Called Galact-a-Bucks, the CD-ROM game will be distributed in the December issue of Petersen Publishing's Motor Trend, with a co-branding deal with Internet service provider EarthLink Network.
"This project addresses a need in the marketplace," said Peter Berg, chairman-CEO of Galacticomm (www.galacticomm.com), noting how the CD-ROM aims at a targeted magazine audience and tries to steer them into specific areas of a marketer's Web site.
Users are encouraged to play the CD-ROM game that connects to 20 advertisers' Web sites, where users can accumulate points redeemable for prizes or entries in a $25,000 sweepstakes. Advertisers have the chance to put an additional two-minute video or commercial on the CD-ROM, which users must watch before playing the game.
And while no advertisers have signed up for the program yet, Mr. Berg said Galacticomm is pursuing automotive, financial services and entertainment categories. And because players are required to fill out survey information, he sees it as a cost-effective lead generator.
"It could be a home run for advertisers if the game got consumers into the showroom," Mr. Berg said. "With each hit, we're going to deliver demographic information about that user."
EVALUATING MARKETING NEEDS
Scott Estep, associate media director at Long Haymes Carr, Winston Salem, N.C., which handles advertising for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Hanes Hosiery, said Galact-a-Bucks piqued his interest because it gives people an incentive to interact with a Web site.
Mr. Estep said the only reason he sees advertisers holding back would be if they were apprehensive of Internet promotional efforts.
Advertisers have to ask themselves if the disk fulfills their Internet marketing efforts, Mr. Estep said.
"With the ever-changing media environment," he added, "if we don't seriously look at things like this, we're doing a disservice to our clients."
REACHING A NEW AUDIENCE
The cost for advertisers is $71,000, or 13cents per disk for the 550,000 disks Galacticomm is producing for the first game. It's about equal to the cost of a page ad in Motor Trend. Rates may change with future games done in conjunction with different magazines.
Users who don't already have Internet access can log on with EarthLink for 15 free days. "We think it's a useful way to get exposure to potential new subscribers," said Ted Gaines, market development account exec at EarthLink, noting that the company liked the game so much it's sending it out to some of its current ISP subscribers.
The idea of incentive games to spur Web site interaction isn't new. Search engine WebCrawler recently teamed with online promotions company CyberGold for a Treasure Hunt $25,000 sweepstakes. Users earned redeemable points by searching through WebCrawler and clicking on Treasure Hunt banners.
ADVERTISERS ON SIDELINE
But the idea is still new to advertisers, Mr. Berg said, explaining why many have been slow to sign on. The question is "will it work?" he said. "The jury is