Target Turns Shopping Into A Game

Target didn’t exactly have the happiest of holidays last season, when a data breach left millions of consumers affected. However, this year, the company is attempting something different – a digital program meant to bring more customers into its stores.

Target’s aim was to interact with consumers while allowing them to shop for bargains within various Target locations worldwide. Through the program, Google also put together a mobile website {link no longer active} where shoppers can interact with six different games online.

However, additional interaction will be done at stores, according to Adweek. Would-be customers can seek out promotional signs across Target’s 1,800 stores with special three-digit codes, which would allow the unlocking of bonus content with the games.

The games offer the usual touch-screen variety of activities, such as throwing virtual snowballs at targets and guiding a sled on a downhill run with a few key swipes.

Target is making sure that these games are a charitable cause as well. For each game a consumer plays, the company will donate $1 to St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, with a total goal of $1 million.

“What we’re looking at through this experimentation in particular is the use of new, cutting-edge browser technology,” said Alan Wizemann, vp of product for and mobile. “What it also allows us is to look across how these technologies and games are used for entertainment to get a glimpse at what is potentially possible in stores in the future.”

As part of the agreement, Target will also set up special Project Tango tablets, made by Google, in four locations – California, Dallas, Chicago and Minnesota. A 10-minute demo will be presented, showing just how high-tech the tablets are.

This is just the latest move into the technical world for Target, following the launch of a mobile app that provides in-store mapping technology, so products can be easier located. This follows Google’s research on shopping habits, where it was indicated that 87 percent of consumers use mobile to look around before they even visit a store.

“Those [numbers] gave us the fuel to explore how to do something with Target around the holiday season that was more than just informational and transactional,” explained Ben Malbon, director of creative partnerships at Google, and the Art, Copy & Code program.

It’s just a matter of time to see if this practice turns around Target’s woes from last year. Here’s to hoping.

Monetizing Mobile

Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors, moderated a panel about monetizing mobile. He was joined by panelists Corey Rosemond, business development director for Plantronics; Wally Nguyen, CEO of mNectar; Austin Murray, founder and chief business officer of TextPlus; and Vincent Juarez, principal and director of media for Ayzenberg.

Mike Vorhaus led off the panel by asking the panel to consider the role of games on mobile in the future, given that games are currently responsible for the overwhelming majority of mobile revenue. “Will games continue to be the dominant monetization in mobile ,” Vorhaus asked. “We get a lot of people approaching us to put games in our application,” said Murray, a veteran of the mobile gaming space before starting up his messaging app company. “You see games being put into messaging apps around the world. I’m not sure if it’s going to stay that way, or it’s just the low-hanging fruit right now. People are coming up with new ways to monetize them.”

“Games are certainly the most sexy part of mobile right now,” Juarez noted. “The burden is on developers to get people to cross that velvet rope to monetize.” An interesting perspective was brought by Nguyen, a self-confessed gaming fanatic. “I look at it from a consumer perspective. If you look at the East, the apps are built as multi-use,” Nguyen said. “There’s chat, messaging, there are games built in, and that’s how Easterners enjoy their experience. As Americans we like to have a specific app for each purpose. The Eastern method allows for higher LTV and ARPU, because it’s a long term relationship. The Western approach, when you’re done with Candy Crush you’re done with the relationship.”

“We have seen that free-to-play can benefit the end user, because it creates this bond between the developer and the end user,” said Rosemond. “That’s not something you always found with traditional products.”

Vorhaus asked the panel about the prospects for console games to benefit from mobile games, and vice versa. “The way to look at console games migrating to mobile is at core gaming,” said Nguyen. “There are some challenges, like retention – early retention is really tough with core games. You can’t just drop in and understand it. If they stick around until day 30, you can really make money from them.”

Other panelists had more optimistic views. “You could see it as a gateway to the console experience,” said Juarez. “You want to give them a bite-sized snack, but you want to do it in a way that allows them to migrate over.” Rosemond noted the popularity of companion apps to console games. “I think about mobile giving more value to the consumers without having to give up your revenue stream. Companion apps are a good example of that,” Rosemond said. “They enhance your ability to do things within the game.”

Talking about CPI and acquiring audience, Vorhaus noted that in many Asian countries, paid TV advertising is actually the number one source of installs for apps. Nguyen was much more direct in his response. “CPI is dead, CPI sucks, you should not buy on the basis of CPI,” Nguyen declared. “Why are people installing your app You don’t know, but that’s what you pay for. In a given month, people install ten apps, and at the end of the month they delete nine. Nine out of ten CPI campaigns are therefore wasted. I think product demonstration is the best way to go.”

Valve Introduces Livestreaming For Steam

Livestreaming is certainly all the rage when it comes to video games, whether it’s devoted users showcasing their latest game sessions, or companies providing a sneak preview of what’s ahead for its forthcoming products. Twitch has cleaned up nicely in this business, and now Valve sees an opportunity to do the same with Steam.

The company has posted details on this just-introduced feature, which enables gamers to broadcast their game sessions with ease over the Steam service. In addition to showing off what they can do, users are also able to look around and find sessions based on their favorite games, simply by using a search tool and selecting “watch game” when they find what they want to view.

In addition, people can also select options in terms of who can watch streaming sessions, whether they prefer to invite a select audience or simply limit it to friends. Certain companies can possibly use this service to show off upcoming games, without them being leaked to the public.

However, there’s a certain way that users’ broadcasts have to be launched. Instead of simply starting a broadcast (as you would on Twitch), the show doesn’t actually begin until people begin watching it. That could be tricky for those who aren’t good at building up an immediate audience, but there are settings that can be messed with so that the numbers aren’t quite so strict for certain streamers.

While the service is certainly Twitch-like, Valve is doing it all on its own, and considering the millions of users that utilize Steam on a daily basis, it should have no trouble building an audience. However, Twitch still has the advantage when it comes to not only a large number of users, but also support through Amazon, who acquired the company earlier this year.

2015 will certainly be a big year for streaming services – especially once Valve releases its long-awaited Steam-based Machines.

Facebook Focusing On Mobile, Video Ads

Facebook looks primed and ready to revamp its advertising game for 2015, in the hopes of assisting marketers and drawing in more viewers of its video advertisements.

The company announced that it will assist marketers in featuring autoplay video content within its App Install ads, according to Re/Code. With these, advertisers will be able to put their messages into video format on the site for the first time. It’s also looked at as an enticing point to draw in more users to download the featured app, straight from their News Feed.

With the program, Facebook hopes to bring a shift to how advertisers use video advertising, perhaps even to the point of shying them away from television ads. There’s no word yet if this Premium Video campaign will take effect, but there are certainly interested companies.

Facebook also plans to bump up its advertising game on the mobile front. In addition to supporting video through Amazon Fire devices, the company has introduced a number of targeting options that are available, with a guarantee that promos from companies will be seen by a specific number of the Facebook audience.

Keep in mind, though, that most of these video advertisements would only be seen by users who haven’t shut off the “autoplay” feature on their mobile devices or computers. A number of social folks have already taken this option, considering they aren’t too fond of seeing ads play when they’re trying to post something or see what their friends are up to. Worse, video ads can chew up data, which can mean extra charges if you’re closing in on your data cap.

That’s not to say everyone is turning them off, though. Facebook has reported that it continues to see a steady stream of ad revenue for the third quarter of 2014, with 66 percent generated by mobile devices. That shows there’s still a great interest in the video marketing, even if it’s not the complete Facebook user count.

With Amazon Fire support and strengthened video options, Facebook could be on the verge of increasing its video ad revenue – provided enough people continue to tune in.

Tumblr Dominates Social Platform Growth

When it comes to social networking, growth is everything. After all, if you don’t have an audience to use your services, what’s the point Fortunately, sites like Pinterest and Instragram are certainly showing some growth — but Tumblr is leading the charge.

A report posted by TechCrunch {link no longer active} shows that Tumblr has the highest amount of growth in terms of social audience, with a 120 percent increase in active users over the previous year. While the number of members is a bit lower at 45 percent, there’s no question that it’s getting far more use.

Meanwhile, Pinterest isn’t far behind, showing a 111 percent growth (with 57 percent from members), and Instagram is in third with 64 percent (with 36 percent from members). Hitting lower numbers are Twitter with 18 percent growth (26 percent in members) and Facebook with six percent (and two percent from members). However, keep in mind these are all positive numbers, with barely any drop in users. The chart below shows the growth for each company, including some interesting numbers for Google Plus.

Tumblr also hopes to expand its audience with the introduction of buy and view buttons, which can be viewed here. With these new functions, bloggers can post links from Kickstarter, DoSomething and other sites, enabling users to see products and pick them up with the simple push of a button.

Leading back to numbers, when it comes to growth with specific teen and 20-something audiences, it appears that Snapchat has the highest, with a 56 percent increase over the previous year. That’s followed closely behind by Facebook Messenger, which shouldn’t be a surprise since the company installed it as its separate app on mobile devices earlier this year. Instagram, Line and Pinterest round out the top five, while Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr are on the bottom, ranging around 25 to 30 percent — which still isn’t bad.

However, there is some cause for concern with Facebook, according to Jason Mander, head of trends and author of the report. “Facebook has some major challenges to face,” he said. “Firstly, people are growing tired of it, with 50 percent of members in the UK and U.S. saying that they’re using it less frequently than they used to (rising to 64 percent among teens).” He says that the stats appear to show people using Facebook much more passively today than in the past: “Since the start of 2013, we’ve seen behaviors like sharing photos and messaging friends fall by around 20 percentage points.”

Meanwhile, the report also explains that while mobile use of social apps is on the rise, they haven’t overtaken PC and laptop usage just yet. Six out of ten users still access social networks using some form of computer, while 4 in 10 use mobile devices. However, considering the growth of the mobile market, don’t be surprised if you see this change up over the next few years.

More details on the report can be found here {link no longer active}.

2015 Is The Year Of Content Creation

According to David Hayes, Head of Creative Strategy on Tumblr, the popular blogging platform reaches a quarter of all gamers. Let that sink in a moment.

“People think that Tumblr is new,” Hayes said. “We’ve been around since 2007.”

For brands that haven’t yet taken advantage of Tumblr’s many unique commmunties and tapped into the reach on the platform, Hayes has some harsh words: “Brands that sit it out, that say ‘we don’t have the infrastructure yet’, if you’re not actually posting inside that stream, you don’t exist.”

While when many think of the kinds of content created on Tumblr, they might think of photos as being the principal way creators utilize the platform, that idea might be outdated. “Videos are our fastest growing post type. Especially micro, short-form, snackable video,” says Hayes. “We’ve had video as a post-type for 7 years.”

So what brands are doing it right Hayes waxes poetic about Denny’s Tumblr strategy, even going as far as hiring the creative behind forming the diner chain’s brand voice there. Hayes also notes that Xbox’s post on Tumblr was one of the top performing gaming post of all time.

If 2013 was the year of native advertising and 2014 the year of content marketing, 2015 will be the year of content creation, according to Hayes, and Tumblr is in a unique position to be part of it all– after all, Tumblr has 7 post types while many social platforms are playing with just one.

When asked if Tumblr would ever adopt pay-to-reach monetization as platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have done, Hayes says “No way, never. Absolutely not,” saying it would be disruptive to the communtiies and fandoms that thrive on Tumblr. For brands, Hayes thinks “it’s demeaning to rent your own home,” with the communities brands work so hard to build on platforms.

“We would never mess with a brand’s community.”


The Future of Mobile Marketing

Kevin Winston, founder and CEO of Digital LA, moderated a panel about the future of mobile marketing, particularly in the area of ad buying on mobile. He was joined by panelists including Robert Brill, executive director [ion] and programmatic media for Ayzenberg; Ross McCray, CEO of VideoAmp; Christian Galvin, VP of sales for Fiksu; and Gladys Kong, president and CTO of UberMedia.

Winston asked the panelists what sort of placements they had available for their respective platforms. “We have a large inventory, as well as programmatic buying,” Kong said. “It’s mostly in-app, video pre-rolls and interstitials.” Fiksu provides a wide range of possibilities. “We buy through all the display channels, we buy programmatically, we have our own RTV and buy across Facebook and Twitter, as well as some of the incentivized players,” Galvin said, referring to Fiksu’s capabilities.

VideoAmp, is, as the name suggests, focused on video. “You can buy on the YouTube mobile app, and can focus on any video or channel,” McCray said. “You can buy on a mobile app, and the focus is with video exchange. Or you can buy mobile web, through the general exchanges.” The nature of the ad buy is different with [ion], as Brill pointed out. “We connect advertisers to influencers,” Brill said. “We are the strategy and the activation part of that business. We sell the content that the users chooses to watch, across mobile and desktop platforms.”

Winston asked the panelists about the nature of advances in targeting. “Let’s talk about targeting,” Winston said. “We’ve come a long way in the past year in our ability to target on mobile. What do you see is popular ”

“We’re at the very top of the funnel; most of what we do is content creation,” Brill noted in reply. “Advertisers come to us to reach influencers. We work to contextually connect the brand with the influencer.” The situation is different with UberMedia. “We specialize in social and location targeting,” Kong pointed out, providing an example. “If BMW comes to us and wants to reach people likely to buy BMWs, we geofence and look for people who have used a particular app and their locations. We have over a thousand data points about 5 million users.”

“There’s no question targeting is important, and it’s come a long way,” Galving agreed. “The big question is scale. Clients want good targeting, but they want scale to go along with it.”

‘Native Advertising Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon’

CEO of SpinMedia, Stephen Blackwell gave an interview over a “Fireside Chat” at [a]list summit: Mobile Marketing today with Anthem Ventures’ Jon Bauch about key mobile trends they are seeing. First thing on their mind Native advertising.

The conversation over native advertising continues to shift, but Bauch maintains that it won’t be “going away anytime soon. Look at user experience.” User experience is key for mobile, because that is where change is happening on the platform, and arguably the ultimate user experience as it pertains to mobile is going to be wearables.

“Integrating wearable devices into your mobile marketing strategy is very important,” says Bauch.

Is the thumb-oriented mobile experience over

“How do people deal with mobile devices 4 billion years of evolution, thumbs reached their apex,” says Blackwell.


The Mobile Marketing Mix

Chris Younger, principal and director of strategy for Ayzenberg, moderated a panel discussion on the subject of being iconic. He was joined by panelists Maria Pacheco, senior director of marketing, mobile, for Dreamworks Animation; Bill Rehbock, general manager of content marketing for Nvidia; Marcus Gners, COO of Lifesum; and Fabien-Pierre Nicolas, senior marketing director for App Annie.

Starting off, Chris Younger queried the panelists on the rapid evolution of mobile devices and wearable tech, and where they thought it might be headed. “What is mobile ” Gners replied. “You have the rapid development of the Internet of Things. Everything is going really fast, it’s exponential not linear. The technology means you will have a much more intimate relationship with your users.” The smartphone and the wearable devices we’re seeing have tremendous computing power, but equally important are the fact that they are with us every day and that they contain sensors to track not only what we’re doing but important data on our physical status as well.

The technology changes have meant changes in marketing as well. “What we’re seeing that the key currency in mobile gaming is time,” said Nicolas. “We’re seeing three to five hours of usage – up to a quarter of a person’s time per day is with their phone. Yet the share of media dollars on mobile is still very small. The brands are losing the battle of engagement with the consumer, especially consumers who are under thirty years old.”

Younger followed up by wondering how well apps built by brands have performed. “Apps built for a brand generally haven’t reached their goals,” said Nicolas, if they are built primarily for promotional purposes rather than providing real utility or value to consumers. He cited the Starbucks app as one that people have responded well to because it’s useful. But we’ll see better results soon, Nicolas feels. “The future is coming from Japan,” Nicolas said. “Puzzle & Dragons did a billion dollars in revenue last year, and is on track to do more than that this year. You saw brands like DC Comics partnering with them to get access to the audience. I think that might be more the future than building stand-alone apps.”

Partnerships might be another way to pursue getting brands to audiences, Younger noted, and the panelists agreed. “When we’re trying to think of what kind of app might be relevant to the next movie we’re coming out with, we’ll think about the genre and go to the app store and look at the top titles,” said Pacheco. “We don’t just want to throw out a light app – we’re charged with revenue generation. We reach out to developers who have already made really successful games, and have a conversation with them. We launched Turbo in May of 2013, and we recently hit 50 million downloads. Before the movie even opened we had 12 million downloads.” Pacheco noted that they had a very productive marketing partnership with Verizon, including an eight week racing contest based around the app.

‘If You Make A Movie And There Aren’t Brands In It, It Doesn’t Look Real’ To Lorenzo Di Bonaventura

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura is a busy guy. The producer of one of the biggest branded entertainment franchise in Hollywood, Transformers, named a number of upcoming projects he’s now working on, from Kidnap with Halle Berry to GI Joe 3. His next challenge: creating content specifically for a mobile screen.

“Fundamentally, you’re working against what we do when you watch on a small screen,” says Di Bonaventura. “For a movie-maker, scale is the biggest issue.”

Lorenzo relates a personal anecdote echoed through [a]list summit: Mobile Marketing: when it comes to kids, the best and most-used screen is also incidentally the smallest one.

“I look at the consumption patterns of my children’s peer group,” said Di Bonaventura, as he joked that this tendency is frustrating from a movie maker’s perspective. He works to tell stories on a big screen, although he is currently working in the digital space, “experimenting with what sticks across the board.”

When it comes to working with brand placement in films and creating branded franchises, Di Bonaventura has tremendous experience having worked closely with numerous brands and creating well-known transmedia franchises.

“If you make a movie and there’s no brand names in it, it doesn’t look real to me,” he says. To Di Bonaventura, working with brands isn’t as antithetical to creating great movies as some working in movies may believe. “Look around the room. I see a lot of brand names,” he goes on to say. “Find a way to maximize the brand form.”

Recently, Di Bonaventura worked with ride-sharing service Uber to create a promotion for Transformers. What he observed happening is that the promotion, while inherently mobile and social, worked in a way to expand into a form of traditional display advertising too.

For the near future, Di Bonaventura sees leveraging major influencer audiences as a key move for traditional movie-makers in a mutually beneficial relationship: “These YouTube stars have real audiences and we would be foolish not to include them in our movies.”