Who would have thought that online gaming would be the most popular digital star during these periods of self-isolation? According to data gathered by the Verizon Network Report, daily digital gaming in March was up 115% over earlier pre-COVID-19 numbers. The increase far overshadowed the rest of the categories measured by the mobile phone provider and wireless network.
Trailing behind in second was virtual private networks (VPN ) with a 49% rise. VPN was followed by increases in downloads (39%), video (36%), web (27%), and actual voice usage (25%), while social media actually declined 12%. What is also interesting is that all categories but gaming had been experiencing declines before the pandemic while video had been flat.
Verizon noted that on demand movies were also up 32% and predicted the market for on demand entertainment would get even stronger. The company said the most popular TV series centered around comedy, action and suspense.
Consider this variety of favorites. On Verizon’s FIOS (fiber optic service) network, the most watched on demand movies were 1917, followed by Bad Boys for Life, Onward, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Jumanji: The Next Level. Top TV series on demand were Homeland, Westworld, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Outlander.
While noting the shifts, Verizon reported that they believed consumer activity would plateau. On the other hand, they revealed that because of COVID-19 they are handling twice the number of wireless calls. Those calls last 33% longer each weekday than they did on Mother’s Day.
Not surprisingly, conference calls saw an increase as well. Verizon said these forms of collaboration tools increased 47% on weekdays, an indication that most were for remote work, business and distance/online learning.
What This Means for CMOs
Marketers have an opportunity to leverage this data in connecting with their target audiences during the pandemic. Earlier articles have reported on the growing popularity and dependence on video. Tailoring videos directed at consumer interests while challenging them in game-like conditions could heighten interest and gain more appeal.
For example, what if a consumer visiting the brand’s website was asked to press “spin” to discover how much of a discount they would get? Or how many bonus reward points they would receive?
The Verizon report clearly shows that consumers are looking for entertainment, and even distractions, that will help them forget about the pandemic, if only for a few minutes.
Similarly, marketers might also consider adding a bit of gaming to their promotional and instructional video programs. This would help brands stand out and attract more interest in a crowded and growing field.
As in all campaigns, CMOs must also define a strategy that measures not just clicks, but also progress in consumer interest and purchases if such a change is made. It must also have timelines and measurable goals with reports for marketing professionals, other departments and senior staff.
As noted Egyptian author, Noha Alla El Din once wrote, “You just need to discover your superpower and bet on it.”