Mobile Marketing

With SCVNGR, All the World’s a Game

May 19, 2010

Do you wish there was another mobile application where you could check in at a location? There’s no shortage of options. Yet another contender just launched very publicly with a different approach, turning the whole act of checking in into a game.

Meet SCVNGR, which is as long on ambition as it is short on vowels. With its latest version having debuted last week for consumers, it’s making big announcements at Google I/O, the annual developer event. SCVNGR has been quietly growing over the past couple years, reporting that over 600 institutions in 44 states and 20 countries have worked with them so far. Today, it released the names of some of the larger brands that are starting to build on it: the Boston Celtics, Boston Globe, New England Patriots, Journeys, The New York Times, Universal Music Canada and Warner Bros. Its client base also includes hundreds of colleges and universities – notably Princeton University, where 21-year-old SCVNGR Chief Ninja founded the company in 2008.

SCVNGR offers challenges at any and every location, whether or not a marketer or venue owner is actively involved; its database already includes over 20 million locations. Players earn points for every challenge. The three default challenges everywhere are “check in” (1 point) – tell your friends where you are; “say something” (2 points) – write any tip or note or anything that inspires you; and “snap a picture” (2 points) – take a photo of the spot. Marketers can then build their own challenges tied to venues, from their own locations to anywhere they want to be associated with. To create more involved and interesting experiences, marketers can create treks, which are themed experiences tied to one location or a series of them.

Attendees at I/O are experiencing it off-hand, with challenges created across the event. Attendees can find six friends to spell out “GOOGLE” with their bodies, YMCA style, and snap a picture for three points, or figure out what certain geographic coordinates refer to for a couple more points. Google is offering special prizes such as exclusive swag bags to players with the most points at the end of the event.

Currently anyone can play SCVNGR from its iPhone and Android applications, but users can participate in treks through SMS (text messaging), sending certain keywords to 728647 (SCVNGR) in the US and Canada. More mobile platforms are coming soon.

We’ll share more about how marketers are using it and can use it as other case studies come out.