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What’s the Future for In-App Marketing?

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How much?!?

There is general rumbling against in app purchasing, especially in games marketed at children. Parents are happy to download a free game for little Timothy to play but not so happy when the credit card bill, feature charges for bliss bombs, unicorn hats or whatever lands on the doormat.  As this news story shows the Micro payment model isn’t always that micro.

And on paper it is kind of an odd premise.  You pay real money for a series of 1s and 0s that can only exist within the confines game.  Well I suspect that it won’t be too long before gamemakers, marketeers and brands put their heads together to come up with a whole new way of selling.

Imagine what would happen if in-game money actually bought you a real, tangible thing. What if when you bought a product in a game it actually turned up on your doorstep the very next day? Or in the not too distant future you got the downloadable blueprints for your 3d printer?

In a game like Sims Freeplay it would mean that whenever your online character bought something, say a magazine, you’d actually get a copy of that magazine delivered to your real home or be able to download it as a digital copy. And because it was bought through the game all your friends would see it as a personal recommendation and be more likely to buy a copy too.  This type of exposure could also be wonderful for emerging artists and talent. If celebrity avatars suddenly started wearing your designer clothes, or displaying your art in their homes it wouldn’t be long before they hit the mainstream.

With Tap style games and apps that track your progress there are obvious links to products and services.  If you’re trying to get healthy for example then having an app which allows you to buy a subscription to a local gym would make real sense.  Having to check-in 5 times to unlock your Buff Badge and upload all you times/reps for the Feel the Burn award might just be all the encouragement you need.

As with all new forms of product placement and advertisement this model opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to ethical issues.  Whereas buying a day pass to a zoo in-game might be acceptable, receiving a gun in the post certainly wouldn’t be.  Why not leave us a comment below with your thoughts?

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