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How Publishers Can Use Social Games

We stopped by Mediabistro’s Social Gaming Summit yesterday, gathering some publishing intelligence from Manny Anekal, the director of brand advertising at Zynga Games. Using Facebook games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, the company has created new hubs for virtual commerce as players buy items and complete goals.

Anekal presented a few different case studies, but one promotion stood out as a publishing tool. NBC Universal hired the company to create custom “Public Enemies Crime Spree” missions within the Mafia Wars game last year. These games allowed players to accrue Public Enemies loot and goods inside the game, 21st Century advertisements for the gangster film that boosted DVD sales. In all, 19 million users engaged in the “Crime Spree” activities.

Publishers and authors could build a similar arrangement for thrillers and crime novels. Book publicity efforts could focus on related communities, matching genre with social gaming audience. For instance, animal-themed books could work on PetVille and urban fantasy novels could advertise inside Vampire Wars.

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