On a game-by-game basis, GameSpot Trax enables publishers, advertisers, and retailers to track a game's total awareness/consideration based on page views, all online and print media coverage, buying cycle data, and geographic and demographic information about users who express interest in the game. Essentially, Trax presents video game industry professionals with a veritable smorgasbord of data.
GameSpot Senior Vice President Vince Broady notes that Trax was designed in direct response to advertiser demand for more data.
Now, if a local retail advertiser in Dallas wants to buy inventory that only targets users from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, that retailer can do so because Trax enables its users to segment user behavior by geographic location. Trax also allows marketers to monitor the extent of a new game's media coverage--only in print and online--enabling them to delay the launch of an ad campaign until the initial hype surrounding a game's launch starts to die down. Trax does not provide advertisers with campaign analytics.
Trax, which was free to advertisers for the past 18 months of its beta-test period, will charge advertisers on a case-specific basis. According to Broady, "the pressure [Trax] puts on print is phenomenal," because, he says, it provides marketers with granular data upgraded in real-time. "[Trax] provides marketers with incredible insight into the value of online advertising."
However, Broady notes that as recently as three years ago, GameSpot had no advertising.
He says the game market turned its back on online advertising because it "over-promised and under-performed." Game publishers would tell him that they didn't need to advertise because GameSpot, by its very nature, would dole out free advertising through its reviews and previews of games.
Broady notes that he was able to convince game publishers about the value of advertising on GameSpot once the company started counting clicks. Doing so proved that a lot of people looked at ads, and a lift in click-throughs on the site reflected offline sales increases. Now, he says, "just about all of the major game companies are advertising [with us] in a significant way."
GameSpot has between 1 million and 1.5 million monthly unique users. It has 3 million registered users, which includes demographic, geographic, gaming, and age information.
Broady says that Trax data also applies to GameRankings.com and GameFAQs.com, GameSpot's other video game properties. He says that Trax will also soon be available for MP3.com, CNET's informational digital music site.
GameSpot Trax is a patent-pending technology that CNET has expressed interest in licensing to other Web publishers.