gamification in market research

Gamification in market research By @eliasveris R&D consultant – Insites Consulting

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A presentation made to inspire market researchers about gamification. What is gamification & what are some game dynamics (tactics) that we can use? How could we use some on community research and how could we use others on survey research?


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in market researchBy @eliasveris

R&D consultant – Insites Consulting

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Meet my nephew, 18

He’s not motivated to reach anything. Has zero real hobbies.He has bad grades at school and

had to retake a year.He’s every mother’s worst


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Absolute Chaos

But he became one of the top 5 players in the Playstation game

“Warhawk” 2 years ago.He battled via the playstation

network for days in a row, to get to the top. That is the one

experience that immerses him completely.

The game is absolute chaos for the unskilled. And so he

practices, and learns from others by watching youtube screencasts of that one roll with the airplane,

that one moving shot,...The one thing that keeps this guy up at night, is gaming.

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Everybody plays

Everybody plays. Consoles like the Wii have democratized console gaming by making it easy

for all ages; brining it from the teenage bedroom to the everyday family life.

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Average age: 34

26% over 50

Average age of most frequent game purchaser: 40


In the US, theesa does some great work in showing that gaming is for everyone. Although

the average age of the most frequent game purchaser is probably influenced by having kids,

the mere fact that a quarter of all gamers are over 50 is quite astonishing.

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Women: 40%Playing

46% of gamers play with other

gamers in person


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Do you know Zynga?(A company named after a dead bulldog )

50M+ daily active users

Farmville: 13M+ daily active users

30M+ farms (only 2M real farms in US)

Surpassed by new hit: Cityville (20M+ active daily users)

Zynga makes a lot of money with their games. Some of their designers explicitly state that they

design for the 43 year old woman; that is the average social gamer.

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Many things are gamesAnd games have been around since 3500 BC…


So the game industry is pretty big. Let us not forget however, that many things are

games. Boardgames have been around since 3500 BC, with the Egyptian game called Senet.

And don’t we all have that one relative that always beats you at chess?

But why do people play games?

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AutonomyI do it because I want to do it

MasteryI do it to get better at something

PurposeI do it because I want to serve a

higher purpose

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Above all, games are learning experiences

The learning element in games is what keeps the experience going for you, what keeps you


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…Which explains why progress wars isn’t fun

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Player ability



Learning is a function of Challenge and Ability.If these two are balanced out correctly, you are totally immersed in the experience, something

that Mihály Csíkszentmihályi called ‘Flow’.

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Player ability

Can I play daddy?



Bring ‘em on!

I’m death incarnate

Flow is not equal for everyone. That is why games have the Novice, Skilled and Expert levels of difficulty. Some players need more challenge

than others.(ps: Can you spot the wolfenstein 3d


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Games have stories, but...“theme is a lure to bring gamers into the experience”

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Constructs of Rules and Feedback Loops intended to produce enjoyable


Game Mechanics

So learning is key.The elements in gaming that produce learning (and thus enjoyable gameplay) are called game


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I want people to flowThat is what some people in marketing and market research have been worrying about. And then, they came up with the

following concept:

I’ve got something boring I want people to do.

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The process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users


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The people at Volkswagen have used game mechanics to make boring tasks, such as going to the bottle band, a little bit more fun. They

called it the Fun Theory.(click image for movie)

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Win conditions



network + status


Point system

The Gamification


Gabe Zichermann has coined the concept of the gamification loop, on a

very tactical level.Give users a challenge, and tell them

what they need to do to win. For everything you do (and especially for

winning) you get points, that are shown on a leaderboard. Badges are a form of extra virtual reward (think foursquare for instance) that can be granted. The

combination of points and badges indicate the users’ status, and is most

powerful when shared over a social network.

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Elements of the loop can be used in various contexts. Mint for instance aggregates all your spending from your bank

account and gives you insights in your behaviour.On top of that, you can set challenges for yourself (saving x amount of $ this year), and mint will give you points and

feedback for every step in the right direction.

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Multiple long- and short-term aimsA long-term aim is difficult to achieve if there is no short-term gain. Therefore, intermediate goals are important.

Reward every effortEvery small action people do must be rewarded, so that they keep in mind that they are progressing. Points are a great

tool for this.

Rapid & frequent feedbackThe best kind of feedback is immediate feedback. I don’t want to wait 2 years to see how you liked my performance, give

it to me straight!

A tiny bit of uncertaintyRemember the variable ratio schedule? Behaviour will be more persistent if the reward strategy is not linear.

Some more tactical issues to keep in mind...

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Badges? Seriously?To these guys, they matter.

To get back to ‘badges’:Do they really matter?

They are just a couple of pixels on a screen, right?

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Badges? Seriously?To these guys, they matter.

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Goal-setting deviceWhere to go

InstructionsWhat is possible

ReputationWho you are

Status & AffirmationWhat you did

Group identificationWho is like you

Antin & churchill

Badges have various functions, from giving indications to users what it really is you want them to do (in a fun way)

to enhancing reputation via shared symbolism.

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Who would you rather be?

And after all, a lot of people care about a simple 500+ “badge” on linkedin too...

Let’s call it “shared business symbolism”?

Name available upon request. Or good googling.

Name available upon request. Or good googling.

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Keep in mind…

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Not all people are equal

There are gender differences (the stereotypical risk-

averse, social woman versus the risking, competitive

man) and player differences, like Bartle’s typology

describes. Anyhow, not every person enjoys the same rewards. Gamed design must take

that into account.

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Playing the same game over and over again is boring. Even for good games.

Statistics solve this. They call this Metagames.

I played ‘worms’ a lot during college.

Not because I enjoyed the game that much, but

especially because I played it with my best friend at the time, and we kept a huge scoreboard on our door of who won how many times.

The game was ok, the meta-game of beating my friend

was THE main driver.

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Incentivize well, and people will cheat.


Keep in mind that people will try to

cheat. Either you give them ways to cheat that fit within your goals, or you keep a

very good eye on what’s happening. A

very good eye.

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…Or be too focussed, like in the BMW Eco Challenge

BMW challenged people to drive as fuel efficient as

possible, in a gamified system.First tests were extremely good, with 0,4l/100 km less fuel used

on average.The one thing however that has a huge impact on fuel efficiency

is starting and stopping. For traffic lights for instance.

When people noticed that, some tried to avoid this at all costs,

with traffic violations and collisions as a result.

Always keep in mind the possible unintended

consequences of your system. Always.

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Didn’t you ever try to beat the system?

I know highly respectable people that try to beat their GPS every time, getting at

their destination faster than it indicates.

I also know some that take an alternative route, AND try to get there sooner. Just for

the fun of it.

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Rewards are not achievements!Learning is an achievement. Getting better is. Being rewarded for that is just


Getting somewhere faster than a deadline can be an achievement. If your GPS would then give you a badge for that, that’s a reward. Not really what

GPS systems are intended for, but you get the picture.

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Keep trying. Iterate. Measure. Improve.

Key in setting up a system with game elements is

iterating and measuring. It helps you stay ahead of

dramatic unintended consequences, and tailor challenges and reward systems to your users.

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I work in market researchCan I use this gamification stuff?

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Response rates have been

dropping for years.(It’s not fun)

Response quality follows. Speeding.

Straightlining.(they don’t learn)

Good people drop out because they

never get rewarded for their

effort.(no feedback)

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What are drivers of research participation in general?

Intrinsic:•To provide an opinion•Out of curiosity•Find research fun

Extrinsic:•Chance of winning prizes•Charity

Source: InSites Consulting panel study (2005)This is our storyline.

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What community researchers dream of:

A high number of on-topic posts

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Communities:drivers of on-topic posts

Information Benefit

Social Benefit

Informational Engagement

Social Engagement

Community & Brand Identification

Time Cost

More identification with either community or brand means more engagement & more on-topic posts.

When people like the social side of the community (getting in touch with people), this has an enrichment effect on the on-topic participation.

The more time costs involved, the less people will participate.

People spending more time deep-diving into information on the community will be more likely to post on topic.

When people get interesting information out of the community, they are more likely to contribute to it.

People spending more time deep-diving into the social side of the community are less likely to contribute interesting information.

InSites Consulting internal research

Starting from these intrinsic drivers, we can reinforce them even more by using

them in a gamified community.

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Most valuable contributor wins!Golden nugget badge for best insightTopic x-expert for high topic contribution...

Socialization: what areon- topic-posts?

Badges & win conditions:

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Post quality content


Point treshol

d reache


Unlock info

Information benefit on- topic-posts

We know getting information drives participation.

If information is rewarding, we can make the availability of information dependent on on-topic posts pretty easily.

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Informational engagement on- topic-posts

Challenge: “Can you come up with the best summary of the answers on this topic? Rate the best summary up!”

Via the same mechanic, we can stimulate people to

assimilate and engage with the available information, and reward that behaviour. It’s also a renewed focus on learning. And games are all

about learning.

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Social Benefiton- topic-posts

Challenge: “Battle the other team in sharing as much quality content as possible”Personal leaderboard

The social benefit of an in-group augments the social benefit of a larger group.

Therefore, having respondents battle each other on the community yields great results, and

increasingly so if it’s coupled with status via a


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Win conditions – feedback – rewardsLearn, Learn, Learn.

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Surveys Suck

People abandon surveys


No time anymore (19%)

Too long (12%)

Don’t feel like it anymore (10%)

Too boring (10%)

InSites Consulting data, 2011

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What influences

survey satisfaction?

Length of interview




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What influences

survey satisfaction?

Length of interview ( = .10)

Lay-out ( = .18)

Subject ( = .37)

Questioning ( = .43)

Survey Satisfaction(R²=93%)

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Questioning is key

“We challenge you”

Research by @jonpuleston - GMI Interactive

“You have 2 minutes”


Feedback * 3

Feedback * 10

300% more ideas

Since changing the subject is not easy, why don’t we look at questioning and making that more fun and game-

like?Previous research has shown

that great things can be done by using projective

techniques and challenges in surveys, increasing feedback

by large amounts.

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This is a survey. It measures brand identification. Do you like this?

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This is a survey. Or do you like this one better?

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Few things in life are linear.

Should surveys be?

Games are not linear anymore. There are mini-

games, sidetracks, alternative storylines,...

Why not in surveys? We can ask the questions that need routings first, and then the respondent can decide what

he wants to answer next.It’s easy. And it

communicates autonomy.

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Zero feedback.Challenges need win conditions and rewards

Right now, surveys are a black box.

Gamification is all about feedback. Why not share results to some questions

immediately? Based on the previous 30 respondents f.i. Feedback is most effective if immediate, so let’s give it to

them immediately.

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All this makes no sense.

It makes no sense if it isn’t integrated in the whole research process. Remember metagames?

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Respondents don’t care about our

research silos.

Quanti = Quali = Communities = focus groups = surveys = ethnography = …

If I participate, I get rewarded.

If I’m a loyal participant, I get rewarded


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We must gamify the process of research for participants

If well implemented, the fun factor can

extend engagement in research for a lifetime.

Let’s make it funLet’s think loyalty

Let’s reward loyal fun-makers.

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Earning points per surveyBurning points with gifts

(And gifts can be charity)

Branded badgesMeta-badges (cofee-expert)

Visible on the platformResponse quality scoresA leaderboard with your

friendsAnd much, much more.

…A gamified platform.

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Keep trying. Iterate. Measure. Improve.

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Costs. Benefits.

Implementation time & cost of


Knowledge building & cost of


Increased focus on measurement

& cost of that

Renewed respondent engagement

Competitive advantage versus

DIY research

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Technology TriggerDisillusionment



Inflated Expectations

Remember Gartner. We’re not exactly where we want

to be yet…

Gamification is at a non-desirable place in the hype

cycle according to me. Some of us expect too much, others are disillusioned


Maybe we should even ban the word gamification.

Anyway, let’s not be blinded by the hype, and use this as

a return to focussing on respondent engagement.

With some workable tactics.

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Gamification is dead

If it’s just an overlay of points

If it doesn’t change the product or service beneath it

Gamification in Market Research is alive!

Because it can completely change the user experience

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To the people who make gamification move forward by evangelizing and sharing,





+ everyone I forgot

+ the whole online creative community for the awesome