iMedia Connection: In your experience, what are the most common misconceptions brands have when it comes to investing in the social gaming sphere?
Kim: I think a lot of people view it as traditional advertising, where you simply repurpose existing content and just insert it in the game in the form of in-game billboards, banners, etc. This usually means that there is not enough budget [in a campaign] to truly do something creative and impactful. I think social gaming marketing can be a lot more powerful than traditional marketing, not only because it can be interactive but also because it can be based in real time.
iMedia Connection: The in-game advertising market has been performing below expectations, driving some of the biggest players to drop some of their popular titles and marketers to steer clear of this strategy. What do you believe is preventing brand marketers from seeing the potential in the gaming marketplace? What would you say to convince them that it's a valuable space to have a presence in?
Kim: I think current efforts did not maximize the true potential of social gaming's real-time and interactive aspects. By truly focusing on these benefits and linking them up with gaming mechanics and compelling real-world rewards, it can show a new paradigm of in-game advertising.
iMedia Connection: Social games seem to be much more diverse in their demographic spread than traditional online and console-based games. What do you feel accounts for this?
Kim: I think this is mainly due to the fact that social games are based on Facebook and other social network services and propagate virally through existing social connections. The social propagation where a friend "introduces" another friend to "play together" is the key driver that enables social gaming demographics to be much more diverse than traditional gaming. We can really credit the combination of Facebook and social game companies in introducing and opening up games to a previously untouched demographic.
iMedia Connection: Do you have any examples in mind of brands that have successfully made their way into social gaming? Any unlikely brands that have found success in the space?
Kim: I don't think partnerships between brands and games have showcased their potential yet. Mostly because I think both brands and gaming companies are still exploring the boundaries and learning to work with each other. However, Zynga's raising money for Haitian relief through virtual items shows the power of social gaming as a captive media and of things to come.
iMedia Connection: How does gaming in the United States compare to gaming in foreign nations, such as Korea or Japan? What can the U.S. do to increase use of this platform?
Kim: I think gaming is a much more prominent part of people's lives because of advanced mobile and broadband infrastructure; however, the U.S. has always been the leader in technology and next generation marketing and advertising, where both U.S. brands and companies are always willing to "try something new." Through trial and error, which in many cases means "effort and money," I believe U.S. marketing and gaming companies will be able to demonstrate that social gaming will be one of the most captive and effective marketing mediums in the near future.
Osas Obaiza is an editorial intern at iMedia Connection.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.