Beauty Town, developed by Dynamo Games, is aimed at young women and aims to promote healthy body image, with players running their own virtual fashion boutique.
The multiplayer game works in a similar way to popular titles such as Zynga’s Farmville, by allowing players to buy items with Facebook Credits to quickly progress through levels. Users will learn “by stealth” about body image, by choosing clothes for their avatar’s body shape and learning about health on the game’s forum.
Channel 4 will use analytics from the game, which responds to user behaviour, to help inform it about its potential audiences and the help the broadcaster understand how to better engage with teenage girls and young female adults.
Ian MacKenzie, Channel 4 media project manager, says: “We still work on BARB data [to understand who our audience is], which is based on a small sample of homes. Projects like this help us realise our potential audiences, how they behave and their needs.”
He adds that while the TV advertising is “hugely important” for Channel 4 in terms of revenue, the broadcaster has recognised that the market is changing and there is a need to explore new revenue opportunities.
MacKenzie says that there will be opportunities for further branded content down the line around Beauty Town and further social games, as well as cross-promotion with other Channel 4 properties.
Channel 4 broadcasts a number of programmes relating to body image, including How to Look Good Naked and Embarrassing Bodies.
Beauty Town is also supported by Creative Scotland’s Digital Media IP Fund.
Separately, Channel 4 is also exploring data opportunities in the internet-connected TV space, by leading a field trial to place ads on smart TVs, with digital ad company Rovi.