Is the era of Minority Report upon us? Social gaming and virtual goods have initiated a marketing revolution, enabling us to create digital versions of ourselves. We spend money on these digital avatars, exchanging gifts on Facebook and snatching up property for our Mafia Wars. The new platforms have presented new ways of monetizing the digital realm, and that means a new opportunity for advertising.
Ads have been uniquely integrated into many of these social, casual gaming and virtual goods environments, in part because they extend an option for the direct monetization of consumers, while also establishing a new world for marketing. The duality of these two aspects of social, casual gaming and virtual goods means that ads can stand to be more creative and integrated into the user’s experience. Ads can be better utilized by participants instead of merely taking up space on a web or mobile screen.
The result is a quick uptake of such integrated marketing methods expected for the year of 2010. Social networking platforms such as Facebook have allowed virtual goods to take off at an alarming rate, with the leveraging of users’ social graph towards encouraging the users to get their friends involved. Other incentives, such as free virtual goods or credits that convert into an app-specific currency, have helped to build up the virtual goods economy as well.
With all of these advancements, what will the future of virtual goods and its associated marketing tactics hold? Right now, we’re seeing mobile and social network app markets grow at a hastening speed. Advertisers that have seen success in their budget-pinching efforts with online and mobile marketing campaigns are anxious to continue to explore these integrated options. The ability to provide a service as part of the marketing campaign has introduced new development methods for social and mobile apps, giving consumers an easier time taking to these new types of advertisements.
The consumer-centric methods that are being used by advertisers and app developers within virtual goods economies means that the very face of advertising could drastically change in the coming years. Our mobile devices will hold more of our personal information, and will be invariably tied to the activities of our every day lives. Even if it’s not specific to our shopping behavior, mobile game apps such as My Town make a game out of visiting different locations and reviewing them This new era for gaining consumer behavior and market research is placed in a guise of avid consumer participation, making it even easier to advertise to the masses, with a very personalized approach.
Hence, the coming of the Minority Report era. We may soon walk into a venue and receive a message on our phone, complete with coupons and other discounts. While this is becoming par for the course in other countries, the U.S. has been slower to adopt the virtual economy and its potential. What we will see on a global scale, however, is the reliance on our digital persona to represent our real world behavior. This will cause a great overlap in the money we spend online and offline, building out a series of industries that exist in this oncoming limbo.