What's the Fastest Growing Company in History?

By The Myers Report Archives
Cover image for  article: What's the Fastest Growing Company in History?

What's the fastest growing company in history? Hint: It's a consumer products company with only two products, both sold exclusively via computer tablets. The company was founded in 2010 and launched its first product in June 2012 and the second in August 2012. The two products were reported to be grossing $30 million per month by December, and are out-grossing one of their closest competitors, which markets 969 products. Another hint, it's a Finnish gaming company that's not Rovio (Angry Birds) and they recently raised $130 million with a valuation of $770 million.

The answer is Supercell and if you haven't heard of either Hay Day or Clash of Clans, you're out of the loop on popular youth culture. It's not surprising, though, that most advertising, marketing and media executives are unfamiliar with the company that Accel partners suggested is the fastest growing company in history. You may play Angry Birds; have an Xbox, Wii or PlayStation and EA games in your home; or have kids who grew up with Club Penguin or playing Call of Duty. But most in our business are uninformed about the true role of gaming in the lives of the most important consumer growth market and the true potential of gaming in marketing and society. Here's another question: what episodic point-and-click adventure role-playing video game has revitalized the adventure game genre and won more than 80 Game of the Year Awards in 2012? Answer: The Walking Dead,developed by Telltale Games. You're no doubt familiar with the popular AMC television series, and may even know it's based on a comic book. But most ad execs are in the dark when it comes to the game's popularity.

Last week, I delivered the keynote address at IDG's Game Marketing Summit, speaking to a community with which I've had little contact and about a business I've known little about. But as an outcome I've come to the conclusion that gaming offers our best vision of the future of media and marketing – and in some ways the future of society, culture and business. This is a crazy notion to some, but to passionate gamers themselves, it's obvious.

In my recent book Hooked Up , which is an exploration of the first generation of Internet Natives, I ask "Is It All Just a Game?" Eighty-three percent of young people under 24 are gamers, spending an average 70-minutes daily on console, online and mobile games. Gamers are the most active consumers, purchasing more cars, groceries, soda, bottled water, smartphones, home electronics and more tablets. They exercise more and see more movies than non-gamers. They're also spending less time watching linear TV programming.

Gaming is far more than meets the eye. It's also driving the development of new technologies and contributing to cures for aids and major diseases. Gaming theory is used to track down criminals and anticipate natural and man-made disasters. It's a core competency for those in the space program or researching almost any subject. If you question this, view the 3-minute GE Focus Forward filmsThe Contenders and DisPlair. The Contenders, by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker, engagingly tells the story of gamers who used the online puzzle game Fold It to solve, in three weeks, an elusive biological mapping problem that scientists had unsuccessfully spent ten years trying to map. The gamers' solution could unlock the cure for AIDS. DisPlair unveils a truly jaw-dropping new technology with limitless applications that will eliminate the need for screens and monitors -- and all manner of electronic junk -- and will inevitably find its first commercial application in the gaming industry.

What are the implications for marketers and media? Although advertisers and agencies are investing heavily in media-based solutions for reaching the increasingly elusive young audience, gaming is only marginally a part of their solutions. Myers Media Business Report forecasts the gaming industry will attract $2.3 billion in advertising revenues in 2013, and while this is in the same territory as mobile and online originated video, it will grow at a much slower rate to only $5.1 billion in 2020 (see annual forecast below). There are two primary reasons: the marketing, media and ad communities misunderstand the potential of gaming as an ad platform and the gaming industry itself suffers from an image problem of its own creation.

Internet natives are not only active gamers, but are the most socialized, best educated, well-adjusted, least violent, and most global generation in history. Perceptions of gamers as boys locked in their rooms playing Dungeons and Dragons negates the powerful and important positive aspects of the gaming culture, which is increasingly female. Pinterest is, at its core, a game. Online and mobile promotions, deals and coupons are adopting gaming techniques. One in four Facebook users are playing games at the site. Games are employing community and social relevance into their content. Only 7% of iOS game playing is paid; 40% is free and 53% has a secondary payment model. Gaming is global and is globalizing the culture, with games like Minecraft engaging players around the world with each other.

The future of branding, marketing, research, media – even culture and society – is powered by sharing, communications, creativity, collaboration, strategy and problem-solving. These are the foundations of gaming – the basic tools required to develop gaming skills. Most of our adult-based perceptions of gaming, while still valid, simply fail to recognize the important role that gaming will have in every aspect of culture for all generations born into the Internet Age. Gamers, for example, are constantly searching for new games, especially free-to-play (FTP) games, and are always seeking more engaging and higher quality experiences. They respond to winning points, prizes, credits and deals. These are models that all marketers – and media – need to understand, follow and implement.

For more evidence, Twitter (which is as much a game as a communications tool) hit 200 million users in December 2012. Angry Bird parent Rovio hit 260 million users. In July 2012, iPhone app users spent 52 minutes daily on You Tube and 60 minutes on Angry Birds alone. Rovio is a major influencer in the education market, teaming with NASA and National Geographic. Check out The Johnny Cash Project, Get Milk's Get the Glass Game, theFetch DOOH game in the NYC Subway, theCards Against Humanity game,Israel's Burger Ranch quiz and quiz hack, Johnny Walker's Instagram feed of their Facebook page, Axe Apollo's Be a Hero Search, KLM's Win a Trip to Space, The Echo Nest tool on Vevo, Nissan Pathfinder's Kinect experience, TNT's interactive perception billboard on Times Square. Even the WAZE community-based traffic app was created with gaming tools. They all reflect gaming solutions to marketers' needs and they are only the tip of the iceberg.

There are thousands of examples validating the idea that gaming is at the center of activating consumer engagement. Digital and interactive tools will rapidly accelerate this trend and the sophistication of gaming companies and resources to meet the needs of marketers and media content developers will be incrementally enhanced. As Internet Natives take control over purchase decisions across virtually every product category, they will be motivated by those products and services that engage them in ways that are native to their gaming lifestyle. Traditional models of brand and media loyalty will be moot as new consumption patterns and loyalties emerge from the Nickelodeon Slime that oozes through the brains of all 18-24 year olds.

The media trends that concern marketers and agencies today will become more acute with every passing month . I believe media companies, marketers, agencies and professionals who embrace gaming as a targeting, merchandising and content-development strategy, and incorporate gaming as a core management tool as they hire Internet Natives into their organizations, will discover their most valuable solutions to deal with the transformation of marketing that is occurring in this decade.

(See chart below )


(Updated January 2013. Reported in 000,000)       
 201220132015 2020 
  Change Change 2013-2015 2016-2020
Digital Gaming Ad Spending $1,81340.0%$2,26625.0%$3,23421.3%$5,1009.6%
Source: Jack Myers Media Business Report© copyright 2013 www.myersbiz.net   

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