By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
How will you be reaching consumers 10 years from now? Before you mull over that question, think about how you might have answered 10 years ago. Would you have predicted Facebook, texting, or QR codes?
It’s not easy to forecast how you’ll be marketing your listings and business in a decade, five years, or even just by the end of this year. But according to Alex Rosenblatt, regional promotions executive at SCVNGR, a Google-funded, location-based gaming company, there’s a good chance that you’ll be “leveling up” to the game layer sometime in the future.
According to Rosenblatt, who spoke Wednesday afternoon during the general session at Inman’s Real Estate Connect conference in New York, the game layer, which he defines as a virtual gaming overlay of the physical world, is “under construction” right now. Additionally, most of the game layer that does exist is presently cluttered up with overt, unsophisticated corporate retail marketing messages. “We can do better,” he said.
“Doing better,” Rosenblatt said, means really engaging consumers with location-based games instead of pushing promotions out to them. To make meaningful connections, you’ll need to be aware of the three dynamics of the game layer:
- The appointment dynamic: Participants show up at at a particular time to play.
- The influence-and-status dynamic: Players are motivated to go deeper into the game because of successive achievements.
- The communal-discovery dynamic: A community works together to solve a challenge.
An example of this would be to have a virtual scavenger hunt, in which participants search a house, neighborhood, or community based on a set of clues, then check in with their smartphones each time they find one of the items in the game, winning prizes along the way. The benefit of this is that if the scavenger hunt is designed right, it can educate the players about the features and amenities of a property and its surrounding area.
Now and for the foreseeable future, the game layer will be very fragmented. There probably won’t be a Facebook that comes along to dominate the space for a long time, if ever. While practitioners should explore and experiment with these tools, they shouldn’t try to implement them them all. Instead, use what fits in with you and your customers’ preferences, he advised.
In addition to SCVNGR, Rosenblatt recommended looking into these tools to get a better sense of the game layer:
- whrrl, a location-based game that participants can use to persuade their friends to try businesses they patronize
- loopt, a geosocial application that shows your friends where you are and if there are business “rewards” nearby
- Gowalla, a sort of virtual “passport stamping” service that provides occasional prizes for checking in