With revenues and usage climbing steadily in the sector, WPP's Mindshare North America has appointed Geoffrey Greenblatt to the new position of director of gaming. The shop is the first of the four major GroupM agencies, which also include MEC, MediaCom and Maxus, to create the role.
According to Nielsen, over half of all American adults now engage with video games, leading Greenblatt to declare that the space has arrived as a mainstream channel for marketers; it is not just a vehicle for reaching kids and teens anymore.
"You have to consider gaming to be the 21st-century entertainment form, and it's certainly arrived," he said. "It is demographically agnostic," he added, "any age, any sex, any demographic out there is now playing games."
Last month, management consultant PriceWaterhouseCoopers issued a new report predicting 8% annual ad growth in the North American video game market over the next five years (through 2015), reaching the $1.5 billion mark. During the same period, consumer spending on games in the region will climb more than 4% annually, reaching $17.5 billion.
The North American ad market accounts for about half of all spending in the worldwide video game space, reported PWC. Global ad spending in the space is expected to climb 10% annually, reaching $3 billion by 2015. Total worldwide consumer spending will grow 8% per year, reaching $79.5 billion during the same period.
Previously, Greenblatt had been associate director gaming strategy at Mindshare Interaction, working with a handful of clients including Sprint. He will now oversee gaming strategy across the shop's North American portfolio of clients, reporting to Scott Sorokin, Mindshare's global digital leader.
Earlier in his career, Greenblatt was a planner and buyer at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest.
Greenblatt said he sees social gaming as a trend that's just hitting its stride. "It's not just a fad," he said.
Currently, more than two dozen Mindshare clients are active in the gaming space, and Greenblatt believes that number will grow sharply in the next few years. He will be helping marketers figure out appropriate strategies, including helping brands to create games in the console, online, social and mobile sectors.
Game creation, he said, "is a great way to really get a message out there in full-bodied environment."
Greenblatt said he would also be working closely with clients and creative shops to help identify opportunities to "align messages with specific game entities that players embrace." That in turn will potentially lead to greater engagement between players and brands.
His favorite game? "I'm a serious fan of 'Fruit Ninja.' I play it all the time and was completely obsessed with it for a while. But I love the whole space."