Tech Startups

Original post by  via Search Engine Watch

Monitoring your brand online is getting simpler and simpler by the day. It’s becoming clear that hiring a reputation management firm not only is a wasted expense but something your in-house marketing team can do itself if trained in the right tools and methodologies.

After all, why spend money on defending a brand when you can spend money promoting a brand? Unfortunately for the unsuspecting client, there are some reputation management companies that are nothing more than snake oil salesmen who over promise and under deliver and in return drain your business of critical capital.

Let me introduce you to some of my favorite new online reputation management killer apps that are of an immeasurable value.

The first tool that is a pretty new application or startup is ifttt – if this then that. Simply, ifttt is a robust and powerful social media scripting suite.

When a user joins the site they can select from pre-made recipes or create their own tasks to monitor their brand online.

If you’re just starting to monitor your brand online, the following simple tasks will help you monitor your name and also allow you to broadcast updates to multiple social media platforms, keeping everything up to date and in sync.

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Original post by   via CNN Money

From left: Skype CEO Tony Bates, Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Mason Cohn

* During Facebook’s big product launch event yesterday at its Palo Alto headquarters, Mark Zuckerberg announced some interesting new stats: users are sharing twice as much content now as they did the same time last year, with its 750 million users — yes, 750 million — sharing 4 billion items a day. Zuck and crew also unveiled three products: group messaging, a new full-sized buddy list design and Skype-powered video chat. While all are welcome additions, it was the last feature which made the biggest splash. So far, it’s almost everything it ought to be: easy-to-download and easy-to-use, with some pretty stellar video quality. No group video chat a la Google + “Hangout,” though. (Fortune)

* It’s just over a week old, but according to Search Engine Land, Google + appears to be off to a good start, at least if anecdotal evidence is anything to go by. The Web site already has 1,000 followers. (In comparison, it took the site 17 months to achieve that via Google Buzz.) Meanwhile, tech blog Mashable has 9,000 followers to its name. (Search Engine Land)

* According to The Wall Street JournalApple ordered components for a new iPhone it’s planning to launch by the end of September. If sources are to be believed, the newest model will closely resemble the iPhone 4, but offer a thinner and lighter design along with an 8-megapixel camera. (Wall Street Journal)

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Showcase panel to feature Founder-President Dominic Wheatley, of “Tech City,” London-based company SocialGO, the first “Social Website” maker.

Prince William and Kate Middleton prepare for their trip to Canada and California (Pic: PA)

LOS ANGELES, July 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ – Variety’s Venture Capital & New Media Summit, taking place at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Friday, July 8th, will explore how UK innovation is now on course to rival that of Silicon Valley and how the British investment community is driving technology innovation – so critical for the growth of the evolving technology and entertainment industries in the UK.

The summit will showcase London’s “Tech City” initiative, which was launched by the U.K. government to build on the existing cluster of technology companies in Shoreditch, East London. Dominic Wheatley, Founder and President of SocialGO, which creates next generation “socially-enabled” websites, has been invited to participate in a panel discussion beginning at 4:00pm. Along with Variety, the media summit is being presented in conjunction with the UK Trade & Investment Group, who are pulling out all the stops for this panel in particular; it will feature HRH Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duke and Duchess ofCambridge, in the very first appearance of their California visit.

SocialGO, a leader in private, or “niche” social networks, is launching the first website creation platform made for the social web. The company is one of many based in “Tech City”, an area that is home to one of the largest concentrations of small, fast-growing digital technology companies in Europe and intends to give California’s Silicon Valley a run for its money as a global hub of technology. Variety’s Venture Capital and New Media Summit will showcase some of its emerging technology stars, including SocialGO.

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Original post by  via Mashable

Gabe Zichermann is the author of Gamification by Designand chair of the upcoming Gamification Summit NYC, where top leaders in the field – such as those profiled here – get together to share insight, key metrics and best practices. Mashable readers are invited to register with special savings at GSummit.com using code MASH10.

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems. In other words, it means taking the best lessons from games like FarmVilleWorld of Warcraft and Angry Birds, and using them in business. Whether targeted at customers or employees, across industries as diverse as technology, health care, education, consumer products, entertainment and travel, gamification’s impact can already be felt.

While some have criticized the concept of gamification as shallow or demeaning, the initial findings from gamification specialists are nothing short of astonishing. Regardless of your business model, the following seven gamified innovations should inspire you to strategize via game analysis.


1. Make a Market: Foursquare


The first incarnation of the location-based networking field was littered with carnage, leading many to write off the entire concept. But Foursquare’s founders, veterans of the now defunct Dodgeball, succeeded with an ace in the hole: game mechanics. Exposed to the concept while working at Area/Code (Zynga’s recently acquired New York City-based game design shop), Dennis and Naveen concluded that mobile social networking would work if you were to change the dynamic from multiplayer to single player.

Instead of depending on the action of the crowd to provide intrinsic reinforcement (e.g. “Hey, you’re around the corner. Let’s grab a beer!”), Foursquare overcame the empty bar problem by becoming a single-player game. The user competes for badges and mayorships whether or not anyone is there to meet him. In the process, Foursquare proved that location-based networking wasn’t doomed to fail, that simple game mechanics can affect behavior, and that you can engage 10 million customers — all while raising $50 million.


2. Get Fit: NextJump


When you listen to NextJump CEO Charlie Kim describe his zeal for physical fitness, you immediately understand the energy that has propelled this interactive marketing platform into one of the nation’s fastest growing businesses. But keeping fit isn’t just Kim’s personal goal — he told me it’s also a practice he believes his employees should value as a tool for improving their lives, reducing company insurance costs and preventing employee absenteeism. To achieve those goals, NextJump installed gyms in its offices, and built a custom application that enabled employees to check in to each workout. Ultimately, they rewarded the top performers with a cash prize. After implementation, around 12% of the company’s staff began a regular workout regimen.

But Kim wasn’t satisfied. By leveraging the power of gamification, he retooled the fitness “game” to become a team sport. Now NextJump employees could form regionally based teams, check in to workouts and see their team performance on a leaderboard. Leveraging the game themes of tribalism and competition had an astonishing effect on behavior. Today, 70% of NextJump employees exercise regularly — enough to save the company millions in work attendance and insurance costs over the medium term — all the while making the workplace healthier and happier.


3. Slow Down and Smell the Money: Kevin Richardson


In many countries, speed cameras snare thousands of drivers each year — a quick shutter flash earns a miserable ticket in the mailbox. In some countries, particularly in Scandinavia, ticket amounts correspond with the driver’s salary, rather than his speed. But Kevin Richardson, game designer at MTV’s San Francisco office, re-imagined the experience using game thinking.

His innovative Speed Camera Lottery idea rewards those drivers who obey the posted limit by entering them into a lottery. The compliant drivers then split the proceeds generated from speeders. Richardson used gamification concepts to turn an negative reinforcement system into a positive, incremental experience.

When tested at a checkpoint in Stockholm, average driver speed was reduced by 20%. If the plan were scaled across the U.S., the results could mean thousands fewer injuries, millions of dollars worth of reduced costs and substantial environmental benefits.


4. Generate Ad Revenues: Psych & NBC/Universal.


 

Psych is a popular program on the USA Network, but these days, creating value for TV advertisers means connecting to the web and social media in creative ways. Enter Club Psych, the online brand platform for the show, and among the first major media platforms to get gamified.

The brainchild of NBC/Universal executive Jesse Redniss, Club Psych implemented gamified incentives to raise page views by over 130% and return visits by 40%. The resulting rise in engagement has generated substantial revenue for the company, bringing registered user counts from 400,000 to nearly 3 million since the launch of the gamified version. The media conglomerate has since embraced the strategy across properties, bringing gamification to ratings leaders like Top Chef and the The Real Housewives.

Other content publishers, like Playboy, have seen similar results. Their Miss Social Facebook app has achieved an 85% re-engagement rate and 60% monthly revenue growth with gamification.

GAME MECHANICS IN ACTION 5-7

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Original post by Pete Swabey via Information Age

The network equipment vendor hopes to fund entrepreneurs whose ideas can make the captial smarter and more connected. But on what condition?

In January 2011, networking equipment maker Cisco announced a goal to invest a staggering $500 million in East London’s technology sector over the next five years.

The investment project, dubbed the British Innovation Gateway (BIG), was welcomed by prime minister David Cameron. Cisco’s investment will “help create many new jobs and opportunities, and support our drive to diversify our economy and generate sustainable economic growth”, he said at the time.

So what is Cisco going to spend the money on?

Broadly speaking, its intention is to invest in and support London-based start-ups, especially those that are focused on “smart and connected communities”, Cisco’s jargon for technologies that integrate business, government and civil networks.

For Cisco, the “enlightened self-interest” comes from the fact that if successful, these technologies will drive demand for network equipment and services.

The BIG programme is designed to do this in a number of ways. The most conspicuous components of the programme will be two ‘innovation centres’ – one located in Shoreditch, the other somewhere in the vicinity of the Olympic park.

What exactly is an innovation centre? “That’s a very good question, actually,” says Russell Craig, public sector manager for Cisco’s Internet business solutions group. “It’s a very broad concept, and we’ve deliberately refrained from being too precise about what it is.”

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Simon Bennett – Director (RollingSound / roll7)

Simon Bennett is a Social Entrepreneur based in London, England. Over the past 10 years, he has started and grown three businesses within the youth, education and multimedia spaces. His current focus is on roll7, a Serious Games Developer and Digital Agency based in London and Coventry.

This September, roll7 (in partnership with Neurocog) will launch ‘Focus Pocus’ a groundbreaking serious game for children with ADHD – the world’s first research based application using Neurosky, a consumer BCI device developed in the US. The game uses gamification in ways never seen before in mental health applications.

Simon is passionate about games and their ability to engage young people, roll7 are currently working on a number of exciting digital projects from an HQ in New Cross, as well as a forthcoming R&D centre in Singapore in partnership with the SGI (Serious Games Institute).

Simon will be presenting roll7 and their innovative application at the London Silicon Roundabout July Meetup (Gaming to Gamification) on Thursday, July 7 at the Innovation Warehouse.

Focus Pocus Screenshots

 

 

 

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Ed Vaizey (Intellect Conference, London) – July 5, 2011

Thank you to Intellect for inviting me back to speak.

I came to this conference last year, as a fresh faced Minister with an ambition for digital radio.   That ambition remains, but today I want to share with you the Government’s ambition across the wider digital space as well.

The UK has one of the most dynamic and successful media and communications sectors in the world.   According to a report from the Boston Consulting Group, the UK is now the world leader in e-commerce, with an internet economy worth £100 billion a year.  The availability of enhanced 3G for mobile data transfer is at almost 90 per cent of the total population.  Our content sectors continue to thrive with international sales of TV content exports growing to over £1.3billion in 2009.  Indeed the broadcast content sector invested around £250m on UK commissions in 2009.

We have built on this success with initiatives such as East London Tech City that is helping to support the creation of a world leading technology centre in East London. Hailed as the “Digital Capital of Europe” Tech City has become a tremendous attraction to ambitious young technology entrepreneurs making it increasingly the place to be for the world’s next generation of digital entrepreneurs. The success here has attracted other like-minded high-tech entrepreneurs and the area is booming.

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Calling all tech start-ups!

PepsiCo is calling for digital entrepreneurs across Europe to apply to take part in ‘PepsiCo10′, a new programme that will discover and support new and exciting technology innovations.

Launched successfully in the United States last June, PepsiCo has expanded PepsiCo10 to Europe. The goal of the PepsiCo10 Europe programme is to identify up to 10 of the most promising companies and give them the opportunity to work with PepsiCo in the U.K. to deliver pilots of their technologies, whilst receiving the support and guidance from industry-leading mentors.  Prospective applicants can find out more about the programme and apply online until July 15, 2011 at www.pepsico10.com.

PepsiCo is partnering on the program with global venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners and leading industry magazines Mashable and Wired. Highland Capital Partners, OMD and Weber Shandwick will continue to serve as advisors to PepsiCo throughout the programme.

To enter, emerging technology companies must have a ‘ready-to-go’ product that fits in one of the following five categories: social media; mobile marketing; place based technology; digital video; and gaming or learning platforms. Proposals will be evaluated on their ability to impact PepsiCo’s brands and/or further PepsiCo’s corporate Performance with Purpose priorities: health and wellness, environmental sustainability and talent development.

Near completion, PepsiCo10′s pilot programmes in the United States have resulted in the execution of successful digital marketing activations across U.S. brands. These winning technologies include: Tongal, a video sharing platform that is currently sourcing animation video for the Brisk Tea brand; BreakOut Band, a collaboration music platform that worked with Pepsi MAX to execute at the 2011 South by Southwest Interactive and Music conference; and Evil Genius Designs, a mobile gaming platform with which PepsiCo has worked to develop a virtual reality video game featuring products across the PepsiCo portfolio.

For more details visit http://www.pepsico10.com or contact Shawn at Techmeetups.com

 

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Original post by Joey Strawn via Business 2 Community 

The brain as gears

I’m a satisfied customer of Netflix. I’ve been a Netflix customer for about four and a half years and because of that, they have gotten quite good at suggesting movies my wife and I might like. Yet, the last two movies that came in the mail for us sat on our DVD player unwatched for almost a month each. We chose the movies that are in our queue. We sat down and purposefully and willingly added movies we wanted to watch to that Internet list, but when Netflix mailed us the movies we requested, we didn’t want to watch them. Why is that?

Basically what is happening to me (and many others) is that psychologically there is a gap between what I believe I want to do in the future and what I want to do right now. I build an aspirational list of movies that I truly believe I want to watch in the future, yet when those films arrive, I end up putting them on the shelf and watching more episodes of Phineas & Ferb or Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time. We want to be kind of people that watch serious movies and chomp at the bit to dive into The Kids Are Alright, but normally, Jackass 3 ends up on the television.

Our minds are tricky things and can really play a lot of dirty tricks on us if we aren’t careful, so how can gamification help us understand how our minds process information and how can it be used correctly to branch out from being “just another Internet fad”?

First Things First…

I’m a big proponent for the increased use of gamification. You may have noticed that I talk about it quite a bit around here and even use it to some degree on this blog (click on the red Rewards ribbon in the top corner if you don’t believe me). Let’s get one thing straight though right off, right now gamification is a fad. Sadly, it is overhyped and even more sadly it is misunderstood. Too often, gamification is equated as simple points and badges.

“You got to the morning status call on time. 10 Points. Work = gamified.”

Not quite.

To break out of the funk of Internet overhypation (that’s my word, but feel free to use it), gamification and game mechanics must be informed and studied aspects of a campaign or strategy, not just an 8-bit veneer. From here on out, when I talk about gamification, I’m talking about what should be one aspect of your plan, not a saving grace for your crappy service or product.

The Feedback Loop

This month’s issue of Wired magazine had an amazing article on the functions and applications of The Feedback Loop to the human psyche. I’m going to touch on some of the things they talked about, but I highly suggest you pick it up and read it for yourself.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Feedback Loop, it works under the premise that by providing people with information about their actions in real time and giving them an opportunity and motivation to change those actions, you can often lead people to better behaviors. Feedback Loops have been used for years, even back to the 18th century, when regulators and governors were used on steam engines and then furthered for human psychological study in the 1940s within the field of cybernetics. The Feedback Loop is also a guiding principle in gamification, so it’s not as much of a “fad” as people like to make it out to be. It’s simply becoming easier to measure and use in everyday life.

A Feedback Loop consists of four basic stages: Evidence Stage (data), Relevance Stage (data processing), Consequence Stage (data defining), and Action Stage (data usage). It looks kind of like this:

Feedback Loop[Image via globalwhelming.com]

Let’s take a look at the four stages of the Feedback Loop and see how they can be applied to gamification.

1. Evidence

The first stage of any Feedback Loop has to do with data collection. I’ll use the idea of behaviors as data for our examples of gamification Feedback Loops. So, behaviors must be measured, stored, and evaluated to hold any significant relevance to further steps. Behaviors must be quantified and then presented to the individuals taking part in the game. Information being sent back to individuals in real time is even more helpful because it gives an immediate view of how things stand for any player at any time.

One thing that’s making the craze of gamification spread so rapidly is the dropping price of and advancement in sensors. We can sense and quantify everything from energy usage, car fuel, brushing your teeth, walking and anything else you can slap a sensor on. In his talk Visions of the GamepocalypseJesse Schelle talks about new senors, saying “This is how games are going to get everywhere.” From the Wii Fit, to the PS3 Move, to the Xbox Kinect all on video game consoles, we are collecting data and then showing it to the participating individuals in real time.

As you see your Wii Mii mimicking your every move as you run around a fake beach, that’s the evidence stage of the Feedback Loop. Have you found a way to get information to your customers in real time quantifying actions you want them to improve? Mint.com has. So have ZyngaPlayfishEmpire Avenue and many, many others.

2. Relevance

As I used to say to my Statistics teacher in college after she spent hours showing us how to correlate numbers in Excel, “So what?”

Data means nothing if there’s no frame of reference. Let me repeat that for you:

Data means jack crap if there’s no point of reference as to why it’s important.

A speedometer showing your speed as you drive by has no meaning to you unless you know the actual speed limit for that area. Someone sensing and showing you your BMI means nothing if you don’t know what a healthy BMI level is (or even what BMI stands for). A credit score of 750 isn’t good if you believe it’s out of 45,000 instead of 800. You get the idea.

Your job, as users of gamification, isn’t to figure out a way to measure things you want your customers to do, your task is to figure out a way to relay that information back to them in a context that makes it emotionally resonant.

3. Consequence

Most of the time, consequence is a negative term. It means reaping the negative outcomes from something you’ve done. This isn’t the case here. I’m using consequence in it’s trust definition of simply the effect or result of a previous action.

So, you’ve gathered your data and shown it to your players, it’s been formatted in a way that gives them some reference for action, now you have to make sure your Feedback Loop actually shows them the actions they can take. Even relevant data is useless unless it connects with people and ties into a larger purpose or goal. Feedback Loops aren’t meant to control the people you’re communicating with, but rather give them back control by illuminating the paths made available with the new information. To quote the Wired article, “The ideal Feedback Loop gives us an emotional connection to a rational goal.”

In most games, the consequences are obvious. If you don’t jump at this point, your character dies; if you don’t help your friend water their crops, you lose your right to reciprocity; if you don’t kill Mugsy Two-Toes, Big Boss Green won’t share his drug money with you; and so on. In your gamification, understand your strategy enough to be able to direct players to a desired end using the data they are willingly giving you.

4. Action

If no action is ever taken, your Feedback Loop has failed and your data becomes simply data. We all want to get at the ROI of social media and action makes up the “R”. Without action, all you have is information and in games, information is never enough.

Your players must decide to engage with all the above information, thus giving you more behaviors to sense and relay and starting the Feedback Loop all over again. Are you including calls to action after your customers engage and learn from you? Do they have the ability to act immediately or do you draw out the process through many steps?

Every action taken begins a new loop that inches us closer to our strategic goals if you’ve built your Feedback Loop correctly.

Spin Me Right Round

Every company’s Feedback Loop will be difference in practice, but the elements will always be the same. You must measure behaviors and relay data in relevant context to your customers so they can understand the consequences of their moves and engage in a desired action to lend more behaviors to be measured. It sounds confusing, but lets take one example and walk through it from beginning to end.

In some new Hybrid cars there is a display on the dash that shows a plant. The car’s computer takes the emission and gas data from the driver’s actions (Evidence) and converts that data into the image of the plant (Relevance). If you drive more economically, the plant flourishes, but if you drive wastefully or reckless, the plant withers (Consequence). At this point the driver can either continue driving the way they had and watch the plant flourish or wither or change their driving to affect the image of the plant (Action).

This post may be long, but your Feedback Loop doesn’t have to, it just has to hit on all the necessary elements.

Our minds play lots of dirty tricks, but if you’re applying data back to your customers’ minds in the right way you can help everyone understand paths of action and create an emotional and psychological connection between your brand/game/company/etc and your customers that can loop back around on itself to create lifelong fans that are being just as fullfilled by the relationship as you are. And isn’t that what you really want?

If you enjoyed this post and your friends won’t hate you for sharing a long-winded post about psychology, please feel free to use the share buttons located all over this page. Also, if you feel so inclined, please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the psychology implications to gamification and how they might affect how businesses use it in the coming years. You can also subscribe to my blog if you want, the posts are all this long, I promise. : )

Thoughts?

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Original post by The Gamification Blog 

In this week’s recap, Ikea has great flow, social networking platform Gigya announces game mechanics platform, gamification and games for public health, Keas cofounder Adam Bosworth shares his vision for the future, and the Guardian discusses gamification for the public good. Be sure to read the full stories.


Gigya Launches Gamification Suite for Making Web Sites More Fun

Gigya, a long standing social networking platform, just released a game mechanics suite as part of their product offering. Gigya CEO, Patrick Salyer, told VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi, “Gamification has been one of the most requested features from our clients, so we are very excited to bring to market a truly best in class social rewards product.” Some of those customers include GoodSearch, Fathead.com, CarDomain, VideoBash, Shoebacca and Daily Racing Form, and Gigya is entering into the gamification platform market with competitors Bunchball, Badgeville, and BigDoor.


How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ikea

Canadian news source Globe and Mail introduces the idea of gamification by taking a look at Ikea from a game designers prospective. They find that the store has excellent flow and a knack for engaging customers with trendy furniture and Swedish meat balls. Similarly, game designers look at long term engagement rather than simply pushing users to a point of sale. But gamification is not a panacea, “There are lots of games that suck,” says Daniel Debow, co-founder and co-CEO of Toronto-based Rypple Inc.“Just because they have badges and leaderboards doesn’t mean they’re good games. The underlying gameplay has to be engaging.”


Online Games a Useful Tool for Public Health

In reference to an excellent article by Margaret Simmons on using games in journalism, Melissa Sweet that online games can be important tools for public health. The post looks at Re-missionReach Out Central, and Lit to Quit as examples of things to comes in the use of games to help people be more fit and healthy.


Web of Games

Continuing on with games for health, Keas cofounder, Adam Bosworth, wrote an op-ed two weeks ago for the Washington Post. The write-up is short, but Bosworth argues “We used to teach information design. Then we taught UI design and UI interaction. But now it will be game mechanics. Within two years (if not already), lack of understanding appointment mechanics, game mechanics and leveling will be as crippling to someone who aspires to design online solutions as it is today for someone who doesn’t understand HTML and CSS and AJAX and JQuery.”


Gamification for the Public Good

In this article, the Guardian introduces gamification and goes deeper into its use for public good with a quote from James Riley, managing director at digital marketing agency Effect, that gamification can create “fun in things that traditionally weren’t by playing to human nature. So what you’re really trying to do is to create an experience that people engage with emotionally – that’s when you get real success.” The article also goes into Spigit’s program with the United Kingdom’s Department of Work and Pensions as an example of gamification in the public sector.

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Original post by Dean Takahashi via VentureBeat 

Gigya has made its mark by making web sites more social. Now it’s going to gamify them too. The company is announcing today that it will offer a Game Mechanics software as a service so that companies can make their sites more social and game-like as they seek to engage users who are otherwise bored with static web sites.

The company will compete with a lot of other gamification startups, from Bunchball to Big Door and Badgeville. But Victor White, senior marketing manager, said his company offers more like a one-stop shop where customers can add gamification as part of a wider selection of social features. The trend toward gamification — or making non-game web sites more engaging by making them game-like — has become a big bandwagon this year, as gamification is driving the next wave of web loyalty and rewards programs.

At this year’s Gamification Summit in January, Wanda Meloni, analyst at M2 Research, estimated that the production of gamification projects will generate $1.6 billion in revenues by 2015. That means it will grow from just 3 percent of social media marketing budgets in 2010 to more than 23 percent by 2015. The average growth rate for the next two years is 150 percent, in terms of revenues. Gartner also predicts that gamification will be a huge wave as big brands embrace it.

With Game Mechanics, Gigya customers can motivate users to get more engaged with a site through leaderboards and user achievements. Partners joining the launch include Fathead.com, CarDomain, VideoBash, GoodSearch, Shoebacca and Daily Racing Form. That’s a decent set of initial partners.

Gigya notes that gamification can get users stoked with virtual and psychological rewards in lieu of or in addition to financial rewards. Rivals such as Bunchball have years of experience, and it won’t be easy for Gigya to catch up. But Gigya says it makes gamification easier by letting clients incorporate it automatically across any of Gigya’s existing social plug-ins. Gigya’s main business is a software-as-a-service that makes web sites more social, allowing online businesses to integrate Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Gigya’s clients have more than 280 million users across 500,000 sites, with customers such as CBS, Fox Sports, Intuit, and The Coca-Cola Company.

“Gamification has been one of the most requested features from our clients, so we are very excited to bring to market a truly best in class social rewards product,” said Patrick Salyer (pictured), chief executive of Mountain View, Calif.-based Gigya.

Gigya was founded in 2006 and has 75 employees. The company has raised three rounds of funding; its investors include Benchmark Capital, Mayfield Fund, Dag Ventures, First Round Capital, and Adobe.

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Original post from The Drum

UK games site Ntrails.com is helping SMEs get more traffic to their websites by using an online treasure hunt.

Gamification – the use of games online- is one of the new ways that companies are trying to get viewers onto their websites, but many small companies cannot afford to create such games.

Ntrails uses the online treasure hunt game to encourage players to visit sponsors websites to look for clues and games on it.  The company charges a fee (61p) to play, with the first person to find all the correct passwords winning the money.

Ken Gauld, director of Ntrails.com said: “Unilever recently released a hugely successful game as part of its product launch for Clear, an anti-dandruff shampoo, in China.  Since going online two weeks ago the game entitled ‘Doomsday on Dandruff’, which has been launched on the Chinese social networking site QQ.com, has been downloaded some 4 million times.

“Companies have woken up to fact that by having word searches, puzzles, treasure hunts and such like they can engage with their existing audience, branch out a bit to attract new customers and keep them all coming back for more.

“One of our sponsors, a charity, saw the number of unique visitors rise by some 337% and a 600% increase in page loads, in less than a week. All our game hosts have reported a boost in website visitors with people staying on their sites much longer than usual.”

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Original post by Ruth Mortimer via Marketing Week

Brands from every sector are paying close attention to gamification – the latest way of giving content a life beyond its original form, says Ruth Mortimer.

Imagine a magical world in which your content never dies, its profit-making ability never comes to an end and no book, film or marketing content ever reaches a final conclusion. Instead, the characters and messages inside live on forever for your customers.

Pottermore, announced last week by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, is a good example of that fantastical world made real. It is a free-to-use digital content ’universe’ incorporating personalised storylines tailored to its users, games and merchandise, backed by Sony. It appears that seven books and eight films are not enough content for Rowling and the Harry Potter brand has more space to grow.

In the words of Rowling: “Pottermore is a way for the creativity to live on and a way for me to be creative on a platform that did not exist when I started writing the books.”

While Rowling may be in it for the creativity, her business partners such as Sony clearly see the commercial benefits of never allowing a story to finish. And they aren’t the only ones using digital techniques to create never-ending content repositories. The ’gamification’ of books, films and even adverts means that brands from Disney to Kellogg are repurposing their intellectual property to have a life beyond its initial form.

To paraphrase influential game developer and entertainment producer Kevin Slavin, what’s different about games from conventional media is that whatever you watch passively is going to be less valuable to you tomorrow as you’ve seen it already. But a game like chess is way more interesting the tenth time you play it than the first.

“It’s a long way from Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean. Most gamification isn’t about creating games, it’s about using the fun techniques of gaming to get things done”

Disney has been working on gamification of its content for some years. Gamification, if you aren’t familiar with the term, means bringing gaming techniques to other forms of content to give it new life. In Disney’s case, this means that consumers do not have to rely on the release of a new Pirates of the Caribbean film to interact with that story. There is a giant virtual world or massively multiplayer online role-playing game where people can take the character’s tales into new places.

The great thing about gamification is that it is not only being used to breathe new life into character-based content like Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean. When we talk about content, it isn’t just entertainment that this trend has an impact on. It is just as or even more relevant for content such as marketing messages and customer data.

Take consumer goods brand Kellogg. It is hoping that its launch next month of a mobile app featuring a character called the Krave Krusader will keep shoppers interested in its cereal brand Krave outside the supermarket. It is giving the brand an existence and character beyond ads or packaging. While the Krave Krusader gamification is relatively small scale at the moment, it is a sign that mainstream companies are already acting to give their marketing content extra life.

Meanwhile, Finland’s National Library is using the technique to get consumers to help it digitise its enormous archives. By using a specially designed word-play game involving cartoon moles crossing a bridge, users can match and sort words for the library’s archive. It has taken a data content project and made it attractive to consumers through gamification.

Marketing group WPP predicts it will be the less obviously sexy area of data content that will actually be the biggest beneficiary of gamification in future, with sectors such as finance and travel seeing a boost. It’s a long way from Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean. Most gamification isn’t about creating games, it’s about using the fun techniques of gaming to get things done.

Continuing the data content theme, futurist Garry Golden says the energy sector will increasingly use its customer information with gaming mechanics to allow users to understand more about their consumption. This should eventually allow people to become smarter about their energy use without confusing them horribly or boring them to death. The San Diego Gas &; Electric officials in the US are already working on a pilot in this area with Google.

Ford, too, is working on using data content in this way. The car company is planning to help customers using the brand’s electric cars through a game-style electronic dashboard where people can access tips about how to drive efficiently. Further game mechanics will be used to reward customers with fun features at various points for their efficiency-related achievements such as saving CO2.

So with all these varying businesses from entertainment to automobiles using gamification to attract consumers, should you? A note of caution if you are thinking this is just about sticking a little game on your website or developing a fun app. Gamification of your content is about making what you already have more useful or approachable for customers. It is about keeping content of all sorts working harder for you than it was a year ago.

With that in mind, I’m hoping that when we finally get to play around on Pottermore when it launches in October, it offers an extra element to the Harry Potter experience rather than just a place to sell more wizarding merchandise. It sounds promising: JK Rowling has allegedly already written another 18,000 words of storyline about her characters, ready to be brought to life in this non-book, non-film form. If done well, it really could be magic.

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Gabe Zichermann presents Gamification is the New Loyalty at the Copenhagen Social Media Conference, 2011.

 

 

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Original post by Lauren Fisher via www.simplyzesty.com

Fresh out of Brazil comes a new Facebook App that turns your relationship status into a game. The app has been developed by the toothpaste brand ‘Close Up Toothpaste’ and is part of a series of campaigns to encourage people to get up close in new ways. For the first app they’ve turned their attention to the growing concept of gamification, which many brands are starting to explore. To celebrate people getting up close and personal on Facebook, they’ve developed the ‘Get Closer’ app, which reveals surprise badges to people that take part who are in relationships. Badges are rewarded based on tasks such as tagging each other in photos, or different badges being awarded based on how long you’ve been in a relationship for :

The app can be accessed via the Get Closer app link, or through the Close Up fanpage

Real life gamification

What this app shows us is perhaps the next step in gamification – combining your real life with social rewards. It’s an interesting concept by Close Up, as it suggests that your real life actions will be influenced in a way that they wouldn’t before. The rewards in the Get Closer app are surprises, so in this instance you’re not incentivised to do things differently, as the rewards are unlocked through actions you naturally take. I.e. the app doesn’t say ‘tag both of you in 10 photos for your chance to get x’. But we have seen gamification slowly moving into this real life concept, and away from actions you take purely online. But the real life gamification concept is starting to emerge more, with specialist apps such as SCVNGR, rewarding people in shops, restaurants and local businesses, based on challenges set by the owner. As their tagline says, it is ‘a game about doing challenges at places’. The app may not have hit the mainstream just yet, but it has a loyal following, with fans completing tasks such as making a piece of art out the tinfoil on their lunch :

Coca Cola’s summer of challenges

Showing that this concept is starting to emerge, Coca-Cola have recently partnered up with SCVNGR to offer their fans branded gifts and goodies based on certain tasks they complete. The campaign is primarily targeted at teens, which up until now have been a small market for location services. The launch of Facebook Places helped to change that of course, but this campaign will be a test of just how far people are willing to go in order to get something free. The ‘happiness in numbers’ campaign helps to socialise gamification, as the challenges are based around getting groups of friends together and posting pictures. An example challenge is shown below

This is an area that’s really likely to explode for brands, as they look to get in on the gamification concept, but link this very much to real life, as opposed to arbitrary actions taken online, that seem to be points-based for the sake of it. Real-life challenges such as Coca Cola’s actually provide something extra for you and your friends to do – it socialises the experience and the benefit for the brand is huge, as you have people engaging with you on a completely new level. The question is of course, how happy are we for our lives to be ‘gamed’ ? Though it’s something we have control over, this concept can likely only be taken so far, unless there is a significant reward in place, or the challenges actually relate in some way to the brand or product in question.

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Kam Star – Chief Play Officer, PlayGen

Kam Star is a digital media inventor and an award winning games developer. Creating his first computer game in 1986, he studied Architecture and is deeply passionate about innovation in play, social media and influence.

Founder of PlayGen, Kam designs and develops playful solutions and platforms for delivering engaging experiences across the digital landscape. He has produced games and gamification projects for the BBC, AVIVA, Eden Project, UNESCO, McKinsey, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, NESTA, Ministry of Defence, NHS, Technology Strategy Board, Wellcome Trust, Samsung and many more.

Kam will speak about the Elements of Gamification in the upcoming London Silicon Roundabout July Meetup (Gaming to Gamification) on Thursday, July 7 at the  Innovation Warehouse.

Session brief :

The Elements of Gamification

A quick session that introduces adding game mechanics to sites, brands and content to increase engagement. Discussing the underlying psychology and do’s and don’t of the new black art of gamifying!

 

 

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Grey Area is an ambitious young company out to change the way games are understood as part of the life in the city. Based in Helsinki, Finland, the Company was founded to create a breakthrough gaming experience using real world locations as the context for mobile games.

According to Grey Area, they see cities as playing fields and neighborhoods as front lines.

The core group comprises Mikko Hämäläinen, Andreas Karlsson, Teemu Tuulari and Ville Vesterinen with a network of world class investors and advisors.

The World’s first truly mobile MMORPG

Shadow Cities is a global location based MMORPG for iPhone, where you aim to conquer your real world neighborhoods for your team. In Shadow Cities neighborhoods and familiar streets in cities across the world are part of the global game world that is visible to you through your iPhone.

Shadow Cities is a new way to see and understand MMORPG games. Grey Area is building a whole new MMORPG genre by combining location aware mobile gaming with global social gaming. Take Part in the Battle for the Dominance of Your City.

In Shadow Cities you take the role of a modern Mage and join one of the two global teams, learning magic and seeing your surroundings with new eyes. Together with your friends you hunt Shadow Spirits and use spells and strategy to battle over the control of your own city and the cities all over the world.

Shadow Cities is available FREE to download. Click here to View in iTunes.

 

Grey Area will be presenting Shadow Cities at the London Silicon Roundabout July Meetup (Gaming to Gamification) on Thursday, July 7 at the Innovation Warehouse.

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Hackney Community College and Hackney UTC ties up with Techmeetups.com to help the Tech Startup community in Tech City – also known as London’s Silicon Roundabout

Hackney Community College is an exciting, vibrant and multicultural FE College, based in the heart of Hoxton, and is the lead sponsor of a proposed new University Technical College – Hackney UTC.

Students succeed at Hackney Community College! School leavers and adults choose from hundreds of popular courses, and study full or part-time. The college also has flexible opportunities for employers to train their staff. Qualifications range from digital media and IT to administration, to security. Always taught by talented staff, and always using most up-to-date software and facilities.

Hackney Community College is now proud to be working with partners to develop a brand new technical school for East London and the City – opening in September 2012 – the Hackney UTC, an innovative University Technical College.  Students will specialise in a technical subject as well as academic qualifications in a demanding and stimulating curriculum. The aim is for students to leave the UTC with the best possible chance of success in work or higher education.

One partner in the UTC is Techmeetups.com that organises The London Silicon Roundabout Meetup group of over 1000+ tech companies from the area.  As part of the partnership Techmeetups will advise Hackney Community College and Hackney UTC on the current skills shortages to help fine tune the training programs for the market.

Techmeetups.com is also planning to run training sessions to help students understand the importance of networking, current technology trends and how start-ups work. As part of the partnership HCC will host Techmeetups events at its award-winning campus, and also work on creating a space to help start-ups and students collaborate and work together.

Apart from mentoring & helping various Tech Startups, Techmeetups.com also advices the Prime Ministers Office (PMO), Hackney Council and various non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that work on the Tech City initiative, helping to make London’s Silicon Roundabout into the next Silicon Valley.

Hackney UTC is open for applications from 14 year olds to start in September 2012. Benefitting from such expert knowledge, resources and opportunities from Techmeetups, and the network that has turned east London into one of the most forward-looking centres of technical innovation, will put these local young people in the frame for future employment success.

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Here's the flyer the Greenpeace stormtroopers were handing out at Old Street this morning.

Stormtroopers converged on Old Street in London as part of a Greenpeace protest against Volkswagen’s apparent opposition of European environmental laws.

At 7am this morning, commuters were greeted by an army of Stormtroopers at the exits of Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout as the Imperial March sounded. Protesting stormtroopers climbed the billboard above the roundabout to unfurl banners.

The Stromtroopers’ message was this: “All of us in the Rebellion are calling on Volkswagen to turn away from the Dark Side and give our planet a chance.”

This, the Greenpeace stormtroopers suggest, can be done by supporting strong CO2 emissions cuts and fuel efficiency standards.

Greenpeace is also calling on Volkswagen to harness its technology for greener use.

READ MORE

Stormtroopers take over Old Street

Here’ the Greenpeace message

And here’s the highly-popular Volkswaagen Starwars commercial

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