07 December 2005

Product Placement, Right Into Kids' Imaginations

In June Nickelodeon-parent Viacom bought Neopets for $160 million -- $6.4 million per member. That's a lot of money. But since 80% of those members are under 18, Viacom has plenty of time to recoup its investment. From Wired's "The Neopets Addiction":

"For Viacom, the main draw is the site's advertising model. In a world of TiVo, pop-up blockers, and satellite radio, where it keeps getting harder to reach people with ads, Neopets collapses the boundaries between content and commercials. Many zones in the vast make-believe world, like the Firefly Mobile Phone Zone, are sponsored by companies, and there are branded games like Nestlé Ice Cream Frozen Flights and Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Sandwich Snackers. Tyler likes to play McDonald's: Meal Hunt, in which he searches for lost McNuggets. Jana Gagen, his mom, says they've been taking more trips to the real-world McDonald's ever since Tyler started racking up NeoPoints in the restaurant's online game. 'We go to get the Neopets toys,' she says. The tie-in merchandise comes with Happy Meals.

Neopets calls its model 'immersive advertising' and hypes it in a press kit as 'an evolutionary step forward in the traditional marketing practice of product placement.'"


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