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Video game marketing - Joy Machine

By The Drum | Administrator

January 17, 2008 | 4 min read

Videogames are the fastest growing entertainment industry sector in the world, worth over £12bn and projected to exceed £20.4bn by the end of the year, worth more than the cinema industry. In tandem with this drift towards use of other advertising platforms, in recent years the focus has shifted from the retail space to the online space, which also reduces the need for packaging and retail marketing (but that’s an altogether different stone to be turned.)

Constantly shifting demographics and evolving technology make for a fluid market, making the production of an effective strategy a challenging prospect.

Benefits

“The cornerstone to any good e-marketing strategy is good customer data. But equally important is making that data easy to use,” says Richard Grundy of Tech Dept.

“Tracking technology allows us to know how many people open, click through and forward. These campaigns vary in purpose and content, many being driven around the release of new content to download for the fanbase. Often retailer partnerships drive sales, by deep linking into sites such as Amazon.co.uk. Play.com, or Tesco.co.uk.

By gaining more knowledge via targeted and trackable campaigns, future marketing can be even more targeted – a virtuous circle built on good data and a trackable technology infrastructure.”

During 2006, companies such as Reuters began to take the virtual landscape seriously, establishing presences of their own within the live environment of Second Life, where targeted advertising quickly followed. Apple has also been quick to try to take advantage of the, if not captive, then at least passive receptive online community, by showcasing its MacBook within Second Life, scaled up to the size of a house to allow users to see it properly on their monitors, and explore it virtually via their onscreen surrogates.

“Wider virtual communities are becoming the lifeblood of the online experience, with facebook, myspace and bebo allowing users to create their own communities while virtual worlds like Second Life provide rich new environments for them to explore,” says Grundy.

“These communities also provide marketers with new platforms to gain access to large demographics of relevant users. Running video billboards in virtual worlds and creating custom applications to sit within communities are just the tip of the iceberg. Viral marketing is being reborn within these arenas.”

Impact advertising

Developments in software technology have allowed advertisers to take advantage of photo realistic landscaping and billboard opportunities, as well as streaming moving images within videogames or online metaverses, which can allow for high impact advertising, which has now been successfully exploited. With studio and network ownership concentrated in fewer and fewer corporate hands, this allows for cross pollination of branding across many platforms. The willingness of mainstream manufacturers to open their landscapes to entrants such as the Scottish Government demonstrates that the medium is available to anyone willing to try to take advantage.

“Supplementing the more traditional banners and skyscrapers, dynamic overlay advertising really jumps out and grabs you – and has effectiveness ratings to match,” says Grundy.

“As more and more people are buying ‘traditional’ physical product online, a web presence is vital to have visibility in the online space, operating in the same way as Point of Sale does in-store. The nature of retail is also changing, mirroring trends within the movie industry. Product is now available to download, via outlets such as Xbox LIVE, meaning less need for in-store promotion as gamers go online to purchase the entire game.”

Grundy believes that the high volume use of the videogame and online virtual platforms cannot be ignored by the client and their management teams, and after a generation on the periphery, gaming has already broken into the general consumer entertainment market in a way that metaverses such as Second Life are likely to follow.

“With games consoles now offering web browsing and game downloads directly to user living rooms, online tools are now an essential part of any marketing strategy.”

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