Barry Eitel

Last fall, I took an extremely insightful MOOC (a massive open online course for those not hip with the latest in online education) on gamification. It was led by Professor Kevin Werbach of The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania, an academic who has studied the increasingly popular realm of gamification—bringing gaming elements to non-game situations (see? I learned something).

Werbach recently published the book For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business and my class was the second course Werbach taught on the subject using Coursera, a website that hosts a plethora of MOOCs. Even though the field of gamification is relatively new, there’s already much depth to the topic and plenty of case studies to sift through.

Apparently, thousands of people across the globe want to know more about gamification, too. Over 80,000 people from more than 150 countries joined the course, with over 8,000 students graduating with a little certificate (which was no joke; there were hours of lecture to watch and weekly assignments to complete). Unfortunately, I was very busy in the last few weeks of the course and I didn’t get my final exam in by the deadline, so I’m not a certified gamification expert.

Gamification received some hefty panel discussion time at last year’s ad:tech here in San Francisco. Back then, the idea (and the badges, leaderboards and user profiles) was emerging.

Now, it’s everywhere.

From driving on the street to buying fast food to surfing anywhere on the Internet, examples of gamification in various forms can be found in your life every day. Gamification is also back at ad:tech.

On Tuesday, several experts from videogaming and business will discuss gamifaction at the “Game On: How Gamification Drives Sales & Customer Engagement” panel. The discussion will feature executives from RecycleBank, Electronic Arts, SponsorPay and NativeX.

As gamification becomes ever more mainstream, the question is if it is a passing marketing trend nearing obsoletion or a new strategy every modern ad exec should keep in their campaign toolkit.

The answer, which will undoubtedly be explored more in next Tuesday’s panel, is probably a little of both. If the public gets bombarded with gamification wherever they go, then the concept loses all traction. However, the founding principle of bringing play to normally non-fun tasks is a refreshing way to inspire creativity.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest, longest-running digital marketing and technology event. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.