Halo 3 as Meta4

Search is the barometer of human behavior and human emotion. I know I’ve said it before, and I will probably say it again. The Halo series is the standard by which modern console shooters are judged. The game was earth shattering when it was released and today, the “Master Chief” has become a cultural icon.

Maybe, or the entire series is just a really good way to beef up third-quarter sales numbers.

However you might view the Halo trilogy, this week marks the much-hyped release of the latest (final?) chapter of the game that put XBox on the gamer map. Since console gaming and the cultural, emotional, and financial impact is tied to search, it’s worth a minute or three to take a look at what we can learn from the big launch.

Integration Lost… Again

Hitwise was tracking the roll-up to release of Halo 3, and the chart leading up to launch looks a lot like any product launch with a few exceptions. Each and every time a little news tidbit or “accidental” information release took place, a small spike occurred in interest and search activity.

Percentage of US Search Term Traffic

Each of these little “spikes” represent key opportunities to reach out to potential audiences seeking information about the game or the smallest crumb of detail about players and profiles. Can you think of a better way to reach these golden information seekers than search?

While searchers sought information on the game itself, they were also interested in pulling in tidbits about new weapons, vehicles, equipment, and anything with a Halo 3 theme.

Popular Search Terms Containing Halo3

Leading Cause of Psychosis

Boys like to blow things up. It is programmed into our DNA. A month prior to the Halo 3 official release, Microsoft announced that pre-orders for Halo 3 had broken the one-million mark.

Monday night, stores in Manhattan and elsewhere around the world were transformed into Halo fan clubs as gamers lined up to buy the super, super-duper, and outrageously, gratuitously expensive versions of the new game.

Though much of the marketing for Halo 3 could simply be executed within the XBox Live universe, high end/high profile product releases are always great opportunities to showcase co-branded marketing initiatives. Mountain Dew released a special line of “Game Fuel” with a Halo 3 theme, and the impact of multiple search resources (a.k.a. universal or blended search) in one easy-to-digest results page can be seen with this release as well.

Conduct a search for “mountain dew game fuel” and you can go to the official site or check out some absolutely hysterical gamer ads from Mountain Dew on your favorite video site. Message: if you are not optimizing every asset in your SEO or search advertising initiative, you run the risk of missing some or all of your audience.

Officially, We Have No Official Comment

Enticing searchers with the right marketing message is paramount to search marketing success. In the weeks leading up to the Halo launch, keyword costs began to rise, and stiff competition surrounding anything Halo-related got out of control.

The phrase “official site” always seems to get people clicking, and several search ads from retailers purported to be the official site, which I always find entertaining. I am not suggesting you should abandon all tried and true tactics, but thinking beyond the usual tricks might have some benefit.

People go nuts for new releases, and the mob mentality takes over. They have been injured, killed, and incarcerated over product release hi-jinks. Just once, I would like to see creative or messaging (text as we call it in search) read a bit differently than the usual “pre-order now!” or “limited edition here only.”

Your search listing could read something like this:

“Halo 3: No Rush
Release date: September 25th
Made of plastic, they’ll make millions”

Try it and see what happens. What do you have to lose? I guarantee your ad will stand out or your money back (not really.)

True confessions, KMR Style

I am a gamer. Addiction might be too strong a word, but I have to confess that my fascination with the development of the connected gaming cultural universe has gotten in the way of a few other things in my life.

It all started when I was recovering from spinal surgery a few years ago. Since I was bedridden, a friend picked up an XBox and a copy of Halo so I could pass the time. I don’t remember much about my recovery, save for a lot of quality time with the Master Chief.

Four years and millions of gamers later, the Internet culture and online gaming universe is now home for many seeking an escape from reality. It is, in essence, a new or additional reality. You can talk to other people, join (and be kicked out of) groups and clans, download television episodes, and view all kinds of connected entertainment.

The pathology of gamers has been scrutinized by everyone from psychiatrists to concerned parents. The game is rated “M” for mature, but I keep getting my butt kicked by kids with really high-pitched voices. I got my nephew an Xbox last Christmas, and schoolwork became a distant second to blowing things up.

The end game (no puns) here is understanding that our connected world has changed dramatically. The opportunity for connected marketing has never been better, we just need to spend a bit more time getting to know our new platforms, and search is great way to make your way in.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to go finish the fight.

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