Games Score Sales for Online Marketers

Making a game out of advertising is paying off for online marketers.

Take Iris Ltd., an offline and online beauty and cosmetics retailer in the British Virgin Islands. When it started importing its Dead Sea Import products from Jordan less than a year ago, its founders sought an effective way to build brand awareness and sales online.

Iris began a quiz about its products from early December through early January on

Visitors to the site could participate in “Iris Missions,” which were a series of multiple-choice questions such as: “How does the mud-based Iris Slimming/Toning Cream tighten muscles?” and “The Iris Slogan is, 'Don't hide your skin…'.” Consumers could find the answer by clicking on a link to Iris's Web site,

Of 17,390 unique players, 11,999 achieved the correct answer. Entermark, the San Diego marketing firm that developed the game, said 69 percent understood and retained the marketing message. Consumers who answered correctly won game coins and prize entries to play additional games and win prizes on

Entermark owns

“I saw this as a very innovative way to focus on a niche market. They [consumers] approach my Web site to find clues … to learn,” said Javier Alverde, CEO of Iris Ltd. “The beauty is that people actually want your product before you even sell it to them.”

Many visitors from Prizes4Fun turned out to be serious buyers. Alverde estimates that 80 percent of those who visited the Web site bought products, at an average of $80 per order.

It is Iris's most successful marketing avenue to date.

“We started [marketing] by going to trade shows and by doing magazine ads and direct mails to spas, body shops and hotels, with very little success,” Alverde said. “Those [methods] are costly, you can't really measure them, and you may get a return in a year.”

Of 1 million direct mail fliers, about 15 percent of recipients became buyers. An e-mail push to 1 million potential buyers also brought a 15 percent response. In addition, magazine advertising that cost $10,000 produced about $5,000 in sales, Alverde said.

The “Mission Marketing” quizzes cost $1 per delivery, or $11,999. Entermark says its so-called cost-per-delivery charge is also a better measure of effectiveness than impressions, clicks, unique visitors or other metrics.

“Mission Marketing is focused on results and goals, not activity,” said Nikkie Brauer, CEO of Entermark. “We're not concerned about saying, 'We sent a million people through your site.' We're concerned with saying, 'A certain 10,000 people read your message, understood it and want to know more.'”

Brauer said the firm's Mission Marketing and cost per delivery is a shift from the previous dot-com ad model of “throwing millions of dollars into campaigns that were not yielding results” to a marketing method that creates a dialogue between the advertiser and consumer and proves ROI.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, has had comparable success with “advergaming,” using Cincinnati-based Adternity's Adversity game.

On promotions Web site, P&G conducted several quizzes for Iam's Active Maturity line and TideKick last year. However, instead of asking players directly about the products, the game quizzed players on the products' television commercials.

For example, one question was, “In our TV commercial, did you know that we have a superiority claim for TideKick, that it gets out more stains than any other detergent?” Consumers who answered “yes” were routed to four or five additional questions about that superiority claim. Those who answered “no” were directed to “education and habit-forming” multiple-choice questions and match games about TideKick.

In ad-effectiveness tests with Tide, Adternity found that the interactive quizzes were seven times more effective than Tide banner ads and twice as effective as television ads. In addition, consumers' purchase intent after playing the games was 40 percent higher than for banner ads and 20 percent higher than for TV commercials.

“Gaming as a delivery vehicle for advertising really gets consumers to pay attention to what you want them to pay attention to,” said Jay Woffington, CEO of Adternity.

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