AmEx connects a debit card to an online video game
GETTING the attention of the so-called millennial generation is no easy task for many advertisers. Despite their efforts to break into television, social media, and other digital platforms, their selling points are often overlooked in favor of Netflix, Snapchat, Twitter, and video games.
American Express executives say they think they’ve found a way around this by being part of a digital gaming experience. On Wednesday, the company announced a referral program that targets the millions of people who play Riot Games’ League of Legends online video game.
The centerpiece of the partnership is a line of prepaid debit cards that feature in-game images and characters, and earn cardholders Riot Points that can be used to purchase characters and other in-game extras. .
Users receive 1,000 points when they sign up for the card and an additional 1,000 points after loading $ 20 on the card. Additional points can be earned for the first 10 purchases made with the card, and 10,000 points are awarded the first time a card is linked to a direct deposit account.
Additional points can be earned for every dollar spent thereafter. The card does not require a credit check, activation fee, or minimum balance. Instead, like most prepaid cards, it’s loaded with the cardholder’s money and used instead of cash to make purchases.
Stefan Happ, general manager of online and mobile services at American Express in the United States, said the partnership aimed to “extend our traditional reach beyond the affluent masses.” Mr. Happ cited the 32 million players in the game worldwide and “the incredible billion hours of play per month” as the main reasons for the partnership.
“It gives you an idea of the deep commitment of players to playing this game,” Happ said. “We are on loyalty, we are on contact and a lasting commitment. It is an ideal solution from the point of view of the public. This audience is largely male and largely millennial, made up of players between the ages of 18 and 24, said Dustin Beck, vice president of esports at Riot Games.
Riot Games released League of Legends in 2009. It is part of a video game subgenre sometimes referred to as a “multiplayer online battle arena,” where players compete against each other in tournaments broadcast online. The game can be played for free online, but to access specific characters or features players must purchase Riot Points.
American Express has created a 30-second video to explain the benefits of the prepaid card. Digital banner ads are scheduled to start appearing on the League of Legends Championship Series website on Wednesday, na.lolesports.com, where aficionados can watch games in progress live. An American Express website explaining the card will also be available on Wednesday.
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Sponsorships like that of American Express are helping pay for the rising costs associated with delivering the game to a larger, more professional audience, Beck said, adding that Riot Games was in talks with other companies to foreground for additional sponsorship opportunities.
“There is a great opportunity here for brands, especially brands that make sense to our players,” he said, referring to the 18-24 year old men who make up the bulk of the base. company players. This group, he added, “is becoming increasingly difficult to reach on television and other media.”
American Express executives declined to say how much the campaign would cost, but according to data from Kantar Media, a unit of WPP, in 2012 the company spent $ 36 million to advertise its prepaid cards on TV. , in magazines and online.
Norma P. Garcia, senior counsel and financial services program manager for Consumers Union, the nonprofit group that publishes Consumer Reports, said linking gambling incentives like points with the use of a prepaid card could step up the ‘addictive quality of games. ”
The prepaid card market in the United States has grown in recent years as more people give up a relationship with a bank or try to control their spending, although consumer advocates criticize the myriad of user fees. cards for things like ATM withdrawals, inactivity, and balance requests. As the cards become more popular, they are increasingly marketed to niche demographics, Ms. Garcia said.
“Everyone is getting into this game,” she said. “It’s really a question of how the marketer wants to package their card to attract a particular audience. ”