Brands, AR and advergames: when the experience is enough

Advergames and Augmented Reality, what a powerful combination. Getting people to go to places just to get a free item and have fun with it is definitely a successful strategy. Since everyone has a mobile phone, you can “catch them all” and win prizes every time you visit a store. This is what many brands are doing, since the arrival of Pokemon Go! and its large adoption by the general public. Augmented Reality (AR) is becoming mainstream and with that, brands don’t want to waste time! But what are the implications of that? Is that really effective? How?

Recently, the beer brand Amstel created a treasure hunt game app that allows players to win prizes by holding a parcel (?) for 6 hours or so. Basically, Amstel has hired the services from the app company Snatch that has a kind of “model” of treasure hunt for brands that people can simply steal virtual parcels from you. It is quite clever because it makes people engaged and they don’t want to lose their parcel, so I guess people will do everything to keep it safe (hello psychology!). You can also protect yourself, by building a tent or other things by spending some virtual currency (hello, IAP!). In the end of the day, the strategy is pure psychology! People don’t want to lose things and for that, they will do anything. Again, the app is free, but you have to “wait” 6 hours holding this parcel. It is a lot of time. So, as we know, nothing is free in this world!

“It is thought that the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining” –¬†https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/loss-aversion/

What is the potential of this type of interaction for brands? The answer is in the experience. Again, if you have a good experience and this is related to a brand – magic! You will remember the brand easily.

But how can this be sustainable? That’s the most difficult part of the whole thing. If you win something that you don’t like, would you play it again? Remember, you need to wait 6 hours. Or if you lose every time? Or if actually you don’t have spare time to play and you know you will lose it anyway? There is a world of possibilities and experiences here. So if you have a bad experience, would that influence the experience with the brand? It all sounds fun in the beginning. And what if you can’t use your phone in the streets because it is dangerous?

My conclusion of this is: brands could benefit from it if it is an event with beginning, middle and an end – not as an on-going experience that will be there forever. Brands should make sure that the experience is positive in the beginning and sustain it until the end – and after that move to another level. Since players evolve in the game, people might lose interest, they might move on and find other interesting things to do.

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