specific patch on the floor. In doing so, a virtual angel would appear on a screen, the individual can seemingly interact with her through this screen which attracted people from all age demographics to join and test the innovation out.

It is reasonable therefore to argue that gamification and augmented reality will be game-changing (pardon the pun) techniques, particularly in the advertising industry which always seeks to incorporate new mediums/devices/platforms as a way to reach ever more narrow target markets.

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