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Crossover Gaming Promotion's a Perfect Match

Marketing executives at the cable channel Game Show Network and online game show provider Flipside wanted to see whether the two networks' audiences would cross over in a new promotion.

They did. In droves.

Game Show Network, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Digital, and Flipside, a subsidiary of Vivendi Universal Publishing and VivendiNet, teamed in mid-November to promote GSN's Merry Blank-a-Thon. The Blank-a-Thon, which airs Dec. 9, is a four-hour series of eight “all-time favorite” episodes of “Match Game.”

More than 200,000 people registered for a sweepstakes by Nov. 27, while Flipside tracked 100,000 visitors to the site directly from a television commercial and crawls, information that scrolls along the bottom of a TV screen.

Company executives figured the audiences would be closely matched since both networks target the “soccer mom crowd, maybe a little younger, ages 18 to 34,” said Michael Streefland, director of sales and marketing at Flipside Inc., New York.

However, preliminary reporting indicates that GSN viewers are typically not Flipside players. Flipside operates four gaming sites: Uproar.com, which boasts nearly 80 percent female players, with branded games such as Name That Tune and Family Feud; Flipside.com, where users win prizes for playing games; iwin.com, which specializes in sweepstakes and lotto games; and VirtualVegas.com.

“In 12 days, out of the 100,000 people coming from the Game Show Network to the site, 78 percent are new registrants, which is significant,” Streefland said. “We're reaching a new audience of people who love 'Match Game' and are interested in finding out more about how you can do it interactively.”

The effort also is driving new registrants to Flipside's database of 31 million players.

“One of the objectives we had going into the campaign was to explore … what the duplicity is,” Streefland said. “Are the players going online going to watch the 'Match Game' on air? Are they the same audience?”

A co-branded GSN and Flipside Web site, www.matchgame.uproar.com, was created to promote the Blank-a-Thon and the two companies. Visitors can play Flipside's Match Game, enter to win a Sony home entertainment center and other prizes and sign up for The Game Show Network's e-newsletter. Visitors also are urged to watch the Merry Blank-a-Thon and can click to “Get Game Show Network in Your Home” and learn about other Game Show Network programs.

The sweepstakes has been the primary driver to the co-branded site, from GSN's 30-second, four-times-daily TV spots and Flipside's e-mail efforts. Flipside sent two e-mails to the 6 million subscribers who opt in to the network's “Prize Post” e-newsletter during the week of Nov. 19.

The Prize Post is divided into two databases, one that goes to people interested in the network's entertainment options and one to those who want more information on prizes. The two databases slightly overlap.

“The e-mail that was promoting the prize did a little better,” Streefland said. GSN's research shows that its viewers enjoy interacting, so “everything we do has to have an interactive element,” said Joel Chiodi, director of promotions for GSN.

That explains the high response to the network's calls to action within the so-called crawls when “Match Game” is aired.

“You can make the fanciest spot in the world, but that is usually when people are running to get popcorn or whatever,” Chiodi said. “The time we get people to jump on the site is when we do a crawl.”

Chiodi is also pleased that the co-branded Web site has driven traffic to GSN's primary site, GameShowNetwork.com, “during holiday time when traffic is usually down.

“And, we've actually had people fill out information on how to get Game Show Network that we can send out to cable companies to get them excited about putting us on.”

GSN also will drop an e-mail Dec. 4 urging viewers to watch the Merry Blank-a-Thon. About 70,000 have opted to receive GSN's e-newsletter, sent sporadically to advertise promotions. Chiodi is optimistic that the co-branded site, along with Flipside's Prize Post mailings, will double the database.

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