Social Gaming – The Future of Online Marketing?

By the end of 2012 there are expected to be 68.7 million social gaming players, according to analysis firm eMarketer. In the last 12 months we have seen the rise of using this new platform for marketing purposes, with impressive success rates. Social games, such as FarmVille, have paved the way for allowing brands to integrate their message subtly but effectively into the gaming experience. Nearly 10% of all Facebook users play FarmVille and in March 2010 Microsoft gained over 400,000 Facebook fans in one day thanks to a single advertisement in FarmVille. The game users could gain virtual money for becoming a fan of the Bing Facebook page.

Social gaming has also become a prime target for a number of big brands such as Mastercard and Expedia.

Mastercard – Mastercard have launched a campaign titled You Play, We Give which donates up to $0.10 to Junior Achievement Hudson Valley for each minute a user plays the game. The average user spends 45 minutes on the game and they are coming back time and time again with over 80% of traffic coming from returning visitors.

Expedia – At first glance Expedia’s FriendsTrips game appears to be a simple travel competition. A user is required to Like their Facebook page, choose a destination from a choice of 13 and invite 5 friends to do the same. It is very clever for Expedia because each entrant’s 5 friends need to also become fans of the page for the initial entrant to be entered into the sweepstakes. So far Expedia has gathered more than 870,000 fans. FriendsTrips is a great way to make a campaign go viral very quickly.

Last year we began to see some very big, social gaming statements from some of the largest brands in the US. 3 of the largest social gaming publishers have been bought up by Disney, Google and EA in the last 18 months which reinforces just how important social gaming will be in the future of online marketing.

The social gaming industry is expected to generate over $1 billion this year with 27% of all US internet users playing a social game at least once a month. 6% of US social gamers will spend money on virtual items which is predicted to total around $653 million dollars in revenue.

It is for these reasons that social gaming is becoming such a big part of many brands marketing strategy. It is a platform that allows users to become frequently engaged with your brand and the stats are showing that this interaction is turning into an impressive bottom line for those willing to delve into this new industry. Social gaming – The future of online marketing? It appears so.

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