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IE MDMK09

Borislav Kiprin

Verizon Wireless Advergaming &


Virtual Worlds Marketing Strategy

Metaverses & Advergaming Course Work


Course Leader: Pablo Melchor

Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Phone: +359 879997300
E-Mail: bkiprin.mdmk2010@alumno.ie.edu
Web: www.borislavkiprin.com
Verizon Wireless Advergaming &
2 Virtual Worlds Marketing Strategy

Background
The Company:

Verizon Wireless currently operates the largest wireless telecommunications network in the United States, based
on a total of 86.6 million U.S. subscribers, ahead of AT&T Mobility's 78.2 million subscribers. Verizon Wireless has
the largest revenue of all United States wireless companies reporting $43.9 billion in 2007. Headquartered in
Basking Ridge, New Jersey, the company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group,
with 55 and 45 percent ownership respectively. On January 9, 2009, Verizon Wireless acquired Alltel Wireless in a
deal valued at $28.1 billion. The acquisition expanded Verizon's wireless network to cover approximately 290
million people and established Verizon as the largest United States wireless carrier, based on number of
subscribers. 1

The Subscribers:

The mobile services market in the United States is very segmented. Phones are used not only for communicating
Voice-over-Network, but also as music & games players, Internet browsers, e-mailing & texting, photography
etc. 40% of the subscribers use the phone as a game player and 18% are downloading additional games from
the internet. On the other hand 36% are using the device as a point for Internet access. Clearly the numbers
are showing a certain behavioral pattern that can lead to maximizing on advertising opportunities for the
mobile service providers. And since Verizon is present in every traditional media and it will make even more
sense to be taking part of the new advertizing opportunities offered by the video & internet games as well as
Virtual Worlds.2

1 Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verizon_Wireless
2 Source: eMarketer.com
Borislav Kiprin – IE MDMK09
Verizon Wireless Advergaming &
3 Virtual Worlds Marketing Strategy

Methodology, Facts & Assumptions:

All assumptions are based on the data and information found and available in the online medium. The sources
will be clearly stated in the footnote modules on each page and will be clearly divided from personal opinion.

All decision and strategy is made on the basis of a role-play – a Brand Manager deciding to enrich the span of
ad presence through Games & Virtual World channels as an addition to traditional digital presence through
banner ads, SEM, affiliated marketing etc.

Financial metrics and span of investment needed are not to be included in this initial proposal. Should the
board of directors and the VP of Marketing decide that Verizon Wireless should further evaluate the
opportunities of taking up this endeavor, a further research shall be conducted and presented for budget
setting purposes.

For the purposes of identifying the number of female users of the online mediums the following research has
been used: 3

We can clearly see that the Female population in the USA is over 50% and we believe that with the spread of
Internet services the number of female users will be increasing. We also can see that the number of housewives
surfing the net is expected to grow by 2013 with 6% (both according to eMarketer.com). This combined with
the trend of growing users of Virtual Worlds and gamers among the female population of USA, brings the idea
that there is quite an unrealized potential in terms of potential advertising audience.

Also we must not forget that 54% of the game users are recalling the advertisement they have seen while
playing and that 64 % believe that the presence of advertisement adds to the whole experience of the game.4

3 Source: eMarketer.com
4 Source: Continental Research
Borislav Kiprin – IE MDMK09
Verizon Wireless Advergaming &
4 Virtual Worlds Marketing Strategy

Advergaming Strategy
There is clearly place for the Verizon brand in Consol, Video and Online Games. The user base of those is a
potential customer that might need to be reminded that Verizon offers something that he/she needs. The
general idea is for the advertising format not to be intrusive, but rather present. In that sense Verizon will be
achieving not only message delivery to potential immediate customers, but also will be creating a strong
image of the brand in the eyes of the not so matured players – i.e. kids (8-14 age).

Please find below in the table the general description for the games to advertise at!

Games To Advertise At

Car Racing - Need for Team Sports - NFL, NHL,


Action - War games
Speed, Ridge Racer, F1 Baseball

 Car Racing games are one of the most prominent ones. Both males and females play them with
demographics ranging from as early as 8 years old and up to 65 and more. This clearly states that the
chances of the advertisement to be spotted by a potential customer are enormous. The opportunity to
take a role-play involving the favorite driver of F1 or Rally Paris-Dakar and identify yourself as him let’s the
gamer be more aware of car branding, viewing of banner and panel along the road etc. and actually
expecting it.

 Team Sports games are considered as being played predominantly by males and again within the same
demographics range. They represent a so-called “ad perceptive” audience. The ad feeding adds to the
expectancy of real life experience. Nowadays, the team sport games are having virtually all the
advertisement that is displayed in real life competition (brands are being presented on jerseys; panels are
placed around the football, soccer & hockey field etc.)

 Action games are taking currently a very big part amongst the online and consol games. However, there
are not so many adults playing them. Adolescents and teenagers constitute predominately their audience.
For that reason these games shall be mainly considered for creating brand awareness & “growing with the
brand” strategy. Also here, Verizon Wireless shall be very carefully choosing the game to advertise, if any.
Some of those action games are generally very violent and so far not looked upon with a good eye by the
parents.

In video, consol on online games Verizon’s brand can be present through banners on the side of the action
field, branded T-shirts or cars, interactive panel advertisements etc. There is a new trend that has to be paid
attention on, when we are considering the creative and message part of the advertisement. There are
speculations that more and more women are starting to play the typically “male” games. For that reason, we
have to think about ways to appeal to both male and female users.

Also we should pay special attention to Click-to-buy function – a recent in-video approach that allows users to
click and be redirected to purchasing a product or service online. We could probably utilize this function to link
with an outlet locator or service plans pages.

Borislav Kiprin – IE MDMK09


Verizon Wireless Advergaming &
5 Virtual Worlds Marketing Strategy

Branded Games Strategy


This is probably the cheapest way to advertise in games. There are plenty of best practice examples that
include a brand like Burger King, which is managing to even sell the branded games for $3.99 at every outlet
they have in the USA.

Our idea is to create a space online that will be accessible through Internet browsers as well as through mobile
browsing. In the case of Internet browsing we will be driving not only current customers, but also potential one.
Through the mobile browsing and playing we will be generating revenue from the data transfer and enhancing
our customer brand experience.

Another way to go with the idea is to create preinstalled branded games as well as downloadable ones.

Branded Games for Verizon Wireless

Preinstalled Phone Downloadable Phone


Online Gaming
Games Gaming

 Online gaming should be hosted on a third party platform rather than on the company’s website. Our
original idea is to reach potential customers. We can publish a link to redirect current customer to the
gaming website. We could use platforms like Nabisco, Gimme5games etc. We could also evaluate the
possibility to place those games on our own platform, but we have to keep in mind that there will be an
overhead cost issue here as well as it will be difficult to evaluate the user pool base.

 Preinstalled phone gaming is something that Verizon Wireless can easily afford with the branded Vodafone
phones. We can create fun games that will add to the customer experience and be available only on
Verizon/Vodafone phones, aiming to create some sort of exclusivity and coolness.

 Downloadable phone gaming should be hosted on our website is an especially created section with slick
design. We could offer free gaming as an incentive to accumulated points based on the number of
minutes usage of our network.

In most cases branded games rely on few factors, among which are the following:

 Originality – for that we need to identify and unexploited need in the gaming market.

 Unobtrusiveness – the Verizon Wireless brand shall be subtly present rather than trying to grasp all the
attention of the user and so annoy or intrude his experience.

 Stickiness – the user keep on coming back to the game.

 Challenge – to achieve something or reach the highest level.

Borislav Kiprin – IE MDMK09


Verizon Wireless Advergaming &
6 Virtual Worlds Marketing Strategy

Virtual Worlds Advertising Strategy


Many marketing gurus and Internet specialist are considering the Virtual Worlds (VW) as the next big thing. For
some it is a natural evolution of the Social Networks. The advertising opportunities seem to be enormous -
traditional banner ads, themed sites and not the less behavioral ad feeding. There are number of multinational
companies already present there, such as Toyota, Nissan, Coca-Cola, MTV etc. It will make a lot of sense to
consider this medium for advertising and branding purposes. There is an issue with the fact that technologically
the Virtual Worlds are yet to evolve and the user experience to ameliorate. Currently the graphics and the
bandwidth offered by ISPs is not enough to support and satisfy fully the eye. Also, taking upon creation of a
themed site in a VW can be a very resource consuming (time, talent & financial investment).

We believe that currently there is a certain demographic group that is not addressed specifically by the
telecommunication industry and yet plays a major role in the family decision-making. These are the housewives
and the pregnant women. There about 34 million5 housewives surfing the Internet and 6 million6 pregnancies in
the USA each year. Our idea is to address them with the creation of a themed site – a corner, building, center
etc; that will be focusing on the educational needs of a mother-to-be or an experienced housewife. This can
be done through the supply of advices from renowned experts, as well as discussion groups, lectures, webinars,
Q&A deliverable database etc. All stated offers would be naturally branded with the Verizon Wireless name,
which is to be not intrusive, but yet present.

A very good platform for trying this strategy is Second Life with its number of users (16 million7 in Feb 2009). It
currently hosts a number of organizations including NASA, NOAA, NIH, JPL, NPR, National Physical Laboratory,
UK etc. 8 There are also many multinational being presented in different ways on this new platform both
advertising and educational wise.

Another option is Virtual MTV for example, where we can target the young people and although most of the
users are not falling into the demographics that represent our usual customers with the time we will create a
strong brand presence in their mind and ergo consideration when the time comes for them to afford a plan or
service on their own.

Virtual Worlds

Pregnancy & Service Plan


Branding
Ad Feeding Housewife Tips & Information and
Awareness
Tricks Q&A

 Ad Feeding – in Virtual Worlds there is a very good way to work with behavioral based ads feeding. Imagine
a situation when John is saying to Marie “We need to call Jacques!” and in this very moment a bus passes
by with paid in our ad, stating that there is Verizon Wireless Phone Booth just around the corner that they
can call Jacques and the first 2 minutes of talking time is for free…

5 Source: eMarketer.com. Please view the methodology section for the graph.
6 Source: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/main/statistics.html
7 There are some opinions that Linden Labs is counting multiple avatars created by a single user as separate accounts. So

this information shall be taken under consideration. However, the number still seems respectfully big.
8 Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life

Borislav Kiprin – IE MDMK09


Verizon Wireless Advergaming &
7 Virtual Worlds Marketing Strategy

 Pregnancy & Housewife Tips and Tricks – this is where we will be bringing added value for our users and for
the ones that are not yet subscribed to our plans. Helping someone through a difficult and effort taking time
has always been considered to bring loyalty and …

 Service Plan Information and Q&A – we can use the platform for letting people know more about our plans
and the possible questions they can have. This can be in the form of a LCD panel that start displaying
information ones the user approaches it or through creating a specific room/place in the site that they can
browse through the Q&As.

 Branding Awareness – As we have mentioned before in this document, there are more and more
multinationals setting foot in the Virtual Worlds – Toyota, MTV etc. It is considered as an innovative way to be
present where the potential is and although at the moment technologically the Virtual Worlds are not
developed to their full extend, being there with our own site will create brand awareness among the users
and added value experience that can be used to convert them to Verizon Wireless services, rather than
staying with our competitors.

Reaching out to this particular demographic is a very powerful weapon. To face the truth, most of those
individuals, if not decision makers, are taking serious part into planning and execution of family decisions.
Besides that, creating a sort of loyalty amongst them is a strong advantage in the long term.

Conclusions
Giving the current situation and the presence of Verizon Wireless in different advertising channels and formats,
we believe that this can be enriched through yet few more, optimizing through the usage of metaverses and
advergaming. The strong bid, however, shall be on the Virtual Worlds and Video & Consol gaming. A particular
point shall be made of addressing specific demographics as well as also being presented through normal
formats9, so every user will be exposed to non-obtrusive advertising.

9 Banners, 3D panels, Wndow ads etc.


Borislav Kiprin – IE MDMK09