Gamification is changing how people learn, how they apply for jobs and even how they stand in line – and now it’s set to rewrite the rules when it comes to advertising.

A study of 88,000 adults conducted by the MEMES Center at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management found that 50 percent of Americans are now regular gamers and have started expecting game-like experiences when interacting with brands.

People who play games aren’t gamers

However, the changes are almost subconscious. Fifty percent of all respondents said they’d played a video game of some type within the past seven days and 41 percent said they’d played a game within the past 24 hours.

However, just 13 percent of Americans self-identify as gamers.

Yet whether they see themselves as gamers and regardless of the platform – dedicated console, PC or smartphone app – the result is the same. The study, published December 14, shows consumers increasingly look for rewards – a key aspect of gameplay – when they come into contact with advertising.

Traditional advertising is off target

A major element of the research was understanding how attitudes toward traditional forms of advertising are changing as people increasingly consume interactive forms of media. The result is that whether it’s a 30-second TV spot or a banner ad on a website, it’s failing to hit the mark.

Just 3.6 percent of Americans say that they now watch an ad all the way through, compared with 45 percent that actively avoid advertising – clicking to close a pop up on a website, or changing channels and even physically leaving the room when a commercial airs on TV.

What’s more, this behavior is only trending upwards. The results show that across all demographics the appetite for gaming is growing and that it’s at its most acute with younger generations – 49 percent of millennials say they’d played a game within the last 24 hours, as had 51 percent of gen Z.

“There are some concerning numbers in the survey for some traditional advertising models,” said Dr. Sanjay Sood, Professor of Marketing at UCLA Anderson School of Management. “At the same time, this survey seems to validate industry-wide efforts to develop new solutions and systems for reaching consumers.

Make advertising a rewarding experience

So how can businesses tailor their advertising messages to meet this changing behavior? When the question was posed by the researchers, the top response, given by 42 percent of those polled, was the ability to win real-world prizes.

Consumers increasingly want engagement and the chance of being rewarded would increase their willingness to interact.

Rewards and smartphone game levels of engagement is what’s enabled Snapchat to move beyond transient messaging and remain the most popular social network among U.S. teens. And it’s why brands are increasingly partnering with the company to drive people in store or to their website.

However, not every company is a good fit with Snapchat. Therefore, tailoring your message based on better data insights will pay dividends because after rewards, greater personalization was the most popular response. Further, 24 percent of respondents said that if games or other media more closely reflected them and their tastes, they would play or watch more and for longer.

Sitel Group