Social gaming is big by any measure. It's bigger than email. It's bigger than console gaming. On any given day, it's bigger than the population of England. In any given month, it dwarfs the U.S. population, said Mark Silva, senior VP, emerging platforms, at Real Branding/Anthem Worldwide. Social gaming represents half of all Facebook users -- and one of every two visits to social networks on average.
With these numbers in mind, it's obvious that many brands are missing out on opportunities to reach engaged consumers in a meaningful way. During his introduction to the social gaming session at ad:tech San Francisco, Silva outlined the four levels commitment that brands can make to social gaming -- and encouraged marketers to consider upping their investments.
Level 1: Branded virtual goods
Branded virtual goods represent the lowest level of commitment that brands make in social gaming, Silva said. And while they represent a valuable opportunity to reach scores of gamers, they're just the tip of the iceberg.
Level 2: Branded game interactions
Branded game interactions work within existing game mechanics. For example, consider Bing's branded game interaction within FarmVille in which the brand rewarded those players who planted its logo in their fields. The result? About 425,000 new fans for the brand.
Level 3: Branded interactions
Branded interactions require new game mechanics. These are large, custom builds -- not just a product or a power-up. Consider Gatorade, for example. Within EA Sports, the brand built out the ability the dump a Gatorade cooler on the coach following a win -- a powerful brand alignment.
Level 4: Multi-channel integrated campaigns
Multi-channel integrated campaigns represent the highest level of commitment to social gaming -- and potentially the most valuable for brands. For example, 7-Eleven forged a large-scale partnership with Zynga. The promotion included specially marked items in 7-Eleven stores that enabled gamers to earn codes for virtual gifts and other rewards. The campaign, Silva reported, affected nearly every key performance indicator monitored at the retail level.