Four points that brands should consider before starting a conversation with gamers.
Most people spent the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family doing some couch-quarterbacking. From their living rooms, they second-guessed decisions made by real-life quarterbacks on the gridiron. I, however, spent my turkey day being a couch marketer. Now that I think of it, it wasn't that much of a stretch from my normal day, except with more turkey and stuffing than usual. One consistent theme bothered me: traditional brands marketing within videogame environments with their general market messages.
While I understand the need for holistic marketing and limited production budgets, I can't help but wonder how many ad dollars are lost because of this generic approach forced into such a singularly focused environment. The endemic brands (e.g., actual videogames and hardware) luckily make out easy because their general message doesn't need to be modified for the gaming target. Unfortunately, nonendemic brands looking to reach gamers following the same rules will too often end up with the wrong message in the right environment. Last I checked, consumers don't give partial credit. They actually treat game advertising as they do traditional advertising. They skip it.
As I perused console user interfaces, magazines, Web sites, and dynamic in-game advertising in between endless rounds of leftover green beans and mac and cheese, I encountered many examples of marketers missing the mark. Surprisingly, it wasn't limited to one category. Without picking on any particular brands, I saw representatives from categories such as male grooming, beverage, and telecommunications with irrelevant messaging. A lot of brands aren't taking advantage of the opportunity to begin a unique conversation with gamers.
With increased pressure on smaller budgets to work harder in today's economy, these executions must not only show up in the intended consumer's buffet of media choices but also break through the obvious clutter. The following lists a few recommendations to lift a brand message in the videogame space:
No doubt you will come up with a few examples that go against the idea of customizing a specific message for videogame environments. As I wrote this column, some came to mind; for example, as console providers move their devices to more of a media center, general messages may actually make sense depending on the context.
However, I challenge all marketers hoping to reach the gamer to consider these four tips in their next execution.
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Matt Story is director of Play, a division of Denuo. He oversees the West Coast operation, maintaining key publishing and gaming industry contacts for the agency. With expertise and perspective from both the client and the agency side, he brings to bear dual strengths: interactive and videogame advertising and how they can transcend and evolve a client brand.
Matt and his team develop unique gaming integration programs on behalf of General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Miller, and others. In March 2007, he played an integral role in the 2007 Pontiac Virtual NCAA Final 4 tournament, powered by videogame "College Hoops 2K7."
Before joining Play, Matt was interactive marketing manager across P&G's antiperspirants/deodorants category. During his four-year tenure, he managed the creation of the first P&G blog, which supported the launch of Secret Sparkle Body Spray. He also led innovative development with the Old Spice brand's in-game integrations in multiple key videogame titles. To hear more from Matt and the various creative minds at Denuo, visit Denuology for their unfiltered perspective on the world at large.
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