Friday, September 23, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: Bunchball is out to gamify a broad range of your brand’s online experiences

There are many actions that we hope consumers will take. Besides clicking to buy, of course. We want them to rate things, consume content, endorse our products, tell their friends about their experiences using our products, etc. We can’t MAKE THEM do these things. Those days, if they ever really existed, are long gone.
Bunchball is a company that helps companies make desirable actions far more likely. They do this by “gamifying” the process on our websites and in social experiences. The principle is simple and powerful. Specifically, Bunchball rewards consumers for taking these actions with a variety of tactics calculated to appeal to universal human motivations and impulses.
We all like recognition and rewards. With Bunchball, a company can motivate consumers to do things like consume more content by giving them points, badges, and the like when they do so. Further, by introducing competition into the mix, they can make participation more exciting and stimulating.
The core of the Bunchball offering is Nitro, a gamification platform that you implement on your owned media. Nitro drives on site participation in a variety of ways:
  • Challenges
  • Trophies
  • Badges
  • Achievements
  • Points
  • Leaderboards
  • Virtual goods
  • Virtual rooms
  • Customizable Avatars
  • Trivia
  • Poker-like experiences
  • Social media notifications
  • More
While there are different ways to integrate Nitro onto your site, the easiest is the Nitro toolbar that offers, tracks, and rewards users as they act. Since the toolbar lives in front of your content, it requires less integration time and activity.
Let’s explore an example to see how this works. A visitor enters your site and learns that they can earn points and access to special content if they take certain actions. As they do so, they receive immediate feedback and virtual rewards like badges. As they continue to act, they earn points to use toward related branded merchandise and offers only available to such participants.
Perhaps not surprisingly, entertainment brands have been the most active in implementing Bunchball early on. By rewarding users for consuming, rating, and distributing content, people can get closer to the brands they love while also serving as important social marketing tools for the properties.
Brands as diverse as Playboy, Comcast, USA, and Hasbro have all seen success using Bunchball, as have retail brands like Victoria’s Secret.
Probably the best way to compartmentalize this in your head is to see gamification as a broad extension of social and casual online gaming that have taken the web by storm. The key, in my view, is to recognize how many people look to the web for activities and entertainment as much as they do for information. People want to be a part of brands and like it when the process of doing so becomes fun, ongoing, and engaging.
I think gamification is a lot more than a flash in a pan – it’s a trend that I expect will help refine and guide consumer experiences for the forseeable future. It appeals to the competitor in all of us, and offers both instant and delayed gratification. What could be a more powerful combination?

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