Digital advertising technology company SocialVibe is releasing a study today that claims 91% of people pay active attention to brand messaging packaged in incentivized engagements encountered in social games, as opposed to just idly sitting through an ad to score free virtual currency.
SocialVibe is best known on Facebook for its integration with Zynga’s games, such as its Super Bowl XLV engagement app promoting Kia Motors or last year’s Thanksgiving Facebook app that drew funds on behalf of charitable organization United Nations World Food Programme. The company’s integration types vary by brand partner — CEO Jay Samit stresses that SocialVibe never charges for creative services, which encourages the brand to experiment with ads. One example he uses is another Kia Motors engagement app that allowed users to re-edit segments of a 30-second TV commercial for the brand’s latest car, effectively creating their own music video. Another is a Toy Story 3 trailer viewed in FarmVille that asks the participant at what their favorite childhood toy was, and then prompts them to share on their Wall.
“The more interactive, the more people enjoy it,” Samit tells us, in support of his company’s product. “I’m all for brands embracing the medium — everything we do on the internet is by choice, not like TV. It’s a lean-to experience. People want to participate. One of our secret sauces is that if we can get you to emote, you’ll want to share. We never charge for that, that’s to incentivize brands to be creative.”
The study released today in collaboration with KN Dimestore was compiled during June and July of 2011, collecting information from a group of 30,000 consumers exposed to SocialVibe incentivized ads across a number of mediums, including social games. Key findings of this study suggest that not only are users more likely to be active participants with incentivized brands, but that users were 161% more likely to visit a brand’s website and 36% more likely to shop for brands at a store location after completing an engagement. Nearly half of the participants (48%) in the study reported that they only clicked on the engagement to get the virtual currency — but wound up staying to actively engage with the brand once the experience started.
“We had a client that produced 5 different videos [for an engagement]. That was unusual,” Samit says, explaining that each video rewarded participants with the exact same amount of in-game currency and that the participant only had to watch one to be eligible. “But users were averaging 93 seconds to complete three videos. They opted in. There was a pause moment — and then they enjoyed it.”
The challenge for SocialVibe now is getting in front of the right users. Through what Samit calls “true targeting,” the most appropriate ad engagements by demographic are only supposed to users that are most likely to opt-in. As an example, he walks us through an engagement that asks participants if they are footballs fans. If the participant says no, they get a completely different experience for the remainder of the engagement than of those who said yes. Beyond that layer, though, it’s up to the social game developers to control where and when the SocialVibe integration occurs.
“The astute game publisher doesn’t integrate us with those customers that are our bread and butter — the hardcore, taking out the wallet gamer,” Samit says. “We’re the alternative that only appears to those other gamers. If you’re the kind of gamer that’s played for 90 days and hasn’t taken out your wallet… let us monetize [you].”
SocialVibe’s business model is fueled by advertising dollars spent by brands, a portion of which SocialVibe gives to social game publishers with which they integrate the engagement ads. Zynga Global Director of Brand Advertising Manny Anekal once told us that these integrations are very easy to activate in the short-term for upcoming film or DVD releases, explaining that the Toy Story 3 SocialVibe integration took less than a week to work into FarmVille. As for the returns on investment for the brands, Samit says in the evolving market for digital advertising, incentivized ads in social games are far more effective and less wasteful than traditional banner ads.
“Impressions are completely useless,” he says. “There are ways to load up pages with all sorts of stuff that we have tuned out. You are more likely to summit Everest in your lifetime than to ever click on a banner.”
SocialVibe closed a $20 million second round of funding from Norwest Venture Partners last March, bring its total funding up to $45 million. You can check out its lists of brands and partners on the company’s website.