Kiip: Game Theory Meets Product Placement

I originally posted this on the Band Digital blog. For several months now, I’ve been following the evolution of gaming theory in digital marketing. Gaming creates engagement – which is the cornerstone of social marketing. So it’s no wonder marketers are eagerly seeking ways to add gaming elements into their marketing.

Even Groupon.com does it (in a less obvious kind of way) – an impossible to believe deal must meet a minimum number of purchases before it is fulfilled. And only then. It’s a subtle motivator based on gaming mechanics. Then there are the more obvious examples – brands creating actual online games or digital experiences that are game-like.  But in the end, most attempts are a little clunky. And what I mean is – for those companies that don’t have an inherent gaming model like Groupon, being more game-focused often means landing standard ads inside existing game experiences. Ugh.

And thus my blog post from just a few weeks ago…

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April 24, 2011

I was checking out Kiip today. So I decided to share. If you haven’t heard of Kiip, they are an incentive-based promotion company, targeting casual mobile gamers. What caught my attention was the fundamental game theory they employ.

Now, there is a lot of gaming theory out there. In fact, it has become a very active part of the evolution of marketing. We’ve seeing grow for months. Perhaps most notably with with check-in platforms like FourSquare and WeReward. You’re incented for your activity. Particularly with WeReward, where there is a monetary incentive.

Gaming in the mobile category, however, has been slow to evolve the way brands are integrated. In the mobile space, it’s been little more than dropping a banner into the game, or an “interstitial” – not unlike you’d see on a website. But that’s the problem, this isn’t a website.

How Kiip works: You receive actual awards for game achievements. So, let’s say you finally kill the Hang ‘em High level in Angry Birds, you could be rewarded with a free bag of chips from a participating Kiip partner. It fits into the pre-planned game level goals and hightens the reward for game play.

As they share on their site, it’s a more direct reward –  tied into the emotion of a gamer’s experience than seeing an ad in the game. If you can blend marketing by making it a part of the experience, a player’s take away isn’t that the product was intrusive, but rather a reward for their achievement.

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