Despite shifts towards audience targeting across networks and exchanges, sometimes the right place to get in front of an audience is where they congregate. Wikipedia-style site Wikia is home to gamers, sci-fi film geeks and even alt-history enthusiasts who can create and edit content about their passions. It's where Bethesda Softworks is running a two-month long campaign for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a role-playing fantasy game complete with blood, violence, sex, and dragons.
"Video games aren't consumer package goods - you really have to find people who actually own the hardware in order to purchase the software," said Cara Scharf, president of Fearless Media, the agency that handled the ad buy.
Wikia recently launched main category pages and a redesigned homepage in order to surface popular content and organize it into three "hubs" - video games, entertainment and lifestyle. Wikia only began selling advertising directly a year and a half ago. Its small sales team focuses only on gaming and entertainment clients, which have included Sony, Universal and Disney. Though the media firm is building its lifestyle content - which includes food and travel - it has yet to sell directly to advertisers in those categories.
In Q4 last year, when Skyrim launched, Wikia users generated 14,000 pages associated with the new game, the fifth in the Elder Scrolls series. "We wanted to capitalize on the opportunity," said Wikia CEO Craig Palmer.
Through takeover skins on homepages of the three hubs, Bethesda is driving people to the main Elder Scrolls page, where thousands of sub-pages exist covering all sorts of game minutiae from problems with blacksmithing animation to lists of in-game books that can be acquired to boost character skills.
"This is really just to broaden the audience even further," said Scharf of the campaign. In addition to the large hub page ads, the gaming company recently ran ads featuring polls and sweepstakes. "We basically decided to speak back to the audience for the first time," said Scharf.
Palmer said, "Even before the launch they focused on making new content available to the community." Like many Wikia advertisers, Bethesda provided video and other content to key members of the community via the site's Content Directors who serve as liaisons to influencers on the site.
Lionsgate did something similar to promote The Hunger Games, offering members interested in the Hunger Games books exclusive content from the film studio. The idea is to get people to post the branded content on their own Wikia pages.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014