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How to Mix Content and Commerce

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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. Gerardo Guzman delivered new insights on the gamer, Doug Scott spoke on the "fornication" of brands and entertainment, and the manager and agent of pop singer Rihanna talked about capitalizing on celebrity to conclude Nielsen Business Media's sixth annual Next Big Idea Conference here yesterday.

Guzman, business development and product strategy director for Nielsen Games, Chicago, said the gamer market of men, 18-49, now exceeds 26 million, with 80 percent of U.S. teenagers owning at least one gaming console. He compared the CPM for games ($65) to a typical American Idol at $320,000 a spot, pointing out that only 5 million men in that demo watch the show, although it is the most popular program among the most heavy console users.

Guzman said that the Nielsen//NetRatings MegaPanel tracks more than 1 million people using PCs for local disk, CD-based, online and casual gaming.

Guzman's top-line findings: Console playing has increased 20 percent in the last three years; Sony's PlayStation 2 accounts for nearly half (44.6 percent) of the consoles; in the PC universe, World of Warcraft is played four times as much as the next leading title, The Sims, with a 16 share of total game-play minutes.

Humorously intermixing clips from the "innocent years" of sponsored programs to intimations of modern corruption (at one point showing an animation of a Hasbro icon defiling a Paramount icon for Transformers), Scott, senior partner and executive director of branded content and entertainment at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, showed how technological advances in entertainment platforms and economies of scale for producing and delivering content had led to the fusing of product messages and programming.

"Content is born free, liberated, and then taken into culture by consumers who want be entertained and have a dialogue with the brand," said Scott. "Brands bought time for you to have entertainment. Born-free content is truly entertainment."

Linda Goldstein, partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, and Victor Siegel, president and CEO of Blue Frog, briefed conferees on recent legal rulings affecting marketing via the Internet, particularly in the online gambling space and in marketers trying to reaching minors.

David Caruso, president of Acme Content Co., and Marc Jordan, founder and CEO of Rebel One Management, were interviewed by former Billboard reporter Michael Poaletta, now vp of marketing at GMR Entertainment, on how budding pop singer Rihanna has been connected to brands. The team presented her first to Procter & Gamble for a deal with Secret deodorant, then expanded her brand associations to include Isotoner's totes, Nike, Covergirl, JC Penney and LG Mobile. They are protecting her still-innocent image while promoting her, in Caruso's words, as a "fashion icon" who will develop her own line of cosmetics, fragrance or clothing soon.

Adweek and Billboard are Nielsen Business Media publications.