Archive for the ‘Advergames’ Category

Pepsi to Launch Summer Web Series

April 2, 2008

MediaWeek’s Digital Download

Gail Schiller, The Hollywood Reporter

Pepsi-Cola North America is launching an original online series in the summer.

The soda giant will serve as its own studio for a serialized action-adventure production from film writer-directors Shawn Papazian and Art Brown (“Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back”) that will be a branded-entertainment play for soft drink Mountain Dew. The untitled project will bow in June on Web sites still being determined.

But in a twist, viewers will able to alter the story line by selecting from a menu of options after each episode that take the series in different creative directions, akin to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book franchise.

“Putting this kind of interactivity in the story line allows the consumer to have some engagement with the brand,” Pepsi vp marketing Frank Cooper said.

The project will bow in the form of five shortform interlinked episodes, which will be followed up by a batch of more episodes at a date to be determined. Cooper didn’t rule out eventually migrating the property to TV or DVD.

“It will start online, but we think that it can evolve into a broader experience that can come offline,” he said.

Cooper declined to disclose budget figures but indicated it was far less than the traditional 30-second Pepsi spot.

The Mountain Dew brand is no stranger to unconventional promotions blurring the lines between digital entertainment and marketing. In November, Pepsi launched the casual game “Dewmocracy,” which allowed users to create a new flavor of the soft drink. Co-produced by Forest Whitaker, the game drew 600,000 unique visitors who averaged 28 minutes per session on the site.

11 reasons to extend your brand with games

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Mathew Georghiou and Mary Beth Schoening

Increasing popularity
The marketing process is really just a numbers and efficiency game — the more people in your target market that are open to hearing your brand message, the better. And the more effective you are at delivering your brand message to those folks, the higher your conversion rate. Online games and simulations have been booming in popularity because they deliver increased reach and effectiveness for brand messages.

According to PQ Media, advergaming and webisodes are the fastest growing branded entertainment segments, climbing at a 51.7 percent CAGR from 2002 to 2007.

Online games and simulations are great at educating prospects in both the consumer and B2B marketplaces across a broad range of industries — financial, health, lifestyle, technology, sports, retail, automotive and more.

Check out these reasons why you and your brand should start playing the game.

Reasons 1-2
The bottom line is we just want to have fun
According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, 35 percent of Americans rated video and computer games as “the most fun entertainment activity.” (TV was a distant second, at only 18 percent.) People are intrigued and open to trying something they think will be entertaining. This not only leaves them more open to hearing your brand message, but they may be more receptive to taking action as well.

The beauty of an online game is that it can be designed to reward specific behaviors that move your prospects along a qualification or buying spectrum.

Online games can be viral and ubiquitous
Online games are very portable and can be emailed in marketing campaigns, hosted on your website, syndicated to other high traffic websites and distributed out to mobile phones.

Traditional point of purchase materials can direct prospects to games on your website. From a viral marketing standpoint, game users can “rip” the games and put your branded games on their blogs, websites, MySpace and Facebook pages or send them to a friend via email.

Reasons 3-4
They deliver results
“By embedding a brand and/or product within a relevant activity or associating it with a lifestyle, advertising effectiveness increases significantly,” according to Fast Company. “America’s addiction to video and computer games is leading the way to a new advertising medium with astounding clickthrough rates, play times and peer-to-peer potential.”

Some say that advergaming offers retention rates 10 times higher than broadcast commercials; 15-45 percent of consumers who receive an advergame actually play it, and for an impressive average of 25 minutes. (Source: YaYa LLC.) These kinds of engagement metrics speak for themselves.

Games and simulations are a great way to educate your prospects and customers
Marketing is really just a two-part education process:

  1. Educate your prospects on how your product or service solves a pain-point or meets a need.
  2. Educate them as to why your solution is better than your competitors at meeting those needs or solving their pain-points.

Online games and simulations are a great branding tool because they are a powerful way to draw in your prospects. Educating prospects, or even your own sales reps, on complex concepts can be done very effectively in the framework of an online game or simulation.

Reasons 5-6
Online games create an impetus to interact with your brand
Online games create an impetus for your prospects to engage with your brand. Why is this? Online games appeal to our emotions — there is excitement, intrigue, hope of winning and an appeal to our competitiveness that creates a prospect “pull” toward your brand. It’s the start of a brand relationship. Then it’s up to you to continue to “work” the relationship.

Online games deliver greater brand recall
We’re more likely to remember the message from an experiential learning situation. Research has also shown that people remember more when involving all of the senses in the buying or education process.

Highly visual, interactive and engaging learning experiences, sophisticated artificial intelligence and vivid real-life graphics enable people to almost literally place themselves in real-life business and life interactions as if they were actually occurring. This can be helpful for reaching your prospects, training customer service and sales reps and synching up your workforce with respect to your brand messages.

Reasons 7-8
Provide greater customer insights
Online games allow brands to turn unknown prospects into known prospects. Customers are more willing to give contact information or personal/preference information in exchange for the ability to play a game. In fact, a well-designed game allows for personalization, enabling the player to be more emotionally invested. This gives you the ability to market to prospects one-on-one in the future and to personalize your message based on their preferences.

Games engage the emotion to reach the intellect
You can almost envision a hand reaching out from a computer screen to “grab” the prospect and draw them in. The emotional aspect really is the impetus for drawing a person in — the fun, the thrill, the challenge, the chance to win — but then you have the opportunity to appeal to the person’s intellect by delivering brand messages and information that appeal to the prospective buyer. It’s a one-two punch.

Reasons 9-10
Provide your prospect with an active (not passive) experience
People know that when they approach an online game they will be required to participate in an interactive experience. If your prospects are active participants with your brand, their experience is more likely to be what might be described as a “deep tissue experience,” whereas a passive experience is only “skin deep” and doesn’t sink in as far. Experiential learning trumps passive experience, no matter how you look at it.

Multiplayer games can be the glue to build community around your brand
Simulations, serious games and massively multiplayer online worlds are revolutionizing communications, learning and collaboration for people of all ages and cultures. Virtual worlds and multiplayer games add a level of socialization onto an already fun experience. We have seen a steep parallel trajectory in the social media world and the gaming world, but now we are seeing the points of intersection between the two.

Imagine that part of your training as a brand new account rep at a regional bank is to learn how to start and run a business using a business-simulation game. You will have to make decisions such as how to price your products, how much inventory to order, how many employees to hire, how much capital you need. You can see firsthand the impact of your decisions and understand the interrelationships in a way that would be too abstract otherwise. Multiplayer gaming allows multiple participants to interact together to conduct real business in virtual worlds and connect with a larger community.

Reason 11
Synchronize your brand vision across all touchpoints
Communicating your brand vision across multiple divisions, geographies, languages, job functions, industries, target markets and partner communities can be costly, time consuming and incredibly challenging. The Holy Grail is to have all the people touching your brand be synchronized on your brand vision and be consistent in the representation of it to others.

When the portability of online games is combined with a fun and entertaining activity, its reach can span far and wide — to every brand community and every brand touchpoint with the control of a consistent brand message. Experiencing the business brings a greater depth of understanding so that the people representing your brand are more authentic and can give specific examples and greater detail. You maximize every conversation about your brand at every touchpoint.

Your key demographic speaks its mind

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Jodi Harris

Want to know how to reach Gen Y consumers on their terms? In iMedia’s first survey with Peanut Labs, see what media they can’t live without, what makes a website trustworthy, their thoughts on ad-subsidized console games and more.

The questions plague every marketer at some point in his or her career. What do consumers really want? How do we earn their trust and loyalty? How do we know when we are strategically moving in the right direction in our campaigns, media buys and new product or service launches?

On a fundamental level, the answers should be easy. We are all, after all, consumers in our own rights, so shouldn’t we have some level of natural insight as to what motivates people to connect, click, engage and purchase one product vs. another?

Of course the answer to that is yes. And no.

Digital media’s ability to personalize messages has complicated the right-message-at-the-right-time equation, and generational differences in consumption habits has added dimensions that media buyers never dreamed of before. Furthermore, certain demographics are particularly tricky when it comes to delivering messages to them. In particular, those comprising Generation Y — who currently are enjoying their teens and twenties — have been distinguished from their generational predecessors by their reported reluctance to be marketed to. It’s not that they don’t want to use digital media to learn about new products — they just want to be part of the marketing dialogue and to select where, when and how they are pitched to.

Helping to build this dialogue is a company called Peanut Labs. Through survey applications integrated with the social networks that these segments live and breathe for, Peanut Labs provides direct access into the minds of Generation X, Generation Y, Boomers and other highly targeted custom consumer segments.

With this consumer mind-reading tool available, I decided to ask some industry experts what they wanted to know about media consumption habits of the under-30 set, and then get a sample of how these targets view media’s role in their lives.

Essential media
John Durham, managing general partner at Catalyst asked what one key media platform could this demographic not live without. It turns out that while both television and mobile phones have a tight grasp on young consumers, it’s the internet that is indispensable to 56 percent of the 309 survey respondents.

Media multitasking
Greg Smith, COO of document.write(‘Neo@Ogilvy’);Neo@Ogilvy , asked about activities that Gen Y engages in while watching TV. Reading, taking and making phone calls, and hanging out with friends all made the list. But, fortunately for the digital industry, the overwhelming majority — 57 percent — reported that they use the internet while watching TV.

Trust and time shifting
Doug Weaver of the Upstream Group inquired about what it takes to get viewers to watch a TV show at the exact day and time that it is broadcast, rather than time shifting their viewership with DVRs and online viewing. And it seems that good, old-fashioned quality content still triumphs in the digital age. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that being an enthusiastic fan of a show is the biggest reason why they would watch it when it airs. Another good reason to watch on time: event viewing, such as the Oscars, the Super Bowl and other live sporting events.

Weaver also expressed an interest in the most important factor in Gen Y’s decisions on whether or not to trust a particular website and the information it gives. Surprisingly, the site’s association with a trusted media outlet or other trusted source trumped the recommendations of friends and family among survey respondents (44 percent vs. 21 percent).

Highly networked, yet disconnected by phone
Gen Yers have been cited as consumers who are always connected to their online lives through any and every means possible. But when Adam Broitman, director of emerging and creative strategy at Morpheus Media, asked how often they view content on a mobile device, the majority of responses indicated that mobile has not yet reached its tipping point as a web delivery platform.

While mobile content isn’t quite ready for primetime, social networking has certainly achieved mass penetration. Most respondents said they spend up to 30 percent of their average day on Facebook and other social networking sites; and 5 percent reported that networking takes up more than half their day.

Your site, your choice
Broitman also inquired about research that depicts Generation Y as a “pragmatic and future-oriented generation that expects its ideas to be heard and acknowledged.” Although the people in this group certainly do want to play a part in content providers’ decision processes, the majority of respondents (58 percent) prefer that a site retain its authority when incorporating users’ suggestions into its content.

Ads get game
Tom Hespos, president of Underscore Marketing was curious about consumers’ acceptance of advertising on one of the hottest new platforms: console gaming. According to respondents, 58 percent would be more likely to buy a console game if advertising could keep the price under $30, while only 10 percent would be less likely to buy.

It’s obvious that this target market has a lot to say, and loves to be asked for input. Now let’s just hope marketers are willing to really hear them.

MMO Games Are The Evolution Of Social Networks

April 2, 2008

Media Post Publications

by Tameka Kee, Wednesday, Mar 5, 2008 7:30 AM ET

PROPERTIES LIKE FACEBOOK AND MYSPACE don’t just have to deal with issues like user attrition from “social network fatigue” or inventory monetization challenges. According to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, they also face a growing threat from an unlikely source — massively multiplayer online (MMO) games.

 

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference on Tuesday, Kotick said that MMO games like World of Warcraft are a unique blend of “a social network with an entertainment experience,” and they’re drawing in users and their wallets by the millions–with advertisers eager to follow.

World of Warcraft recently surpassed the 10 million subscriber mark in January, making it the most popular MMO worldwide. Kotick said that players spend an average of 3.5 hours per day with the game–with particularly rabid fans clocking in 6 hours. “It’s replacing TV and other activities for a certain type of audience,” Kotick said, even eclipsing time spent congregating on social networks.

The gamers are also willing to spend on products like mission expansion packs. “These extras cost a fraction of what our users pay for cable, for a cell phone or food per month, Kotick said. “And if you ask them to give any one of those up for more time with World of Warcraft, they will.” But Kotick added that there’s also the possibility of ad-sponsored supplemental content, particularly with games like StarCraft that require shorter sessions.

Still the threat isn’t just coming from hardcore MMOs like World of Warcraft. Even Activision’s Guitar Hero franchise has the potential to disrupt the social networking landscape. The console-based game lets users rock out, competing against each other while trying to play hits from bands like Aerosmith on a full-size replica guitar. While the franchise has raked in sales of more than $1 billion in North America alone, Kotick said the communal gaming stats are even more promising.

“Fifteen million people have purchased the guitars, but 45 million people are using them,” Kotick said. “That three-times pass-along rate speaks to the quality and type of interaction players get from the game. The only thing that’s missing right now is that it’s not over the Web. Right now it’s played in a bar or a living room–with no prize play and no competitions. But that will be the evolution of the medium.”

And Guitar Hero’s demographics range well beyond the typical 18- to 34-year-old male gamer. “The demographic reach is incredible,” Kotick said. “Forty percent of Guitar Hero’s audience is female.”

Still, the most potent threat that social networks face from MMOs (or soon-to-be MMOs like Guitar Hero) is their current lack of marketing infrastructure. “Last year, we would have deployed a lot of marketing capital to sites like Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo and iLike, but they didn’t have the personnel or capacity to take our money,” Kotick said. “There are Guitar Hero groups on Facebook–why wouldn’t we want to reach our audience there? We’re going to continue to shift our dollars away from things like typical or trade marketing to things that are more relevant–but they need monetization strategies first.”

And as social networking sites develop those strategies, Activision will adapt them for their own MMO and socially-focused game properties. “We want to build a rate card for advertisers that has validity and credibility,” Kotick said. “It’s still the early days, but those same marketing principles will be the ones that we get.”

World of Warcraft is published by Irvine, Calif.-based Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games that Activision made a deal to merge with in late 2007. Once the acquisition closes, the new company’s name will be Activision Blizzard, and will operate as a subsidiary of Paris-based Vivendi SA.

 

WORK OF THE MONTH

March 20, 2008

· WORK OF THE MONTH:

1. Kit Kat Commercial:

Three minute video that encapsulates the life of a lowly cubicle worker, the mocking he receives from his coworkers and the relief he receives when he takes a break to grab a Kit Kat

2. My Dove Chocolate Website:

Now you can create your own mushy message and “speak from the heart” by personalizing a gift set of chocolates.

3. Schick Video Contest

4. TruckMatch.com:

Truck buyers and sellers can find happy harmony with low transaction rates. To generate some love, Kelly/Russell Advertising put together a few B2B spots that draw a parallel between finding mates online — a tricky business — and finding the perfect pickup.

5. Juice Salon Ad:

Neat take on escalator advertising, a model that’s been hurtin’ for creativity since its inception.

6. J&J Animated Shorts

An online video campaign for baby lotion with the goal of reaching young, web-savvy moms.

7. Avis Car Ads: Look Back, Three Days, Conference

It’s okay to cheat on your car, if only for a weekend. Avis is promoting car infidelity in a TV, print, online and outdoor campaign that uses a new tagline, “The Other Car.”

8. Del Monte’s New Online Game

Launched an online game for its Meaty Bone brand called “Mark Your Territory.”

9. Kenneth Cole Digital Campaigns
Kenneth Cole Productions puts itself out there with a new issues-based blog and video campaign.

10. Red Bull UG Surf Clips
360-degree camera technology lets Web users control a video’s perspective.

11. Toyota Scion Widget Campaign

New campaign for Scion line in which rich media banner ads doubled as uploadable widgets.

12. Discovery Channel: Live Earth

13. Swedish Armed Forces: Recruitment Test

14. Quamat: The Online How-to Guide

15. Jib Jab Valentine Video Grams

MySpace Unveils Games Site

March 19, 2008

by Duncan Riley from Tech Crunch

Still number one social networking destination MySpace has entered the casual flash games market with games.myspace.com.

The new site won’t win any awards for innovation, indeed it looks like a < $100 template buy from Digitalpoint, but ultimately that doesn’t make a difference. Casual flash gaming combined with a youngish user base in the millions makes this a no-brainer in terms of going to be a success for MySpace. The only question is whether it will cut into similar sites that also offer flash gaming. It’s certainly not in Kongregate territory yet, but there are plenty of smaller players with very similar looking sites and games. (Having said that, the first game offered on the site is Desktop Tower Defense, so maybe it is slightly higher up the tree).

Games.myspace.com offers a variety of multiplayer and single player games. A link can be found to the service from the front page of MySpace.

myspacegames1.jpg

Mountain Dew makes MMO more than just a game

March 19, 2008

Adweek

Mountain Dew has created a new online game called Dewmocracy where consumers play their way to creating the next flavor of Mountain Dew. Results look good for Phase One of the initiative as consumers are playing even after a long registration process.

TenHunt: Scavenger Hunt Redux

November 10, 2006

TenHunt is a timed internet scavenger hunt that sends users through sponsored links and on to other websites looking for topical information. It’s an interesting ad model emerging at a time when everyone is trying to find effective and reputable ways to drive consumer engagement with online brands. Scavenger hunts are as old as time but people are more familiar with navigating the web and more ad money is being spent online than ever before.

TenHunt is a project of serial marketing entrepreneurs Michael Taggart and Walter Burch, whose company Webco.tv has launched lots of affiliate marketing projects. Affiliate marketers often get a bad rap, but I like the way these guys are running TenHunt.

Users register for the scavenger hunt with nothing but a contact email address. At the designated time, all participants are given a series of increasingly difficult questions based on the content of sponsors’ web sites. The first person to complete all 10 questions in the contest wins that week’s grand prize – this week it’s a 30GB video iPod. Taggart and Burch say that their aim is to offer progressively larger and larger prizes and populate the site with photos of happy winners to prove that it’s for real. Prizes are sent by next day air the morning after the contest ends. Most of us are rightly skeptical of things like this, but at launch at least I think this project looks more reputable than scores of marketing efforts littering the web.

Email will only be sent to notify participants of upcoming contests and probably to announce the winners, with short promotional messages from sponsors in the end of the email that the TenHunt creators emphasized would be as unobtrusive as possible.

The combination of time constraints, simultaneous activity with other users participating and a degree of challenge will hopefully create a compelling user experience. If the prizes awarded do get bigger and better and if there are truly no strings attached, I think users could happily participate. I wrote here about the Jellyfish Smack timed reverse auction on Tuesday and that was a lot of fun to watch happen. Xuqa is a successful game based ad model we’ve covered here; Xuqa users play online poker and can take market research surveys to build up points in the game. I think TenHunt could be another example of a quality blend of advertising and game playing.

What makes this most interesting to me is the engagement with brands. Advertising consumption is generally passive, but technology like contextual pay-per-click is changing that. TenHunt is an interesting example of a potentially powerful way for advertisers to drive thoughtful engagement with their online properties. What advertiser doesn’t want that?

This could end up being awful, but I’m going to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. Advertising is changing on every level and I think some affiliate marketers are going to get it right.

TenHunt: Scavenger Hunt Redux