Social gaming providing a new marketing platform for many companies like Century 21

I've been actively looking to purchase a home for about two months now. More important than me actually searching for a home is what I represent: a new generation of home buyers more in tune with technology than ever before. At our fingertips we have the internet, filled with dozens of websites aiding me in my search for a home.

I'm just one of many, part of a new gamer generation that turns to the internet and social networking before an actual realty agent in my home search. I'm also the target audience for Century 21, who recently started a new campaign aimed to raise brand awareness among social gamers who are now of the age to purchase a home.

Real estate company Century 21 is at the forefront of this changing marketing landscape, which now places gamers in the position to buy homes. And what better way to reach the gamer audience then through games? That's exactly what Century 21 is doing through their new The Sims Social marketing campaign.

"Century 21 being involved in social gaming allows us to connect with that home buyer or seller in the venue where they're most comfortable," explained Century 21 CMO, Bev Thorne. "For us, it's engaging them in a new and different way on a platform where the buyers or sellers are comfortable in."

"It's really today's answer for a classic marketing question and that is, 'where is your target consumer and how do you get yourself in front of your target consumer?'" she asked. "This is our answer to that question."

The Sims Social Century 21

For those who play the game, you may have already seen the object, but Century 21 has sponsored a new in-game fireplace which players can place in their homes and interact with. The fireplace is branded with Century 21's logo and provides in-game rewards for interacting with it. But why a fireplace?

"The fireplace is really akin to the time period we're in here," Bev explained. "The holidays is a time of warmth, it's very appropriate for this time of year." The campaign officially began on December 20th, giving Century 21 the opportunity to present players with "warmth and some in-game value during the holiday season," she said. 

Although it's still too early to talk about the results of the three-week marketing campaign, which runs until January 9, 2013, Century 21 has seen past success with its previous campaign — which also involved social gaming. The company's last campaign with SimCity Social resulted in Century 21's Facebook "likes" to increase by 225%. Bev revealed that 192,000 branded Century 21 office buildings were placed by players in the game.

"We are seeing that this consumer is reacting very favorably. They are very willing to engage with us in the game."

I don't think Century 21's new campaign will give me any luck in finding a new home, but as a home buyer, it definitely makes me more aware of their brand. That's really what it's all about, brand awareness. For Century 21, marketing in social gaming is just part one of a 360-degree campaign aimed at putting Century 21 in the middle of the middle of the conversation for someone looking to buy or sell a home.

"It's an awareness and a presence play for the target first-time home buyer who is 25 to 34 years old. The brand is very well known, but we're cognizant that you always need to refresh the brand and your consumers are always changing," Bev detailed. "So as the baby boomers move on, they are less engaged in home buying and selling. It's the new consumers that we want to make sure the brand is not only known, but they are familiar and fond of the brand." 

"There are a lot of younger gamers. We think up to 10 million gamers, easily a third to a little bit more of them are our target home buyers and sellers. For 25 to 34 years old, technology is not an invention for them anymore, it's a way of life," she concluded. "We're excited to see how positioning the Century 21 agents in this gaming, online venue will contrast to the other venues and we continue to be hopeful."

To unlock the fireplace in The Sims Social all you need to do is watch an in-game ad. That ad will then take you to the Century 21 Facebook page, and unlock the fire place. Have you already placed the Century 21 fireplace in your home?