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Virtual goods are a thriving business online. And according to appssavvy, they also drive purchase intent in the real world. The social media direct sales company put out research today that online goods also build brand awareness and sales rates offline. 

The company's new study, Social Activity: Driving Real World Results For Brands, found that branded virtual goods had real sales results offline.

Considering that the U.S. virtual goods market is estimated to reach $1.6 billion in revenue this year, there are plenty of brands and marketers excited about digital goods. But appsavvy found that the profitable virtual market can impact sales elsewhere.

To prove it, they studied a campaign that Powermat, a company that focuses on wireless charging, launched in Booyah’s MyTown location-based game. Players of the game are able to buy and sell real-life locations.

The month-long campaign ran through June 13, and MyTown players who checked-in to a Powermat retailer (included were Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Target) unlocked Powermat branded virtual items. In addition to virtual rewards given in the game, it was the first sweepstakes run in MyTown.

Users could win Powermat's Wireless Charging System for iPhone by physically interacting with Powermat products in-store.

According to the study:

"InsightExpress recruited a total of 2,894 players (Control = 1,691 and Exposed = 1,203) from the MyTown environment using a survey link within a virtual item during the campaign. The Control group was collected before the Powermat virtual goods were introduced, while the Exposed group was collected from just those players that received the various Powermat branded virtual items."

Most of the respondents were between 19 and 44 years old and made over $50,000 a year. appsavvy found that purchase intent doubled from 31% to 63% after users saw the Powermat goods. In addition, the goods aided brand awareness by 44.5%, and ad awareness by 60.1%.

Those numbers are good, but they're also above the mobile advertising norms. PUrchase intent afte rthe campaign was nearly three times above average mobile internet campaigns, and ad awareness was 10 times higher than online tech norms.

According to Chris Cunningham, co-founder and CEO of appssavvy:

"Virtual goods may be bringing the largest disruption entertainment, communication and e-commerce infrastructure companies have seen for a long time."

Meghan Keane

Published 19 July, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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