Playboy Embraces 'Gamification' to Attract Younger Demographic

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In an effort to attract a younger demographic, Playboy is using a new Internet platform called “gamification” that uses game-like mechanics on non-game sites to engage users with a company’s product or brand.

According to Rajat Paharia, founder and chief product officer of Bunchball, a San Jose, California tech company, Playboy is using his Nitro gamification platform to power its Miss Social Facebook app.

In a month-long competition any woman who aspires to be in Playboy can get her friends to vote for her as Miss Social of the month and the winner then has a shot at getting a pictorial (clothed or not) on

GamesBeat reported that the trend has been creating a hot buzz like social networking and mobile games, despite some criticism that maintains the game-like approach only works for sites that offer fun, like Playboy.

But Bunchball has been working with companies since 2005 and has recently attracted some big names along with Playboy including CBS, NBC, SyFy, Comcast, Warner Bros and more.

GamesBeat reported that the result of the Playboy Bunchball gamification has yielded an 85 percent rate of re-engagement and a 60 percent improvement in revenues from one month to the next.

And since the app began last December, Playboy’s active user base has grown to 80,000. Bunchball said that average Nitro users see page views double, page views per visit increase 60 percent, unique visitors increase 30 percent, time on site increase 100 percent and repeat monthly visits double.

Those numbers translate into a 400 percent return on investment for users with a payback time of as little as three months. Bunchball said it currently reaches more than 70 million users per month across its customers’ websites.

Marketing firm IMHO Media created the app for Playboy and used the Bunchball platform that allowed the gamification company to enjoy revenue almost immediately.

Playboy Enterprises’ vice president of digital ventures Greg Johnson told GamesBeat that Bunchball’s analytics tools provide insights into customer behavior and allow Playboy to test and change its app in real time.

“We’ve seen huge growth in gamification over the past year and we’re thrilled to see that translate into genuine customer demand,” Paharia said.

According to the Gartner market research firm, 50 percent of companies will embrace gamification by 2015 and analyst M2 Research estimates that revenue from the production of gamification projects will grow from $100 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion, or 23 percent of social media marketing budgets by 2015.