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Have games companies finally realised that audiences are more important than genres?

By on May 5, 2010
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I saw an announcement from a casual games company that made me sit up and take notice for the first time in ages.

Exent runs Free Ride Games, a casual gaming site with 2.1 million monthly users. It has just realigned its business around a variety of channels: beauty, fashion, food etc (75% of its audience are women and the majority are age 25-54).

In the Beauty channel screenshot shown above that, the key piece of content is not a game, it’s a video called “Creating a Smokey Eye”. Exent views games as just one piece of content, alongside video and old-fashioned words, that will attract the audiences that advertisers want.

And so far it appears to be working.

The company has been running these verticals for a while, although it only started shouting about it last week. They have maintained their inventory fill rate of 98% as they went from a general games site to a vertical channel site; overall ad impressions have increased by about 30% and CPMs have increased by 25%.

That’s great news when advertising rates across the whole web have been under pressure for some time.

Head of Advertising Sales Paul Rothkopf pointed out the video advertising is what is powering the web right now. As he put it, “if you don’t have video, your CPMs are plummeting.”

So this strategy – of using sticky content like games together with monetisable content like video, all wrapped up in verticals that are easy for advertisers to understand – looks very interesting.

If you are running a games company, perhaps you should start thinking about how you can harness advertiser interest in audiences.

(Hint: if you are thinking about the genre of your game, you’re thinking wrong.)

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • Generally, my view is that is currently better to go where your audience are, rather than spending time and money trying to persuade them to come to you.

    That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to define your audience though. You can find men and women of all ages on Facebook, but defining your audience still makes sense.

  • An interesting concept that will proove succesful over time when they can maintain interest and keep on evolving.

    Would you say that the right game/content (platform?) will get its own audience (over time), or that it looks wiser to define your audience first and then create ‘their’ platform?