Brands become increasingly interested in using branded content in games for commercial purposes. Through tapping the digital space, they can expand their reach and interact with potential customers in a completely new way.
The game raises interest in the brand
A good example that a brand can profit from integration in a game can be found in an article by Lloyd Melnick, the Director of Social Gaming at PokerStars. He describes the importance for licenses to choose the right game pair up with and to profit not only from the revenue perspective. He mentions the fully branded games Star Wars Commander and Star Trek Trexels. Star Wars and Star Trek are both very successful and popular brands. While Star Wars Commander has millions of downloads, the Star Trek Trexels game seems to be struggling to attract users. Melnick tried out both games. And even though he has the same sympathy for both brands he soon stopped playing Star Trek Trexels and went on only with Star Wars Commander. The user experience had also an influence on his decision to rather watch the next Star Wars movie. The latest Star Trek movie on the other hand was not quite as appealing to him anymore. This shows how a game can massively strengthen a market position within a multimillion gaming audience. For reaching goals like this brands would usually have to invest millions of dollars.
Big impact with relatively low investment
Another great example of the audience positively reacting to a license integration is Pokémon GO. Niantic’s first augmented reality game Ingress had already performed well with about 8million downloads. The integration of Pokémon in a fully branded augmented reality game though went through the roof with 85million installs within the first 4.5 months. The brand Pokémon did not just profit from the direct digital purchases they did in the game. Also, it did benefit from the hype and the increasing awareness of the brand. Just after the first couple of months after the launch, Pokémon’s merchandise year-over-year sales had grown with an average of 105%. This shows out how tremendous the app influences the traditional licensing business.
But not only the direct stakeholders profited from the Pokémon GO hype. Also, companies which decided to become part of the game through setting up Pokéstops benefitted. These Pokéstops increased the gross sales by 12% of the businesses they have been placed at. Some businesses additionally placed lures and incorporated this in their social media posts for promotion purposes.
An opportunity also for trade brands
Not only licensors also trade brands start to discover games as a good way to advertise. Under Armour who is hitting the market at the moment with new ideas developed a game in Snapchat Discover with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. This is part of their marketing strategy to win market shares against Adidas and Nike. Under Armour sees their advantage in trying out new marketing approaches while competitor Adidas trusts more in traditional advertising methods. Their digital strategy does include both letting potential customers interact with their brand through a game as well as using a new way to have athletes present the brand. The goal is to become the world´s biggest sport brand with a planned valuation of $10bn by 2020.
Peter Petralia, Managing Director of Digital Strategy at Sullivan sees a brand involvement in a game where they can interact with the audience as a chance for the brand to stay in touch with the customer and their life. It is not just about a product. This different relationship could prolong the connection to a brand and the imagination what a brand is all about.
A must for every brand
All in all, it is safe to say that integrating a brand into games is a good advertisement to gain customers’ interest. To create not only that but also a positive experience, it is essential for the brand to find the best matching game. One that raises the attractiveness of the brand. The success of such integration can potentially be huge for a brand. Pokémon GO generated more than $300 million revenues in the first 4.5 months, which increased the value of the brand enormously. Personally, I see believe that brand integration into games is not only a cost-effective but also a very promising way to raise the awareness of a brand. It is an excellent marketing tool to make users interact directly with the brand on a personal and longer base that brands should take into consideration when developing their digital strategy.
About the author
Roman is in charge of servicing related tasks in the sales process. He supports the Sales Managers with information and sales materials and oversees all aspects of development and integrations of IPs in games/apps. Additionally he is in charge of reporting and works closely together with the finance department.
Through his studies and previous work experience he has a strong background in sports management and marketing. Roman is also passionate about sport in his free time. He plays football at FC St. Pauli and is training for his first marathon.