Queensland startup rubin8 helps brands better connect with and understand customers through games

- April 30, 2018 3 MIN READ

From product labels in a shop to banner ads on websites, billboards on the street, and ads heard on a podcast or seen on television, it’s estimated that the average person can be exposed to up to 20,000 advertisements, marketing messages, or instances of ‘brand exposure’ each day.

Cutting through the noise can be a tough ask, but looking to do it through a gamified approach is Queensland startup rubin8.

The idea for it came to founder Rob Holden in 2011, when he was selling advertising space at the Gabba in Brisbane.

“Cricket fans would leave the stadium during breaks to drink at nearby pubs. They would sometimes not return and this meant stadium vendors were losing out. They needed to find a way to entice attendees to stay when the game was at a standstill,” he explained.

The solution Holden came up with was a game where players had to be in the stadium in order to win, aiming to keep them engaged, entertained, and most importantly, on-site.

With Holden having spent the years prior to launching rubin8 building bespoke campaigns for clients, he said he had learned that most clients had similar requirements when it came to how data was handled and analysed; with this in mind, he sought to combine the gaming idea to create rubin8.

The startup works with researchers and marketers to create bespoke games.

“Researchers are interested in the best ways to capture accurate information so they’re able to effectively analyse it to make a conclusion. rubin8 gathers customer and prospect information through serving them bespoke games that are tailored to attract their attention and keep them engaged,” Holden said.

“Through the power of play, researchers are given access to more accurate data points giving them a more realistic perspective of their respondents so they have greater confidence in the data obtained.”

Marketers, similarly, need to have a deep understanding of their customers in order to tailor marketing campaigns that will cut through.

“Using games, marketers can gather more truthful data from customers who are engaged with the game. Not only does this uncover new insights about their target audiences, it is likely to unveil new information about their attitudes, sentiment and preferences,” Holden explained.

“With this information, marketers can deliver more tailored or customised offers to target customers and generate new leads.”  

Holden explained that rubin8 typically identifies 10 to 20 data points per game, from basic demographic information to buying behaviour, personal interests, attitudes and preferences, and purchase intent.

“We find people are more truthful when playing games than when simply answering surveys because their guard is down. Game-based marketing best captures consumer attitudes and predicts future behaviour,” he said.  

Despite this belief, Holden said the startup struggled early on in sharing the message about the power of gamification.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced in the beginning was convincing clients that using games could deliver highly successful and serious marketing outcomes for their business. We were always put into the gimmick basket and considered a nice to have option instead of a need to have option,” he said.

To help the push into the need to have category, the startup recently partnered with the Queensland University of Technology to research how participants respond to a game-led approach to surveys.

“The study will look to determine if people are more inclined to provide information to a company when there is a game involved, or survey completion rate, and if people are more truthful with the information they share when they’re engaged in gameplay, that is quality and reliability of survey responses,” Holden explained.

The startup has brought on clients across a variety of industries, from travel to retail, finance, tech, and education, among them Tatts Group and Suncorp.

Working directly with brands or with their agencies, Holden said the startup has a suite of games to tailor to various audiences; rubin8 also has first party data that brands without their own database can leverage.

rubin8 is one of a growing number of Australian startups working with gamification.

Melbourne-born platform Arcade helps retailers keep their sales staff engaged and motivated through gamification of employee goals, recognition, and rewards, while Quitch has created a gamified learning app that looks to truly engage students in their learning by reminding them outside the classroom via push notifications to answer timed quiz questions based on their coursework.

Focusing more on the marketing space, meanwhile, Sydney startup Snooper has developed an app allowing anyone to earn cash while they are shopping, filling up petrol, or having a drink at a bar.

Through this model, the startup provides brands with data on their in-store products and their performance based on the “missions” each user on the app completes. Missions typically come in the form of asking a shopper to complete an on-the-spot survey, which may include taking a picture in addition to answering a set of questions determined by the brand.

As it looks ahead, Holden said rubin8 is focused on working with customers to better understand their needs and pain points in order to develop more games that suit a variety of situations and business types.

Image: Rob Holden. Source: Supplied.