But how many can you also describe as warm, engaging and breathtakingly beautiful?
Without a doubt, TAG NETWORKS CEO Sangita Verma is not your conventional chief executive. Then again, she’s delivering an unconventional – make that groundbreaking – new approach to reaching television viewers to marketers the world over.
I recently met Verma on a panel on games as a marketing platform that I participated in at Digital Hollywood.
What I didn’t realize was that her little startup, which
enables consumers to play games such as Tetris, Diner Dash, Texas Hold ‘Em
Poker and others right on their television screen, has been quietly accomplishing
something every major cable television network operator has been trying to do for years.
Namely, enable marketers to target consumers at the specific individual level –
not just the household level – via television.
Turns out Verma has raised over $35 million in venture
capital because TAG, which she launched with colleagues Robert Craig and Cliff
Mercer after successful stints at Atari and Midway Games, among others, could
quite possibly be a game changer in television advertising.
On the one hand is the free, ad-supported network itself,
which is running on Time Warner and another operator now, and could be on five
cable networks by Q1 2010.
Users play games using the controls on their television
remote controls as easily as flipping channels. And it’s a compelling experience – one that can be played
from the coach solo or via multi-player mode with friends at their own houses.
According to a recent test, 20% of cable subscribers on
systems that carry TAG interact
with the channel at least once in a month. Nearly 75% of those players
interact with the channel at least once a week, while a whopping 42% play every
day. And TAG attracts nearly as
many players ages 35 to 50+ as it does those 13 to 17 or 18 to 34.
But here’s where it gets supremely cool. Users create
profiles just like you do on console games, to keep track of top scores and for
playing networked games. They’re asked to supply gender, a birth date and a zip
Future enhancements may include a “this or that” to fine tune the kinds
of product advertising may be of interested to users.
But even now, it means
ads can be targeted to specific individuals in a household – Dad getting ads
for American Express while he plays Tetris, while his teenage daughter sees a
trailer for “New Moon” while she plays Diner Dash. If something is of interest,
the viewer can click through for more information or even place a purchase
directly through the TV.
Six of the major cable operators have teamed up to create Project Canoe to do much the same thing – without much success so far.
Here’s a tiny startup that’s doing it now in a way that brings value to
I recently sat down with Verma at her Mountain View,
California offices to find out more. You’re going to want to hear the results
TAG’s seeing on ad targeting.
TAG, YOU’RE IT: AN INTERVIEW WITH SANGITA VERMA, CEO OF TAG NETWORKS
BRANDING UNBOUND WAS JUST THE BEGINNING: