On November 11th, 2011, the gaming world shuddered as the Dragon God developers of Bethesda Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks launched The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.  The launch of this Role Playing Game (RPG) was one of the most anticipated game releases of the year with lines of hundreds of gamers waiting to get their copy during the Christmas shopping season.  As a result of an immensely successful launch, Skyrim achieved the status of second fastest selling video game with 3.4 million copies sold two days after its release.

Source: Bethesda Studios

We believe that Skyrim is a compelling case-study of the impact of targeted, social advertising on social interest communities. Below we outline 2 ways how Bethesda Games leveraged the social interest community, reddit.com, to generate millions of pageviews and millions in sales revenue from its highly anticipated game release.

Leverage the passionate community

The Gaming subreddit is one of the most popular subreddits on the reddit.com social community.  In addition, there is a subreddit dedicated to Skyrim, http://www.reddit.com/r/skyrim. Bethesda’s marketing enjoyed the benefit of a cultivated, moderated, user-driven community of Skyrim fans already hosting discussions around their passion for the game.  The Skyrim subreddit community page and page controls take advantage of the design themes from the Elder Scrolls game, giving it an authentic experience. Authenticity drives traffic and the Skyrim subereddit averaged more than 38 million page views in November.  Most brands find that they have to build their own social communities on various platforms, but Bethesda games enjoyed a following that built its own engagement around the game.


source: http://www.reddit.com/r/skyrim


Focus advertising campaigns to an engaged gamer interest graph

The cumulative reddit gamer community is one of the largest communities in reddit. In January 2012, the gamer community was estimated at 13 Million unique individuals visiting, each month.  Bethesda ran its advertising campaign on reddit to target this particular interest graph.   Bethesda’s also fit its advertising creative into reddit’s native social advertising units, called targeted links.  Targeted links can be run sitewide or on a specific reddit. Thus, Bethesda could select all the gamer subreddits and ensure that its advertising spend targeted this specific interest group.



Bethesda successfully captured the attention of a gaming community of 13 million individuals by leveraging the passionate community of redditors who spend a substantial amount of time socially engaging on reddit gaming and Skyrim communities.  The company also leveraged properly targeted, native social advertising that, together with its other advertising buys, helped propel it to the second fast-selling game.  Building interest and social communities is hard work. Smart brands will find these online communities in emerging social media platforms to run targeted social-advertising that delivers very high ROI on advertising campaign spends.

Learn more about how companies are engaging with reddit social communities. Please send us a note at info@thoughtleadr.com or contact us. We’d love to hear from you and share other case studies and lessons.

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