May 2017


Playing for Keeps When It Comes to Attendee Attention Spans

gamification_main__detailsFrom digital quizzes to scavenger hunts, interactive games can mean serious business for marketers

Forget trying to catch a Pokémon on your mobile device if you want a thrilling hunt. These days the hardest thing to catch is the attention span of consumers, with more brand information and choices than ever before. This is especially true for Millennials who happen to have the shortest attention spans of any demographic, but are the most impactful consumer population with a $20 billion per year buying power. What can marketers do to find an edge in a competitive landscape? One surefire answer is to actually take inspiration from the runaway success of Pokémon Go: Create a game around audiences that not only captures attention, but keeps it focused on your brand message. This solution is called gamification, and it’s already paying huge awareness-dividends in the event industry.

Let’s go and catch ‘em all by understanding gamification and its various applications.

Gaming the system, the right way

Gamification is the notion of applying game processes and design practices to motivate and engage individuals into achieving specific goals. This playful application draws from the basic desires and needs of user impulses by stimulating reward centers like status and achievement. It’s commonly used in market research, such as in studies and online surveys, all to keep participants involved.

What’s more, a rising amount of companies are using gamification to motivate employees. According to a study by the University of Colorado, gamification improves retention rates in adults by nine percent. This is a huge shift when it comes to getting an edge on competitors — supported by a Harvard Business Review study detailing that a mere five percent increase in customer retention can generate a 25 to 95 percent profit increase.

Making a play for brand experiences

In the event industry, gamification is already an established tool for brand loyalty, product knowledge, and nurturing a sense of community. The key for marketers is to have specific goals: entertainment, brand or event education, information retention, data gathering, etc.

As an illustration, at the last PCMA CIC, attendees formed teams and explored the St. John’s Convention Centre to complete a series of interactive challenges based on finding and understanding conference locations. Teams that completed a challenge received a passcode, which they entered into the event app to receive points. The teams with the highest points received awards and prizes. The result was a conference with attendees knowing exactly where everything was located (a dream for any show organizer), all the while absorbing educational content.

In addition to event education and participation, many conferences like PCMA Convening Leaders have offered dedicated fitness apps where attendees can find out how much they walked in a day. Results are posted on leaderboards to encourage a bit of playful competition and challenge attendees to attend more sessions or explore the event further.

A game of sessions

Gamification at events works for audiences sitting down too, especially during a session. Mobile apps and second screen technology allow audiences to get involved with speakers via interactive games. With apps such as Gamify or our own second screen technology, you can create real-time online polls or quizzes, as well as take audience questions or comments. It’s also fairly simple to produce prize drawings or integrate social media into a session with gamification. The more audiences are integrated into a session, the more information they’ll retain.

On the show floor, touch screens at exhibitor booths that also provide quizzes or surveys can can go a long way into making visitors stick.

Scavenging for success

Nothing brings out an audience’s inner Captain Jack Sparrow like a good scavenger hunt, and this usually means treasure afoot for both participants and sponsors. The PCMA CIC gamification we mentioned took the form of a scavenger hunt, but you can take that idea to epic levels by taking inspiration from Big City Hunt, Questival, or SCANVenger Hunt, which offer daylong adventures across cities. With a little tweaking, these scavenger hunts could include your organization’s facilities or a social gathering; and they instill a sense of camaraderie, belonging, and adventure to participants, who will in turn open their ears to your brand message.

Play it again (but virtual), Sam

If you want to keep things onsite, but without boundaries and with eternal possibilities, give virtual reality tech a try (like gamers are already doing in great numbers). With the appropriate software and designer, it’s possible to provide virtual scavenger hunts, brand quizzes, or even a role-playing adventure where audiences find out more about a service. Also, VR (and gamification apps) can allow remote audiences to be part of the game.

Let’s not forget about augmented reality, getting back to the inspiration that is Pokémon Go. We’ve written previously that there are many ways to leverage Pokémon Go-inspired events. If you don’t want to ensnare a Pikachu specifically, have your attendees capture digital badges, prizes, or products — or maybe create an augmented reality guide or exercising partner.

Whether you go virtual or physical (or a combination), remember to avoid making the game about your brand — it needs to be about the customer. A successful gamification campaign means audiences forget about the product and immerse themselves in the entertainment. But when playtime is over, the game will be on for audiences rewarding your brand with their attention.

Questions or Comments?