Get in the Game: Jeff Michaels of Mobivity Talks Mobile Gaming
Mobivity is a provider of technology connecting mobile gaming audiences to real-world brands and products. While mobile gaming includes casual games (like Solitaire, Candy Crush, etc.), gamification traditionally means turning regular tasks into games to increase fun and enjoyment.
Mobile gaming (Mobivity’s focus) has become an effective tool for customer acquisition and engagement. MULO (multi-location) brands are using it for that purpose. The same motivating principles behind gamification apply to mobile gaming.
An estimated 1.7B people will play mobile games in 2024.
We talked to Jeff Michaels, VP of Marketing for Mobivity to better understand how mobile gaming is being applied to MULO restaurant, retail, and brand marketing.
Why is mobile gaming so important today?
“The typical person on any given day is bombarded with 6K-10K ads creating noise for the consumer. The result is they tune out and ignore or forget what marketers are spending millions of dollars to put in front of them. With mobile gaming becoming the most popular activity people do on their mobile phones, presenting a contextually relevant ad to a consumer/gameplayer while they are singularly engaged and focused on playing the mobile game is becoming one of the most important yet unrecognized ways to capture attention. Most of the very same audience (57%) eats out one or more times per week, and 86% of mobile gamers report they don’t mind watching an ad for in-game rewards.”
What’s the benefit of mobile gaming for MULO (multi-location) retailers, restaurants, and C-stores?
“A few mobile gameplay benefits apply specifically to MULO retailers.
First, the geographical disbursement of mobile gamers across the U.S. means that as a person downloads a game and gets a brand reward, then keeps playing the game and earning more brand rewards. Having a brand location nearby for in-store redemption is a big incentive to the consumer/gameplayer.
Second, MULO consumers are a ripe audience for mobile game developers who have longed for the ability to be able to tap into this audience. The reason is that gameplayers are often playing for virtual rewards, meaning rewards that are only good within the context of the game itself.
Adding a real-world brand reward has practical value and appeals to the gamer-turned-consumer.
Gameplay benefits the mobile game developer (the brand store) from a higher likelihood of in-app purchases and monetization of the player.
The gameplayer benefits by getting a reward such as a free burger or $0.30 off/gallon of gas just for playing a game they love. And of course the brands benefit from increased traffic, engagement, and increased basket size averaging 2.2x larger than the offer benefit itself. This means if the free burger was worth $4.00, the average basket size of the redeemed offer was $8.80 according to Mobivity’s POS data from the brands.”
How do you keep a customer engaged long-term? As we know, today’s consumers are brand-fickle and often chase the latest shiny object.
“When brands focus solely on using their product to be the enticement to retain the consumer, they bore easily as the consumer is so much more than the products they buy. Presenting consumers with more products relegates the relationship to a transaction, despite the efforts and large budgets spent to suggest otherwise.
Presenting customers with something they do — and enjoy doing by choice — in their private lives apart from the brand, then connecting rewards directly back to the brand conveys the brand really gets them. The data supports it, as we’ve seen particularly with subscription programs like text, email, and loyalty, that opt-ins increase 12.5% and opt-outs decrease by 20% when mobile games are added to otherwise regular offers and rewards.”
What’s your biggest success story to date applying Mobivity for purchases?
“‘Biggest success’ can be subjective as brands often have different objectives. Circle K, for example, met its acquisition goal 30% faster at a reduced acquisition cost of 82% through Mobivity Connected Rewards.
For others, it’s customer acquisition or growth of its loyalty program. For this example, I’ll share a big success for Checkers and Rally’s, who despite all of their efforts, were unable to get their 90+ day lapsed customers to react to any of their offers, even though they were increasing the value of the offer compared to their regular customer offers. We took one of the typical offers they used and added a mobile game download to the offer. In other words, download a mobile game and get a free Big Buford burger. They saw 54% of their redemptions come from their lapsed customer segment. We see this frequently regardless of brand, offer, or industry.”
Any up-and-coming categories where mobile gaming is booming?
“While notable restaurants like McDonald’s, Sonic, and Pizza Hut, and CPGs like Nestle, Kellogg’s, and Red Bull were some of the earliest adopters, we are seeing growing interest in mobile gaming with convenience and fuel brands.
For example, Circle K was one of the first to tap into this audience with Pokemon Go and Mobivity’s Connected Rewards, and we are seeing additional convenience and fuel brands line up as we have three new brands launching in February, one of which is a top 3 global fuel brand looking to use mobile games as a vehicle to drive loyalty app downloads and engagement. That is the common use case for many of the convenience and fuel brands as the industry has been late to adopt loyalty in the ways we see that other retailers have been doing for years.”
Any predictions for the future of mobile gaming?
“Game developers are consuming brand inventory (meaning, brand marketing channels) faster than brands can keep up with. Brands too, are signing up to promote games faster than the game developers can provide.
Developing direct partnerships between brands and game developers has proven to take too long for either to pursue directly. As a result, brands are turning to rewards providers who have relationships with the marketplace.”
“We’ve been surprised to see so many mobile game developers whose monetization model includes in-game advertising of competitor’s mobile games. While they get to claim the ad revenue, they are inadvertently giving the user a reason to leave the game to play a new game.
It’s analogous to Planet Fitness advertising memberships to Lifetime Fitness on all the workout equipment and TVs just so they could collect ad revenue. We see the mobile gaming industry having a reckoning very soon, which will favor the connected rewards providers. This will allow brands, game developers, and consumers who participate in both worlds to have better experiences as a result.”
Mobile gaming is here to stay. How MULO brands play it can make all the difference in customer purchase, engagement, and loyalty.