Online gaming allows brands the opportunity to pitch consumers for extended periods of time, all the while presenting brand messages in a way that is subtly interwoven with online activity.
Yet for online games to be successful, agencies must, above all, specialize the games for the time frame of a product launch or campaign, says Stephen Baer, managing partner of the Game Agency.
"If doing a quick product launch or one-month program, the game will obviously be less robust, than if trying to build a community and engage consumers for longer periods of time," he says. "The PR message has to be interwoven into new content that can draw consumers back over and over again."
Online game components of campaigns enable brand evangelism, with consumers passing the applications on to other consumers. A number of games that contain PR opportunities connect distant users, such as the virtual world of The Sims 2 H&M Fashion Runway or Lexus' Nitto 1320 Legends, an online drag race.
"Success is derived from consumer insight, between the nature of the game and the brand supporting it," adds Joe Kessler, partner at SS&K. "It's never a good idea to do a game just to do one."
For example, MSNBC.com's NewsBreaker Challenge was a "falling brick" game with featured headlines. Developed by SS&K, the game used data to show that visitors were going primarily to the site to browse various headlines, from Britney Spears to election news. n
- Effort's time frame usually decides a game's complexity
- Online games can increase traffic to company Web sites, and draw attention to other content
- Internet games can cause players to be unofficial brand ambassadors