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Target, big brands team up to convert mobile gaming into commerce

Target is betting on branded mobile games to not only snag a group of devout consumers that are known for coming back repeatedly, but also drive in-store traffic through time-sensitive coupons.

The big box retailer has launched a new mobile game with Purina as the first of roughly a half dozen games Target plans to launch this year as part of bigger campaigns that work closely with brands. The game is part of a new mobile program that Target is rolling out and incorporates QR codes, mobile Web and SMS in addition to the actual games.

“Mobile games also represent new marketing opportunities for Target and our vendor partners, who are looking for mobile marketing solutions to better engage guests,” said Eddie Baeb, spokesman at Target, Minneapolis.

“Target plans to develop about a total of six mobile games this year – tied to seasonal events, marketing campaigns or product launches – and are excited to test and learn new elements to see how guests respond,” he said.

Integrating mobile games?
Target’s Pop It mobile game builds on another campaign that the retailer rolled out for Super Bowl last year.

The Snack Bowl game let consumers rack up points by passing snacks to party guests. The game also included seven brands such as Coca-Cola, M&M’s, Reese’s and Ritz crackers (see story).

According to Mr. Baeb, the game last year had a re-play rate of 50 percent.

Target is building off those learnings this year with a new game called “Pop It!” that can be accessed at from a mobile device.

The game is part of a marketing campaign to promote the launch of Purina’s Beggin’ Party Poppers dog snacks.

The big-box retailer is also integrating SMS coupons into the game as an added incentive to keep consumers playing for longer periods of time.

Players are challenged to press a button that resembles a pig’s nose as a dog treat makes its way down a conveyer belt.

At the same time, players have to tap on items that are not dog treats before they hit the pig’s nose.

Players compete to reach specific ranks with “Top Dog” as the highest score and “In The Dog House” as the lowest score.

Once a game is completed, a call-to-action prompts consumers to text in the keyword POPPERS to Target’s short code — 827438 — to receive a $1 off coupon for Purina’s Beggin’ Party Poppers dog snacks.

A mobile site with a bar code can then be scanned in-store, or iPhone users can save the coupon to Apple’s Passbook.

Another screenshot of Target’s mobile game

Upping mobile promotion
Target is promoting “Pop It!” on the homepage of Target’s mobile site and through banner ads.

Additionally, Target will run a newspaper insert that promotes the new product with a QR code. When scanned, the mobile bar code will direct consumers to the mobile game.

The idea behind developing the series of mobile games is that Target can tap into some of the success from mobile games have experienced in retaining users, such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds.

“Smartphones continue to play larger roles in our guests’ lives and how they shop,” Mr. Baeb said.

“So we’re going where our guests are, and we’re looking to engage them with content that’s relevant and fun and that includes mobile games,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York