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 Through the program, Google also put together a mobile website {link no longer active} where shoppers can interact with six different games online.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.”

CREATIVE: Top Trailers For the Week, Dec. 3

It’s that time again – time to check out the best trailers for the week from television, video games and movies. We’ve got a lot of highlights for you, so let’s get started…


The new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly took a lot of attention last week, but we shouldn’t dare forget about Pitch Perfect 2, which will make its way to theaters on May 15th. Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson return for even more singing fun, joined by Adam DeVine, Hailee Steinfeld and Brittany Snow. The movie, directed by Elizabeth Banks, should be a big hit, considering the original made  $113 million worldwide on a $17 million budget.


IGN debuted a new trailer for Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell earlier today, introducing the gun-toting criminals to an all-new menace – Satan, and his dominion of Hell. However, the team at Deep Silver is taking the content lightly, as usual, with plenty of shooting shenanigans and laughs. This trailer is definitely proof of that, paying homage to the classic musical – even if Daniel Dae Kim doesn’t exactly hit all the right notes as Johnny Gat. The game will debut for consoles and PC on January 20th.


The PlayStation Experience takes place in Las Vegas this weekend, and Sony has plenty of surprises planned. Among them is a new model of the PlayStation 4 that pays loving tribute to the original PlayStation, which debuted in Japan in late 1994. The video above shows what a lucky 13,200 people will be able to buy this holiday season, including a special edition console with PlayStation logos. Details of its availability will be unveiled on Saturday morning, during the Experience’s opening conference.


Finally, with the Despicable Me spin-off Minions set to arrive in theaters next summer, Universal Pictures opted to release a holiday greeting to fans featuring the jabbering heroes. It’s a little ridiculous, but certainly something that can get viewers of all ages into the holiday spirit. Minions hits theaters on July 10th, 2015.