Ad Spending For Digital Programming More Than Doubles

We’ve seen quite a rise in original digital programming over the past couple of years — to the point where it’s ready to overtake regular television any day now. But a new report shows that its popularity translates to ever-higher spending. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB for short) has reported (via The Drum) that ad spending on original digital video programming has more than doubled since 2014, with both advertisers and media buyers increasing investment by 114 percent in the past year or so.

The report, titled Digital Content NewFronts: Video Ad Spend Study, also pointed out that 68 percent of those polled feel that original digital video will be just as vital as original TV programming in the next three-to-five years. Considering digital video’s increasing reach over the past few years, that shouldn’t be too big of a surprise.

Out of those buyers that were polled, 63 percent intend to spend more on the digital video front, compared to 62 percent just spending on video. It also pointed out that they feel that digital video content has become a more important factor in the industry, with 44 percent of their budgets accounting for digital video, up from 38 percent two years ago.

Anna Bager, senior vice president of IAB, noted, “Marketers and agencies are telling us they clearly see great value in original digital video programming.

“This study demonstrates that the NewFronts has the ability to move ad dollars. Considering this year’s presenter line-up of top-tier, innovative media companies, and content creators, we expect that the event will inspire spending during the marketplace’s two-week period and beyond.”

The news comes just in time for the kick-off of this year’s NewFronts event, which takes place in New York from today through May 13. We’ll see what new trends get introduced on the video front in the days ahead.

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GameStop Exec Explains Why The Retailer Is Marketing Used Games On TV

GameStop has watched other retailers try to succeed in the used games business, only to eventually exit that market. The video game retailer is launching a television and online ad campaign targeting the broader audience of gamers to promote its pre-owned games business, which already generates $1 billion annually.

Designed by The Richards Group, the “Goat” commercial depicts a goat owner swapping the animal for a new, improved goat at a store. The commercial will air across Adult Swim, Comedy Central, ESPNU, FXX, MTV, Spike, TBS, and Toon throughout the month of May. Media will include direct-response TV, online pre-roll, and paid social placements on Facebook.

Frank Hamlin, GameStop
Frank Hamlin, chief marketing officer at GameStop

Frank Hamlin, chief marketing officer at GameStop, explains why the retailer is turning to the airwaves to promote its used games business in this exclusive interview.

Why did you decide to use a commercial to promote used games today?

Television and online media effectively and efficiently reach our broad and core gamer targets.  It allows us to use sight, sound and motion to tell our story and communicate our message. Through GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards loyalty program, we are dyed-in-the-wool, one-to-one marketers. By that, I mean we focus our marketing spend predominantly in areas that drive loyalty from our existing customer base. In businesses predominantly driven through database and digital means, the occasional top-of-the-funnel message can be a rising tide that lifts all boats. We confirmed this hypothesis in a structured geographic test last summer in which we ran various “diets” of continuity media in structured test markets and measured key performance indicators. We are thrilled to roll out this campaign nationally (in May).

PowerUp Rewards members know all about used games. Who are you targeting with these commercials?

Using the broader medium of TV, we’re targeting the broad gaming audience and anyone who needs to be made aware or reminded not only that GameStop will give them cash or credit for their pre-owned video games, but also will provide them with a human, no-nonsense, often humor-filled and sometimes irreverent retail experience. Our associates are gamers just like our customers. Our stores are the physical, visceral place where gamers can commune, connect and kibbutz. These benefits are the subtext of this campaign. We’re a fun retailer and we offer a fun experience. The “Goat” spots aims to reach the broader, more casual gaming audience. We will also have another spot in the campaign, “Journey,” that will focus more on the Core Gamer, predominantly males ages 18 to 34.

How do goats connect with this audience?

We’re using an arresting comedic device to create juxtaposition and irony, and to communicate the fact that trading games is as simple as swapping goats.

How does the new $25 promotion work?

Our guests can bring in qualified video games to get $25 off of their next purchase. The up-to-date list of qualifying games will be available at

How are you marketing this promotion and these spots on television?

The initial phase of the campaign will be running on national cable and nationally syndicated programs throughout the month of May. We have two creative treatments. The “Goat” spot will be running in programming with broader reach, targeting the casual gamer and households that have gaming participants. The second spot, “Journey,” will be running in programming that correlates highly with the core gamer in :60 lengths.

How are you connecting with gamers beyond TV?

The campaign will simultaneously be running digitally with online pre-roll placement, paid Facebook placements and static digital banner. We have print placements in Game Informer magazine. And the creative will be airing on our GameStop TV network in all of our 4,000+ domestic stores, along with a comprehensive sign package. Of course, the message will be amplified on, and in all of our CRM and social channels.

How long will this promotion and the spots run?

The initial phase will launch and run throughout the month of May.

Is this the beginning of a new marketing campaign aimed at the used games business?

It’s an extension of the “My GameStop” campaign we launched last year with our title support advertisements for releases like Halo V, Call of Duty and Star Wars Battlefront, as well as our holiday promotional campaign. The campaign establishes GameStop as the third place for gamers, focusing on the passion our store associates and guests have for gaming, and our standing value proposition with the mnemonic: Play. Trade. Save. Repeat.

What role do you see virtual reality and new consoles, including the March 2017 Nintendo NX, playing in the used games business moving forward?

We’re thrilled about the launches of these new technologies. The rate of change in this industry is moving at a fever pitch, and we’re proud to be the lone, national specialist that can help consumers make sense of these emerging technologies. Our trade proposition can always provide our customers with a currency toward their next exciting new purchase. And, our pre-owned games, consoles and accessories, continue to provide the best value in gaming.

Has the games industry, especially developers and publishers. gotten over the “used games are bad” way of thinking at this point?

Yes, we believe they have. Last year alone, our trade program put $1 billion of currency back into the pockets of our customers. That’s $1 billion that’s plowed back into our developer and publishing partners’ hottest new releases. We’re excited about where this can continue to head.  As you will soon hear in our “Journey” spot, our trade program allows our customers to make the end of one adventure the beginning of another.


New ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Game Turns Up The Action

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) are kicking it as high as ever, with a television show on Nickelodeon, an ongoing comic book series from IDW Publishing, and a second movie produced by Michael Bay coming out this summer. The franchise, which features a quartet of anthropomorphic turtles named after Italian Renaissance artists that do battle with a variety of strange and quirky villains, has been around for over 30 years, but the brand is timeless. To further take advantage of the Turtles‘ popularity, it’s getting a new video game, which releases later this month: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants Take Manhattan.

Developed by PlatinumGames (The Legend of Korra; Transformers: Devastation; the Bayonetta series), with a story written by Tom Waltz (author of the TMNT comic book series), the Turtles will be going toe-to-toe with minions from the Foot Clan with the high action and humor the brand is famous for.

Robert Conkey, Activision’s producer for Mutants in Manhattan talks to [a]listdaily about the upcoming game (which releases on May 24) and the ageless appeal of the TMNT.

What is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan about?

It’s a fast-paced action brawler by crack action developer PlatinumGames. In the game you can play solo or with up to 4 players in online cooperative gameplay. And you’ll want your friends to help you with this one, because you’re up against some serious opposition; the Foot Clan are in full force, and are led by iconic and extremely formidable villains including Rocksteady, Bebop, Slash, Wingnut, Karai and Armaggon, not to mention the incredibly powerful Shredder and Krang.

What convinced the team to base the game on the comic book series instead of the current TV show?

Actually, it’s not solely based off of the comic series. PlatinumGames wanted to pull from more of TMNT’s history than just one source would be able to cover. The world, characters, and cel-shaded art style are crafted as a stand-alone universe that pulls inspiration from a multitude of sources in TMNT’s history, including the original Eastman and Laird comics, the ’80s TV show, the IDW comic book series, and Nickelodeon’s fantastic contemporary 3D animated series.

Platinum told us that for reference, they looked at everything that exists in TMNT, including the original black and white comics, the Turtles musical and the Michael Bay movies. They were particularly drawn to the humor of the ’80s TV show and the animated 3D movies. In terms of art style, they really loved the work of the well-known IDW artist Mateus Santolouco and used his work as a source of inspiration for the game.

In what ways is Tom Waltz contributing to the game?

PlatinumGames had many, many Skype meetings with Tom. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows the Turtles’ personalities and tone better than Tom, and thanks to his help we think that really comes across in the game’s cut scenes and story. PG’s director, Eiro Shirahama, noted that whenever there was a design change, there would inevitably be revisions or changes required in the story; this happened several times on TMNT, and every time Tom took the change requests with an enthusiastic smile, and dove back into the script to ensure that our gameplay and story matched up perfectly.

The characters Karai, Wingnut and Slash are appearing in a game for the first time. What can you tell us about them?

I don’t want to spoil too much in terms of story, but we adore those characters and felt they were past due for some love in a video game.

In terms of boss fights, that each of them are unique and challenging boss fights will test players’ skill and teamwork in unique ways. Karai is blindingly fast and powerful, Slash is massive and uses his claws and entire body as weapons, and Wingnut flies above the Turtles, requiring them to get creative with their approach.

How did Platinum become interested in making a new TMNT game?

Activision is a licensing partner with Nickelodeon, and we needed to find a developer to work on a TMNT game for 2016. We’d already worked with PG on previous titles and knew their team very well. When we started looking for a new TMNT developer, their studio was immediately at the top of our list—PG’s unique talents are perfect for this type of title, and when we brought it up to them, they were very excited.

How will Platinum’s distinctive style be seen in the new Mutants in Manhattan?

In terms of art, the game is at the high standard of quality we’ve come to expect from PlatinumGames—the effects are flashy, the animations have real impact and are very satisfying, and there are tons of cool, empowering, and sometimes hilarious moves that will crack a big smile for any Turtles fan.

For gameplay, this is very much a PlatinumGames brawler—it is primarily a two-button combat system with light and heavy attacks that can be combined to create a variety of combos. While there are dodge cancels, counters, and other mechanics you would expect from a PG game, the meat of the depth comes from timing and synergizing your abilities with the other Turtles.

In single-player, you need to manage all four Turtles yourself and can swap between them instantly, and in multiplayer, you’ll need to work together with your teammates to combo the enemy. Communication is key.

A good example of the depth and strategy would be Mikey’s signature ability, Cheerleader, which refreshes all other Turtles’ cooldowns instantly. A great tactic is to have all the other Turtles activate their abilities immediately, putting them on cooldown. Then they call on Mikey to use Cheerleader, refresh them all, and perform the hugely damaging combo again. This type of teamwork becomes crucial to success, particularly against bosses and at harder difficulty levels.

Additionally, all abilities can be upgraded and assigned as part of your Turtle’s loadout. There is a large pool of assignable abilities and a huge number of viable “builds,” and we’re really excited to see how creative players get with the system!

Each Turtle also has a “combo attack” move that is strong on its own, but becomes extremely powerful if two Turtles use theirs at the same time.

Do you or the team at PlatinumGames have a favorite Turtle or villain?

There are so many awesome characters in TMNT that opinions vary wildly. It would be tough to name just one Turtle or villain that the team could call their favorite!

Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of Raphael, because his “cool but crude” personality was so much fun. Also, sais are awesome.

Are there any challenges in creating and promoting a new game in such a longstanding franchise?

PG’s director, Shirahama-san, told me that their take on this was that—as a Japanese developer—they didn’t necessarily have identical exposure to the Turtles as Western audiences did, and that made it somewhat intimidating to make a TMNT game focused on an American/European audience. The hardest part was deciding which parts of the Turtles’ rich 30-year history they should reference or draw from; they made sure they understood all of the various worlds, and what it was about each series that really got fans passionate about them. Once they were sure they understood the Turtles in their entirety, they felt confident in pulling from multiple places to create their own video game interpretation of the Turtles.

Everyone involved really loved the humor of the original series and ran with it, and PG also wanted to ensure we remembered that they are in fact teenagers, and sometimes behave like them. They did a great job of weaving these themes into the story and even the gameplay itself.

What do you think makes the Turtles such appealing characters after being around for over 30 years?

In my opinion, they have the perfect balance of humor, action and depth. The way they treat one another, and how they are perceived from the outside world makes them really fun to watch/play/etc. The successes of the toys, films, comics, and shows continue to gain them new fans, to the point now where generations of fans can share their enthusiasm with one another. And everyone has a favorite Turtle after all, right? They’re each very differently personable, which makes it easy to connect with them.

Activision Builds ‘Infinite’ Hype For New ‘Call of Duty’

After weeks of speculation, Activision finally laid the rumors to rest by revealing that a new Call of Duty is coming this fall… and this time, it will take players to the reaches of space.

The publisher revealed a trailer for the game Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare today, introducing a new futuristic setting to the series (even more so than last year’s Black Ops III), as players will be able to head into space to do battle with a faction referred to as The Settlement Defense Front.

The company has already begun to build massive hype for the sequel, and is expecting it to sell into the millions, as previous entries in the Call of Duty series have done. To entice hardcore fans to pre-order, Activision is offering a free copy of the high-definition remastered version of the best-selling 2007 game, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to all those who pick up the game early.

Infinity Ward, the game’s developer, took to Twitch earlier today, to discuss some of the details of the sequel and answer questions. However, this just continued the hype that started over the weekend, which began with hints included in the Nuk3town multiplayer map in Black Ops III. The inserts included propaganda images from Infinite Warfare, and snippets of footage featuring a dangerous new baddie on the horizon, as well as Lt. Reyes (a character looking for assistance in battling the Settlement) featured on video monitors throughout the level. Many Call of Duty fans made note of the footage, anticipating the sequel’s official announcement this week.

In addition, Activision took on a clever campaign using Facebook Messenger, where users could interact with a chatbot acting as Reyes, who asks them to crack a special code in order to get assets from Infinite Warfare. It was a big hit, with many commenting on social media about how assets could be unlocked, and how Reyes could grow annoyed if they asked too many questions. The campaign has been a huge success thus far, with six million gamers taking part in the promotion — indicating that chatbots could be a factor in future game promotions with other companies.

This is just the beginning of Infinite Warfare‘s promotion, as the game will receive a massive push leading into its release later this year with many events, including tie-ins with the forthcoming Call of Duty Championship, as well as a potential fan-based event that could be in the works this fall. Sony has also noted that Infinite Warfare will be playable at its booth at E3 next month, since Activision won’t have major presence on the show floor.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare releases on November 4 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.