We use smartphones so frequently these days, it’s easy to forget how little time it has taken them to become ubiquitous in the modern world. As a result, many businesses fall into the trap of playing catch-up to reality.
For example, it took time for businesses to realize how much today’s consumer wants a POS system that integrates with mobile payments. Once the resistance is overcome, they find that it opens up a world of convenient payment and ordering options that scales, and permeates across platforms.
Embracing the fact that we live in a mobile-centric world should change the way we market to consumers. But many businesses continue to be limited in their approach in this regard. They keep thinking in terms of content and video, when smartphones offer a unique opportunity to reach vast audiences through the most engaging medium of all: games.
An overload of stimuli
The modern smartphone is a digital counterpart to the Swiss army knife. It’s a single device that offers you the ability to install apps to handle a wide variety of tasks. And as the hardware continues to grow ever more sophisticated, sensors are added and improved, further expanding their capabilities.
The challenge that comes with such an all-purpose device is not a matter of what it can do, but how users prioritize those functions. With so many features available, you can practically guarantee that everybody who owns a smartphone will have one, or two dozen, that is never, ever used.
This happens because humans have a natural tendency to focus their attention only on what matters. And this is highly relevant to any brand’s marketing efforts.
We are competing for space and relevance on a device that has contacts and email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, the list goes on. There are so many stimuli on a smartphone that users quickly develop patterns of usage in order to keep it useful as a tool.
Banner blindness further complicates this problem. No matter what device your end-user is on when they browse the internet, they have developed the ability to ignore content that registers as an ad in their perception. Even the best marketing strategy will fall short if the vehicle it relies on never gets noticed.
The power of games
In the big picture, most mobile apps are doomed to be relegated to bit-part status on most user’s phones. Maybe that’s acceptable, but for a business, investment in an app probably has to offer more substantial returns.
The exceptions to this rule tend to lie in the category of mobile games. Mobile gaming apps are a huge and rapidly-growing segment of the industry, with a projected 2.7 billion gamers in 2021 spending an estimated $180 billion. Games comprise a third of all app downloads, and users play more than 10 times a week, accounting for 11% of total time spent on their devices.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. Games are fun. People go out of their way to get them onto devices, devoting their precious time and attention to playing.
These qualities make games the perfect vehicle for marketing efforts in the age of smartphones. You get to house your content in a medium that inherently keeps people engaged.
What the medium offers
Games are a powerful way to bypass the competition for users’ attention and dodge the issue of banner blindness. But they can also offer unique advantages to a business.
Startups need to quickly get feedback from their customers in order to refine their ‘go-to-market’ strategy. Better than surveys, games offer the ability to entice people to initially start using a product and generate the responses you need to improve.
Different games can also be highly specific to certain audiences. For instance, quizzes, sims, and Match-3 types appeal to younger females, while shooters, strategy, and action RPGs are more in line with young males’ interests. Aligning your marketing efforts with these qualities allow you to reach a more narrow audience through the right game.
How you implement your marketing efforts in a game context can also be tailored to suit your goals. For a larger audience reach, you can create mobile web games. These are accessible, as they can be played in a browser, but they suffer vulnerabilities to banner blindness and ad blockers.
Alternatively, you can develop your own game, which is more costly, but promises to greatly increase engagement with the right audience. Or you can purchase in-app advertising space from third-party game developers.
Games remain a largely untapped space for marketing as companies prefer to stick to old-fashioned methods. If you want to do something different and explore the rich possibilities of this medium, this is an opportunity to really engage with today’s mobile audiences.