In recent years, the evolution of communication technology has exploded. Unprecedented new platforms, channels, and devices have significantly reconditioned expectations and preferences for receiving and absorbing information across audiences around the world.
At the intersection of evolution and innovation, marketers are uncovering a range of emerging media and engagement opportunities; a hot trend of late is “social gaming.”
Gamification is a relatively shiny new buzzword, which can simply be defined as the use of game mechanics, theory, and design techniques to solve problems, socially engage audiences, and change behavior.
Principles of gamification are being leveraged at varying levels across industries and organizations to encourage targeted audiences to engage in desirable behavior. The prevalence of games is everywhere, ranging from social games like Farmville and Draw Something to fitness-based gaming platforms like Wii Fit.
The majority of American households (over 70%) play online or video games, the average age of a gamer is close to 40, and according to a trend report by Newzoo, 87% of U.S. gamers play games online. Therefore, it’s no surprise that among emerging opportunities, gaming is reshaping engagement and represents arguably the most popular and compelling topic for marketers.
Powerful, yet seemingly basic principles of gamification that combine to truly captivate audiences include: peer competition, social collaboration, leaderboards that indicate rank and status, points, and other visual badges, rewards, feedback, sharing, and fun.
The opportunity to amplify key messages by gamifying healthcare marketing is significant, particularly for healthcare professionals. Marketers are recognizing the need to take cues from sticky consumer games to create more effective social communication platforms but are challenged with launching games and/or engagement environments that are appropriate to highly educated, risk-averse audiences like healthcare professionals.
Doctors are inherently competitive. They worked hard to achieve their status, and their drive doesn’t end at medical school graduation. They continuously seek new channels to learn, socialize their knowledge, and amplify their expertise, which presents obvious opportunity for gamification. According to a recent poll of 500 global MDs, administered via MedLIVE.com, 82% of MDs are interested in competing against global peers in an online health game which tests their knowledge, and 84% are interested in forecasting future healthcare events in competitive online environments as a way of learning about healthcare trends.
The pervasiveness of gaming has reached MDs who are inherently difficult to connect with. Leveraging innovative multi-screen platforms, which incorporate visual badging and leaderboards and require HCPs to make strategic decisions on critical brand and therapeutic subject matter in exchange for points and visible status, is a gamified approach to maximizing educational engagement, while also delivering real-time data and insights for brands. This type of thinking unlocks a series of promotional, engagement, detailing, data, and forecasting opportunities for marketers.
A recently launched “competitive education” platform achieved over 30% participation from 27,500 invited U.S. and U.K. MDs and generated a high level of iterative engagement. Some 90% of the participating physicians indicated that the environment was fun and informative, reinforcing the opportunity and relevance of this category.
Platforms and technologies that gamify education and awareness have the power to encourage collaboration and drive results for healthcare marketers. Technology will continue to evolve, enabling patients and healthcare professionals to engage with media and content in new and meaningful ways. Leveraging the phenomenon that is gamification to layer motivational game mechanics will surely increase engagement and change behavior. Game on!
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