This week will see the launch of Giant Realm, a vertical network of digital-entertainment-enthusiast sites reaching the 16-34 male audience owned by Games Media Properties.
The takeaway message for advertisers: Nerds now come in herds.
The Giant Realm network comprises owned and exclusively represented niche entertainment portals as well as video-game information sites such as GameRiot, SpawnPoint, Myndflame and ModDb. In all, they attract some 5 million U.S. visitors a month, according to Google Analytics. The network was the fastest-growing entity in the gaming-information category during October, according to ComScore MediaMetrix.
Four million just like them
"These were, 10 years ago, well, they would've been called 'gamer geeks' or 'nerds,'" says Keith Kane, Giant Realm's senior VP-ad sales. "But the web comes along, and suddenly these guys discover there are 4 million people just like them."
Globally, it's estimated that video-game advertising will grow nearly 23% a year during the next five years, according to an April 2007 eMarketer report; it's a business that crested at slightly more than $1 billion this year and is heading to more than $1.3 billion next year -- much of that growth fueled by casual gamers.
But getting to hard-core gamers has always been a challenge.
"There is a significant audience of men 16 to 34 who do not show up in mainstream online media outlets," says James Green, CEO of Games Media Properties. "They have very specific digital-entertainment passion points, such as massively multiplayer online games, e-sports, machinima, anime movies and indie music, which tend to consume much of the time they spend online."
That's where Giant Realm comes in.
"By aggregating together the 'best in class' enthusiast and community sites, Giant Realm is delivering an untapped but highly desirable and influential audience to advertisers," says Green.
Small segment, big spenders
Highly desirable because -- as market researcher NPD Group disclosed in new data released over the summer in its report "Gamer Segmentation II" -- even though the "heavy-gamers" segment represents just 2% of all gamers, NPD data show that this slender segment of the market spends more on games than any other.
Moreover, such gamers are younger and their tastes more malleable to advertisers: The majority of the heavy-gamer segment is kids between the ages of 6 and 17 years old.
As Mr. Kane notes, "Because these guys have been flying under the radar, people assume they're advertising-averse. But a lot of these sites have community functions, and there've been no posts like 'Oh, these frickin' ads have got to go.' In fact, the click-through rates have been phenomenal."
Financed by VC firm Edison Ventures Fund and talent agency the William Morris Agency, Games Media also just launched GiantRealm.com, a destination website built on content generated by its partner sites, in the hope of appealing to the demographic's interests in other leading edge entertainment areas.
"Our goal with GiantRealm.com is to showcase the network to marketers who are interested in reaching this audience. As the site evolves through the beta stage, we hope to establish it as a leading destination for this particular group of men," said Kane.