SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.
Last week’s poll question: Is your company using social games as part of its advertising strategy?
- No, and my company isn’t interested in social games: 73.95%
- No, but my company is interested in social games: 12.61%
- Yes — sponsoring games: 4.20%
- Yes — some combination of strategies: 3.36%
- Yes — creating games: 2.52%
- Yes — other: 1.68%
- Yes — running display ads: 0.84%
- Yes — branding virtual items in games: 0.84%
Advertising on social games isn’t right for every industry, as this week’s poll results show. More than 85% of readers’ companies aren’t using online games to advertise, and nearly 74% said they aren’t interested in the platform. Some companies, such as those in the business-to-business arena, will probably have little use for social games. Add to that the relatively small segment of social-game marketing, and the results probably were to be expected.
But 13.44% of readers are trying to take advantage of the medium. For the right industries, social games present a unique opportunity to demonstrate a brand’s value and commitment to customers. Consumers who play a game sponsored or created by a company might appreciate the time and effort that went into producing it, and, when done correctly, branding can enhance enjoyment. An in-game beverage labeled “Coke” might create a more engaging and relatable experience than one generically labeled “soda,” for example. And ask any “FarmVille” addict: Social games can become a huge time sink, providing plenty of time for marketing messages to resonate.
What marketers shouldn’t do is let their advertising get in the way of user enjoyment. If people don’t have fun playing the game, they certainly won’t be attracted to the product. Companies that excessively and obtrusively brand in-game items that have little to do with the game’s focus risk annoying players. As with other media, the key is to harmoniously integrate advertising — easier said than done.
I’d like to hear from someone whose company is creating games. What business are you in? Have you made the games in-house or hired a contractor? And for anyone whose company is advertising on social games: Has the investment helped your business?