The mobile disruption continues as marketers and agencies continue to find new ways of using it to connect with the audience. After all, usage time on the mobile is more than that of any other device while it is rapidly becoming the preferred device for entertainment and accessing the internet.
From mobile apps to display and native ads, there is a plethora of tools available for the canny advertisers. But one aspect of the mobile that has not received that much attention so far is gaming.
Though display advertising is growing at nearly 20 per cent YoY, the jury is still out on how relevant such static advertising will be in the coming years. The prevalent thought when it comes to mobile advertising seems to be about creating applications that add value to the life of the consumer/user.
So does mobile game help in better brand image and connect? And, if so, why are not enough Indian companies taking it seriously? According to Senthil Anand, Head (Account Management) at KRDS India, the main problem comes from a creative perspective. “Most of what we see is replication of existing games. What is needed is a unique gaming idea that is an extension of the brand,” he opined. But to do this, brands will have to start looking at mobile gaming as a long-term strategic initiative, rather than a tactical tie-in with an on-going campaign.
“The great thing about games is that the entry is very easy. Another thing is that instead of advertising, a brand can do product placements. You see, entertainment is the key of all of the growth that is happening in the digital space, and gaming is at the core of evolving brands in a fun way,” opined Vincent Digonnet, Chairman APAC Region, Razorfish, in an earlier interview.
But the myopic or tactical outlook adopted by most brands means that the costs involved in creating, promoting and maintaining mobile games will always seem too much. Senthil gave the example of a potato chip brand that wanted to launch a mobile game to support its TV campaign but finally scrapped the idea.
To be fair, it isn’t that India Inc. has totally neglected this avenue. Oreo created the Twist, Lick, Dunk mobile game, with similar mechanics to some already existing games, which was pretty well received. Another great example is of Godrej, which created the ambitious Go Jiyo, a virtual world on the lines of Second Life, where users could create online avatars. But examples like these are comparatively few.
Nazara Technologies, which specialises in mobile games, recently partnered with FOX Star Studios to build mobile and online games around the films Finding Fanny, Bang Bang and Bombay Velvet. Nitesh Mittersain, Founder of Nazara technologies agreed that Indian brands are still far from mature when it comes to creating their own IPs. “However, we now believe that the market is becoming more receptive to the idea. We have started approaching some consumer brands and they seem to be open to the idea,” he added.
“I would rather see better opportunities for brand integrating with mobile/social games than brands building their own IPs, which has to then be a long term strategy. Normally for brands, their positioning, user base and competition is so dynamic that investing in a long term IP makes less sense,” says Amit Gupta, Managing Partner at Httpool.
When we pointed out the examples of Red Bull and others who have created a thriving gaming ecosystem with in-app purchases too, Gupta said, “Only brands who have clarity in their positioning for a longer term like Nike or Red Bull will choose to do something like this, since the games have to be regularly updated to keep the user engaged and they end up becoming a parallel asset within the brand.”
Utility apps such as Nike+ and the Kellogg Special K challenge app are great examples of apps that add value and hence are found useful by the user. Such utility apps are increasing in popularity as they benefit both the user and the brand. The idea is to bring the same level of thinking to entertainment, via gaming. Red Bull is a great example of this. It has a number of games on the mobile like Red Bull Kart Fighter and Red Bull Air Race, each built around an existing sports property that Red Bull has created. DBS followed a similar ideology by partnering with KRDS to create a mobile game for the Marina Regatta in Singapore, which it sponsors.
Of course, this is not feasible for everyone, but with the Indian app market nearly doubling in size every year, there is a huge amount of creative talent and technical skills available for brands that feel a long-term strategy built around games does work.