Yet another company has entered the scene promising points and chances to attain higher levels by interacting with advertisements – this time by former Apple exec Lars Albright and his company, SessionM. There are a number of benefits for a consumer in the way of virtual goods, extra play or pride rewards by these types of programs. Developers of games and apps can see a lift in engagement and retention among their users. And, advertisers can look to connect with an audience in a still-developing realm of mobile media. But are these engagements nothing more than a toy, or will it make the difference for users? However it flushes out, somebody’s gotta crack the code on gamification in mobile media – and that might not necessarily be through points alone.
The offering of rewards for viewing ads or engaging with a brand on platforms and apps has seen an uptick in awareness and retention – enough so that there are more and more companies entering the fray. SessionM was able to receive $6.7 Million in funding and was able to test their services with publishers like Viacom and Fox Sports, and advertisers that include Honda and Volvo.
The question is how long will this form of reward keep a user enthused enough to participate. We know that advertising helps to make content available for free and we also know that mobile ad interaction rates continue to drop – though the engagement for those who do interact are quite high. Perhaps the access to more content – or even the same level of content that consumers are used to for free will be enough to entice them to “play the game” and engage more fully with the advertising presented in the mobile space.
Last night, I was discussing the challenges in mobile media with some friends and we were wondering when the “Play to Pay” model will make its way into mobile. This is the opposite of Pay-to-Play in the truest sense. Effectively, the Play represents the interaction with advertising and Pay being the reduction of monthly charges for the user’s mobile usage. We joked that an additional feature would be the allowance of subliminal messages during phone calls or while using any apps in exchange for free service. Can you imagine being on a call with a friend and all the sudden having a robotic voice overlay your friend’s voice with something like “I can’t wait to see the movie, PROJECT X, how about you?” Besides completely screwing with your communication (and your mind) this solution could be beyond anything that people would be comfortable with. But, a less obtrusive solution could be just the key Telcos are looking for to get back into the monetization of mobile interaction beyond the existing data charges.
Could Telcos be too busy trying to scrape back pieces of the business Google and Apple cordoned off with their App stores instead of finding engaging ways to make a real positive difference in their customers’ pockets? Devising a model that is similar to the coffee-house wi-fi networks model that provides free access with the simple act of watching a video or reading the advertising copy could be that perfect mix of making more money AND passing some value to their consumers. I imagine the model would be complex, but I’ve got to believe that actual reductions in money spent would be more enticing to consumers than getting another shiny badge or accessing another level of gameplay.