Marketing games: enthuse your market - Marketecture

Posted by | February 23, 2011 | B2B marketing

If you’re a marketer, you should know that people put a good deal of faith in recommendations made by someone they know. TV ads, online banner ads, magazine ads and radio ads instil nowhere near the same level of trust in people as does good old word of mouth. Despite the bellowing successes of the TV ad and the indiscernibly heartwarming and somehow humorous reminiscences of a stuffed meerkat, it was only when these services were given positive reviews by my colleagues that I used them to get a quote on my car insurance (a meer’ £2,500 per year).

Of course, had I been a bit less cynical (like my colleagues, or whoever it was they trusted that convinced them to use insurance comparison websites), I would have taken the bait more readily. But I’m not and I didn’t. And 38% of consumers wouldn’t either, according to Nielsen.*

So, as a developer, I’m going to discuss one use of technology that can be utilised to give longer term gravitas to your marketing campaigns: marketing games.

Marketing games seem to be one of those things that already exist and work well, but belong firmly in the category of the inspired one-offs. As the web is now a relatively sane habitat in which all types of games can exist** – not just Flash games – and the tools and levels of knowledge necessary for creating such games continue to increase, this confuses me! It is neither massively expensive nor difficult to integrate such games into a brand website or campaign.

One of the standout marketing games in recent times that I’ve seen is Adobe Business Catalyst’s Web Invaders. They used a number of web-related icons (analytics, email, shopping carts etc.) in place of the traditional Space Invaders, the idea being that you, in your Business Catalsyt spaceship, with the help of (Adobe) Dreamweaver, are able to ‘take care of’ all the different web-related tasks your clients can throw at you.


This campaign was initialised by targeted online advertisements that were able to draw a number of people to the Business Catalyst website. Thereafter, Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth brought more visitors to the site and, as is evident from the scoreboard (a feature which adds yet more appeal to the game), actively engaged users!

The game is written in JavaScript and therefore relies entirely on your browser to render each ‘frame’ of the game. That is why it is not as smooth as the original Space Invaders game (the game objects move several pixels every second), nor is it as challenging. But this is a small price to pay for support on even IE6 and IE7.


Another great game utilised to marketing ends is Maginus’s MyGenius. It promotes that idea that “customers demand the ability to shop at a time and place to suit them, whilst expecting consistent service levels across stores, web, mobiles, catalogue, mail order and kiosks” and conveys this message by allowing users to connect a number of pipes together with minimum waste: a metaphor for connecting a number of services together. You then ‘swoosh’ and the MyGenius character travels through the pipes, a connection made complete.


This is a Flash based game and winner of best campaign at the b2b awards 2010 (the same awards at which Marketecture won the award for best lead generation). Being a Flash game, cross-browser compatibility is not really a concern and the performance of the game is unlikely to be affected in different browser and operating system environments.

Both these games, each utilising different technologies, have successfully met with a number of marketing objectives in b2b and at the same time engaged their audiences. MyGenius has had 300,000 unique players since November 2010 and while the web invaders campaign was a relatively short one carried out as part of the launch of Business Catalyst, it has been made available on a staging server to those who want to relive the campaign.

* That is, 38% of people do not trust TV advertisements, according to Nielsen’s 2009 study on consumer trust in different forms of advertising.

** The most suitable technology will ultimately be device- and browser-dependent.

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