Well-known brands are often shy of social gaming given the category's well-publicized struggles to root out shady offers. This week, social-gaming ad network RadiumOne Social managed to lure one big fish, Old Navy, with a contest that practically guaranteed blockbuster ROI for the clothing retailer.
RadiumOne Social held a contest to see which of its publishers could most successfully integrate the Old Navy brand into one of its games or virtual worlds. The prize was $15,000 from Old Navy plus a percentage of the $20,000 media budget that Old Navy promised to spend in the form of virtual currency offers on RadiumOne's network.
"Hundreds of developers are looking for this type of ad revenue, and Old Navy has been known for taking risks in the social space," said Rebecca Weeks-Watson, VP of business development at RadiumOne.
The contest attracted entries from 25 publishers, all of whom participated at their own expense. Judges from Old Navy, RadiumOne and AKQA, Old Navy's digital agency, chose three finalists: Sugar Inc., BreakoutBand and Tetris Online/Ace Studios. Those finalists then ran their entries live on their sites for two weeks, competing to see which would garner the most impressive metrics.
On Tuesday, March 1, the judges selected BreakoutBand, a site that lets users create their own music from scratch or remix existing tracks. The integration centered on Old Navy's new ad campaign, “Old Navy Records: Original hits. Original styles," which features original Old Navy songs with names like “Super C-U-T-E” and “Ankle Show.” BreakoutBand let users download and add their own vocals to those songs or create an Old Navy-themed song of their own.
The results were impressive. Users who recorded their own audio with an Old Navy track spent an average of 80 minutes on the site. In comparison, users who record their own songs spend an average of 16 minutes on the site. Stats for how the other games performed were not available, but Old Navy seems pleased with the exposure it received for its $35,000 investment.
“When the opportunity to hold the Old Navy Developers Challenge presented itself, we jumped at the chance to participate," said Amy Curtis-McIntyre, SVP, marketing for Old Navy, in an e-mail message. "Social gaming offers us a new, fun, and culturally relevant way to engage our target customers.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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