AT&T's Blue Room, a primarily music-targeted site with live performances from popular artists and exclusive festival coverage, has expanded its reach in recent months to sports, Hollywood and gaming communities to increase its profile as a video-content destination site. For MTV's content provider GameTrailers.com, this meant boosting its already-prolific amount of original gaming videos to offer Blue Room users exclusives.
"What we've found is video is truly the way you have to talk to gamers. They're called video games, not text games. That's the way gamers want to experience the game," GameTrailers General Manager Jon Slusser said. "They want to see games in the highest experience possible. [For AT&T], finding a partner that could produce broadcast-quality content in a timely fashion was totally critical."
Sales strategy shift
For MTV, however, that meant a complete shift in its ad-sales strategy across all its programming sites, including the recently acquired Xfire and iFilm. "It was a way we could aggregate the brand to bring scale to AT&T's gaming initiative and try to bring as many people to the gaming area as possible," said Nada Stirratt, exec VP-digital ad sales. "In general, the gaming community is a hard audience to reach and open up and spend time elsewhere."
But once you have gamers online, their loyalty is extremely valuable. "With Xfire alone, we have 6 million users spending 96 hours a month each," Ms. Stirratt said. "They're deeply engaged in that experience. Gamers are loyal to sties and loyal to specific games, that's why a combo of GameTrailers and Xfire will do a lot for the AT&T game section."
Concentrating so much content in a familiar space such as the Blue Room makes it easier for the advertiser, too. "What we can do is be able to bring things to advertisers more quickly on the inventory side. To be able to try new products and try them in such a way that it makes advertisers excited," Ms. Stirratt said.
Not just nerds
GameTrailers has partnered with the likes of Comcast, Window Media and iTunes in the past for promotions on its home portal, but an increased connection to a diverse demographic through MTV is the key to keeping the content inclusive.
"The world of video games is growing really fast -- the demographic is changing," Mr. Slusser said. "It's not nerds and dorks anymore throwing quarters into machines in the '80s. Now it's guys like me who are grown up and, yes, we have disposable income that we're burning on consoles and $50 games. But it's not just us. Now we see women, guys playing with girlfriends, young kids getting involved, parents playing with kids. It's not just a nerd/guy thing anymore."