Women are jumping at the chance to earn online points and virtual dollars, according to a new report from online marketing firm Q Interactive. The survey, released at this week's Social Media World Forum, found that 78 percent of women who play social media games clicked on an ad or signed up for a promotion to earn virtual currency.
This currency, also called "VC," allows players to advance in online games or purchase virtual gifts. The research, which drew on more than 2,200 women from Q Interactive's Coolsavings.com database, shows that it may also be a potent marketing tool.
"One of the primary ways marketers can leverage [social media] interaction is through virtual currency," said Matt Wise, president Q Interactive. "If you take a look at some of the big game platforms, like Zynga, they comment that a third of their revenue is generated by lead generation, which is advertisers and brands interacting with consumers."
At the same time, respondents said they were not ready to spend real currency to earn virtual currency. Only 10.4 percent have spent real money, with half (47.10 percent) spending under $20 and 38.2 percent spending between $20 and $100. Reasons cited for not spending center on a lack of personal affordability (37.70 percent) and importance (32.50 percent).
Offers were chosen based on content/interest (34 percent), followed by free products and service offers (17 percent) and those that required criteria to qualify (16 percent). However, the amount of VC earned (9 percent) was the least ranked reason for accepting an offer. Overall, 67 percent found the offers useful.
"It talks to the fact that women are interacting with these games," said Wise. "If you can create a positive brand experience, it's an excellent way to weave advertisements into a game because you've got the attention of the consumers. . . . It's a positive experience for the consumer and keeps the consumer engaged in the game by getting more virtual points and ideally playing some more."
Virtual currency use within social media games was high among women, with 41.2 percent reporting that they have used the functionality. Of those using virtual currency, 57 percent engage in online transactions on a daily basis, whether it be once (33.4 percent) or multiple times (23.8 percent) per day. About one quarter (23.2 percent) use virtual currency weekly.
Women mainly attributed their virtual currency usage to advance in their games (37.7 percent) or give virtual gifts (17.3 percent), while many (39.7 percent) use it for both. Recipients claimed that using virtual currency was "fun" and "addictive" (33 percent) and they enjoyed being able to give gifts (25 percent), as well as advance in their games (24 percent). Virtual currency also sparked feelings of competitiveness (8 percent) and personal wealth (8 percent).
Top social media games on Facebook for Nov. 10 were Farmville, Causes, Café World, Mafia Wars and Aquarium, according to AppData.com, which tracks daily metrics and trends for Facebook applications.
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