5 surprises about digital games and how they can work for pharma

Marketers that fail to recognise the power of digital games in their campaigns are missing out on a huge opportunity to educate customers and gain valuable data, Prime Academy delegates heard.

Colin Cardwell, CEO and founder of 3rd Sense, a Sydney-based app and game developer, told the conference that healthcare professionals, like everyone, are more likely to learn, absorb and engage with content, including marketing messages, if the experience is interactive – and fun.

WATCH: Colin Cardwell: How digital games can work for pharma.

“And people are exponentially more likely to give data about themselves if they are having a good time. Pokémon Go is a great example of that,” said Cardwell.

“A small investment can generate amplified messages and it’s a great way to generate customer data.”

Gaining customer data is a key, yet often unrecognised benefit of developing a gaming platform Cardwell said, using Nike as a powerful example. The brand powerhouse turned running into a game by creating the original running app paired with a movement detection device inserted into running shoes, tracking the individuals running movements.

As well as boosting global sales by 14%, the real benefit of the campaign has been the data; 18 million customers willingly gave their behavioural data which Nike has used for product design and marketing.

Nike’s experience also demonstrates that a gaming strategy is not simply a marketing campaign with a short life span; developed on the back of a digital platform, they can last for years and can evolve with the business.

Cardwell acknowledged that using games to target HCPs might challenge thinking for some, but he reminded delegates that games were widely being used as education tools and “rewarded” users in different ways.

He referred to a Pfizer campaign that used a gaming app to educate retail pharmacy assistants about OTC products. Although the objective was product education, the entertainment element was so engaging and rewarding, the users played in their own time with peak engagement at around 8pm. The campaign, now in its third year, has turned pharmacy assistants into product evangelists and has won three industry awards.

Cardwell also pointed to the sheer penetration of games: most working adults have grown up engaging with games, and the industry is now worth more than $100 billion globally – more than the movie and music industries combined.

Here’s why games can’t be ignored anymore:

1. Everyone is playing

There’s a wide misunderstanding about the gaming market, and especially about who is the right target market for a game, Cardwell said.

2. It’s not just about games – education is booming

Games are no longer purely an entertainment device, penetration of digital games in schools and workplace training is high.

3. Mobile and app use continues to boom

With the gaming market reporting continued growth globally, mobile use is also heading north as users shift from desktop to mobile.

By the end of 2016, 300 minutes per day is the average time spent on mobile – a 90% jump from 158 minutes per day at the beginning of 2013. The findings were reported in the US by Flurry Analytics, comScore, Facebook and NetMarketShare, which also showed a 60% drop in desktop use over the same period.

“Digital – it’s where people are playing, it’s multisensory and on the go. They can get real-time feedback on performance, and users can be tracked,” Cardwell said.

4. Games are more popular than sport on mobile

Games ranked among the most popular apps, according to a breakdown of average time spent in mobile apps in a five-hour period, ranking only behind media and entertainment, Facebook and social/messaging.

Of the 14 app categories most commonly used, gaming outperformed shopping, sport and news, according to the statistics in the US by Flurry Analytics, comScore, Facebook and NetMarketShare.

5. The gender divide: People want different things from games

Different people like to play different games so understanding what motivates your audience is important, Cardwell told delegates.

When designing games, marketers need to understand the brand, target audience and desired outcomes. Gaming companies establish game mechanics, how to inject fun (whether it’s challenging and overcoming obstacles, or creative where users have customisation and choice which is very addictive), and how players should be rewarded.

WATCH: Colin Cardwell: How digital games can work for pharma.

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