Hearst Beefs Up Online Gaming

Good Housekeeping, Redbook Websites Look to Build Traffic

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Hearst Magazines has redesigned and built up the gaming areas on its sites for Good Housekeeping and Redbook, adding community elements like popularity ranking, in the latest signal that games are proving useful to magazine websites.

Good Housekeeping's Mah-Jongg site
Good Housekeeping's Mah-Jongg site
Magazines are generally still feeling their way along on the web, trying various approaches to reinforce the print flagships or, much less often, to build businesses. Most recently Wenner Media, publisher of Us Weekly and Rolling Stone, hired its first chief digital officer. The CondeNet division of Conde Nast, meanwhile, decided to shut down Flip.com, its troubled virtual scrapbook site for teen girls, on Dec. 16.

A few magazines have invested in online games. Last summer, People magazine introduced six custom games, some of which are now sponsored by marketers including HP and Procter & Gamble. Visitors played 3 million times in November, said Mark Golin, editor of People.com.

Hidden interest
Others aren't sure their audiences would be interested. Sometimes their audiences even protest too much, according to David Hernandez, senior partner and executive creative director for Ogilvy One Chicago. As long as moms are sitting around tables in focus groups, they deny any interest in online games, Mr. Hernandez said. "But the data contradicts that 100%," he said. "What they say versus what they do are completely different things."

Games have proved their ability to build traffic, said Kristine Welker, VP-sales and marketing at Hearst Magazines Digital Media. But they're also great tools for advertisers, if you can tear their attention away from video ads, she said. "Often people think, 'Video, video, video,'" she said. "This is an opportunity to really find a way to integrate your product in a way that the consumer doesn't mind."

Arkadium, which handles the game development for Hearst, is tailoring each game to reflect the magazine hosting it. "When I get to the website, I feel as if I'm still connected to the magazine," said Tammy Manganello, VP-executive producer at Arkadium.

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