The barriers to investing in the stock market have traditionally been quite high, particularly for younger people and women. The fall of 2020 marked the point where ordinary Norwegians started trading stocks for real. With a large variety of small-scale investors entering the marketplace, the need for more and comprehensive knowledge about stocks and trading grows.
As Norway’s oldest and most respected business news operation, Dagens Næringsliv’s coverage of markets and the economy is very credible, but it doesn’t quite cut it with younger readers. Audience insight work taught us that young people did want to learn about stocks. How might DN teach them about savings and investments in an entertaining and engaging way? By stealing the gaming industry’s toolkit.
In collaboration with a longtime software partner of ours, Norkon Computing Systems, we decided to develop a gaming universe on DN’s platform.
Gaming for a new audience
Stock market games are not new. The unique selling point for Fantasy Fund was the user-friendly design and gameplay. Norkon’s goal is to get you playing in two minutes or less, whether you know anything at all about stocks and trading or not.
Here’s how it works:
- Players create their own fund by picking stocks for 1 million (fantasy) Norwegian kroner and naming their fund.
- Players must pick stocks from no less than five listings at the Oslo stock exchange. Their stake in each stock can easily be changed by using digital levers, but they can also sell off some stocks and invest in new companies.
- Players compete against each other, and every week the fund that gives the highest return is named the winner. After 10 weeks, an overall winner is crowned champion. The developers used rankings, competitor lists, and other features known from gaming to improve engagement.
Many efforts were made to appeal specifically to younger audiences, including the name Fantasy Fund (at odds with DN’s “no English, please” language policy) and the design profile. As the project was a pilot, the marketing budget was a measly 100,000 NOK (US$11,689). All marketing materials were made in-house and distributed through our own channels, as well as some distribution in social media.
Video played an important part in the social media outreach efforts, targeting financially interested young people. In addition to attracting potential players with knowledge and a desire to win, we awarded attractive prizes each week during the game as well as to the overall winner.
The newsroom committed to producing and publishing stories about saving and investing throughout the game’s duration. This was in part consumer-oriented stories giving advice, but also critical and investigative stories about actors and institutions looking to profit on the newfound interest in stock market investments.
Opening the door for younger readers
The main objective was to engage younger users. But we also set goals for new registered users, user engagement, subscription/user revenue, and advertising/partnership revenue. In addition, our hope was to move the brand association of DN from printed paper to mobile news provider, and from “wise and boring” to “wise and innovative.”
Playing the game was free but required registration. Before launch, our goal was to recruit 10,000 players during the first season of Fantasy Fund. That goal was surpassed in just 10 days. In total, the game attracted 21,275 players in the 10-week period. DN.no set several new records for signed-on registered users during this period.
Many of the Fantasy Fund players were registered users or subscribers. Still, 10,000 new DN (free) user accounts were registered in just six weeks, the same as total registration growth in 2019.
Our goal was to have 45% of users under 35 years old. Before launch, that goal seemed completely unrealistic. After the 10-week period, a whopping 54% of the players were under 35, and we were excited to see that 24% of players were 25 or younger — and that the youngest player group was the most active.
It’s difficult to say if we managed to move the brand association of DN from printed paper to mobile news providers, as we were aiming for. Still, the feedback we’ve received from our advertising clients, and our success with engaging younger readers, indicate that we’ve managed to alter our brand perception more toward digital and innovative solutions.