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Posts with tag advertising

What does brand advertising mean for the MMO? Part 1

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Brand advertising has already been done in the MMO sphere. Anarchy Online's Free Play program has been showing users in-game advertisements for real-world products on in-game billboards since World of Warcraft launched in 2004. MMOs have survived since. Case closed.

Oh, you wanted more discussion. I see. It's been done before! Finally, we have some real precedent to talk about. Oh FunCom, you've finally managed to not disappoint me. Advertising models were one of the first types of campaigns to be applied to free-to-play versions of massively multiplayers that didn't hit perfection under a subscription model. In 2004, there were a tremendous number of MMOs to play, and people usually just stayed loyal to one. The fight for your subscription dollars was on.

Anarchy Online's Free Play program debuted in December 2004, just after the launch of the unknown but best-selling indie hit World of Warcraft, giving players a chance to play the game and its first expansion pack free of charge. Players subscribed to the Free Play game client would see advertisments in cities, towns, and other highly populated places in game for real-life goods, services, and companies. Advertising dollars paid for the game, as well as subscribers' choosing to pay and see fictional ads instead.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Insider Trader: Advertising your profession

There are relatively few avenues for selling your profession's wares. The first, and probably the most universal, is to create your trade goods and then list them on the auction house. This is a pretty common channel for selling trade goods. As such, there's more than a few techniques and arts to getting the most out of working the auction house. Check out Gold Capped, for example, to pick up a lot of great advice on how to work the AH.

The second way to sell your goods is via small-scale professions gathering. We talked a few weeks ago about how to get together a crafting bazaar. The advantage to a crafting bazaar is that you get a lot of exposure from a lot of people. If your event is fairly well attended, then you're going to get a lot of different customers cruising to buy crafting goods. It's especially advantageous to spend time working with a consumer in a bazaar environment, because you have face-to-face interaction during which you can try and upsell the client. You can check out all of their gear and enchants, and make recommendations for things they might want to purchase to improve their performance.

There's a middle ground between those two methods, however, and it combines a lot of the best traits of the crafting bazaar with the open, free market of the auction house. By advertising your profession on Trade, the official forums, and word of mouth, you can get in touch with prospective customers while still respecting and interacting with your server's overall economy. You get the chance to meet someone "face-to-face" (or, at least, whisper-to-whisper) and you get the same chance to review the gear that you would in the bazaar. However, you don't have to wait for a special location or particular time in order to meet those folks.

Considering how important word-of-mouth can be to growing a network of steady customers, we should take the time to review a few tips for advertising your profession.

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Filed under: Insider Trader (Professions)

The NBA playoffs, presented by World of Warcraft

This isn't exactly shocking news (this just in: Blizzard has an advertising budget!) but it is worth noting: Mark C. was watching the NBA playoffs the other day and lo and behold, guess which familiar logo appeared during a halftime sponsorship. Apparently the announcer even read off the name of the game during a tag. I don't think Mark is exactly right about it being one of the "first non-sports games being advertised in a sporting event" (I'm pretty sure I've seen one of those Killzone 2 or Call of Duty spots during my Cubs games lately), but it's the first time we've seen WoW promoted outside of the usual TV spots.

It's interesting to note, too, that it's being presented during the NBA playoffs as well -- I've seen more WoW twitterers tweet about the hockey playoffs lately than the basketball equivalent. Then again, Mark also says he saw it on the NBA TV subscription service, so maybe it was targeted at people who are willing to subscribe to a digital service. And just for the heck of it, we'll also point out that it was an LA (Blizzard is in Anaheim) vs. Houston (Blizzard also has an HQ in Austin) game, so maybe it was geographically targeted as well.

But this will probably not be the last time you see WoW in this context. Keep those eyes open.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Advertising for casinos banned

The past few weeks have seen a rise of in-game casinos on some servers. I haven't noticed any on my home server of Shadow Council, but on Arygos, where I've been toying with a horde hunter (level 34 right now), I can't walk two steps in Orgrimmar without seeing a /yell advertising a chance to win big.

As of April 20th, however, this will now be prohibited. In Blizzard's words, after that date, "any advertising for a casino is not permitted," and players are encouraged to report advertisers to the GMs. I have to say, I'm not sad to see the casinos go. It's a clever way to make money, yes, but I don't like seeing players advertise repetitively, and of course, the house always wins. It's nice that Blizzard was so responsive about this issue.

While the new rule doesn't prohibit casinos directly, I imagine it will put a stop to most of them, unless there is some secret network of private casinos out there, with transactions carried on in mysterious raid and party chats, or custom channels. If there is, carry on - that's super-cool.

Massive at MI6: Blizzard is an "around game" ad success

Not only did Blizzard clean up at the MI6 awards (and yes, that's not to be confused with the British Intelligence Agency that some dude named Bond works for), but their partners at Massive also gave a presentation there. Who's Massive, you ask? You may not know their name, but you've already seen their work: they're the company, related to Microsoft, that Blizzard has hired to run their ingame and in-software ads.

During the presentation, the rep from Massive, JJ Richards, talked about the three types of advertising that they're running: in-game, around game, and for game. In-game is what you usually see in EA's big sports titles: big billboards that sport real-life brands, or even in-game items like cell phones and clothing that advertise real objects. World of Warcraft obviously isn't much of a candidate for that type of advertising, but Massive does cite them as a huge success for the second type, "around game": they take full credit for the ads over on the forums, as well as the ads we'll eventually see in the Starcraft and Diablo interfaces. Strange that they didn't mention the gold ad slipup (/sarcasm). He also suggests putting ads in the WoW launcher, but at least agrees that those will have to be extremely game-related if they're going to get away with it.

And the third type of advertising Massive does is "for game," where they use the various Microsoft properties like Xbox Live and Hotmail to do targeted advertising at gamers -- using Netflix queues on Xbox to shape Hotmail ads, and so on. If that all sounds sneaky, so be it (don't forget that this presentation was made to a bunch of marketers, not necessarily actual gamers). But it sounds like Blizzard has made a nice big deal with Massive (despite the fact that we're still paying a tidy subscription fee every month), so whether we like it or not, we're going to be seeing exactly what they're planning in our games in the future.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King

eHarmony advertises in Warsong Gulch

Quinionn on Magtheridon sent us this picture -- apparently dating website eHarmony has gotten in on the in-game advertising just in time for Valentine's Day. He had just joined a Warsong Gulch when this guy showed up spamming an ad.

There's a number of strange things going on here -- as far as we know, this isn't an official Blizzard move, but most of the people spamming ads in the game are shady gold-selling websites, not real corporations with bigger profiles. And the weirdest thing might be this: Eharmony on Arthas isn't a one-time character created to spam in Trade -- he's level 80 with 450 Jewelcrafting and Mining. There's actually a lot of characters with the same name around, with different levels and classes, even in different guilds (though this one is probably the funniest).

Very weird. At the very least, the spammer's aiming to lose his character, and at worst, if this is an organized action, Blizzard might actually have a case against eHarmony for spamming inside the game. Have you seen any other ads like this around the game?

Update: Mystery seems to be solved: it was just some guy messing around. Strange way to mess around, though. He's in our comments, and says he's getting a free name change after the GMs said what he was doing was not so cool.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Alts, Battlegrounds

Blizzard puts advertising on the WoW front page

Bornakk has fessed up to Blizzard's little slip yesterday of letting gold buying ads sneak onto the official forums. As expected, he says it was a complete mistake, and that Blizzard is taking steps to keep it from happening. I'm surprised this isn't the action Blizzard took from the beginning -- when the ads first showed up yesterday, Blizzard's forum moderators were deleting (and presumably banning) anyone who mentioned the ads. But almost all of Blizzard's fansites (and even WoW Insider) have had problems with gold ads appearing in advertising content outside our control, so it doesn't seem like Blizzard need worry about it. Sure, it was a mistake, and sure, it was hilarious, but there was no reason to hide the fact that it had happened -- especially since there were screenshots aplenty right away.

However, Blizzard apparently still hasn't learned their lesson: they've now also got external advertisements being served right on the game's front page. These ads are served up by the same company responsible for the ads on the forums, and thus clearly they have the same possible problems -- if one gold ad can appear, more can as well. And while the ad that appeared on the forums was not harmful (other than the fact that it linked to a website that offered a service that would get you banned from the game), anytime you're bringing outside content to your own site, you run that risk. Blizzard has decided to monetize their presence on the web, but it's costing their customers a little bit of security as well.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Blizzard, Making money, Account Security

Forum post of the day: I don't see any ads

I don't have to say that folks are annoyed with Blizzard's new advertisements on the official forums. The forums today are filled with threads complaining about everything from their presence to their content. Lure of Eradar suggested using Adblock Plus and Remove It Permanantly in Firefox to ditch the ads.

After loading the first addon, you must subscribe to a list appropriate to your region. The second addon gets rid of the grey frame left where the ad was. The original poster gave us handy dandy instructions on how to use it:
  • Load a random thread on the WoW forums, any will do. See that annoying grey frame?
  • Right click on the frame.
  • Go to RIP Advanced.
  • First choose "Remove from this Domain"
  • Go to RIP Advanced again, Next click "Remove all similar parent items."

The entire process took less than three minutes and my forums look just like they did before. For the most part we should be used to online advertising. You can just ignore them, but if you're really that annoyed by it do something about it. I also won't hear the objection that you don't use Firefox. You should. I'd check into how to remove ads for IE, but I'm not willing to load Exploder on either of my computers.

Thanks to Lure and everyone else who offered similar simple solutions. If only there were an addon to block the trolls, we'd be all set.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Add-Ons, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

Blizzard adds advertising to the official forums

Blizzard has added two advertising bars to their official forum pages, one on the top and one banner along the side. And it's got players concerned -- there's a large forum thread growing even bigger by the minute right now. The main complaints seem to revolve around a few issues: the design breaks the forum layout for some users, the ads are possibly a security risk (they aren't hosted by Blizzard -- more on that in a second), and of course the issue that we're paying every month to be able to look at ads on the forums.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money, Forums, Account Security

Blizzard makes deal with Massive for ads

The AP is reporting that Microsoft's game advertising division (called Massive, Inc., not to be confused with Massively), has signed a deal with Blizzard to offer advertising on their upcoming revamp, presumably to premiere with Starcraft II. This is apparently out-of-game advertising, i.e. the ads you'll see upon login to the service, not necessarily on in-game billboards or other nonsense like that. is Blizzard's online service -- they've used it since way back in the Diablo days, and they've always had ads for their own products in it. But now they've contracted with this company Massive, Inc. to put other ads in there, and since they've been planning for a revamp for a while, you can probably expect to see the ads in right away when the new service launches.

How will this affect us as WoW players? It might not -- Blizzard may leave WoW on its own launcher, rather than having you go through a launcher to sign in. On the other hand, WoW is clearly Blizzard's biggest online game, and we already know that Blizzard plans to include some WoW features (achievements, accounts) in the revamp, so it could be that they're going to unify everything under one launcher (WoW, Starcraft II, Diablo III), in which case you'd see these ads when you sign in as well.

Which makes us wonder why exactly we'd be paying $15 a month to see more ads on login, but don't panic yet -- we'll cross that bridge when we actually know it exists (for now, Blizzard hasn't announced any official plans to change the way WoW works with, other than the fact that one account will work across all games). We'll keep an eye out for any other new news -- there's definitely something big in the works.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Four Wheels of Fury wins a Webby

Blizzard has posted that the commercial for the Toyota truck that used WoW as a setting has won a People's Choice Webby award for online commercial. It was beaten out for the actual award by those Mac vs. PC online ads that spanned across some of the most popular websites online, but in the voting, the people decided that "I am the lawgivaaa!" was a little more exciting and creative. And as big a fan as I am of John Hodgman (and I am a big fan), I have to agree.

So rack up another award for using Blizzard's game in television media. Personally, I'm waiting until the networks figure out that they need to set a sitcom in Azeroth -- can't wait to see "The Thunderhorns," coming to NBC this fall.

Filed under: Machinima, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor

Wowhead and Thottbot on ad strike

Thottbot and Wowhead, two of the most popular WoW database sites, have been having a few problems with ads lately. There was that brief issue with the trojan in a banner last month, and also apparently some rather irritating ads with flashing and sound have been showing up lately (and I think we can all agree that ads with sound are evil). But, like much of the Internet, these sites are kept free for us because they are ad-supported, so what can they do? Well, they've gone on advertising strike.

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Filed under: News items, Making money

Jean Claude van Damme to star in "What's your game" ad

According to the European website, the next celebrity to get the "What's your game?" ad treatment will be none other than Timecop himself, Jean Claude Van Damme. The kickboxer-turned-B-movie-superstar (yes, superstar-- what else do you call Guile himself?!?) will appear in the next round of television ads for World of Warcraft. I can't wait to see it.

The line for speculating about what character he'll be starts right here. My gut is telling me a troll of some kind, but it would be so much funnier if they went with, say, a female Human priest. Why would Van Damme do something that wacky? The same reason he does everything: "To honor you, shidoshi."

[Via incgamers]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor

Access Hollywood behind the scenes of the new ads

Never thought we'd ever see WoW on Access Hollywood, but sure enough, Blizzard's Neal Hubbard, VP of Global Marketing, spoke with them about the new ads, and all the Warcraft references we've been tracking in the media.

Hubbard says lots of players have been asking for a "Mohawk" class (the one that Mr. T hacked into the game, of course), and that when they got on set, the realized that instead of Mr. T just talking the whole time, it would be more fun to have shorter, catchphrase lines-- the "shut up, fool" line apparently came from a keychain that spouted Mr. T sayings.

The rest of the article just wraps up all the references we've seen so far, but it's cool to have a little peek at the making of these things. Blizzard, take note-- now's the time to start putting together features for the Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Edition DVD.

[Via incgamers]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor, NPCs

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