CafeMom is launching a section of its online community dedicated to casual games, a pastime that has found a surprisingly strong following among stay-at-home mothers.
The CafeMom Games section has been launched in partnership with game developer Arkadium. So far the area has more than 20 games, some of which are sponsored by — and deeply integrated with — brands like Clorox and Bounce.
For example, a laundry-themed scavenger hunt game sponsored by Clorox rewards players for finding, among other things, bottles of Clorox.
“Clorox was integrated as a special bonus item, so moms on the site were always talking about the product,” Paul Bannister, EVP of CafeMom.com, said. “They’re like, ‘Where is the Clorox?’ and ‘I need some Clorox,’ ‘Go get it here!'” It works if you have the brand integrated in a way that makes sense.”
CafeMom is offering marketers various levels of integration with the games. Whereas Clorox paid to have a game customized to its brand, others simply buy a small roadblock ad that displays for 15 seconds before the game begins or a display unit that appears throughout the game. Charmin is among the brands buying such traditional placements.
Arkadium is working with CafeMom to integrate brands into existing games, but Bannister said the primary concern was to keep the games engaging.
“We try to make the game good first, because if the game isn’t good, it doesn’t matter who the marketer is,” he said. “It’s better to do clean, good integration than overwhelm someone with the product.”
Bannister said that despite not being the most obvious platform for engaging mothers, casual games provide some obvious benefits, something marketers were beginning to grasp.
“They know that the moms are spending a lot of time in the game, playing in those environments, and it’s a great place to get a message to them as they’re focused and thinking about it,” he said.
CafeMom, which hosts more than 70,000 groups created by mothers, pointed to recent research it conducted with Razorfish that said more than half of moms in the U.S. play games online regularly, usually to relieve stress and relax. According to eMarketer, more than 27 million women between 25 and 64 in the U.S. visited an online gaming site in a single month last year.
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