Bunchball hits 500M badges awarded for gamification service

Bunchball launched its gamification service four years ago, before the name for adding game-like features to non-game applications became popular. Now the company is disclosing some interesting milestones, including the fact that its customers have awarded their 125 million users with 500 million badges and trophies.

Gamification is all about getting users to engage more with business applications that they would otherwise find boring. By adding incentives such as badges, trophies and other game-like loyalty rewards, Bunchball can increase revenues and traffic for clients.

“The market is exploding, in everything from enterprise applications to loyalty programs,” said Rajat Paharia, chief product officer and founder at Bunchball, in an interview.

This year, gamification as a whole has seen a lot more publicity. Market research firm Gartner says that 50 percent of companies will embrace gamification by 2015. Market analyst firm M2 Research estimates that revenue from the production of gamification projects will grow from $100 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion, or 23 percent of social media marketing budgets, by 2015. And the Gamification Summit drew a big crowd in January.

Bunchball’s clients create programs where they award users for taking actions such as sharing, reading an article, completing training, or watching a video. Clients have awarded more than 90 million points to users, and 12 billion actions have been tracked to filter through Bunchball’s analytics and feedback systems.

Bunchball launched its first gamification project with NBCUniversal in 2007, creating a community fan site for The Office. Now Bunchball tracks 23 million game-play actions, 7 million trivia actions, and 400,000 video views — all per month.

Paharia said Bunchball has more than 100 customers with 90 percent renewal rates. Gamification customers typically see 100 percent more page views, 100 percent more time on site, 100 percent repeat visits, 60 percent more pages per visit, and 30 percent more unique visitors, Paharia said.

Bunchball recently won first place as the “best new app” for gamifying the sales process in an app for Force.com and Salesforce.com. Rather than dole out bonuses once a quarter, Bunchball’s app can show salespeople feedback in real-time and tie that feedback to rewards. Paharia said it takes about four to six weeks to implement Bunchball’s Nitro service, but the company recently launched some widgets for quick results.

The earliest customers came from media sites such as NBCUniversal, USA Network, Playboy and Bravo. But now the client base is spreading to improving employee productivity, loyalty programs and commerce.

Rivals include Badgeville, BigDoor, Crowdtap, Crowdtwist and others. Bunchball has raised $17.5 million to date from Triangle Peak Partners, Northport Investments, Correlation Ventures, Granite Ventures and Adobe.

One of the newest customers is Stella & Dot, a jewelry company that sells goods via the old Tupperware model, through parties staged by independent salespeople. Stella & Dot is rewarding its “stylists” through a gamification program. The stylists get rewards by completing tasks such as learning about products, doing a show, and undergoing training.

Paharia said he has heard that some folks are skeptical about the hype around gamification. He worries that some of the rivals aren’t implementing it correctly.

“You have to provide meaningful value to customers,” he said.

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