Gaming news and reviews website Gamespot is now the most popular site for gamers in the UK, with a total audience of 4.5m.
Gamespot, along with the rest of CNET's network of media sites, was acquired by CBS last year for $1.8bn. I've been talking to Geoff Inns, CBS Interactive's UK Product Director for games and entertainment about the recently released ABCe figures.
How do you explain the impressive growth for Gamespot?
Adding 1m users in 12 months is pretty significant year-on-year growth, and a 28% increase on 2007. Gamespot has rapidly increased its userbase every year for the past four years, so this is a continuation of that trend.
This reflects the growing popularity of gaming, and there is still a massive opportunity for growth as the gaming market is now capturing more and more people. It used to be considered uncool, but has really opened up to a wider audience recently, thanks to family targeted games on the Wii, older people coming back to gaming through their children, and so on.
One of the reasons we have done so well is that when they need game reviews, tips etc, people tend to turn online for this kind of information.
Is it a predominantly male audience?
It is, but I think that this will shift over time. On the last survey we did, we found that 94% of the audience was male. In fact, we reach 42% of males online between the ages of 18-34, which is 14% of the entire UK population.
How many registered users do you have?
The last time we checked, though these figures may be slightly out of date, we had 900,000 registered on the site. We also have good stats for user attention, out registered users look at an average of 120 pages per month, spending 2 hours 20 minutes on Gamespot.
This must make you an attractive proposition for advertisers – is this holding up in a recession?
We are totally ad supported on Gamespot, which also applies to other media sites in the UK, TV.com and CNET. Despite the current economic conditions, Gamespot continues to do well. If anything, making a more informed choice about which games to buy and play becomes more important in a recession, so there is still an audience there for advertisers.
Why did you decide to have an ABCe audit rather than using figures from firms like comScore?
I think that sites use these audits because they are confident in the size of their audiences and want to send a message out to the advertising community. Gamespot is the largest gaming site in the UK by some way, and we wanted to show the UK stats to emphasise the scale of our reach. If we were to give out a figure for global users, it would be something like 46m.
ComScore has value, as a lot of the advertising agencies use it. However, as ABCe works from the log data, it gives a more accurate picture. I think measurement firms like comScore tend to underestimate website audiences compared with log data, it is also wrong on other factors like gender – it says our audience is 30% female for instance. However, even though numbers are understated, it is useful to see how different sites are performing relative to one another.
With a large network of sites, do you need to do much promotion for Gamespot?
CBS Interactive has a reach of 9.6m users across its UK sites alone, so while we do pay attention to SEO, we don't do any active marketing for Gamespot. We promote it through our other online brands. We also do things like Podcasts, we have 30,000 subscribers on iTunes.
The other way is to produce a lot of content covering all the consoles and games out there. We have content teams in the UK, Australia and the US adding to the site around the clock, while there are forums and reviews which allow users to come in and add to it.
Are you doing anything with mobile?
Yes, we have just launched an iPhone optimised version of the site that has just been released. We'll also be covering more for mobile gamers in future, as the iPhone is changing the game in this area.