When life is gamified, where will brands play?

By

Janet Balis

EY Global Media & Entertainment Advisory Services Leader

Transformation leader in media and marketing. Innovator. Digital native. Change agent. Passionate advocate for women and gender parity. Influencer. Mother.

6 minute read 10 Oct 2018

By 2030, consumers will have threaded gamification into their day-to-day activities. We explore how brands can rethink engagement.

FutureConsumer.Now is a look at customer experiences and how they will evolve and transform our world over the next 12 years. If you don’t think it will be dramatic, take a look at the changes over the last 12 years and know the rate of transformation will compound exponentially due to innovation and new technologies. Consider our hypotheses about play for 2030.

Consumers will optimize their routine behaviors through gamification. We’ll become producers as well as consumers of content. Work and play will converge and both will become more productive and entertaining.

As the gamification of content becomes part of consumers’ everyday life, their expectations for engaging with not only each other, but with brands will also increase. Companies will be continually challenged to create a consumer experience that is playful, enjoyable, but most importantly useful. Weaving creativity into brand interactions will become essential as expectations for more engaging experiences grow. For example, if banking feels like a game or shopping for groceries becomes entertaining then new monetization opportunities will emerge and the greater fragmentation of screen time will force companies to reimagine what constitutes relevant and engaging content.

Increasing competition in the ‘attention economy'

In a new world where entertainment value and gamification are fundamentally threaded into our day to day activities and technology innovation gives consumers more disposable time, the ‘attention economy’ will continue to become more competitive. The current reach of traditional and emerging content providers will be even more fragmented and diffused across screens as other sectors enhance their own brand experience with engaging gamified content. The form, function and duration of customized and curated content will change to meet new consumer expectations. This will further fragment the ‘attention economy’ significantly raising the bar for companies that design their business models solely as a content provider.

Infrastructure must also support these new models of multi-platform consumption in a new world of experiences that happen in an increasingly fragmented landscape. Today, we principally think in terms of screens – a television screen, a screen on a phone, a digital billboard in the middle of Times Square. These are simple, easy to understand platforms. But as we look to this future state, these form factors will continue to diversify and as a result the infrastructure required to produce, distribute and monetize content will become far more complex.

By 2030, individuals and groups will be able to not only watch or listen to content, but interact with it, to become part of the story.

Amplifying human senses through immersive interfaces 

The way in which consumers interact with brands and each other will also be transformed via immersive interfaces, providing unique personalized experiences such as shopping for clothes or buying a car. As these technologies are woven in to the fabric of our lives, discovering and navigating content will become ubiquitous and seamless. Consumers will see an amplification of how their senses can be activated to consume new entertainment content through technology. Companies will create increasingly more immersive experiences that allow us to physically tap into the consumers’ brain – more than presenting content in multi-dimensional ways like AR and VR, but intentionally – connecting to our physical senses.

By 2030, there will be a host of new multi-dimensional experiences enabling consumers to more directly interact with their environment. Individuals and groups will be able to not only watch or listen to content, but interact with it, to become part of the story, being active participants in the experience. Vastly different and complex production requirements to create such immersive levels of interaction will emerge, allowing content to thrive in new form factors. Companies and brands will be able to bridge the divide between physical and digital experiences transcending physical reality to enable consumers to see and do things in a way they have never experienced before. Companies will be able to push the boundaries of how they can excite, entertain and inform using these new creative capabilities.

Building more diverse skill sets in future creative talent

Today, most paths to creative careers are relatively single skill-based. In the future we will see a hybrid of skills in which people will need to be far more flexible in creating content; tapping into experiences of their own and expressing it through creative elements to enable new immersive technologies. Companies will need to develop the creative talent of the future, building a diverse set of skills and talent to capitalize on the dynamism of the technology that can enable the gamified experience of the future. The primary inhibitor to this future is making sure that we train a new generation of talent that knows how to work with this new creative palate.

Digital transformation will drive vertical integration

TMT companies need to focus today on the digital transformation of new consumer experiences, services and business models. The path to the future is not simply digitizing old businesses but truly leaning into the dynamics of what digital can do for consumers and for businesses. They must either plug into or own a vertically integrated experience today to remain competitive tomorrow. This will be further driven as the TMT sector continues to converge and companies see true vertical integration between content distribution and data.

TMT companies must realize that in the future, where gamification and the notion of play becomes even more paramount, they must think about infrastructure, talent, partners, and consumers and be sure that along the way the human experience is seen as the most important thing they can create. When considering the intersections of entertainment, information and gamification, TMT companies will need to thread the best practices we see from consumer experiences and embed them into all brand experiences – whether it’s B2B or B2C.

If play is everywhere, how will we work?

Media & Entertainment (M&E) has been merging ecommerce and brand experiences as a source of entertainment for some time. As consumers expect more branded experiences, the brands themselves will need to deliver more entertainment value. Automation will drive a significant portion of consumer purchases, freeing up time to view more content. However, the amount of content supplied by today’s traditional advertising-supported business models will decrease.

Consumers are already blocking advertisements in digital media and rejecting them by skipping over ads. Commercial free content is available through subscription streaming services. Traditional cable and broadcast networks will need to reduce the number of commercials per programming hour if they expect to compete with subscription based services.

As a result, the overall amount of advertising available to brands will decrease. Companies will need to become far more creative about integrating their messaging into entertainment experiences in authentic ways to grow and vitalize their brands, but they won’t be able to do it with the same volume of media they enjoy today. They will need to create new experiences for the consumer outside of the traditional advertising model in order to find, acquire, retain, engage and convert consumers into commercial transactions.

M&E companies will also undergo a dramatic shift leading to a consolidation of large scale players. The ones that thrive will implement a highly diversified business model with consumer and advertising supported revenue streams across content, data and distribution channels. These companies will need to rapidly scale their exposure to new audiences, content, and capital resources. This scale will enable them to invest in new offerings and experiment with the creation of new experiences while making them attractive to advertisers, audiences and brands.

Today, M&E companies operate within two principle business models:

  1. Content supported by advertising
  2. Content supported by the consumer through subscription or the purchase of media through an online digital store.

In a new world where advertising and content becomes unbundled, people will spend less time viewing ad-supported, free content and more time viewing paid content where they only pay for the content they want. As a result, the ad-supported side of the media ecosystem will mostly reach a lower income demographic. This will have profound implications for how brands will be able reach consumers. Consumers who don’t want to watch ad-supported television will go to subscription based services because they can afford to. Those who cannot afford subscription services will be the ones left watching the ads. This will prove a challenging situation for major brands potentially unable to reach the most valuable consumer segment.

The rise of the ‘attention economy,’ and the growing need for companies to utilize data to better understand how to reach the right consumers will lead to a fragmentation of different and new content types, distribution and monetization models. M&E companies will need to create uncluttered, frictionless content experiences. At the same time, brands will need to think about new approaches to becoming an integrated part of the content experience.

M&E companies must make sure they’re building for the future now. It’s about talent, creativity, deal structure, rights management, and technology. Innovation is no longer a luxury or opportunity to experiment with to envision what content experiences might hypothetically look like in the future. Without a dedicated, at scale focus on innovation, they will struggle to maintain their relevance in the market.

Today, M&E companies operate within two principle business models:

  1. Content supported by advertising.
  2. Content supported by the consumer through subscription or the purchase of media through an online digital store.

In a new world where advertising and content becomes unbundled, people will spend less time viewing ad-supported, free content and more time viewing paid content where they only pay for the content they want. As a result, the ad-supported side of the media ecosystem will mostly reach a lower income demographic.

This will have profound implications for how brands will be able reach consumers. Consumers who don’t want to watch ad-supported television will go to subscription based services because they can afford to. Those who cannot afford subscription services will be the ones left watching the ads. This will prove a challenging situation for major brands potentially unable to reach the most valuable consumer segment.

The rise of the ‘attention economy,’ and the growing need for companies to utilize data to better understand how to reach the right consumers will lead to a fragmentation of different and new content types, distribution and monetization models. M&E companies will need to create uncluttered, frictionless content experiences. At the same time, brands will need to think about new approaches to becoming an integrated part of the content experience.

M&E companies must make sure they’re building for the future now. It’s about talent, creativity, deal structure, rights management, and technology. Innovation is no longer a luxury or opportunity to experiment with to envision what content experiences might hypothetically look like in the future. Without a dedicated, at scale focus on innovation, they will struggle to maintain their relevance in the market.

  • Methodology

    Through research and interviews with global innovators, futurists, business leaders and our own professionals, EY has identified over 150 drivers that could shape the future consumer.

    We used those drivers to create eight powerful hypotheses, each of which relates to a key aspect of the future consumer: how people will shop, eat, stay healthy, live, use technology, play, work and move.

    We then held a series of hackathons and innovation workshops around the world to explore these hypotheses further and to imagine the future worlds they might create.

Summary

To prepare for a future where individuals interact with content rather than just watch or listen to it, brands will need to develop ways to become an integrated part of the content experience.

About this article

By

Janet Balis

EY Global Media & Entertainment Advisory Services Leader

Transformation leader in media and marketing. Innovator. Digital native. Change agent. Passionate advocate for women and gender parity. Influencer. Mother.