The market research company Gartner predicts that in the coming years more and more gamification elements will move into the handling of products and services. Classical examples in this context, such as, for example, playful incentives in the health care system, are now familiar to the general public. But what about Gamification as a loyalty driver in interacting with content?
More and more content is published every day by publishers, marketing departments, corporate publishers and agencies. In publishing environments, it is becoming increasingly difficult, not least because of the platform dominance of Facebook and Google, to keep readers on one’s own pages in order to harvest important data, strengthen branding or increase the advertising value. The same applies to companies trying to persuade consumers to interact with their content as part of the Content Marketing boom.
What does gamification mean in the context of content-driven companies?
With Gamification, the application of game design principles to non-game-playing applications and processes is generally meant to solve problems and engage participants. The goal is to increase the motivation of the users to interact with the offers more intensively or to adopt the desired behavior.
These game-typical elements include, among others, experience points, high scores, a progress bar, ranking lists, virtual goods, and awards. Initial studies show significant improvements in areas such as user motivation, customer retention, ROI and data quality. This alone should suffice to make gamification a top priority for all content-driven companies.
Companies want their readers and consumers to interact with the content and react positively, be it by clicking an advertisement or sharing an article. In this context, products should be designed to be interactive and attractive. Ideally, the reader becomes an active participant in the created content, spends more time on the corresponding medium and becomes more loyal in the long run.
Examples of gamification for publishers and corporate publishers
Gamification is, strictly speaking, another tool employed to forge a connection between the reader and one’s own content. "Playing" is not a new phenomenon, but optimally applied using current technology, it is a very effective tool for publishers and corporate publishers.
Examples abound: readers could earn points or reach a higher ranking if they read a lot, or comment and share often, or even when they themselves produce content. Businesses could even create competitions which pit the readers against each other. The number of possible parameters is long: number of read articles, reading speed, number of divided articles, number of readers of the shared article from the social network, extra points for opening an article as one of the first 100 readers - the more points, the higher the level of the reader.
So instead of adding playful elements to the content, the content itself becomes a game. The reward for a certain level could be, for example, the release of yet more premium content. This is an interesting option.
Why Gamification is becoming increasingly important
Gamification has the potential to positively influence the reading behavior through intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli. The term "Gamification" is not new. The British programmer Nick Pelling described in 2002 how the structure and mechanisms of a game could also be used in a non-playful context. The reader and consumer should experience a feeling of achievement, and should be rewarded directly and emotionally. This can be achieved through extrinsic incentives such as gained points or a higher ranking, or through intrinsic incentives such as the positive contribution to a community.
It is emotional factors that motivate us to consume content. We want to discover new information, be entertained, escape from the real world, take on another persona, feel that we are up to date. These feelings are also achievable through other channels such as listening to music, watching videos or playing computer games. Gamification, therefore, is a useful tool for publishers and corporate publishers to encourage the act of reading through the use of a reward system.
Those who tend to spend their free time on Youtube or those who can never read a book to its end will be motivated to interact with the content in a positive environment. Playful elements appeal to different human needs such as reward, status, success or self-expression, which can be very useful for publishers and corporate publishers.
The current status quo in the industry
In the field of publishing, Gamification elements have been employed for some time. Chapters, headings and paragraphs allow the reader to experience a sense of progress and achievement. The natural impulse of a reader to share his opinion has also been served with instruments such as reading recommendations or reviews for some time now. Social media comprise a kind of digital book club. Gamification combines the inherent reading behavior with the digital world. This is an exciting development for publishers in the history of publishing.
The bookseller and e-book reader manufacturer Kobo already takes advantage of Gamification in its latest devices and has integrated elements such as a points system, badges and rankings into the user surface. Readers are rewarded for, among others, fast reading. From early on, The Huffington Post has awarded points to readers making comments that are positively evaluated by the general readership.
Curiously enough, we see very little evidence of this trend amongst corporate publishers. Despite the boom in content marketing, Gamification is often still missing in the play books of marketers. For the next few years, it will be worth watching how long it takes them to catch on.
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