Could Game Theory Change Marketing As We Know It?

If you are a B2B marketer or business owner, you’ve probably heard the terms “game theory” or “gamification” in regards to advertising. But what does gamification really mean and what does game theory have anything to do with marketing? 

Game theory was once hailed as a revolutionary interdisciplinary phenomenon bringing together psychology, mathematics, philosophy and an extensive mix of other academic areas. Eight Noble Prizes have been awarded to those who have moved the discipline forward. But, beyond the academic level, is game theory actually applicable in today's business and marketing world? 

We believe the answer is YES! 

First Things First: Definitions

So, what exactly is game theory? First defined in 1944, game theory is the mathematical study of how and why people make decisions. Game theory is a method for analyzing calculated circumstances, like seen in games, where a person’s success is based upon choices. Gamification is the use of game design dynamics and mechanics to solve problems and engage people involved in non-game activities. 

With those short, sweet definitions, it should be easy to see how game theory could be applied to B2B marketing, particularly through the use of marketing automation. Interactive, B2B companies and content marketers use game theory and gamification to motivate action and drive engagement with prospects, customers, partners, sales and more through automated marketing channels. 

How does Neuroscience fit in with Marketing Measurement?

Realizing that Internet marketing data is too simplistic to factor in clients' emotions, some corporations have invested in scientists and academic partnerships in attempts to apply the principles of neuroscience to marketing research. They hope this will give them a better understanding of why consumers make the decisions they do and which parts of the brain are responsible. 

It’s possible this research could one day lead to marketers having a scientific comprehension of exactly how the human brain drives consumerism, but the neuromarketing services sold today have largely been labelled as pseudo-science and dismissed as hype. 

In the meantime, marketers will keep searching for new measurement methods that give them the best picture possible of which activities are generating the highest ROI. The approach gaining the most attraction at this point in time is the game theory attribution model. 

What’s Special about Game Theory Marketing?

The explosion of big data makes game theory attribution feasible today, because it’s a system that theoretically becomes more accurate each time it collects data on a customer’s buying journey. It doesn’t claim to be the ultimate solution for marketing measurement, but its potential goes a lot further than what came before it. 

Instead of using rudimentary measurement models like last-click attribution to inform marketing decisions, game theory attribution can distribute credit for a sale across several points of the customer’s buying journey. This allows marketers to paint a clearer picture of what they should do more of…and where they’d be better off saving their money. 

Despite some challenges, such as the need for data science expertise and shrewd observational skills, proponents of the game theory attribution model are putting forward a strong case, as to why it’s the most effective data method to understand emotionally-driven customer behavior. Until marketers can use neuroscience to read our minds, they might just be right. 

How You Can Integrate Game Theory In Your Marketing Campaigns

Game theory in marketing and advertising campaigns begins with one word…motivation. Incentives are what trigger people’s interest in playing the game. Motivations drive actions that are fulfilled by fun challenges, elevation of social status, recognition from peers, feedback from the community and more. These rewards give customers (players) a sense of achievement. This feeling is what reinforces motivation to keep them interested in the game. 

Some places to start with the gamification of a marketing campaign include: 

  • Entertain. Many styles of video games tell a story as people work their way through them. Content marketing can be used to create a story line to pique consumer interest and curiosity to find out how the story unfolds.
  • Challenge. People that tackle a challenge feel a sense of accomplishment that keeps them engaged. Gamification trials should tie back to rewards, as well as achievement of levels that become increasingly difficult. To keep people coming back, there should be short-term and long-term goals to be reached.
  • Reward. Rewards should match level of difficulty so target users gain a sense of accomplishment with their achievements. Incentives can have a monetary value, but doesn’t have to have this. Non-monetary rewards could include exclusive information, access or acknowledgment.
  • Status. Leaderboards can be great helps for displaying status for marketing gamification and they provide a recognition mechanism, while simultaneously ranking prospective leads.  An automated marketing analytics platform can be configured to support reward systems.
  • Community. The problem with solitaire is even if you win, you only proved you reigned supreme over a deck of inanimate cards. Social interaction is a key component of true gamification. Players (clients) should be able to connect, share and reach out to other people.

B2B marketers can really use game theory and gamification to enhance their advertising campaigns. These ideas can be used to motivate action and drive engagement through automated marketing channels like no other technique. Now, it is time to put on your game face and prepare the marketing field for play! 

Would you like Propel’s marketing experts to help you strategize using game theory into your current marketing initiatives and achieve greater results? Contact us today or visit our Capabilities page to learn more.