Influencer marketing has become a key element of many gaming ad campaigns in the last few years. At the same time, recent technological trends have led to creating computer-generated influencers for endorsing different consumer products. They will only continue to gain popularity the more AI programming tech evolves in the future.
After all, gaming is the most interactive out of all of the entertainment mediums – it often allows players to entirely shape the look, personality and path of their custom characters. So the idea of connecting to an artificial personality comes very naturally to gamers. Therefore, introducing character influencers for game campaigns seems like the next logical advertising step.
The following points will discuss how game studios could achieve this goal:
- A Dual Role: Character Influencers & Mascots
Just as a marketeer outlines the buyer persona of his audience, they could do the same for their game’s main character. Then they’d turn them into an online influencer, who’d function based on these pre-set interests. Doing so would present two major benefits:
- Firstly, it guarantees the formation of logical and profitable advertising partnerships. This is because loyal fans who already know and like said character are likely to have similar interests by association.
- Secondly, it brings more life to this fictional personality and allows them to act as a mascot for their own brand. This would be especially valuable for intellectual properties spread over different industries. For example, a campaign for a game based on a comic book could potentially result in comic readers who don’t normally play games to be exposed not only to it, but also to its sponsors’ advertised products.
However, it is important to note that this approach cannot apply to just any character. Instead, the selected ones would need to have a certain level of humanity to their personalities (active, enjoy having fun, etc.). On top of this, they need to contextually fit as someone who’d be tech-savvy or even a gamer themselves, so that they can be convincing in their roles as influencers. The Last of Us’ Joel wouldn’t make much sense in that respect, but Ratchet (from Ratchet & Clank) could very well be effective, for example.
- A Seamless Campaign Transition
Speaking of a fictional online presence, some games nowadays utilize fake social media feeds as a way of enriching their worlds. But what if they were connected to a real-life profile?
A game studio could upload actual Facebook or Twitter posts from the perspectives of its characters promoting some sponsor’s product, and then have them appear in the game itself. Thus, they’d reach both its players and the people who only follow its brand on social media.
An example of the value of such an approach will be covered in the next subsection.
- A Mixture of Real & Character Influencers
Moreover, many of these suggestions would be compatible with some of the more standard influencer practices involving real people, while requiring unique campaigns with very different goals in mind.
While a gamer influencer might present content from the product during its Beta stage as a way to acquire more players, a virtual character could be used to comment on exclusive (sponsored) content that adds to the overall enjoyment and increases brand awareness for everyone involved.
An example would be a level in a game like GTA, where the main character needs to compete in a motorcycle race:
- The human influencers would promote the driving mechanics and the fun factor of the game.
- The character influencers, on the other hand, could make a social post where they praise the quality of the motorbikes that helped them win the race. This would not only allow to form a tighter “story” unification of the two campaigns, but to also promote both the partnering motorcycle manufacturer (Point 2), as well as the game itself (Point 1).
- Utilizing a “Shared-Universe” Approach
All of the previous points could come together in an even more complex way with the introduction of a shared-universe marketing approach, i.e. grouping various intellectual properties which belong to one or more companies.
This could lead to a number of creative interactions between character influencers. At the same time, they’d promote themselves, each other and the products of any advertiser partners, as explained before.
Just imagine Ubisoft coordinating a campaign in which Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher and Watch Dogs’ Aiden Pearce (two tech-savvy people) recommend cyber-security software (which gamers naturally use for online games) to each other by speaking from “personal experience” – the scenarios pretty much write themselves!
- The Future Through AI
Finally, while many years away, the idea of enhancing these character influencers through AI is a very interesting one.
If artificial intelligence ever becomes advanced enough, this could lead to fully-autonomous character influencers sorting through complicated data to figure out what advertised products would best align with the goals of “their” campaigns. In this way, finding suitable sponsors would be done through complex algorithms, rather than manual market research – and allow marketeers to invest their time and resources into other valuable activities.
Going one step further, it would be possible for fans and social media followers to actually interact with them in a much more natural, personal and fun way than via a chat bot, for example.
Regardless of how much we advance technologically, it should already be clear how valuable character influencers could be and how underutilized they currently are. And we have barely scratched the surface – the creative possibilities of this practice are truly endless, so it’s interesting to see who will begin working on them on a major scale first.
If you are interested in exploring influencer marketing options for your next game campaign, our performance-based network Gamefluence is what you’d need: It can help you tell your story through any of our 150+ carefully-chosen, top influencers, while handling a variety of game formats and types, and presenting several pay-out model possibilities.
Moreover, if you would like to learn more about the different ways in which iQU can enhance your advertising efforts and increase your ROI, then schedule a free consultancy session with us here!