gaming

Brands Run After Female Social Gamers

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By now, most marketers have a social network presence. But those looking to capture the attention (and even wallets) of women may want to dig a little deeper to make sure they have a presence in social gaming.

"It's grown so fast and so rapidly that brands are struggling to keep up with it," Matt Wise, CEO of Q Interactive, tells Marketing Daily. "If you're looking to find consumers online, it would be hard to find a better opportunity than social games."

According to a survey by Q Interactive, half of the women playing social games either earn or spend the "virtual currency" within the games at least once a day, while 23% are spending or earning multiple times a day. And they are looking for help from marketers.

According to the survey, 97% of social-gaming women prefer to earn virtual currency -- the monetary units used to buy things to progress through the game -- through either winning more or by accepting a branded offer, rather than using actual currency to fund their advancement. (In fact, only 10% of women used real money to purchase virtual currency, Wise says.) Nearly 80% of the women playing have signed up for offers to receive more virtual currency. Of them, more than two-thirds (67%) said they found the offer useful.

"The gaming and application marketplace holds tremendous potential to integrate in a consumer-friendly, meaningful way," Wise says. "Women seek a partner to support their entertainment, which is exceptionally important given their busy lives."

For marketers looking to get into the gaming space, an offer need not tie into the game's content, nor does it need to offer something other than virtual currency in return. Rather, the pitch must be relevant to the consumer trying to play the game, Wise says. Of the women who chose branded offers within a game, 37% selected them based on the "content" of a game, while only 17% said they were lured by offers with free products or services attached. "We haven't seen a lot of correlation between the game and the offer set," Wise says. "If marketers have something that is useful to the consumer, that's the opportunity."

The easiest and simplest? Surveys. Just over a third (34%) of women say they prefer to fill out online surveys, followed by offers for hard goods (22%), movie or book clubs (18%) and health-related products (8%)."

Granted, the social gaming market has exploded only recently, and many marketers have been waiting to see if the platform is a fad or a lasting phenomenon. There's also a danger that the marketers currently populating the social gaming platform are not following some best practices. The blog TechCrunch has been reporting that some of the offers are misleading and/or fraudulent. On Sunday, Zynga -- the country's largest social gaming company -- suspended all of its so-called "cost-per-action" offers, as company executives evaluated how to best police the offers.

Still, the sector continues to grow. Electronic Arts on Monday announced it would buy social gaming company Playfish for $300 million, signaling that it viewed the sector as a place for future growth. With that confidence, Wise predicts the next year will see an explosion of top-tier advertisers getting into the space. "In the next 12 months, you're going to see a lot of these big brands out there get involved in social gaming," Wise says. "This is a fantastic spot for brands and advertisers to interact."

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