Web site tabs: Myprofile, Myfriends, Search…..Games?

I logged on to Trip Advisor today for the first time in awhile. There was awhile in my career for various competitive reasons I would visit Trip Advisor on weekly if not daily basis.

I have continued to log on, but log on sporadically.

Today, type the url into the browser bar, the page came up, I looked at the nav bar and found:
Home (ok that’s an easy one), Destinations (that means browse) and “Fun and Games?” What in the world?

By the way, the nav bar is a really easy way to see products that a web company are unveiling and promoting. Usually a product will get a nav bar location, once it’s proven and a promotion strategy is created for it.

Back to the title of this post, “Fun & Games?” How? Why?

It’s actually easy for a number of reasons given the convergence of a number of factors around online web development and publishing.

– Games are a great way to keep the user on a site and/or coming back to it. Do they have anything to do with the content? Well not always, but it serves as a branding and retention play for the site

– Games are relatively cheap to make; scratch that, game are very easy to copy. The production cost of a game is extremely cheap (probably as low as $5000 – $10K for a decent casual game with decent graphical treatment)

– Games increase time on the site: This is an important factor for brand advertising

– Games increase page views. Bonus that brand advertiser 1M page views per month and it really doesn’t cost you anything at this point.

Of course, this is nothing new. Back in 2003 or so, Orbitz (another travel site) introduced games as a component of a banner ad to increase brand awareness and drive better clickthrough rates.

However it seems that the breadth of sites doing this, in my unscientific review, is certainly increasing.

Some sites that I have noticed incorporating games into their content catalog:

TripAdvisor

iLike (which also profiles users based upon their games)

Windows Live (and it’s corresponding Live Club) (By the way, it much talked about how this club suffered poor industry PR as Comscore and others wrapped a users time in the club into search usage).

Seems like there is an opportunity for sites like iWin and Big Fish to develop an enterprise product. Or maybe this is a direction for some of the Facebook app game companies?

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