Can You Gamify Publishing? iVillage Seems to Think So

Via Gordon MacMillan @GordonMacMillan,

You can’t attend a digital conference without someone talking about gamification (a horrible word) and what it can do for brands, but can online content publishers use it as well?

Ad Week has a piece about how iVillage thinks you can when it comes to women. It is launching the iVillage Rewards program today where like Foursquare visitors to the site earn badges for performing tasks. iVillage believes that women are more oriented towards collecting points and taking part in online reward systems.

The way it works is that you get badges for reading, sharing or commenting on an article and the badges scale up to seven rewarding women who spend a lot of time on the site or who share its content regularly with their friends.

Catherine Balsam-Schwaber,  svp of marketing at iVillage told Ad Week:

“We know that from our research that women are very achievement-oriented, and they’re looking for challenges in their lives very often,” she said. Citing an iVillage finding that 11 percent of women feel they’ve figured out their lives, she added, “So the rest of the universe of women are looking to figure things out, and rewards and badging can be part of that experience because they’re looking to learn and deep-dive in areas of content.”

Village Rewards features a “Rewards bar” where visitors can see their points add up and each new level earns a new badge. The more badges users get the more rewards they are entitled too such as exclusive content and other site features.

However, not everyone believes the gamification of contents sites is a good thing.  Gawker’s boss Nick Denton recently trashed the idea of rewarding readers in such away.

Gawker had previously implemented a policy of rewarding commenters, but Denton told tech site GigaOm that the system had been abused by those who were able to work social media to their advantage.

“It was a terrible mistake. It doesn’t work because people game it — and the people who game it are the people with time and social-media expertise, and those are not the people with information or insight. What person who actually has a job and a reputation… would give a f*** about getting some little badge like they’re in high school? It’s patronizing.”

I wonder if iVillage are right about women personally I can’t help thinking that as Foursquare appears, in the UK, at least to have faded some what the appetite for such schemes is pretty weak and I would be really surprised to see this gamification of content sites to become widespread.

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