Over 90 million people are playing CityVille. 90 million. And marketers are still trying to figure out how to connect with them.
AppSavvy is one of the companies making it happen. They help brands connect with users through social games and other social apps.
Early campaigns such as the Cascadian Farms Organic Blueberry integration with FarmVille, in which the product was turned into an actual in-game product that players could buy and use, were custom pieces and took a lot of time and money to produce. But AppSavvy is working hard to make it practical for any big brand to get involved.
Evolving to Meet Demand
AppSavvy recently shifted their model towards a more traditional media approach. They created standardized ad units that allow marketers to buy space in games, applications and social activities such as conversations and check-ins.
The ad units will seem familiar from digital advertising at large. Banner ads line the outside of the content and interstitial messages are fit into loading pages and level-up screens.
How Does This Change Things?
These changes are necessary in order to scale social advertising to a level where many companies can plan and participate as part of their campaign cycle.
Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing the kind of creativity that we did with campaigns such as Cascadian Farms, McDonalds and Lady Gaga. But that one-off model is not sustainable. And perhaps special efforts will still be negotiated around big events and announcements such as the holidays and new product launches.
Where Will It Go From Here?
Ideally, the creativity of the early campaigns would be combined with the scalability of the media model to maximize practicality, efficiency and strategic capability. A lesson might be learned from the world of TV advertising.
The television industry hosts what is known as an “upfront”, where marketers agree to buy advertising on prime time shows several months before the season begins. Marketer and content creator then work together to craft a custom plan based on this commitment.
If Zynga were to have an upfront, they could let marketers bid on inclusion in their upcoming games and bake their products into it from conception. Real food products, clothing, cars, electronics, medicine and many other things could be represented in the game world, which enhances the quality of the game by bringing the fictional world to life. It also creates a engaging and relatable marketing messages that consumers take to heart, since they are enhancing the content rather than obscuring it.
What Should You Do?
Marketers should mark a portion of their budget for social media advertising. It’s measurable and drives higher click through rates than traditional online advertising. Prices will rise from here as demand increases, so if it is possible to negotiate an extended rate, do it.
New approaches to social media advertising combine the predictability and scalability of traditional media with the intimate nature of social media. Invest now and get a great bargain on a program that will help you bond with your audience.
Greg Steen, 08.30.2011