GDC Online Conference: Nick Nocentini Marketing Interview

GDC (Game Developers’ Conference) Online is arguably one of the top conferences bringing together game developers, publishers, students and game players from around the world. The annual conference took place this year in Austin, TX from October 9 – 11. As a first time attendee, it was not only a sight to appreciate but a huge resource of invaluable information on gaming industry and the marketing efforts that have been put in place to make this ever rising industry a force to reckon with.

In a quest to further understand the online and social media marketing efforts put in place to market games online, I had the opportunity to talk to Nick Nocentini, Account Executive at GAO (Game Advertising Online), a division of UBM TechWeb. GAO is an ad network for games with over 500 gaming and entertainment websites. GAO is basically an online platform targeting and advertising to gamers of all types primarily in North America and Western Europe.

With headquarters in London, UK, UBM has competitors just like any other advertising company. Its main competitors include Reed Elsevier, International Data Group and Nielsen. Since its creation in 2006, GAO has lead the gaming advertising space and worked with top gaming companies such as Gameforge, Atlus, Internet Gaming Gate, Kongregate, etc. providing them the reach and impressions desired.

As a gaming online advertising leader, GAO serves games in multiple categories such as browser-based MMOs, casual game sites, esport portal, review and fan sites, MMORPG portals and more. With a monthly unique reach of 65 Million users and 5.3 Billion monthly ad impressions, GAO has come to realized that their audience responds better to MMO titles. In the vertical stage, GAO is well placed at the distribution and retail levels of the game product life cycle. Even though the company is not a game design/creation, production or manufacturing company, being a division of a big corporation such as UBM gives GAO the ability to comfortably step into the design, production and manufacturing stages of the game product life cycle. The main contributing factors to this ease of entry being capital and low entry barriers.

Online marketing/strategy, especially on social media platforms is my angle of interest. Asking what a social media marketer/strategist is doing at a game developers’ conference is fair game but with the number of online gamers in the USA reaching 141 Million this year, according to Jarek Wilkiewicz (YouTube Developer Advocate, GDCO, 2012), online and social media marketers will see a rising niche in online audiences. This could greatly impact online and social media marketing. Is this a cause for concern for other entertainment industry categories such as film and music? In my opinion, no.

According to Philip Reisberger (Independent, GDCO, 2012), it’s very crucial to understand the sources of game users and where they come from. With 87% of American core gamers spending time on casual websites and social networks, the key to cracking the true potential value of this surge in online gamers is to understand the analytics on the gamers and use it creatively. Is there a connection between the video game, film and music industries? Besides their entertainment content attribute, all three industries seem to be moving towards the social media platforms for eyeballs. With 87% of American core gamers spending time on casual websites and social networks, how can social media marketing be designed to simultaneously target all three audiences on the same platform without infringing on audience engagement on the content?

By Gerard Ngwang

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