Recently, global marketers have taken a more entertaining approach to advertising and sponsorship on the web. As advertising online has become quite expansive over the past few years, more are looking for innovative ways to differentiate their campaigns and finding challenges with an abundance of advertisers vying for viewership. What differentiates one campaign from the next? How does a company get the maximum percentage of conversion and generate interest in their products. And how can advertisers be sure consumers will actually enjoy interacting with their product?
On the eve of the 11th Annual Webby Awards I was able to sit down with Rob Small, CEO and co-founder of Miniclip.com, whose company is creating some lucrative and solutions for companies.
Miniclip.com was founded in a bedroom in London in 2001 and even though the company has grown organically – without a single dollar spent on advertising through word of mouth by gamers, today it is able to yield 35 million unique users monthly. The company’s main target is the tween market, meaning 8 to 16 year olds, although the site seems to appeal to users of varying age groups. The gaming site targets this demographic known for their “chatty nature” and uses games hosted and monitored by the site to continually grow traffic. The site provides games that do not need to be downloaded or purchased and are rigorously monitored as to keep the site safe for users. Miniclip.com has become a popular online entertainment destination to play browser based online games, participate in virtual communities and watch cartoons, by gamers ranging in ages from 8-29 around the world.
Miniclip is also leading the way in advergaming and has created a “platform that allows us to drive more users to a single piece of rich media content than any other site on online. That would include YouTube, MySpace, Google, whoever you want to name,” according to Small. He adds “Because their sites are quite fragmented it’s very difficult for them to push in one specific spot a piece of content because they have so much of it.”
With this model the company has a steady growth rate in a niche market that has not been frequently tapped into online. This is a very powerful group in that they are responsible for the highest amount of disposable income spent than any other, at an estimated $170 billion worldwide in 2006 according to Euromonitor. Many companies have been watching these statistics climb and seeing the success of Miniclip give them the opportunity to speak to these heavyweights of the consumer world.
More and more, advertisers have been opting to go advergaming route on games sites like Miniclip, which essentially allows them to design a tailored game around a product or brand and directly target an engaged audience who will actually enjoy interacting with their product – in single or multiplayer modes.
Advergaming (also known as “in-game” advertising and branded gaming) is a win-win for the advertiser and the gamer as it offers companies a more interactive, enjoyable and totally integrated choice, and also includes the capability of direct purchases while gamers enjoy playing a free quality game. Advertisers can also choose to display their own games and extend them across gaming sites’ networks reaching an even larger audience.
Companies who have taken the lead in advergaming on Miniclip include BP, Coca Cola, Disney, Starburst, Gillette and Momentum Pictures – to name a few — and game players responded by racking up 80 million game plays for Gillette’s ‘Jet Ski’ game making it the most successful advergame to date.
Another advertising use of the site has been film. Film companies have wanted to maximize their reach by using a single site with global range to promote films in one hit. As a result, Miniclip has given companies such as Disney and Sony Pictures alternatives in rich media promotions by creating games starring their film characters.
They’re definitely doing something right. Two new major advergaming launches being made soon with companies campaigns are on the horizon with RC2 and Unliever are going to bring a new dimension to future partnerships for the site.
Though there has been VC interest in the site due to its success, market and lack of ad expenditures, Rob Small assured me that there are no plans to sell the company any time soon. “It’s an exciting time for us and the beauty of it is that we don’t have many competitors in this market now. We’ve carved out quite a niche because we specialize in browser-based only.”
But what seems to be Miniclip’s strongest asset is their commitment to their users. That is what won them their third consecutive “People’s Voice Webby for Best Game Site;” Small said it all in his acceptance speech “Miniclip gamers are the best!” The future looks bright for this gaming site and the rich media advertising community.