Brands are increasingly using gamification marketing as a tool for strengthening customer interaction with their products and services. This was especially evident at SXSW, where a massive gaming schedule brought together developers, manufacturers, brands, and fans.
One emerging gamification marketing platform that had a big presence at SXSW was Unilever-funded Snatch, which is coming to the U.S. this fall. Snatch is an augmented reality treasure hunt app that allows users to seek out and snatch up valuable, big-brand prizes (think: Amazon, Google, and Macy’s, and many more) from other players who have them in their possession. Items also can be large sums of money.
“Even though our users understand that Snatch is a marketing platform, we are getting higher conversion and redemption rates versus more traditional marketing means because there is compelling value in what they can win, and they’ve had to compete to keep these items,” said Phil Lloyd, CMO at Snatch Media Ltd.
CMO.com caught up with Lloyd to learn why brands should consider gaming as an engagement platform.
CMO.com: Tell us a bit about your marketing and agency journey, as well as key learnings that you’ve brought to the Snatch business model and culture.
Lloyd: I would describe my marketing career as one of connecting brands and people via different means. I started my career in advertising at BBDO and then BBH in London, two great British agencies. Advertising is a fusion of art and science to bring and bind consumers and brands closely together. I learned about the power of creativity to do this. I learned the power of thinking differently to do this. This started my passion for creative ideas as a source of growth for brands.
I then wanted to work on brands to deepen my broader business understanding and went to Paddy Power, one of the most creative gaming companies in the world. I learned how to help people understand more than just the functional elements of a brand, and how to build brands with edges and real points of difference. I’m also passionate about taking career risks.
Second, I’m importing the discipline from big agencies of how new ideas are created. They don’t happen by accident. Snatch needs creative fuel every single day. Third, I bring an open mind to what a startup can be like. Even though I’ve never worked in a company with less than 500 people, I’ve worn many hats. I’m very agile.
CMO.com: Gaming has rapidly accelerated as an important platform for many brands to engage their consumers on their terms. What’s the big picture on brands and gaming? How did we get here? Why is it important for executives to understand and experiment with gaming?
Lloyd: As marketing has always done, it starts with where people, your consumers, are, and how are they spending their time, and then finding engaging ways to connect your brand and consumers. This is basic. Why I’m excited about gaming is that we’ve reached a point where we have scaled smartphone penetration--a critical mass of people playing games on their mobile phones.
If you look at the data about the time being spent, how mobiles are being used, and the mindset this has created, and add to this the developer, tech software, and hardware capabilities we now have, you’ve got to ask yourself as a marketer, why am I not connecting with people on gaming platforms? Yes, traditional media, like broadcast, still has a role to play. Fact: Every day in the U.K. and USA, there are millions of people playing basic games where there is no brand integration at all. This is a huge opportunity for brands.
I don’t think the marketing world has caught up with the tech abilities and the scaled consumer usage behavior we now have. For the brands that have started to use gaming, I encourage them to ... think creatively how you can authentically integrate into the game. I think brands should investigate in gaming as a strategic platform because people’s minds are changing on how they interact with brands. ... If you look at recent CPG acquisitions from P&G and Unilever, for example, they are startups that have a new mindset, with business models that are dealing with different ways to interact with consumers. Think Dollar Shave Club, which was purchased by Unilever for $1 billion. People are engaging differently with Dollar Shave Club than the way they were engaging with shaving blades in the traditional grocery aisle. The models and structures of new businesses on how they are acquiring and retaining consumers is being massively disrupted by digital, the Internet, and mobile.
With gaming, brands have the opportunity to give people an interactive, entertaining experience that affects their five senses and gets their brains to cognitively think about and take action on something, delivering a much more involving experience than traditional passive media delivery of a TV commercial. If I can get someone to engage, win, or lose in a brand experience, this is a more immersive, deeper, enjoyable experience for them. Their experience is also shareable with others digitally and through word of mouth. The old traditional model of thinking that you’ve created a cool ad and then you hope people see it and act on it is risky now.
The last benefit of using gaming I’d say is that people want to be entertained.
CMO.com: What was the “a-ha moment” when Snatch was created? What are the creative edges and secret sauce Snatch has discovered?
Lloyd: As I mentioned earlier, people and brands need to interact. People are in more control of life and society. Think about the changes in the use of mobile, the changed media landscape. Snatch is a new platform that enables people to exert even more power over the marketing messages they receive. When you open Snatch each morning, you are given the opportunity to favor and like different brands and opportunities to try to win things--offers, prizes, special VIP items. So, suddenly, we have an idea of what they are interested in most. The Snatch algorithm then kicks in. This changes the dynamic between the brand and person. Instead of kicking down the door and the brand saying loudly into your face “Hi, I’m here. Let me tell you about me,” [now it’s] asking politely, “Hi, would you like to get to know me?” This is permission-based marketing.
We also wanted to create interaction between people who were interested in the same brand and offer. We’ve given the consumer/player all of the control between themselves and the brand. We also wanted to enable a consumer to engage with a brand for a longer time period. On Snatch, on average, we are seeing about 1 hour and 33 minutes of game play daily, play frequency at six different interactions daily, and a retention rate of 45% of installs over 30 days. ... [People] are even using their real currency to buy things inside Snatch. These are the dynamics the Snatch founders were solving for. We’ve just integrated with Facebook, so friends can interact with each other on Snatch brands they’ve both chosen.
Joe Martin, the CEO and co-founder of Snatch, is a forensic scientist and human behavioral engineering expert. At Snatch, we try to have a more creative, fun, edgy, authentic, honest experience with people and the brands that integrate with us. We really need to deliver a unique, creative experience with edges because we are inviting people to send time with the app. It has been in development for two years. We have two revenue streams: B2B with brand sponsors, and B2C with consumers, players, buying special things while on Snatch.
CMO.com: Why should Snatch be on executives’ minds?
Lloyd: We hear a lot about active games that encourage long engagement. This is what Pokémon GO did fantastically. ... They got people off sofas to walk around and find things.
Snatch is also an active game, but with an end benefit to the player of winning something of value when they interact with a brand. I heard someone say that “Snatch is Pokémon GO, but with a point.” We have a lot of respect for what Pokémon GO did. They created the behavior that it was OK to for you to interact with your game and the real analog physical world at the same time. We also use AR and geolocation to add more fun and engagement. In Snatch, we’ve learned that brand integration can be enjoyable and powerful.
For brands, the Snatch platform offers a lot of flexibility. A brand marketer can use Snatch to build brand awareness and consideration, acquire customers, grow brand equity, physical store foot traffic, app downloads, etc. ... What we tell marketers as they learn about Snatch and start to work with us is that we are not Groupon on acid. Don’t just think about short-term tactical things, like coupon distribution. Snatch has a much bigger marketing toolkit to support short- and longer-term brand strategies and to layer in brand meaning.
Here’s how Snatch works: Players use their mobile phones and augmented reality to discover and steal virtual parcels from each other. If they can hold on and defend their parcels from other players, real prizes from some of the coolest U.K. brands are revealed. Some of the prizes on offer include a year’s worth of clothes from TopShop and TopMan. Even though our users understand that Snatch is a marketing platform, we are getting higher conversion and redemption rates versus more traditional marketing means because there is compelling value in what they can win, and they’ve had to compete to keep these items. We’ve seen strong results for big brands and local mom-and-pop brands.
CMO.com: What are the three most important things you’ve learned in your career about big brands and startups that you think CMOs and other C-level executives should consider?
Lloyd: First, I don’t think the functional title of CMO adequately describes the role anymore. The role of the CMO today is much broader than just marketing, particularly when you are a digital business, and I’m quite happy about that. Today, many CMOs are in charge of the entire consumer experience for all customers. We need to now think about the entire interaction between your business, brands, and people.
Second, find out where people who are important for your brand are hanging out and how they are spending their time. Third, as a marketer, you need to find the truth in between the all numbers in the big data that we have. Find the real story through all of the numbers and noise.