Media Companies Using Games to Boost Traffic

Posted on April 23, 2007

The Wall Street Journal reports that media companies are using online games to draw visitors to their websites. These free games have already been successful for the websites of teen magazines like CosmoGIRL! and Seventeen.

Until now, online game players have frequented special gaming sites such as Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo! Games, which drew 21 million unique visitors in January, according to comScore Media Metrics. Most media properties, in contrast, offered little in the way of games. One exception was Hearst's teen titles, CosmoGIRL! and Seventeen, which for the past couple of years have offered generic board, arcade and card games. The publisher noticed that these games were drawing between 5% and 10% of the traffic to the sites. With Hearst in the middle of redesigning its Web sites -- many of which had been run until recently by the female-targeted Web concern iVillage -- it decided to add gaming across the board.

"It's a growing source of time for people online. ... Gaming is one of the things you can do in the Web environment that you can't do offline," says Chuck Cordray, vice president and general manager for Hearst Magazines Digital Media.

Arkadium is starting with the teen magazines -- adding games tailored to the specific sites. Seventeen's site, for instance, will have a game called "Editor's Assistant," where users play the role of an assistant to Seventeen's editor in chief and have to complete certain tasks to win. In coming months, the developer will move to Hearst's adult-skewing titles. Cosmopolitan's "Boy Toy" allows players to control a virtual "boy toy" and try to keep his girlfriend satisfied. The game ends when the girlfriend breaks up with her boyfriend or stays in the relationship for one year.

Arkadium hasn't finalized the games for the other titles, but each magazine will add games targeted to its audience. Good Housekeeping -- whose readership has a median age of 50.7 -- might host customized word games popular with that age group, for instance.

Movie studios have been making use of online games on the movie websites of blockbuster motion pictures. For examples there was the Demon Duel game to promote Ghost Rider and the RV Pile-Up game which was made to promote the film RV starring Robin Williams.

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