Online gamers of Pogo

While most online advertisers are still searching for the perfect customer, some savvy companies have found an ideal audience among members of an unlikely demographic: online couch potatoes.

That’s right, Internet consumers who share the infamous character traits of their TV-watching counterparts: They’re passive, unprovoked by commercial breaks, and in search of entertainment especially games. Indeed, online gamers spend hours staring at computer screens, waiting, say, for an opponent’s next chess move. In the interim, many are motivated from boredom if nothing else to click on banner ads.

“The Web is mostly a utilitarian, functional, purposeful experience,” says Erick Hachenburg, president and CEO of pogo.com, a gaming site where the average user spends 45 minutes at a stretch playing Java versions of word puzzles and classic games such as hearts and checkers. “Most Web users are trying to get something …