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  ARGs: The Buzz Doesn’t Drive Itself  
Posted 2005-03-21 by Tony Walsh
ClickZ's Sean Carton attempts to explain Alternate Reality Gaming to mainstream marketers in his latest Leading Edge column entitled "Alternate Reality Gaming and You." Carton says he's "covered games and advertising a lot lately," as if frequency coverage is somehow related to quality of coverage. Of course, it's not, as evidenced in his goofy advergaming column about Everquest II's /pizza tie-in.

Carton's "big picture" is flawed. It's true that Alternate Reality Gaming can be a more complex form of viral/buzz marketing, and that although this "fringe" form of media is ripe for exploitation, there are certain pitfalls to consider. But hazards such as ethics and brand-integration are only the least of the challenges to an ARG's success.

Carton fails to recognize the core value-proposition of an ARG: Inspirational game-play. Buzz works both ways. A bad game will fail, and either no buzz or bad buz will be generated. A good game has a better chance of success, and the viral message that is produced will be a positive one. If you want to use an ARG as a marketing vehicle, you're barking up the wrong tree if you think that your brand is the best thing about the experience. Successful ARGs are designed by gamers, not marketers.
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Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
March 21, 2005 @ 12:17 pm
Is it just me, or does talking about "a successful ARG" make anyone else laugh?

"The marketing people are launching a new ARG today."

"Are you ok Johnson?"

"Yes, fine sir, just talking about the ARG launch"

Ok, its just me then...
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
March 21, 2005 @ 12:28 pm
How are you defining success?

Marketers are going to have a hard time measuring the effectiveness of any ARG, but I think the players are ultimately the judges: if an ARG has enthralled them, then it's probably a success. Measurable? In some ways. Useful marketing metrics? I'm not sure. Any "future of ARG marketing" type of articles might want to address this. My guess is that ARG marketing is about as measurable and effective as print ads: there are a few obvious metrics, but nothing that will ultimately link sales with exposure.
Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
March 21, 2005 @ 12:39 pm
What i ment was, the sound of saying 'ARG' could be interpreted as being a pain-like sound. Like "ARG i hit myself on the head"...
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
March 21, 2005 @ 12:41 pm

I think you owe yourself a hit in the head for that.
Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
March 21, 2005 @ 12:46 pm
Ya, it just gets dumber each time i read it. Sorry, everyone go back to whatever it was you were doing, nothing to see here...
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