Is Gamification Just Hype Along With Transmedia and CDJ

Gamification is at a simple level employing gaming techniques to non-game environments to drive adoption, engagement, loyalty, sharing, even sales e.g. use game mechanics...

Gary Fox

559Px Gartner Hype Cycle.svg

Is Gamification Just Hype Along With Transmedia and CDJ

Is gamification just hype or has it become a

Marketing Innovation or Hype?

Marketing for many seems to be a dark art particularly when it comes down to understanding branding.

Like many other forms of business, marketing can suffer from the rise and fall of popular trends and the hype that often ensues; common sense seems to get left behind.

However, as understanding progresses we see theory move to practice, strategy move to implementation and measures used as feedback to learn and refine programs and campaigns.

There is a multitude of ideas shaping marketing, location-based services, mobile payments, crowdsourcing…, but I have chosen three that represent interesting ways to realise the benefits of digital and social marketing.

They help to shape a more intuitive set of interactions with customers that can provide relevance, entertainment and context.

Here are the three trends and some information and further resources:

Cross-platform storytelling (transmedia)

A narrative approach using parts of a story across different platforms.

Narratives have been shown to lower the barriers to influence a customer through a process called transportation.

Basically, a customer is transported into a story, and as a result, their normal logical critical awareness lowers.

A second factor that comes from story-telling is the sense of empathy and involvement. In other words, you are demonstrating to customers you understand their lives and their journeys.

Gamification (gaming marketing interactions)

Gamification is at a simple level employing gaming techniques to non-game environments to drive adoption, engagement, loyalty, sharing, even sales e.g. use game mechanics – badges, points, leader boards, levels, challenges, achievements…

Customer Decision Journey (CDJ)

Consumers are increasingly demanding and digital channels are ever more important.

In effect, consumers are taking control of what McKinsey terms the “consumer decision journey” – the moments from awareness to purchase to service; but the emphasis is on the influence and experience from social networks to sales channels to paid media.

In reviewing these trends we need to evade the hype surrounding them and focus on their value; determine the potential benefits and apply them to determine their effectiveness .

Of course, the size of your budget affects the level to which you can scale them and harness their full potential; the reasearch and insights, the creativity and technology underpinning any campaign strategy.

However, even smaller businesses can apply these principles in a more simplistic form as a framework for creative new ways to market themselves.

Gamification And Ddj

These trends are providing new and exciting ways to engage your customers and create some relevant interactions:

Story Telling across platforms

Why is storytelling so powerful?

Storytelling is at the heart of human behaviour and has run through our cultural heritage as a means to provide entertainment, learning, values…it is the glue that cements us from smaller day to day to the life-changing dramas that change lives.

Bernadette Jiwa provides some great points as to how businesses can use storytelling in her book.

Story Driven

We now access information across a multitude of platforms.

By providing access to stories across these customer touchpoints parts of the story can be revealed to build the narrative. However, it is not simply pushing out the same content to different channels.

For instance, a transmedia story may have some of the stories revealed in a video, some through social media e.g. Facebook, and other parts taking place in real life via a live event.

In his book Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins defines transmedia as storytelling that:

“immerses an audience in a story’s universe through a number of dispersed entry points, providing a comprehensive and coordinated experience of a complex story.”

The point of transmedia storytelling is that multiple entry points provide a rich (and complimentary) opportunity to narrate.

Transmedia requires a mind shift, a change in the creative process to understand the context of each platform.

Though consideration must be given to how the sum of the parts becomes greater than the whole – amplifying the story. In combination with social platforms, this provides an opportunity for higher levels of relevance and interest.


Gamification is a buzzword that is surrounded by a lot of media hype and subsequently is often simply labelled as a method to throwing in some badges and incentives to incentivise customers to engage with a brand (a Pavlovian approach to rewarding customers).

Firstly let’s remove some of the hype around gamification here are two excellent articles that drill into the opportunities and issues facing the development and implementation of applied gaming:

 Gabe Zichermann co-author of a book called Gamification by Design. The other is Sebastian Deterding, a designer and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hamburg studying game design and behavior, posted a long and detailed rebuttal outlining what he believes is wrong with Zichermann’s book.
Yet despite these arguments brands are experimenting with new ways to explore this and indeed it is also expanding into areas such as education. But like Deterding I favour the ideas that we have an opportunity to harness this to explore solving puzzles, meeting challenges (not just large but breaking these down into more bite sized levels of achievement) and recognizing success for self-improvement (for self and among peers). The superficial idea of simply offering badges and currencies without some deeper level of reward and participation could fail miserably.

Customer Decision Journey

David Edelman does a great job of expressing the customer decision journey in the Harvard Business Review article in 2010 entitled Your Spending Your Money In All the Wrong Places.

The old linear approach as a process for how we decide upon purchase has always seemed convenient but counter-intuitive to the multiple influences that are involved.

Now Decision Journey

David makes a convincing argument that marketing needs to extend the customer decision journey into the various touchpoints that the customer experiences with the brand and the organisation – from the service dept to the website to the brand’s presence on social media, and resellers sites.

The focus is on building the brand around the customer rather than delivering to the customer based on the organisation.

This fundamental shift in thinking is about realigning older departmental structures and changing the emphasis to organisational adapt to the customer flow. Likewise, a marketer needs to focus on which platforms that influence the customer e.g. advocacy led products require more emphasis on social channels.

Within this mix of touchpoints, social media plays an important part in creating word of mouth. 

Google came out with some research called Zero Moment of Truth that very clearly and convincingly lays out the business case for social media and how it impacts the consumer’s buying journey.there’s been a fundamental shift in how consumers gather data and how they’re using that data to make buying decisions for products.

Some Final Thoughts

If you look at brands like Nike and Coke they are providing entertainment, facilitating platforms and participation around their brands be it an app for running, a music concert or facilitating conversations around an event. As part of this fusion of offline and online, we are stories unveil from heroic moments to real life emotional insights. Curiosity has led us to explore and can be harnessed to develop the interest and depth of a story across a platform. The danger though lies in the people seeing these as another selling method, an influence rather than an act of delivering value. I suspect many will not get the balance right. But these new opportunities can be used to unveil the stories of the brand community not just the constructed narrative of the brand itself and perhaps this is where the value lies.

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