Marketing Black Friday

Black Friday is, on the surface, a big retail sales day in the United States based on the fact that most people in the USA have the Friday after Thanksgiving as a holiday. Thus, this day has become the traditional start of serious holiday shopping for most people. However, the Black Friday tradition has expanded in time and space, and it has become a key milestone in holiday marketing plans for game publishers. Given that the holiday quarter is traditionally the very best part of the year for selling games, it’s easy to see why Black Friday has become the most important event of the year for marketers. Let’s take a closer look at what this event means for game marketers.

Black Friday has expanded in many ways since its origins — the term itself began as a description of the heavy traffic caused by shoppers in Philadelphia. Later the term was said to describe the day that retailers first started turning a profit (being “in the black” in accounting parlance), though this is at best an apocryphal explanation. Since around 2003, the day has been the busiest shopping day of the year in the USA.

While originally Black Friday sales didn’t begin until 6 am Friday morning, stores have begun rolling back the start times. Now even a midnight start isn’t the earliest; some stores open at 8 pm on Thanksgiving. Many stores have even spread the event earlier, back into the previous week or two for some sale prices. The greatest discounts are usually reserved for a limited supply of “doorbuster” items, aimed at bringing people to a particular retailer under the theory that once people are in the door, they’ll do most of their holiday shopping at that store.

Why the ferocious marketing scramble to be the place where customers head to first for holiday shopping? The prevailing theory around Electronic Arts back in the 1980’s, held by then-head of sales Larry Probst, was that it was important to lock up those “open to buy” dollars” from retail chains. Probst always launched a “Buy Two, Get One Free” promotion for EA games in the fall, and he always wanted to get it under way before Activision or anyone else launched their promotions. He knew that retailers, and consumers, only have a certain amount to spend — and if you’re the first one with an attractive offer, you’re closing out some of the competition.

The same principle applies today, even though the battle has moved mostly to cyberspace for games. The retail store battle is still vital in many ways, but the Black Friday competition has spread rapidly at online retailers like Newegg and Amazon. The Cyber Monday phenomenon, invented to try and drag some attention away from physical retail, has in effect merged with Black Friday as the lines between online and physical retail have become ever hazier.

Black Friday has even begun to transcend the boundaries of the United States and spread to other countries, even though they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Canadian retailers have had to adopt sales on that day in self-defense, lest too many Canadian customers head over the border to spend their dollars in US retail stores. The increasing importance of online retailers like Amazon has lead to sales appearing in the UK and Europe as well. It makes perfect sense for marketers — you’re doing all this marketing work, why not get the best return on that investment by using the same promotions everywhere

Even for mobile games, the holiday quarter is important. The greatest number of app downloads occurs in the week from Christmas to New Year’s Day, as people get new smartphones and tablets for the holiday season — and have the time to download some apps and try them out for existing devices. Clever marketers push for the development of special holiday content for games, giving people an extra reason to try out a title while enjoying visual reminders of the season.

The challenge for game marketers is to create interest and drive sales without giving away all the profits in the process. Discounting old inventory, especially as digital downloads, is often a tactic used to drive interest and sales without increasing cost of goods. However, there is a long-term worry that GameStop president Tony Bartel noted. Lower prices for games, or game giveaways, can lead to consumers valuing games at a lower level — and perhaps being less inclined to pay full price.

Retail displays and promotional partnerships have an outsized importance on Black Friday. Sure, it’s great to have a solid shelf presence in stores, or a good endcap, or an interactive kiosk. But it’s not just about promoting the sales in the stores, even though that’s what the retailer is hoping to achieve. The savvy marketer knows that these displays make effective billboards for people coming into the stores for other goods. When all of those other shoppers start thinking about what gaming products to buy, they’ll likely remember the impressions that were made on them by that interesting display in the store.

Large store displays send a subliminal message that’s very similar to the flashy displays used by courting animals, like a peacock’s feathers. That tells a prospective partner of the health and importance of the item on display. After all, that game must be important and bestselling, and therefore of good quality, if it has a huge store display, right

Microsoft Prepared For Black Friday Sales

We previously mentioned this in our other Black Friday article, but Microsoft has taken the digital approach when it comes to providing certain users with a special deal in time for the big holiday selling weekend.

The company has launched its new Black Friday page, which highlights a number of deals for consumers across all areas, including consoles, games, Xbox Video programs and much more.

Games appear to be the big highlight here, as a number of digital releases are available for dirt cheap through the entire week, running through December 1st. These include big Xbox One releases like Killer Instinct Ultra Edition Season 1, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Forza Motorsport 5: Game of the Year Edition and Angry Birds Star Wars, among others.

Several Xbox 360 games are on sale as well, many of which go for $2.99, including such Electronic Arts favorites as Burnout Paradise, Bulletstorm and others. The full list of deals can be found over on Major Nelson’s website.

That’s not all. Microsoft also has several sales planned on Black Friday itself. Although other digital deals haven’t been revealed yet, the company will host several big Black Friday bargains in its Microsoft stores, including games like Sunset Overdrive and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for $15 a pop, and special deals on consoles and Surface Pro tablets. Those sales will kick off online tomorrow night, starting at 12 AM EDT.

While this will no doubt give Microsoft some big exposure over the holiday weekend, don’t count Sony out. In addition to two previously announced PlayStation 4 bundles featuring the likes of Grand Theft Auto V and LittleBigPlanet 3, the company has announced a week-long sale of cooperative games running through December 2nd, including such games as Rayman Legends, Resogun and Lego The Hobbit. In addition, those who spend $100 or more on these games through December 2nd will be eligible for a $15 credit on their PlayStation account.

Indeed, gamers, it may just be time to break out the wallets.

5 Reasons Brands Should Use YouTube This Holiday Season

By Rich Raddon

The time has come. Black Friday is around the corner and the biggest shopping season of the year is upon us. Although brands and consumers are used to the traditional direct mailers and TV spots, Black Friday – and shopping in general – has gained a significant presence on YouTube.

According to our data, Black Friday-related videos on YouTube are about much more than crazy mobs of shoppers fighting over flat-screen TVs. Whether it’s a Beauty Guru doing a haul video about the amazing makeup deals she found, or a consumer-electronics influencer unboxing the latest must-have tech, YouTube is changing the way consumers understand and evaluate the year’s biggest day for holiday sales.

For retailers and brands that haven’t already considered the impact YouTube could have on their holiday sales, here are five reasons to start now:

1. YouTube Dominance

According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more 18-34 year old adults than any cable network, and it is now the second largest online search engine. For brands, that means free access to a platform that reaches some of the top shoppers – millennials – better than any TV channel or mailer.

2. The Power of Fans

Even if you are not on YouTube yet, your fans are, and they are creating content on behalf of your brand in droves. At Zefr, we discovered that an incredible 90% of a brand’s activity on YouTube is coming from fan-uploaded videos. This phenomenon is so important, we actually released an ebook called the “Anatomy of a Fan” because it is imperative that a brand finds, understands, and leverages the “earned media” it gains from these communities. A fan video can be anything from a haul video where a YouTuber reveals their favorite products from shopping at your store that day to a Sneakerhead (a massive YouTube fan community) posting about the shoes they are collecting. Because customers often trust consumer opinion more than branded content, these videos are pure gold for brands.

Read more…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

King’s ‘Candy Crush Soda Saga’ Events

King Digital’s latest game Candy Crush Soda Saga is certainly making waves on the mobile front, and the publisher isn’t holding back when it comes to providing it with, ahem, sweet promotion.

The company celebrated the launch of the game with celebrity events in both New York and London, including a parade down Broadway in Manhattan with 20 giant Candy Bear floats and waves of purple soda, according to VentureBeat.

In addition various New Yorkers with candy helmets, along with a soda-drenched taxi, a Candy-based hotdog cart, and others in costumes roamed the streets in New York. Molly Sims, an actress who’s also an avid Candy Crush Saga fan, also took part in the festivities.

“New York is such a great setting to celebrate the launch of Candy Crush Soda Saga,” said Alex Dale, chief marketing officer at King, in a statement. “It is a perfect backdrop to bring to life the key elements of the new game, Candy Crush Soda Saga — Soda, Candy Bears, color, magic, and lots of fun! We hope our players are as entertained by it as they are by our games.”

Meanwhile, in London, King had plenty of candy-based items for show as well, including a large illuminated candy bear near the Thames River, right under the Tower Bridge. Recording artist Nicole Sherzinger was in attendance for that event.

This is just the latest promotion for King’s game, as it’s also gotten quite a bit of attention with its Facebook video, as well as a television campaign that’s spreading like wildfire. Of course, considering the company generated $260 million in revenues over the last quarter, it can certainly afford to do so.

And it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. With millions of mobile devices expected to be gifted this holiday season, King is likely to continue with Candy Crush Soda Saga‘s promotions for some time to come.


Creator Showcase Ft. Jack And Jack, Zach King And Brittani Louise Taylor

Jack and Jack

Top Viners Jack and Jack (no, not brothers) will be sharing how they create content on the snackable mobile video platform. Although young, Jack and Jack have worked with numerous brands to make fun videos for their 4.7 million followers.

Zach King, aka Final Cut King made a name for himself on Vine, YouTube and Instagram with his knack for creating video magic through his clever use of editing. Zach spoke at our last summit and dispensed some fantastic knowledge for brands about leveraging mobile platforms. We’re elated he’s returning for his second [a]list summit to talk more about mobile prowess.

Brittani Louise Taylor

You’ve probably seen Brittani’s work on YouTube by way of her massively popular parody videos like her take on Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” below. Brittani doesn’t just have 1.2 million+ followers on YouTube, she’s also a major Instagrammer as well, with 190k followers there.

[a]list summit on Dec. 3rd at the W Hotel Hollywood is chock-full of mobile entertainment’s luminaries:

  • Kristian Segerstrale, COO of Super Evil Megacorp
  • Peter Levin, President of Interactive Ventures & Games at Lionsgate
  • Robert Brill, Executive Director of Programmatic Media at ION
  • Maria Pacheco, Senior Director Marketing, Mobile at Dreamworks Animation
  • Andy Hess, Evangelist at Epic Games
  • Wally Nguyen, CEO of mNectar
  • Bill Rehbock, General Manager, Content Marketing at NVIDIA
  • Dorothy M. Ferguson, Global Marketing Director, Gaming at Plantronics
  • Fabien-Pierre Nicolas, Senior Marketing Director at App Annie
  • Austin Murray, Founder and Chief Business Officer of Text+
  • Ross McCray, CEO of VideoAmp
  • David Hayes, Head of Creative Strategy at Tumblr
  • T.J. Marchetti, CMO of AwesomenessTV
  • Stephen Blackwell, CEO of SpinMedia
  • Marcus Gners, COO of Lifesum
  • Jon Bauch, Partner at Anthem Venture Partners
  • Andrew Stalbow, CEO of Seriously
  • Christian Galvin, VP of Sales at Fiksu
  • Gladys Kong, President and CTO of UberMedia
  • Noah Eichen, Director of Original Content at Ayzenberg
  • Chris Younger, Principal and Director of Strategy at Ayzenberg
  • Jim Louderback, Managing Director at Boomfeeder
  • Kevin Winston, Founder and CEO of Digital LA
  • Mike Vorhaus, President of Magid Advisors
  • Julian Hollingshead, VP, Strategy and Client Services at Ayzenberg

For full agenda and tickets, visit










A Look Behind Mobile’s Holiday Shopping Numbers

Mobile traffic last year around Black Friday amounted to 40 percent of all site visits, but from all that traffic, mobile generated only 22 percent of online sales. It was clear that shoppers were using mobile for browsing, but clearly much was left to be desired when it came to actual sales. This year, that mobile traffic will likely be much higher (last year, it grew by 34 percent) and so too will online sales, one hopes.

How are marketers addressing this disparity between traffic and sales when it comes to mobile Making things generally easier for consumers will help immensely.

This holiday season, 30 percent of U.S. shoppers are planning to use Apple Pay or Google Wallet, which will help to nudge sales a bit for mobile. Of those smartphone owners, 17 percent planned to spend more because of the ease of buying these services will provide.

A few stores are planning on leveraging in-store browsing to ramp up sales as well, with some companies rolling out apps or app updates that will provide special in-store Black Friday maps to sales. Big box stores like Target and Best Buy are especially poised to take advantage of this trend.

Beyond that, it will be interesting to see how marketers use existing relationships with customers and the added benefit of targeting that mobile provides.

Seriously: Brands Drive Mobile Games

Mobile games are evolving rapidly on multiple levels, from a technical perspective, marketing, graphics, and increasing sophistication of game design. One of the mobile entertainment startups that shows this evolution is Seriously, a startup packed with talent from Fox, Disney, Rovio and Natural Motion. The company’s mobile game Best Fiends is a visually stunning puzzle game that was selected by Apple as Best of October 2014.

Seriously has raised a total of $10 million dollars to help bring its vision of the future of mobile gaming to life. “We’ve been thrilled with the reaction to our first title,” said Andrew Stalbow, CEO of Seriously. “The additional funding gives us extra firepower to extend our talented team of 13 people as we take our strategy of creating global entertainment brands ‘mobile first’ to a new level.”

The [a]listdaily caught up with Stalbow prior to his appearance on a panel at the [a]list summit Mobile Marketing for Brands and Entertainment, taking place on December 3, so he could share with us some thoughts on the mobile games market and the importance of brands.

[a]listdaily: What led you to form Seriously

Andrew Stalbow

Andrew Stalbow: I saw the power of games as a platform for entertainment companies to really build their properties out. I worked at Rovio for a couple of years, where I was responsible for their biggest commerical deals with people like Lucasfilm for Angry Birds Star Wars. We treated the game as an entertainment IP, and we built it out. When I founded my new company, Seriously, we basically said to ourselves “Can we build the Pixar of mobile ” So we have our first game that just came out, Best Fiends, and it’s performing really well — it got 1 million downloads in its first 6 days — with a small but talented development team creating games that feel like one day they might be great big movies. They start their lives as fun things on mobile devices, and effectively what we do is build entertainment as a platform.

It’s very exciting to be in this business. Audiences migrate like crazy to mobile devices… not just for communication, but for content consumption as well. The average American spends an hour playing games on their smartphone and tablet. It’s a huge opportunity.

[a]listdaily: There are plenty of companies making mobile games these days, and some are saying the market is too crowded — while others say that mobile games are still in the early days. What do you think

Andrew Stalbow: I think we’re just at the beginning. That said, there are definitely some early winners emerging. The big guys are spending tens of millions of dollars on promoting their new launches. The biggest mobile game releases are going to get backed with movie marketing style budgets. The little guy, a developer from Vietnam, can create Flappy Bird and it can become a global phenomenon. But it’s also getting increasingly hard to cut through.

[a]listdaily: Where’s the opportunity for success in mobile games Is it geographic, or a particular genre, or quality Where do you focus your effort

Andrew Stalbow: I don’t know all the answers, but I know what we’re doing. I want to differentiate through quality. Our opportunity is to build games that feel like they’re taking the products to the next level.

[a]listdaily: Many companies have really stepped up their efforts, especially on graphics, but success is more than just about graphics, isn’t it

Andrew Stalbow: I think that’s right. For us it’s about producing something that’s visually stunning and trying to take a gameplay genre and use it as a way to introduce great big IP. We’ve been focused on story, great characters, a conflict, unique setting, amazing music and a really great back story, and combining that with a really fun game and seeing if we can build something that way.

[a]listdaily: Discoverability is a huge issue, though, regardless of the game, don’t you think

Andrew Stalbow: What we believe is great products do win through. The way we approached the market was by building something that has really great retention, great engagement, we can build a business on the back of that. Our view was, “Can you build something that takes a genre to the next level ” and then build a business around that. It’s not easy to cut through, but it’s a very democratized platform and there are some early winners emerging.

[a]listdaily: The rise of social media has meant great audience involvement, but some mobile game companies don’t seem to put much effort into connecting with the audience. Do you feel that’s important

Andrew Stalbow: I think that trick on great products, whether they be on mobile or whether they be on digital platforms or on consoles, the really successful stuff gets to a place where its audience becomes its CMO. That’s the opportunity that social media presents. If you can create something that’s compelling enough that people want to shout about it, and tell their friends, then you’ve got a product that can really connect.

I think there’s been a huge shift in the whole entertainment industry, whether it be games or TV or movies, any kind of content consumption. The content creator has this opportunity now, through mobile and other digital platforms, the content creator can be directly connected to his own audience. In days gone by that never happened. Now I believe there’s a transition you’re going to see over the next few years. The biggest brands are going to be directly connected to their own audience, they’re going to leverage the network effect They’ll get to see what the audience likes and what they don’t like. You’re building a service out and not a product, and its a huge opportunity for people to build their apps into platforms for their brands. I think it’s a super-exciting time.

[a]listdaily: I think building a great audience is as difficult as building a great game, and these days developers have to be as creative with their marketing as they are in developing games. Do you agree

Andrew Stalbow: Yes, that is exactly what I say as well. There are four things you can do as a game developer to really promote your product. Number one is build a great product. People will shout about it if they love it. Number two is communicate lots and lots and tell anybody that’s up for listening that you’ve got something pretty exciting. Number three is performance marketing, and that’s where you really come up against the big guys. That’s install, acquisition, on Facebook and plenty of other mobile app platforms. I think that’s a necessary place to be but it doesn’t build your brand and you’re competing with people that generally have very, very big budgets.

But the place where I think game developers, especially smaller and more independent developers, can compete is creative marketing. If you’re creative about how you communicate your game, you can do some amazing stuff. There’s a whole lot of options available to you.

In days gone by there were very traditional ways of marketing media products. Look at the formulaic way many movie studios have marketed their movies. There is no formula any more, but there’s also an amazing opportunity for even the smallest guy to find ways to reach an audience, whether it’s through places like YouTube or Facebook or Twitter. Twenty years ago the smallest guy couldn’t have afforded to market their game and needed to find a publisher to get distribution and marketing, now they have an opportunity to find their audience. The downside of having to find your audience is actually all upside. The power is in the content creator’s hands.

Top Trailers Of The Week: November 26th

Welcome back to another edition of Top Trailers For the Week, where we highlight the best clips from TV shows, movies and video games. This week is so jam-packed with excitement, you may need to scarf down two Thanksgiving turkeys to make up for the energy.

Yesterday, we posted the news that Universal Studios has released the first trailer for Jurassic World, the latest chapter in the popular Jurassic Park franchise. Featuring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, this film revolves around a much larger theme park – and a bigger, genetically created nightmare that awaits those that visit it. The film opens in the U.S. on June 12th.

The Peter Pan legacy has been told in movies various times, including with Steven Spielberg’s Hook back in the 90’s, but this time around, director Joe Wright is aiming more for a fantasy-based touch with Pan. The story revolves around Peter’s relationship with a young Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund), as they do battle with the dreaded Blackbeard, played in over-the-top fashion by Hugh Jackman. The movie arrives in theaters next summer.

The first downloadable content for Activision’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has been confirmed, and will release for Xbox consoles this January, followed by a later release for PlayStation systems and PC. Titled Havoc, this new add-on pack will bring a Zombies mode into the fold, where players team up together to face off against hordes of the undead. A new weapon, the AE4-Widowmaker, will also be introduced with the pack.

The latest game footage for Batman: Arkham Knight has arrived, showing the Dark Knight doing battle with a mysterious army inside the Ace Chemicals plant. Using every tool he has in his arsenal, Batman battles these forces both on foot and in a heavily fortified Batmobile, which can transform into tank mode and really do damage to enemies. The game will release this June for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Forget the imposters. The official trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived with flying colors the day after Thanksgiving, providing a glimpse of what director J.J. Abrams is bringing to the franchise come December 18, 2015. Featuring incredible shots of a new lightsaber, Stormtroopers, X-Wings and, yes, the Millennium Falcon, the movie should have no trouble drumming up the hearts of fans — not to mention millions in sales from new toys and other merchandise. Suddenly, we’re kids again.

Maker Studios Signs Toy Reviewers

There’s a growing trend on YouTube where some folks go to extremes to review the latest toys on the market, whether they’re dolls, action figures or some other form of child’s play thing. Some of the videos are delightful, others can be a bit weird – but in a likable sort of way. The Frozen dress-up doll kit review below should give an idea of just what people are up to.

These videos are getting a great deal of attention – and Disney’s Maker Studios is certainly award of this. The network has signed up five of these “toy review” programmers to join its fold, according to Re/code.

The likes of such channels as DisneyCarToys, among others, have grown quite a bit in popularity, with over 140 million views in a month’s time, as well as one million subscribers for that one unique channel alone.

“Unpacking” videos have grown in popularity over the years, to the point that some, like StyleHaul, have created a lucrative business from it, as that company’s equity has reached around $150 million.

The companies involved – DisneyCarToys, HobbyKidsTV, TheEngineeringFamily, ToysReviewToys and AllToyCollector – will receive a major push from Maker, allowing them to get bigger distribution. As a result, the company will benefit with greater ad revenue.

From a press release, Maker has vowed that the company is “working to incorporate new and existing partners into creator empowerment and access programs across Disney divisions.” So it could possibly sign up even more partners in 2015 if this program comes to financial fruition – including the popular DC Toys Collector, who used to go under the name DisneyCollectorBR. There’s no official word on this just yet, though.

For now, Maker definitely wants to keep the unpacking trend going – especially with a larger, beneficial audience that may be interested in picking up said toys. Hey, Christmas is coming, after all.


Razer Produces eSports Gamer Documentary

eSports is definitely on the rise when it comes to popularity, with companies like Riot Games and Valve offering millions of dollars in prizes for tournaments revolving around their respective titles, including League of Legends and DOTA 2. Now, Razer, the maker of various PC and other gaming peripherals, will pay tribute to these players with a forthcoming documentary series.

Razer has recently announced that the first public screening for the first chapter in its series, Team Razer: Great Games, will make its premiere at DreamHack Winter in Jonokoping, Sweden. With the documentary, a group of eSports professionals will be followed as they engage in tournaments for such titles as StarCraft II and League of Legends.

“When we say eSports is in Razer’s DNA, we really mean it,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “We pioneered eSports in the early days by supporting budding professional athletes and we helped grow some of the largest tournaments around at the time – we still continue to accomplish that today in a way few others can. With ‘Great Games’ we wanted to showcase the rise of eSports in a way that inveterate and new gamers alike may enjoy, and it provides an exciting glimpse into the lives of some of the world’s most talented eSports professionals that call Team Razer their home.”

The three half-hour episodes in the series were directed by Travis “Samonx” Beauchamp, who also brought the YouTube-based documentary The Smash Brothers to life some time ago. With the first installment, viewers will be introduced to what makes eSports tick, as well as focus on such superstars as Jaedong and Flash. The other two episodes will continue to follow these players through more complex sessions of Dota 2 and League of Legends.

“eSports is a phenomenon that so many people are still unaware of, and I want to change that,” says Beauchamp. “Athletes from different cultures pursue their passion with these games, with millions of people watching, each player driven by a desire to be the best of the best. Illuminating the lives of these StarCraft, Dota 2 and League of Legends champions will help eSports novices to understand that ambitious gaming is not only a hobby, but a serious sport.”

The trailer for the series can be found below. There’s no word when it will make its online premiere, but sometime in 2015 is very likely, on Razer’s official YouTube channel.