Everyone’s talking about in-game advertising as a channel to reach the elusive young male audience, but editorial sites that cover video games can help advertisers achieve the same objective. That’s why a handful of such sites are readying to launch and compete for gamers, and ad dollars.
“What really helps pull advertisers in is that they want to reach the male 18 to 24 year old demo,” GameSpot.com SVP of Sales and Marketing, Suzie Reider, told ClickZ News. “Sites like IGN and GameSpot.com have enough traffic and users, 27 million unique users a month, to do really interesting things for marketers because what they really want is integrated contextual branded experiences for the people they’re going after.”
CNET-run GameSpot.com and and IGN.com (which includes GameSpy.com) are the front runners in the gaming space, but two new competitors — Future U.S.’s GamesRadar.com and Ziff Davis’ GameVideos.com — are expected to launch next month. A handful of others are expected to follow.
GamesRadar.com, which is expected to launch Wednesday, already exists in the U.K. Future U.S. plans to launch a redesign of the British property in America, then roll it out globally with localized content over the course of a year. The U.S. launch will leverage traffic from the company’s CheatPlanet.com site, which was acquired last May.
“In 2006 it’s a difficult proposition to launch a site and get traffic,” said Dave Cooper, Publisher of GamesRadar.com at Future U.S. “You can spend money on marketing or go through acquisitions.”
Future will also use its print publications to promote the Web site. Even with an existing audience, traffic remains a challenge.
“I think GamesRadar.com still has a lot to prove,” said Dave Martin, interactive media supervisor at Ignited Minds. “IGN and GameSpot.com have proven traffic and a successful format.” Though skeptical of the new site, Martin has already bought inventory on the Future property for one of his clients.
“We like it because it’s new and appeals to a slightly younger gamer,” he said.
In addition to an attractive demographic, GamesRadar will appeal to advertisers with the ability to carry out global campaigns. Each local office will have its own sales group, but they will work together depending on the demands of each particular initiative.
The site design is meant to have a “tabloid feel,” according to Cooper. It offers rich media units and IAB standard ads. Each unit is labeled with text that says, “Look at the Big Ad” to denote the difference between content and sponsored placements.
Following the launch of GamesRadar.com, another player, Ziff Davis, plans to launch GameVideos.com in late March or early April. The rich media site, which may also incorporate social networking, is designed as a companion to its 1UP.com property.
Rather than duplicating the editorial content on longstanding Ziff Davis print and online properties, GameVideos.com will become an archive of all things gaming but will focus on video. It will host video dating back to the early days of video games, and revive archives from video game publishers themselves. Ziff Davis also plans to open the site to user-submitted content after the initial launch.
“Our goal is to surround [gamers] with any content they happen to be looking for at any given time,” said Ira Becker, SVP and GM of the 1UP Network at Ziff Davis. “So much of that comes from the fact that as an audience, we really have attracted hard core gamers who have a really strong bond with [our] social network in 1UP.com.”
Though the new property is an extension of 1UP.com and Ziff’s print publications, traffic is not guaranteed.
“When [Ziff Davis] launched 1UP.com, it took them a while to move traffic,” said Ignited Minds’ Martin. “They thought they could use print to drive traffic.”
GameSpot’s Reider is confident the site can handle the onslaught of new competitors, given its longstanding relationships both with its audience and with advertisers.
“GameSpot.com has been around for ten years. Anything you want to know about any game you can find on Gamespot.com. It’s the most comprehensive database of game information in the world. We’re solid. Engaging our users, serving our audience, getting to know them is something we’re thinking about every day,” said Reider. “None of it is a reaction to competitors bringing to market [new sites]. I wish them the best, but it’s really hard to do what GameSpot.com does.”
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