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Stock gamification for news media: 3 cases that prove subscription growth, engagement, and monetization

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Stock gamification is the process of making financial news more enticing. It adds behavioural techniques from gaming (based on a person’s desire for competition and success) while incorporating a social element that’s otherwise absent in traditional news reporting. In attracting younger readers, the results can be profound.

As the media landscape accelerates its evolution through AI, new social networks, and interactive applications, established newspapers risk falling behind especially when it comes to financial news reporting and features.

To stay ahead, especially with the growing importance of Gen Z, news media organizations and publishers have to explore new, innovative ways to engage readers.

This was the case for three major publications in Northern Europe.

Despite being highly credible as Norway’s oldest and most respected business media organization, Dagens Næringsliv faced challenges in appealing to their younger audience. The publisher knew younger readers were interested in investing, but they weren’t turning to DN to educate and inform themselves on the topic.

Similarly, Dagens Industri in Sweden knew that their readers were also deeply interested in financial markets. As a media group, they wanted to find a way to monetize this interest to engage users, gain new subscribers, and attract advertisers.

The Telegraph’s financial pages faced similar issues. After surveying millennials, they found that while younger generations associated with their brand, they didn’t necessarily engage with it.

The solution? Stock gamification.

How does stock gamification apply to news media?

Stock gamification is the process of making financial news more appealing. It adds behavioral techniques from gaming to the otherwise mundane world of financial news and trading. Gamification thrives on a person’s desire for competition and success while incorporating a certain social element that’s otherwise absent in traditional news reporting.

This is done using three primary techniques:

  • Straight-forward investments

With the application of stock gamification, players can select shares with streaming price updates, manage investments with intuitive interfaces, and buy fantasy stocks using straightforward processes.

  • Social interaction

Stock gamification also pulls in a social aspect that’s otherwise absent. Using this approach, players create leagues, invite friends and colleagues to compete together for prices, and follow other players in the trading world.

  • Gamification

Finally, stock gamification uses the reward-based system seen in many RPGs. Players can unlock and receive achievement badges, compete with multiple portfolios, and enroll in different prize leagues.

Image: Fantasy Funds Interface and Badges, by Norkon

Use Case: Driving Subscription Growth

In an effort to drive subscription growth, the established financial newspaper Dagens Industri (Di) in Sweden introduced their inaugural Fantasy Funds game in April 2022.

This stock market game, called Drömportföljen, aimed to educate users on financial literacy while engaging an extended audience and boosting real-time conversions. With no established brand or promotion, and during a time when the wider financial market was unsettled, more than 17,000 participants signed up to play, leading to the creation of over 21,000 portfolios.

We have known for a long time that our readers are deeply interested in the stock market. We wanted to capitalize on this interest to engage with users and potentially gain new subscribers as well as advertisers. Gamifying the stock market proved to be a great way to incentivize users to register on our site to play.

Johan Östberg, Di project manager, Fantasy Funds project

Implementing gamification has proven to be a growth strategy tool for Di, serving as a foundation for expansion and experimentation.

Image: Drömportföljen by Dagens Industri

Use Case: Attracting a Younger Audience

As Norway’s oldest and most respected business news media, Dagens Næringsliv’s coverage of financial markets was highly credible, yet their attempts to engage younger readers were ineffective.

In recent years, they noticed a trend of small scale investors joining the Oslo Stock Exchange—more than 20 percent of investors bought their first shares in 2019 and these new investors were hungry for knowledge.

When DN wanted to take advantage of the ongoing bull market that attracted the influx of small scale investors, they turned to gamification. Fantasyfond was one of the first cross-company, multi-functional, team-based projects coming out of DN’s matrix organizational model.

With the target audience in mind, Fantasyfond was developed with a strong focus on ease of playing, user-friendly design and an attractive prize fund. As a result, the game attracted more than 21,000 users in under 10 weeks with 55 percent of the players under 35.

Image: Fantasy Fund’s ease of playing and user-friendly design

Use Case: Engaging an Extended Audience

Prior to incorporating gamification to their Market Hub, The Telegraph was struggling to engage a new audience around financial market data. They knew that there was an extended audience which resonated with the brand but didn’t necessarily engage with it. Several millennials, for example, shared the same values as the brand, but never visited the site for financial information.

With gamification tactics such as leaderboards, badges, and game prizes, the publication was able to engage the extended audiences to become loyal visitors of the site. With interactive, premium content such as breaking news and newsletters, non-subscribed players converted at key points in the game.

As a result, The Telegraph was able to leverage gamification to increase subscribers and “present the brand in a new way to an audience which was not necessarily monetizing at the moment”.

Image: Fantasy Fund’s notifications and newsletter

Monetizing on Stock Gamification

The process of stock gamification has shown to be a successful way to monetize new, engaged subscribers. Specifically, through strategic ad placement, financial advertisers, and sponsorship agreements:

  • Through gamification, media organizations can strategically position more banners and ads in crucial locations, boosting the worth of their ad placements.
  • Stock gamification enables media organizations to access the extensive marketing budgets of financial services and portfolio management companies.
  • Organizations who have worked with Norkon to utilize stock gamification have secured sponsorship agreements worth over €100,000+.

There are also ways in which gamification helps digital transformation. For example, as a result of the game’s popularity, Dagens Næringsliv saw several clients who previously only advertised in the print edition switch to digital channels.

All in all, gamification unleashes a whole new commercialized marketing strategy that’s only expected to grow stronger as audience characteristics change.

Eirik Næsje
CEO, Norkon

Eirik Næsje is an experienced tech leader, possessing extensive management experience across all commercial fields including marketing, new business, and customer success. Throughout his career, he has successfully managed offices and divisions with rapid growth, delivering proven results in the Nordics, UK, and US. With Norkon’s digital solutions and his expertise in driving organizational success, he is committed to enabling growth for news media and publishers.