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Serious CRM results from Web services games

XML, SOAP, UDDI and WSDL are not generally associated with fun and games, but a Los Angeles-based company named YaYa has developed an application that combines play and Web services with serious CRM results.

YaYa LLC (http://www.yaya.com) develops Internet games used in marketing programs for everything from hamburgers to SUVs. While consumers play YaYa games and try to collect points for prizes, they also provide data for corporate CRM systems, said Keith Ferrazzi, CEO and president of YaYa.

'It helps to fill the databases of CRM systems, which are the weak link in most CRM systems,' he said. 'You have great applications. You have big functionality. But you don't have a means of populating it with data. What we've done is to combine two things to cure that problem. The interactive content of a game is a great way to engage a potential consumer in a persistent relationship and also extract data from them.'

YaYa has developed a Consumer Dialog Technology (CDT) platform with Web services capabilities for game designers that allows them to create games that capture data on a player's preferences for things like car models, according to Ferrazzi. That information is then delivered to an auto manufacturers CRM system.

The initial data is gathered when the consumer registers to play a game and has to provide the CRM basics such as name and address; as a player moves into the gaming experience, even more information is provided to companies.

'We do a game that is a survey-type game,' Ferrazzi said, 'it's called Personality Test. It profiles [a person's] personality based on answers given to a series of questions. In that case, the CDT is actually gathering personal profile information and delivering that back to the CRM database.'

This new generation of advertising technology, called AdverGames, can become even more sophisticated in role-playing games where the model car a player selects for their character provides auto dealers with information on which vehicles they might want to buy in the future.

YaYa recently completed an application of its CDT system for DaimlerChrysler that includes a Web services component for game developers.

'Chrysler wanted to test the viability of alternative marketing formats to drive customer loyalty and vehicle sales,' Ferrazzi explained. Other requirements were that customers would have to register only once to play a variety of games, which would both increase customer satisfaction and avoid duplication of CRM data from multiple registrations. The data gathered would then be fed into the automaker's existing CRM system.
 
In addition, Chrysler wanted the gaming platform to be open to any game developer they wanted to contract with, according to Kevin Rivard, vice president of technology at YaYa. This is where the Web services component of the CDT Internet gaming application came into play.

'This is a platform that can be used by third-party game developers who want to service Chrysler,' he said. 'If Chrysler wants to contract with other game developers, either now or in the future, this is an application suite that can be used to facilitate that. It all ties together and will deliver information to their CRM system.'

The CBT application uses a basic Web services architecture with SOAP, WSDL and UDDI to allow contracting game developers to hook into the system YaYa has already developed a way to keep the registration and data capture consistent, said Rivard.

'That allows a player to use one set of registration information across all game experiences, including if they're non-YaYa games,' added Ferrazzi. 'Second is a rewards/royalty service that allows players to earn and redeem points across all game experiences.'

YaYa's CDT is Java-based, and uses Iona's Orbix E2A Web Services Integration Platform and Oracle9i and 8i databases, Rivard said. The application for Chrysler was developed over the past 10 months by 16 programs from both YaYa and Deloitte Consulting, he explained. While the UDDI component is yet to be implemented, noted Rivard, outside game developers contracting with Chyrsler would be able to get an API from YaYa to use the platform.

'It's a very practical use of Web services,' added Ferrazzi. 'We expect this to be a platform that many more game companies can use over time.'

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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