You Know What Should Terrify Zynga? Facebook Becoming the Platform for Streaming Media
Zynga, the company that brought Facebook users Farmville, spent $120 million on marketing in 2011, inside the world’s biggest self-service marketing platform.
Efferman Ezzel looks at why Zynga should be focused on why and how their users play social games and not on how to use more marketing dollars to keep them engaged. As new user retention numbers slip, Zynga has started spending $300 — or losing $150 — for every user to marketing costs.
I had asked him earlier this weekend, why would any company spend that much money per user, or any money at all, re-socializing the marketing in an already social system?
Why is Zynga spending that much money to market a “social game”, and why are they spending that much money to market a “social game” on Facebook? I believe they’re doing it for two reasons: 1) because they don’t understand why new user retainment is falling (why user growth is plateauing, why there’s a low conversion rate of users who become paying customers, why new user engagement is shrinking), and 2) because they assume increasing Zynga’s market presence will assure new user retainment upon trying their games. As was said in the Edge Magazine article, “The really hardcore [players] are, perhaps, finding themselves trying FarmVille, Castle World and CityVille. The newer audiences are trying and finding that this is all the same and leaving”. It is obvious Zynga needs to redirect their focus from new user retainment to new useradaptability, because they appear to be approaching user retainment from the same understanding they had when user growth skyrocketed, and that was when it was attached to the rapid growth Facebook experienced.
Zynga was supposed to be a dramatic re-imagining of gaming. Social and baked into the world’s largest social graph platform, Zynga offerings seemed like a capstone on any problems that might have been created when a new gaming company had to tackle distribution.
But the one constant thing about Facebook is that user expectations of what it does for them will change. And that’s without even factoring in that Facebook itself changes all the time.
A gaming company like Zynga that depends on Facebook is going to be out in the cold. And it looks like they have been.
Read more of Ezell’s post to find out what he thinks the company should be doing. Basically, find out what has changed for users. I would put a finer point on it. Find data, take down some narrative, and use the Jobs-to-be-done approach to find out what is causing non-consumption inside Facebook. Is there non-consumption within Facebook, in general?
Facebook Suscribe Button and the Rise of Streamed Feeds
My hunch is that Facebook users are becoming much more interested in using Facebook as a platform for understanding the real world and the world around them.
I have 18,646 subscribers to my public Facebook feed. Many of these people are people outside of the United States. They want a look into someone else’s life.
Facebook is moving away from a platform will you will have fun with friends. It’s trying to fashion itself into the place where each individual is a media hub for publishers and advertisers. It’s challenging every company it can think of, from Google and it’s Google+ offering, to Yahoo! Search and branded content.
As it moves in that direction, say goodbye to Farmville. That experience is way too static. It’s not real. And it doesn’t keep people interested or engaged in finding new people with different lives.