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The gamer pros at Machinima.com just proved that there’s still plenty of opportunity to create innovative ways to connect an advertiser with an audience. Conventional formulas for advertising on the web have solidified over the last few years with pre-rolls, post-rolls, overlays, banner ads, but Machinima might have pioneered the three-week-long live-streamed gaming challenge as yet another ad option.
Beginning on Nov. 9, a team of Machinima.com gamers began playing the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 24/7 in four hour shifts, the activity live streamed on Ustream. Their goal? To achieve 15 Prestige status, which essentially meant beating the game 15 times in a row until they reached the highest possible level of achievement. They finally completed the challenge on Dec. 3 — over three weeks later.
While the event served as an epic promotion for Black Ops, Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise said via phone that no money changed hands between Machinima.com, Call of Duty publisher Activision or game developer Treyarch. Instead, the 15 Prestige live stream was an experiment on the part of Machinima to see if this sort of event would work as a potential opportunity for advertisers.
“A lot of these big games are really a pop cultural event,” DeBevoise said, which was what Machinima hoped to capture — the emotion that accompanies large-scale launch events like the release of a new video game. Because the Black Ops event started the same day as the game’s release, Machinima.com’s players were discovering the game’s secrets at the same time as other gamers, who were interacting with them through live chats and Twitter.
The live stream received a total of 4.1 million live views and 5.1 million on demand views, with a total of 1.65 million hours of video being watched. Those numbers are impressive, though DeBevoise pointed out that those numbers are spread out over a much longer period of time than the typical live stream.
“If a TV exec had been in the room, they would have asked ‘Why would you do a live event that last for three weeks’?” DeBevoise said. “That’s the Olympics, that’s the World Cup — that’s a multi-million-dollar event.” But live streaming doesn’t cost millions, and not only would future events be monetizable through pre-roll ads on YouTube and Ustream, but Machinima “definitely” plans to offer a similar experience to its advertisers — the majority of whom are video game publishers.
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