Kids marketing experts are digging deep to find innovative ways to reach young audiences including kids under the age of 13 and young teenagers through digital mediums. In a recent conversation, Nick Walters, a gaming marketing strategy expert and managing director provided some insight into how the strategies of brands to engage this target audiences have evolved.
The Digital Evolution of Experience for the Youth Demographic
The roots of socially interactive virtual experiences, dubbed the metaverse, first arose out Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin, and other environments that permitted young users to interact virtually with others across different platforms.
This digital socialization was a revolutionary peek behind the curtain of what would shape the future of interactive gaming, forever changing how young users would engage with digital content. Kids could perform activities and join in gameplay with their peers, all with their own personas rendered in the shape of personality-expressive avatars.
Games did not start as massively immersive experiences that could be played across platform boundaries that they have since become. The early incarnations stem back to 2007, with the arrival of the original iPhone which introduced young game lovers to Candy Crush and Angry Birds.
Of course, at the time the mobile gaming technology was in its very early infantile stages, so technological limitations prevented much in terms of interactivity and social connections. It also rstricted kids to play games available only on the specific devices that the games were made available on.
This provided kids with games that, while entertaining, would not hold their attention for long. The casual experience of early gaming, however, became a far more immersive one as technology had a chance to bolster its technological prowess. No longer were gamers confined to whatever was available in terms of gaming on the devices they had.
The broad diversification of devices that hosted games turned them into social hubs. Some have grown to such immense popularity that youth gaming took off into the stratosphere. Look no further than the fact that more than half of the youth population in the US has a Roblox account.
This Cambrian boom enabled the confluence of entertaining games to happen by having them available across a number of devices, no longer making it necessary to buy a particular type of device in order to play certain games.
Shaping the Digital Landscape With Youth Gaming
So how is gaming shaping the digital landscape? Quite significantly, actually. Today’s youth audiences have certain real-time expectations from the content they engage with including the active and passive kind. Gaming has begun to influence storytelling techniques, story growth, and character development.
Another proof of its influence is the fact that popular modern games are now the basis of many streaming shows and movies, showing their creative and engaging power influencing other types of digital media. Sometimes the themes, styles, and stories are adapted directly from games, while many other times the games serve to influence the story being told.
This type of influence is significant for brands who want to utilize gaming to the advantage of promoting themselves or their products. This is forcing most brands to explore how they can imbed themselves into the gaming world in order to engage the youth audiences and secure brand loyalties with the consumers of tomorrow.
Embracing the Gaming Strategy
Understanding that engagement of audiences under 16 years of age is key is the easy part; figuring out the best way to do so, however, is the hard one. Walters notes that brands often find the gaming world more challenging to navigate while trying to leverage it to reach audiences.
Most notably, brands who wish to engage audiences with a gaming strategy must create a way for this strategy to not only complement their brand, but also to figure out what the goal of such an engagement is. Will the brand intent to using gaming as a promotional vehicle, or will digital play serve as a full pivot to overall marketing in the digital realm?
Not all brands will possess a solid IP, so they must think of new, innovative methods to reach their audiences. Such brands are likely to communicate with audiences about their product through other digital means rather than an intricate and immersive gaming product.
There are some insights how brands can use gaming as a promotional tool to better reach and engage with young audience.