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Samit Says Social Gaming Killed the Soaps



For years, moms across the US took a break in the afternoons to watch the soaps on TV. It was their “me” time while the kids were in school and their husband was at work. A time to relax and drift away to another world where they didn’t have to worry about bills, dinner or family squabbles.

Now, says Jay Samit, CEO of SocialVibe, they turn to social gaming instead. He says social games have become the modern “Calgon Moment” for busy women who often feel life spiraling out of control around them.

“Now she can have the perfect farm or restaurant, a world that’s in order and it’s a very peaceful experience. That’s what killed the soap opera.”

Samit joined three of his colleagues this morning for a round-table discussion of social gaming at the OMMA Social Conference in New York. The main thrust was the fact that advertising presented through social gaming is more engaging and thus worth more than any other type of advertising. The reason it’s more engaging is because it’s incentivized. The player wants something and to get it they have to give up a minute of their time. They’re willing to make this trade because it’s a good deal for them. Because gamers give demographic information when they sign up, they get an ad that is targeted and that increases the chance of engagement.

If the advertiser has done his job right, the gamer is encouraged to do something at the end of the time period. Samit talked about an ad for Toy Story that ended with the question, what’s your favorite toy from childhood? We’re conditioned to answer questions like that, so we do and then we’re asked, do you want to share that answer with your friends? Sure! I want to see if anyone else remembers Baby First Step and Lincoln Logs.

Samit says that on one of his campaigns, 39% shared the content after viewing and 30% of the people they shared with opened the link and were engaged as well. What’s really important about the second part, is that those people weren’t incentivized to view the content. They opened it because a friend cared enough to send it. That’s all it takes.

The other reason social gaming works for advertisers is the competition factor. We play because our friends are playing. We want to help them build their Wonders in Gardens of Time or get more cows on Farmville.

Gamers are also collectors. When a game offers branded, virtual goods for a limited time, people jump through hoops to get it, even watching commercials as long as two minutes. Imagine sitting through a two minute commercial while watching TV. It’s not going to happen.

Social gaming advertising isn’t just about video. Samit gave an example about an iTunes widget that asked people to put together a playlist of their favorite Christmas songs. Engagement time – 3 minutes and 24 seconds. Once they created their lists, what did they do with them? They shared them, of course.

You can’t do that with a banner, a search ad or a billboard. The best thing? Social gaming hasn’t even begun to peak yet.

I don’t know if Farmville helped kill soaps, but I do know that time spent on online gaming has increased 10% in the past year and that time had to come from somewhere.

Want to know more? You can watch the full “Social Gaming: New Ways for Brands to Play” panel on UStream. Just click here.

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