4mobileAdvertainment, the concept of merging brand communication and entertainment to obtain the dwindling attention of consumers, is by no means new. On the contrary, with regard to the acceptance rate, computer games are clearly on the fast lane and in the field of Internet and design agencies a niche market for so-called advertising games (ad games).

Developed to increase customer loyalty with the help of Internet technologies such as Flash or Shockwave, ad games are capable of anchoring the brand in the mind-set of the consumer in a congenial way. The enormous proliferation of mobile phones is just boosting this trend, as the high level of personal commitment and individualization of mobility make it the perfect platform for the active and successful staging of a brand.

In fact, entertainment and mobile technologies are increasingly merging, but the entertainment industry has realized the synergies actually already decades ago. That mobility is an additional and excellent opportunity to develop mass markets and to earn a lot of money became already obvious when mobile devices such as PDAs, MP3 players and Game Boys got popular and people started to enjoy their very own personal entertainment "on the go". But no other mobile device influences the way people live, work and interact as vastly as mobile phones – which made mobile gaming even quietly the killer application of the so-called “mobile value-added services”. It is by now already one of the fastest growing markets in the world and expected to reach US$341.4 billion by 2015 while smartphone sales will account for 75.8% of the overall mobile handset revenue at US$258.9 billion in the same year.

Games that serve the mass market are, however, the largest source of revenue, as they are generally easy to handle and provide users with fast, uncomplicated fun and entertainment. Today, the global market for mobile entertainment alone is forecast to reach US$67.6 billion in the next five years, driven by insatiable consumer appetite for entertainment on the move and the widespread penetration of mobile phones, smartphones, and other portable devices. Besides that, technological advancements in handset technology, expansion in mobile communications infrastructure, and favorable regulatory environment are setting the stage for unprecedented growth in the mobile entertainment space in the near future – not to mention the following advantages:

Staging the brand philosophy

Internet-based ad games are the perfect medium to produce high popularity among target users. But besides their advantages as an advertising medium, they have some glaring disadvantages as well: there is a constant need for active search of the target audience - even if the game experience is coupled to a dedicated brand. In addition, these games compete with the perfect worlds of PC and console games. Well, at least a study by the Mobile Entertainment Forum proves that wireless games, once on the phone, get only deleted in exceptional cases.

Higher brand penetration

The fact that the mobile phone accompanies its users at every opportunity, the game rate is almost 300 times higher compared to ad games on the web. For the brand communication this means a longer and higher penetration and a much stronger anchoring in the mind-set of the target audience.

Contact data for free

Ad games, often used in marketing for customer data generation, must selectively accelerate this function through additional prize draws. In wireless games this happens literally in passing as name, location and phone number land with each download as cleanly structured data at brand owners and can be used for further dialogue measures within the integrated marketing and customer loyalty.

Location and time independent access

The barrier to download wireless games is very low, compared to the Internet-based ad games, as the mobile phone is always close to the body of its owner. That makes the media breaks minimal since access, download, and fun to play takes place on one and the same platform instead. So, wireless ad games are suited even for the innovative use at the point of sale, allowing brand product and brand philosophy to connect.

Extraordinary experience

The additional use of vibration alert and full sound turn the wireless game into a real experience for all the senses. This is for brand marketers an important point, because the "traditional" ad games on the internet often can’t ensure a unified gaming experience due to the individual configuration of PC and Internet connection of the user.

Convergence and integration

By providing new levels or high score lists on the Internet, the brand experience can be enhanced with new and highly convergent dimensions and help build a brand for a new form of community – a brand community with high multiplier value and an excellent starting position for the always popular "cult creation”.

Conceptual, technical and creative skills

For the development of a successful wireless ad game, the concept, technology and design have to go hand in hand on a very high level, as the design of a game world for a small phone screen is a much more complex task than for the PC monitor. And even on the technology level, specialists are needed that are able to deal with object-oriented development and various SDKs. All this, of course, doesn’t matter if the partner can’t get insights into the minds of the target groups to design a content-rich and authentic gaming experience: gameplay, story, music, graphics and functionality can’t be separated here.

Media neutral thinking – media-compatible performance 

The use of this new communication channel must be planned and carried out as detailed as the use of ads or TV spots. It’s not done with the development of a "cool" wireless ad game alone. Hence, digital communication should never be detached from the overall communication of a brand.

Contrary to the prejudice that the big bulk of the global gaming community consists predominantly of male teenagers, today more than 50% of gamers are over 35 years old and the proportion of girls and women is, according to Forrester Research, around 13%  - with a strong trend upward. This makes mobile ad games for a variety of brands, from all sectors of the B2C economy, to a super weapon within the framework of integrated communications. And it does not matter whether it is about FMCG, retail, car, fashion or lifestyle brands.

Mobile ad games are a perfect solution to increase awareness, differentiation, branding and loyalty, but above all, they are ideal to let the hearts of individual, highly enthusiastic users beat faster.

By Daniela La Marca