By: Robert Jones, VP Research & Insight, Hybrid Theory
If you were on any social platform these past six months - though particularly Twitter - it would have been hard to miss the meteoric rise of Wordle into the cultural zeitgeist. The popular web-based word game, which shares similarities to the British game show Lingo, exploded onto the scene in October 2021 and by 2022 had attracted more than one million daily players, and the notice of the New York Times, who acquired it on January 31. In addition to being a fun puzzle game, Wordle’s brilliance is in how it has players share their results in cryptic pictographs that invite the reader to learn more about the game and what these representations mean.
Politically, the Wordle audience skews blue - they’re about 4.9x more likely to engage with liberal and centrist news sources such as MSNBC or CNN than they are to engage with conservative media outlets like OANN. Most of the news they consume tends to be sports- and business-related, and Wordle players count a larger-than-average number of draft-interested fans for football, basketball, and baseball. These are a group you might think of as “sports nerds,” i.e. the fantasy sports set who fixate on stats and turn their favorite sports into season-long games of roster management.
The word “gamer” is a big tent these days and often misunderstood - we still tend to think of gamers as kids playing Xbox/PlayStation on their couch but the reality is that most gamers are women and it’s games like Wordle that make that possible. Only one fifth (21%) of Wordle players play console games or engage with related media online, though they’re still more likely than the average person to do so.
Instead, Wordle players are significantly more likely to read Business & Financial or Sports news than Gaming news. Even if they do play other games, they aren’t necessarily enmeshed in gaming culture or looking to find out about the latest releases or industry news. If you’re looking for other games they play, start with digital translations of more traditional games such as Chess and Solitaire or other card games - Wordle players are 36x more likely than the average person to be interested in chess, and 6.5x more likely to play card games. They’re also significantly more likely to be fans of lacrosse.
When it comes to sharing content other than the cryptic solutions we’ve all seen plastered all over Twitter, Wordle players are most likely to share science-related articles, and are just over 2x more likely to do so than the average person, with Facebook being their preferred platform. They don’t share news articles nearly as often as the average person, and when they do, it tends to be around stories in the arts & entertainment space.
The Wordle audience is sufficiently large to be a targetable entity yet not so large as to be meaningless for advertising or categorization purposes; though it’s worth noting that there’s an entire “Wordle-alike” audience out there of people for whom the fix of a single daily puzzle isn’t enough, and for whom the process of playing Wordle also involves cheating at Wordle, looking up solutions and word reference to complete puzzles.
As an audience, these consumers are attracted to the bite-sized fun and daily mental exercises the game offers without requiring a massive time investment. They tend to be more engaged on social platforms and that’s likely how they discovered Wordle in the first place. An optimal strategy for targeting this progessive minded audience involves reaching them consistently through a hybrid combination of social engagement and programmatic advertising while being mindful of their time. With the 2022 midterms looking increasingly grimmer each day for the left, smart fundraisers and influencers for Democratic candidates would be wise to have data intelligence on this highly discerning group of left-leaning voters in their arsenal.
About the Author:
Robert Jones, VP Research & Insight, Hybrid Theory