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Games and Widgets: A Marriage Made in Heaven?

  |  July 7, 2008   |  Comments

How the union of two media can bring bliss to marketers.

In the heart of every marketer lies a desire and a drive to find the big idea. For many marketers, the big idea comes easily. They effortlessly conjure fantastic plans that can bring a brand or client heightened awareness, favorability, and sales. Unfortunately, many great ideas never make it to fruition.

Why? Many times ideas perish due to budget constraints and risk aversion. Our online medium is considered established, but we often find ourselves fighting for dollars and convincing decision makers who fear the worst case.

Enter the widget. Marrying widgets to games is a big idea that needs your support as a marketer.

The Wedding Couple: Widgets and Games

Widgets and games have gotten hitched. And they face the joy and pain of any relationship.

Contrary to popular belief, widgets and games have had a long-standing connection. Both have been a part of our digital culture for a very long time. Even though widgets seem to be a recent phenomenon, they've been in use and available for viral syndication since the Internet's very early days.

What's more, the advent of a popular game widget dates back to 1997 when Uproar.com developed "Trivia Blitz" and enabled communities, external to its own, to embed the product on their Web sites.

Today, game widgets have come a long way from the cornerstone of trivia, delivering more intense graphics and experiences. Review this Home Run Derby game widget to understand the modern possibilities.

In-Laws and Finances: Marketers

Our couple gains family and faces financial concerns just like any other.

Marketers are the parents that give birth to our couple. They are also the financial muscle that will ensure that game widgets grow and thrive. Through budget allocation to the development of appropriately themed game widgets, marketers can deliver brand messages to appreciative audiences.

The game widget entertains the target consumer by delivering a free, fun, and portable game experience. Given the limitless possibilities of game widgets, the marketer can devise a theme for the experience so it delivers the brand's voice and incorporates relevant messaging.

Of course, a marketer can readily integrate creative into existing game widgets that are appropriate as well. Through advertising within existing game widgets, marketers can reach established user bases with measurable, integrated, and oftentimes Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) standard ad units. For example:

  • Pre-, mid- and post-roll video

  • Dynamic in-game widget ad units (e.g., the scoreboard ads in Home Run Derby)

  • Fixed placements

  • E-mail capture, opt-ins, and coregistration

  • E-mail placements

The Divorce Lawyer: Marketer Risk Aversion

Our couple has much to fear about their future together. They're fully aware of the bad marriages around them and know the divorce rates.

The game widget and its inherent viral nature offer great reward to smart marketers who allow the benefits to outweigh the potential worst cases. If marketers develop or integrate into a game widget with strong consumer appeal, they can tap audiences of great scale. Game widgets offer incredible potential distribution and resulting advertising impressions. As long as the marketer develops the widget with attention to bandwidth fees or negotiates a budget ceiling, the return can be excellent.

Consider this example:

Client X pays $25,000 for a month-long game widget sponsorship with a guaranteed minimum of 5 million impressions in static fixed placements. That's a $5 CPM (define).

The widget is launched on a Web site with a base audience of 9 million visitors. It's also distributed on Facebook, with a potential audience of 32 million.

Results Impressions
50% of site visitors are exposed to game and sponsor integration 4.50 million
30% of site visitors play the game 2.70 million
2% of the Facebook audience plays the game 640,000
25% of the players play two more times 1.67 million
Total impressions 9.51 million
Effective CPM $2.63

As you can see, a successful game widget with multiple distribution outlets and plays will exponentially exceed guarantees and expectations. However, marketers must be willing to accept that the fun is for everyone. When the game widget's embedded code is made public, there's little to no control over where the game widget may appear. Marketers must accept that their message may be delivered through an unsavory site or social network profile.

Friends: Consumers and Web Sites

Our couple will have many friends who can support or destroy their relationship.

Game widget distribution is arguably the most critical piece of the puzzle. Once a relevant game widget has been developed or integrated into, audience must be generated. In the past, a game widget was only as good as the partner sites. Today, consumers and their personal presence on the Internet are just as important. Consider three criteria for successful game widget initiatives:

  • Develop or integrate into game widgets that are relevant to the brand and its affinities and are certain to have consumer appeal.

  • Identify and solidify relationships with sites that align with the game widget's theme and deliver the appropriate target audience.

  • Leverage social networks by factoring in their specific requirements for widget distribution.

If these criteria are met, massive target audiences can be magnetized to an entertainment channel that delivers a rewarding consumer experience and measurable results for the marketer. Big media partners for distribution are obvious targets. As well, we must never underestimate or overlook the potential magnitude of the consumer as a media vehicle.

I predict our happy couple will stand the test of time and overcome the obstacles they face. I hope you are willing to support them along the way.

Thanks for you mindshare.


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Kevin Carney is founder and CEO of GMS, an innovative company that provides interactive engagement solutions to many of the world's most recognizable brands. He began his career at Young & Rubicam and has since developed a proven record in the advertising, new media, and video game industries. He's held management positions within visionary companies, including Broadcast.com, TEN/Pogo.com (Electronic Arts), Vivendi Universal Games, Walt Disney Company, and Ziff Davis Game Group.

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