June 17, 2002
Strategy Direct + Interactive
Online gaming advertising opps largely untapped
It's time to snag new PC gaming community, analysts say
by Geoff Dennis
page D 1
At the top right of the TSN.ca Web site, nestled among updated sports scores, statistics, action photos and
World Cup news, there's a small Flash ad taunting readers. "Think you know hockey? Play TSN Trivia
After clicking to play, a cheesy guitar drones while the game loads, and an advertisement for Mr. Sub
appears - almost like a commercial - featuring a product shot of the new salads from the sandwich store.
There are three rounds of trivia, each one bisected by another Mr. Sub ad asking hockey buffs if they are
"feeling hungry?" Once the game is completed and the score tallied, users can register to win a hockey
jersey from their NHL team of choice.
TSN Trivia Break is not the average advergame. While most are simply sponsored by a marketer with its
logo splashed all over the game, TSN's actually advertises a new product and maintains the look and feel of
Mr. Sub's brand. And it's garnering a lot of interest from sports fans.
Since it began five weeks ago, 52,000 unique visitors have played the game, and of that number, more than
30,000 have signed up for the contest. On average, users spend about 15 minutes playing and more than
100 trivia junkies have spent over two hours - the record so far is 568 minutes.
While advergaming is nothing new, there's still untapped potential.
"We've only put our toe in the water," says Steve Hulford, VP of sports products at TSN in Toronto.
"We're watching the trends. Real video game-makers are the ones that have interaction nailed down.
(Advertising with online games) is a very exciting opportunity and we're quite interested in it."
Plenty of Web sites, from Bell to AOL, have used advergames and games are the preferred pastime for
millions of netizens. According to Nielsen Netratings, online gaming sites attracted more than 28 million
visitors in the U.S. in April. And while advergames and gaming sites like MSN Gaming Zone are a popular
and well-advertised destination on the Web, another untapped niche is arising.
Online gaming communities, where PC users (usually tweens, teens and the 18-to-30 crowd) connect to
play multi-player video games together on the Web, are extremely popular and largely untouched by
marketers. Games like Ubi Soft Entertainment's Ghost Recon and Sony's Everquest attract thousand of
players every day. Ubi Soft's site announces the user numbers daily, often well over 4,000 players. That's a
lot of eyeballs that could be looking at ads.
"I think there's a substantial opportunity for marketers within the massive multi-player-type games," says
Steve Keonig, senior analyst at Reston, Va.-based NPD Techworld. "It's a persistent, immersive
environment and a platform that is increasing in popularity almost daily."
[c] 2002 Brunico Communications Inc. Reprinted with permission.
STRATEGY, STRATEGY DIRECT + INTERACTIVE, and "The Canadian Marketing Report"
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