Gaming and traditional media publishing are viewed as two different industries, but their worlds are rapidly converging. Gaming publishers have pursued aggressive monetization through engagement driven ad-units, keeping players in the game and driving strong performance for advertisers. As a result, engaging units such as rewarded video and playables have become essential to both the in-game player experience and monetization. In building this compelling machine, gaming publishers have come to be regarded as centers of excellence for both monetization and performance marketing.
Similarly, traditional publishers have aligned their content and monetization strategies to promote interactivity and engagement, both as a means to increase yield and as a means to promote subscriber growth and retention. Independently, both gaming publishers and traditional publishers have used similar strategies, aligning both engagement and monetization, making them essential to the core product and experience.
On the publisher’s side, a great example of this is the New York Times—specifically, the New York Times mobile app. As more of their readership has shifted to mobile and subscriptions, the New York Times has expanded its casual gaming offering as a way to drive engagement. In the last few years, they have introduced Spelling Bee, Vertex, and Tiles to the crossword section. These opportunities are fun, brand-safe, and entirely consistent with the premium fact-based journalism that is the foundation of the New York Times brand.
Using traditional gaming mechanics, traditional publishers bolster what has become their central KPI: engagement. These publishers increasingly measure their success through metrics like time on site, scroll rate, and scroll depth, moving away from impressions and clicks. Engagement in this form is a better indicator of quality: quality of performance, quality of relationship, and quality of experience. Strong engagement metrics translate more positively into subscriptions, registrations, and logins. Leveraging gaming mechanics increases all of these core metrics and simplifies the value exchange between the consumer and publisher. Today’s market realities offer publishers a compelling incentive to become more gamified and more interactive, by strengthening the core product, enhancing consumer experience, and ultimately improving monetization.
Both the skill-set and methods here are becoming more transferable because gaming and publishing are converging as never before. When it comes to the crises affecting the publishing industry—brand safety, the deprecation of third-party identifiers, and the dominance of walled gardens—the success of gaming companies as both publishers and marketers points to a new way forward. Interactive content, content that engages, content that promotes action, content that engenders a login—it is this type of gamified content that most concretely answers the imperatives of the new media ecosystem and that will help traditional publishers navigate these challenging times.
— Joe Delfino, associate director, major accounts, Publishers Clearing House