For many years now I have been a huge supporter of the movement away from cash, towards more convenient payment methods such as credit cards. Despite the fact that “plastic” payment methods have existed for many years, the industry and the world as a whole has taken a long time to accept to the notion of ditching dead trees with ink. Google Wallet has made huge strides to replace cash with convenience and the extended notion of virtual currency translates well into the world of marketing.
Traditionally marketers have tried to entice consumers to action with various discounts, coupons, giveaways and other means of promotion. Virtual currency may be one of the biggest soon-to-come revelations in the world of marketing. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with making purchases and dealing with money online, the opportunity for virtual currency promotion grows incredibly.
Virtual currency – differentiated from online payments – refers to a monetary equivalent of real-world currency that is used to purchase virtual goods online. The popularity of online payments has evolved hand-in-hand with the popularity of virtual currency as consumers become more comfortable purchasing goods (virtual and otherwise) online. Virtual currency is currently used predominantly in the gaming world to purchase upgrades or items but it has potential applications in many areas – especially marketing promotion.
Marketing promotions can be extremely costly, particularly when they involve deep discounts or cash payouts. Virtual currency may be the way of the future – allowing marketers the ability to incentivize activity such as watching a video advertisement or perform some other desired action in exchange for virtual currency. Depending on the platform, this currency may be of negligible cost. Of course, the benefits to the advertiser are huge; namely, the ability to motivate specific actions and measure this activity while maintaining a high ROI.
The world is already being dominated by gamification – the idea of motivating particular actions by making an activity seem like a game with some sort of reward system. Virtual currency is the perfect extension of gamification, allowing for relatively cheap, yet still motivating rewards. Users get roped-in to their favourite games and in order to unlock new levels, abilities or costumes, they can choose to engage with a brand to earn virtual currency to do with as they please.
This stuff works. I know because despite being very aware of the way marketing works, it still gets me. There is little avoiding it. It is not all bad, however, as both parties end up winning. Marketing and advertising has always been a way for consumers to receive free content. Now users have a choice: give your personal information to marketers in return for free stuff or perform desired actions. I discussed previously that online privacy is overrated, but those concerned about keeping their personal info confidential will gain a new avenue to free content.
Gamification and virtual currency, especially when combined, can be a powerful platform for marketers. It is a win-win situation (much like the exchange of personal information used to be before spam took over the world). Consumers get free virtual currency for their favourite online communities and advertisers receive levels of engagement they have not enjoyed since the internet rose to popularity. As a result it is only a matter of time before virtual currency marketing promotions become a common tactic. Forward-facing organizations that wish to remain at the front of the herd need to act quickly so as not to miss this opportunity.
Inspiration from this post drawn from “Virtual Currency Is The Next Big Platform”.