Tenjin Founder Dicusses Making Mobile Marketing Easier

For a marketer, one of the greatest things about mobile advertising is the sheer amount of data you can get about your advertising efforts. Coincidentally, that’s also one of the hardest parts about dealing with mobile advertising—deriving good information and actionable decisions from that flood of information. That’s where mobile marketing and advertising technology firms have stepped in to help marketers deal with Big Data. One of these firms is Tenjin, which promises to streamline mobile marketing and help “spend smarter with our unique growth infrastructure program.”

Amir Manji
Amir Manji, Tenjin founder and CTO

As Tenjin co-founder and chief technology officer, Amir Manji describes to [a]listdaily, “We collect and organize data for mobile marketers. We try to help app developers find an audience for the app and evaluate how well their campaign is doing. Typically today, if you’re an app developer, you’ll be spending money and acquiring users through a bunch of different channels, and it’s a big headache to take the data that’s coming in from all those different channels and do an apples-to-apples comparison of them. We try to make that as simple and foolproof as possible.”

Getting data is one thing, but making that process easy and presenting the data in a clear, understandable fashion is another. Tenjin understands the importance of providing marketers with both of those qualities. “We focus a lot on ease of use and simplicity,” Manji said. However, that’s not the key feature that sets Tenjin apart from other martech firms. “Our biggest differentiator is [that] we give app developers access to the raw data,” Manji noted. “We have an app called Data Vault that allows them to see all the data that we’ve collected and organized for them. Then they can take that data and do their own analysis on top of that. Other companies will just have a dashboard where they present some insights to developers. We allow developers to look at the raw data behind the scenes and manipulate it themselves to see what’s going on.”

Of course, the more sophisticated a publisher gets, the more they want to customize the kind of data they get and how they access it. Manji is well aware of this. “Sooner or later, every app developer gets big enough to justify building out their own data warehouse,” Manji agreed. “What we try to do is provide a standardized data warehouse. At a high-level, app developers all care about the same basic metrics, so we try to provide a baseline data warehouse where everybody answers those basic questions the same way, and they can build their own custom data tracking and analyses on top of that.”

Tenjin 1The needs of the mobile marketer are definitely changing. “I think it’s become a lot more data intensive,” Manji said. “A couple of years ago, if you had a big enough budget, you could throw it [the app] around at the major channels like Facebook and Google and that would be sufficient to get by. Nowadays, any kind of larger app developer is going to be pretty sophisticated with their buying patterns. If you’re a small or medium sized developer—if you’re not able to do the same level of analysis as them—your buying is going to be less efficient. You’ll be wasting money trying different channels, and you’re already at a disadvantage because you have a smaller budget to work with. We think a smaller developer that adopts our product and our data warehouse puts them closer to being on an even footing with a larger developer.”

The changing nature of mobile games also affects mobile marketing. The amazing success of Pokémon GO has subverted many pieces of accepted wisdom about mobile games, from how fast they can be adopted to how soon in-app purchases happen, to average revenue per user. “I think we’re going to see some games doing very well for a smaller niche audience,” Manji said. He feels that while some apps may be ubiquitous, it’s harder than ever to break through and have a global breakthrough hit. He does point to one of their smaller clients who has done a series of games based on smaller anime shows. “They’re able to find a vein of gold with these users who are really passionate,” Manji said.

Discovery continues to be a major problem for smaller mobile developers, of course, but Manji has some strategies he recommends to developers trying to get their app noticed. “I see a lot of app developers that spend a bunch of money before knowing if their app is ready for that or not,” Manji said. “I would say that step one is to look at your app, look at your current organic users and see if they are behaving the way you expect and if you are monetizing them enough. A lot of people will just throw a big marketing budget together hoping that that solves their problem. That money will be wasted unless the fundamentals of their app are solid. I would start from there.”

Manji cut to the heart of the matter with the core marketing idea that you really have to understand your target. “Generally what you want to do is figure out the ideal audience for your app, and then run some small experiments targeting those users,” he pointed out. “Don’t go out and make a big splash until you know exactly who your ideal user is. Facebook allows you to get really granular with your targeting. Test your hypotheses around the best users of your apps to figure out who are the best users. Once you’ve figured that out you can start opening up the funnel.”

There are some new opportunities on the horizon that should help mobile game marketers. “A lot of people would jump to ad networks, but Apple is rolling out their own paid search, which should help discoverability,” Manji pointed out. “Granted, you’ll have to pay for it, but it’s better than the Wild West there was before. Google Play has always had their own search ads built in. There’s no better place to find a user than the App Store when they’re searching for an app. That should be a channel for every single app developer.”

Red Bull Discusses Community-Driven Approach To ESports

As one of the first non-endemic brands to recognize the potential for eSports, Red Bull has full engrained their brand into the community—not just with events, but with content as well. Most recently, Red Bull has partnered with Capcom for Red Bull Proving Grounds, which is a monthly event that gives Steet Fighter V players the chance to compete in regional events across the country, culminating in a Proving Grounds finals event that will be livestreamed from Red Bull’s offices in Santa Monica, California on October 21-to-23.

Red Bull’s approach for Proving Grounds has been to work directly with existing tournament organizers who are themselves influencers in the fighting game community, or FGC, for short. [a]listdaily sat down with Carleton Curtis, the eSports program director at Red Bull, at a recent Proving Grounds event at the eSports Arena in Santa Ana, California to discuss how Red Bull is supporting the culture of eSports, and why it’s so important to them.

Can you tell me about Red Bull Proving grounds, and how it come about?

For Proving Grounds specifically, we happen to be huge fans of all the games within the FGC, first of all. It is sort of near and dear to our hearts as a team. Right now, we see a lot of building from the top when it comes to eSports. Essentially everybody is interested in the next million concurrencies on Twitch or the next $20 million prize pool, or the next stadium that was sold out with tens of thousands of people in it. Now that’s all really great stuff and is an important layer of eSports in our opinion, but we also believe there’s a lot of important layers beneath that and help support it even existing.

You can’t really have any of those spectacles without the community level and that’s really what events like Vanguard and Proving Grounds are supposed to represent and support. We’re entering different markets around the country—we started with six cities in North America in June and we’re reaching out within those cities to create something new that is Red Bull and trying to build a new Red Bull project. We’re identifying existing communities and existing tournament organizers and supporting them so they can level up because there’s really rich histories over decades when it comes to the FGC.

Larry Dixon in Atlanta, Big E in Philadelphia and Alex Valle here in LA at Vanguard—they all have really rich histories so why screw that up? Why start something else? Why not join forces with them and make what they do better? So what we’re trying to do is, not just giving them monetary support, but giving them boots on the ground, like the team you see here today even though it’s just a number of us. We have a ton of best practices being a massive events business at Red Bull and we have all the tools to provide them to do a better job with what they’re already working with because the thing is, these guys aren’t typically full-time. They’re not at that level yet in their business where they can quit their jobs and do this full-time. So we’re trying to eventually give them the means, so to speak. That’s the phrasing—Red Bull is trying to give people wings. We’re trying to give these guys wings to really follow their passions and make real businesses out of their local tournaments and also help them build the communities that are already there into bigger and bigger things.

How did the partnership with Capcom come about?

They’re a great partner of ours. We’ve worked with them for years now. This year we’re starting to see a lot more involvement from Red Bull. In April we had an event in Paris, called Kumite, which was an invitational. We invited the best Street Fighter pros from around the world to converge in a really unique event format in Paris. For us, Proving Grounds is basically a qualifying series across the year that ultimately will help bring the best players in each region, and surface them where they can compete in a finals format in the Red Bull studio in September. The top players from the regions all get flown to Santa Monica to compete for the title of Proving Grounds champion. We give them an all-expenses paid trip to the Capcom Pro Tour North American finals at Battlegrounds, which we’re hosting in Seattle in September, so all those things are interconnected.

Again, we’re just big fans of the game and also it was really good timing for support around Street Fighter this year. Street Fighter V finally launched after an eight-year hiatus from IV and it’s just a really good year to work with Capcom on this game, specifically. It has a big resurgence in popularity, the game itself is incredible—we all play it—and it made a lot of sense to work with them and connect—not just Kumite, but Proving Grounds with this Battlegrounds format. So now we’re a premier stop—basically the final stop—in Capcom’s tour when it comes to premier stops. Then everybody heads over to the Capcom Cup afterward.

What is the significance of having a dedicated eSports space?

We see the future of eSports, but we also really romanticize the past of gaming culture and eSports. One of the things I think is great for gaming and eSports is that online gaming became a thing a decade ago. Streaming became a massive thing in 2011 with Twitch. What that was able to do was to connect the world in a really meaningful and profound way, but one of the negative byproducts of that is you lost a lot of the local culture that makes eSports really cool and really great. Particularly with the FGC, which is based on arcade culture for decades and it is people getting together in close proximity and playing face-to-face like you and I are talking right now and that’s a really special thing.

You kind of lost the sort of NorCal vs. SoCal thing and the East vs. West, where those rivalries existed in really meaningful ways. With streaming and online play, it became like Korea versus the rest of the world, or Japan versus the other better players out in the world. Again that’s a really awesome thing for the growth of eSports, but I think one of the things we lost was that community and physical proximity with your friends and rivals in gaming. So the FGC specifically really represents that. That’s a big reason why we were attracted to it and frankly wanted to launch Proving Grounds with Street Fighter because of all those reasons.

Red Bull Proving Grounds
Red Bull Proving Grounds event at the eSports Arena in Santa Ana, California.

What are your thoughts on eSports coming into more mainstream recognition?

I love it. It’s what I do for a living and I’m very excited and blessed to do this and have conversations like this with you. It’s a really amazing time for eSports right now. It’s also a very chaotic and sort of frantic time for eSports right now. I think if you ask anybody, whether they’re new to eSports or whether they’ve been in it for decades, how the landscape is going to look just three years from now or even three months from now, it is a very difficult prediction to make.

It’s just amazing to see the kinds of investments coming from all over the place: from celebrities like Mark Cuban, Shaq and Manchester City investing in FIFA players. We’re talking right now in eSports arena, a physical place that’s dedicated eSports. It’s an enormous space right now and it’s really great that it’s getting its attention now. It is sort of like a rising tide than a floats-all-boats thing, but at the same time you really want to be careful that you’re not blowing up a bubble and it’s kind of like, going back to what I was saying, these really glamorous glitzy prize pools and stadium-class events. That’s all great and it’s an important part of eSports—that’s what’s frankly bringing a lot of attention to the space.

Advertisers love the demos, advertisers love the numbers—but at the same time, if that bubble bursts, what’s left? It’s that community that helped build all of this and that’s why we’re here at Vanguard tonight. The community within any major game genre or game title will never go away. Those people will always come back to the Vanguards and the Proving Ground stops and even the tournaments that exist outside of Proving Grounds. That’s why we’re trying to invest in all levels of eSports at Red Bull. We just fundamentally believe that the right thing to do is build eSports from the bottom up versus the top down.

How do you feel an event like this supports Red Bull product marketing-wise?

There’s clearly a great fit for Red Bull as a product in eSports. It vitalizes mind and body and there’s various need states for it and the product functionality that Red Bull offers. You need sustained energy and sustained focus to compete across many hours of an event. We believe that it really services gamers in that way. As a program—our eSports Red Bull team—we’ve been around for five years and we’ve sponsored athletes for 10 [years] at this point, so our roots are really deep in the scene and the space.

We’re committed for the next 10 years and the next 10 years after that. We’re not going anywhere and that’s why we like to be a part of community-level events like this because everything grows from the community. A building like this grows from the community. The next player who becomes the next Nadeshot starts in the community, the next caster, the next tournament organizer—it all starts in places like this. That’s a huge reason why we’re here supporting that.

The [Red Bull] can is certainly a part of that experience, but not the only part of that experience. We’re not going to force anyone to drink a RedBull, we believe everything should come naturally and that includes drinking our product and receiving the benefits of that product.

What is your ultimate goal for these events? What do you hope people take away from them?

Whether it is a Proving Grounds event or a Battlegrounds event, or frankly, an event that Red Bull produces outside of eSports, our number one goal is to create the best experience that the audience can partake in and the athletes themselves. We want both of those parties to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they’ll always remember. That’s really what we believe the point should be when putting on an event.

It’s not, again, just to get a million viewers watching or 10 viewers watching. That doesn’t really matter. If those people in the audience and those players that are engaging in the games they’re playing—are having the times of their life—that’s most important to Red Bull. That’s frankly our number one goal. Then of course outside of that, we would love to see all of our tournament organizer partners do this for a living full-time and scale what they do, not just in their local communities and cities, but mushrooming across the country and the world. Ultimately that’s what we want to support these tournament organizers with.

GameStop CEO: “Physical Gaming Will Return To Growth In 2017”

When you want to find out how the console game business is faring, there’s one place you should turn to first: GameStop. GameStop’s market share in the console business is around 35 to 40 percent, which means that what GameStop tells you about console sales is pretty much what’s happening in that market. Paying close attention to GameStop is vital for marketers who want to know what’s happening to the market. GameStop’s most recent earnings call showed a slowdown in sales, but anticipation is high for the quarters ahead.

GameStop’s quarter delivered on earnings per share (at $0.27 per share) but missed on its projected revenue. Total global sales dropped 7.4 percent to $1.63 billion. The big reason fro the drop was the downturn in console hardware and software sales. GameStop “saw declines in hardware of 33.4 percent and in software of 18.2 percent,” said GameStop CFO Rob Lloyd. That led to same-store sales dropping 10.6 percent for the quarter (12.5 percent in the US, 5.9 percent internationally).

Paul Raines
Paul Raines, GameStop CEO

“The physical video game business declined again during the quarter with less title count and pre-announced hardware upgrades driving consumer behavior,” said GameStop CEO Paul Raines. “We had anticipated softness in the physical market, but our ability to diversify our revenue and profit stream has allowed us to ride out this cycle successfully.” Essentially, the announcements that both Sony and Microsoft would be seeing new consoles coming out this year not surprisingly caused sales of existing consoles to drop in anticipation of the new hardware.

The more intractable problem for GameStop, which they’ve complained about for years, is the uneven release schedule of major game publishers. When there are strong new releases in a quarter, GameStop does well. When there aren’t new releases, GameStop doesn’t do so well. GameStop also does much better with sales for software that’s being launched. “When we launch games, we typically have 60 percent to 70 percent share during the first week of launch,” Lloyd noted. “Our overall share comes in around 40 percent or so on software. So obviously when a title moves out of that launch phase into what we call the catalog phase, we lose some share.”

GameStop has been changing in order to reduce its reliance on software releases. The company has taken on over 500 AT&T stores as it moves more heavily into what it calls “technology brands,” with notable good results in that area (revenues up 55 percent, contributing 24 percent of total earnings, and strong growth ahead). Beyond that, GameStop is moving heavily into collectibles and licensing, both with its acquisition of ThinkGeek and by cutting its own licensing deals (a Pokémon license for a Snorlax beanbag chair, for instance, which can’t be built fast enough to meet demand).

GameStop Digital

GameStop is also “creating own reality,” in Raines’ memorable phrase, by working with game studios to publish its own line of games. The first one, Song of the Deep from Insomniac, has been selling well at over 120,000 units so far. “What is interesting is that we have built a complete physical, digital and collectible ecosystem around this intriguing IP working with another great partner at Insomniac games to create a renewable franchise,” noted Raines. GameStop has more games in the pipeline. The thrust of the strategy is clear: “…launching our own IP to take advantage of the gaps in the calendar and the richer margins these games provide,” Raines said.

Good Times Ahead For VR

The prospects for virtual reality (VR) look strong to GameStop. Queried about the prospects for VR this holiday season, GameStop COO Tony Bartel was bullish. “We literally have hundreds of stores that have stations in them, VR stations in them today and in a quarter of our stores we already have had events that have been strong traffic drivers, partnering very closely with Sony, each of our associates are going to be certified in the PlayStation VR,” Bartel explained. “We see tremendous traffic when we run these events in our stores and another element of just how much demand there is, we had the quickest sell-out of preorders in our history the last time we were able to put a PS VR for preorder, we were out literally in five minutes. So there is tremendous demand and in the back half of the year, as people come in, as they talk with our associates they’re incredibly knowledgeable and certified in this, we think it will be a good traffic driver, far beyond the sales that it will generate.”

The latest NPD report underscores GameStop’s information about the drop in hardware and software sales. NPD reported hardware sales for July dropped 30 percent, while software dropped 5 percent. “The lack of strong new releases for the month have resulted with a poorer comp year-on-year, and the top 10 games for July 2016 generated 21 percent fewer dollar sales than they did last year,” said NPD analyst Sam Naji.

Meanwhile, on the digital side of the industry, sales were up 10 percent in July, according to SuperData, reaching $5.9 billion. Mobile games grew by 16 percent, propelled by the success of Pokémon GO, but digital console games and free-to-play PC games both grew by 11 percent. This divergence between physical game sales and digital game sales is not lost on GameStop, which is why the company is continuing to invest in Kongregate as well as its own game IP.

GameStop Events

GameStop’s current revenue mix tells part of the story. New video game hardware was $216.4M (13.3 percent of total); new video game software was $382M (23.4 percent); pre-owned and value video game products $543M (33.3 percent); video game accessories $120M (7.3 percent); digital $36M (2.2 percent); mobile and consumer electronics $203M (13 percent); and collectibles $90M (5.5 percent). GameStop is shifting that mix rapidly with its strong growth in electronics, collectibles, and digital products.

The advent of new hardware is a positive thing for GameStop, primarily due to the company’s ability to give people trade-in credit for old hardware to help the purchase of new hardware. Bartel noted that Xbox One S sales showed that 37 percent of the buyers used trade-in credit to purchase the console, no doubt most of them turning in their old Xbox One to get the shiny new Xbox One S. So GameStop is looking forward to new PlayStation models, as well as PlayStation VR and better availability on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. When it comes time to buy new hardware, many gamers will choose GameStop because they can use old products to get some money off on the new ones.

GameStop Brands

GameStop sees a bright future ahead. “If we sit here and think about the decline in physical gaming of almost 40 percent from its peak in 2008 and 2016, our strategy of diversification has paid off and allowing us to reach the high end of our guidance this quarter, on our way to a record net income year that we’re forecasting for this year,” Raines said in his closing remarks. “With all the great virtual reality and console expectations coming, we believe physical gaming will return to growth in 2017. In addition, our new growth businesses of digital, mobile and collectibles make GME a very compelling investment for the future as we grow 3 to 5 percent annually to 2019 as we projected at our Investor Day.”

In other words, it’s good times ahead for games—if you have the right product mix and are well prepared for the changing marketplace ahead.

Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag Explains The Importance Of Authentic Brand Engagement

Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag will be at the Call of Duty World Championship beginning Thursday in Los Angeles, but it marks the first time he won’t be competing as a player. The former captain of Optic Gaming knows how to win, owning a 2011 Call of Duty world championship title and a 2014 X Games gold medal, among many accomplishments.

“I’m excited because not only is there going to be the COD Championship, Activision is turning it into a fan event where you can come and experience the COD franchise with other like-minded individuals,” Haag said. “It’s weird not to be competing in it. I don’t miss having to practice eight hours a day and arguing with teammates about what we could do better, but I do miss playing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. I’m still going to support it and have fun.”

With 1.8 million Twitter followers, Haag has partnered with jerky brand Slim Jim for the first time to engage with his fans. On Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, Haag (@nadeshot) will do a one hour live Twitter chat with fans under the hashtag #SettleTheBeef.

“We’ll be trying to find the answers to debates that have gone on forever in the gaming space,” Haag told [a]listdaily. “Everyone is going to voice an opinion. We’re going to talk about things along the line of consoles and PC, different stereotypes of games and the most thought-provoking topics. We’ll compare first-person shooters to third-person shooters and MOBAs. We’re not going to dive into specific titles, but we’ll discuss genres.”

Haag has over 2.7 million subscribers on YouTube and over 646,000 subscribers on Twitch. He’s worked with brands such as Astro Gaming and Scuf Gaming over his career, and he recently switched from a Red Bull sponsorship to G Fuel Energy.

“Anybody who works in gaming appreciates any time a big company like Slim Jim steps into eSports,” Haag said. “Our visions lined up with driving engagement. At the end of the day we all love games, and Slim Jim is the perfect snack for gaming because it’s quick and it fills you up. I hoped the engagement and interaction they’ll see from the gaming world will incentivize them to get more involved in eSports.”


Haag said non-endemic brands to eSports are crucial because they support so much engagement and send people who know their brands into the gaming and eSports world.

“They put more eyes into the industry we’re working in and help drive sales and supplement the community,” Haag said. “Non-endemic brands that have never stepped into this space provide so much opportunity to complement eSports and implement their brand. It’d be great if more companies follow suit and find more creative ways to work in eSports. Anybody getting into eSports now is ‘A-OK’ in my book.”

Haag said being creative with how a brand engages with an eSports audience is key, which is why he partnered with Slim Jim on the Twitter activation.

“If it’s fun and creative and doesn’t feel forced, it will drive engagement, which is the most important thing for any company trying to advertise in gaming,” Haag said. “Gamers are super opinionated, and they know when something is fishy. Companies need to make sure people aren’t getting something jammed down their throat. I’m not trying to sell a product. These are questions that will provoke thought. This is the first time I’ve ever done a Twitter chat. I’ve seen The Rock do one and other celebrities do them. It’s a new opportunity to work with a company in a creative way.”

The timing of this event is also right before Activision’s COD XP event at the Forum in Los Angeles. There’s only been one other COD XP, which also marked the debut of the COD World Championship.

“The first COD XP allowed me to quit my job and school and become a professional gamer,” Haag said. “Hopefully, this one can give some other guys the same opportunity.”

Haag said the changes Activision employed with the Call of Duty World League have been a mixed bag thus far.

“It’s been a bumpy ride from the outside looking in and inside looking out,” Haag said. “We’ve had so many different changes with tournament structure and league structure; we need a little more consistency to find stride. Activision has done a pretty good job in its first year of regulating Call of Duty, allowing the competitive community to grow. They’re adding more prize money to tournament. That in itself is doing the players justice, and that’s important. These guys dedicate their entire life to it. A lot of them have been playing for almost a decade now. They’ll see all of that hard work pay off.”

That said, Haag believes COD World League needs more regulation with players treated fairly, especially since other eSports like Dota 2, CS:GO and League of Legends are more viable for players.

Call of Duty isn’t far behind, but it’s lagging a little bit,” Haag said. “Viewership numbers have increased. We’re still in a good place. We need a little bit more of a push from Activision to enable growth.”

NPD Acquires EEDAR To ‘Usher In New Information Era’

Today, the NPD Group released an announcement stating that it has officially signed an agreement to acquire the video game industry market research and data analysis firm, EEDAR. With the acquisition, NPD (which launched its Digital Game Tracking Service last month) will add EEDAR’s video game database of product metadata, which includes over 200 million facts and 150,000 titles across console, PC, mobile and online/social platforms. Additionally, EEDAR’S GamePulse analytics platform incorporates multiple information sources for contextual insights into industry trends, product performance and marketing strategies. NPD has been the leading source of retail sales data and consumer insights since it first started tracking the video game industry in 1988.

“With NPD’s retail and digital tracking assets, EEDAR’s robust data integration and delivery platform, and our combined industry expertise, we will have the insight and information to grow and change with the industry and drive continued global expansion,” said Tim Bush, NPD president, Americas commercial businesses, in a press release.

Robert Liguori, EEDAR CEO, said in the same press release that: “A fundamental goal of EEDAR has always been to improve the quality and speed by which business decisions could be made for game developers and publishers. NPD shares this philosophy, and the joining of our resources and passion for this sector will ensure the industry has access to the information it needs as it advances into new platforms and business models.”

NPD and EEDAR have a history of collaboration, most recently working together to develop NPD’s Digital Game Tracking Service, which is available in GamePulse. The Retail Game Tracking Service has been part of GamePulse since 2011.

Greg Short, co-founder of EEDAR, spoke with [a]listdaily about what the acquisition means for the two companies. “EEDAR and NPD have been working together in improving insight into the video game industry for our clients for many years,” he said, when asked what led to the acquisition.

Short also discussed how the acquisition would enhance the two companies’ services.

“NPD has global resources, they are the leaders of understanding sales data in the video game space, and they have deep relations across the industry. EEDAR has expertise. We have metadata, which enables the analysis of their sales data at much more granular levels for more interesting trends. And EEDAR and NPD have been collaborating to address the gap of visibility for the digital sales of the industry, in conjunction with leading publishers. We feel that by bringing our two companies together, we have the resources and the expertise that no one else in the industry can bring to bear to finally solve the problem of getting true, accurate numbers about what’s going on in the PC, console, and emerging digital sales areas of the video game industry.”

We also asked if EEDAR would still continue as an independent market research company to serve its clients. “EEDAR will continue to operate as an independent entity. It’ll be known as EEDAR, an NPD Group company,” said Short. “EEDAR will continue to operate, and all personnel are remaining with the company. The leadership and management of the company is remaining unchanged. All of our customers will continue to have access to all that EEDAR has provided, but now with the added benefit of access to deeper resources, a wider range of data and global support.”

Gatorade Celebrates Serena Williams With Video Game Snapchat Ad

The U.S. Open has begun, but you don’t have to be a tennis pro to get in on the action. Gatorade has served up some 8-bit video game fun with the launch of Serena Match Point—Snapchat’s first multi-level video game ad that was made for Serena Williams.

The 8-bit, 22-level game is playable on Snapchat, ESPN Discover and its own dedicated website. The game celebrates Williams’ career and all the wins that led her to the 2016 US Open and her 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

Serena Williams gameSerena Match Point features an 8-bit soundtrack to match the graphics and the only controls players need to learn are tap or click. Players take control of Serena as she goes head-to-head against a variety of opponents. To win each round, players need to click or tap on the left or right of the screen, depending on which direction they want to send the ball. After failing to return a serve or volley back over the net three times, the game starts from the beginning.

“Level 23 will unlock on September 10, the day of the Women’s Finals, should Serena capture the career milestone,” said Gatorade in a statement. Should Williams win, it will be a record seventh singles title at the US Open.

Williams has no shortage of endorsement deals and brand partnerships, having just wrapped on a film shoot for Delta Airlines and hinting at a project with dance choreographer Will Adams. Recent social media posts by the tennis champion mention Nike Court and an exclusive Instagram campaign with Mission Athlete.

Tennis aside, Gatorade is setting a new standard for Snapchat ads, proving that an entire game can be embedded into the platform. The sports drink company launched a hugely successful Snapchat filter campaign for Super Bowl 50, in which users could virtually drench people with Gatorade.

According to Kenny Mitchell, head of consumer engagement at Gatorade, the Super Bowl moment on Snapchat wound up driving 160 million impressions. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the 115 million who tuned into the game itself.

“If you’re trying to connect with young competitive athletes, [Snapchat] is the platform to seriously be considering,” Mitchell told Digiday in February. “This was a great opportunity to partner with them to showcase an iconic moment and let consumers engage with it.”

Tommy Palm Explains Where Virtual Reality Games Are Headed Next

One of the questions often asked about the VR games market is “when will we see a hit VR title?” That may have been answered recently, as Resolution Games announced that its Bait! game for the Samsung Gear VR has been downloaded over 700,000 times. That’s even more impressive when you realize that Samsung’s Gear VR currently has an install base in the neighborhood of one million units. And now, Resolution Games is announcing its first additional content for the game.

“We’re very excited about the interest in Bait! from the VR and games communities, and even the general public,” said Tommy Palm, CEO and co-founder of Resolution Games. “We’ve had lots of requests for more content and we’re hoping Treehouse River is just the beginning as we expand the game and explore new destinations and fish species to add. We think the virtual anglers in Bait! will find Treehouse River just as serene and yet exciting of an environment as they pursue all the new fish we’ve added.”

Tommy Palm
Tommy Palm

Palm joined [a]listdaily to further talk about Bait! and the growing market for VR games.

Congratulations on reaching 700,000 downloads. Did this level of response to Bait! surprise you?

We knew we had a pretty high quality VR gameplay and visual experience with Bait! at launch. But, I don’t think we could have anticipated garnering this large of the market share in such an early day in the market. Even though Bait! has been a relative success, we still have a lot more work to do to bring more users on to VR, keep them engaged in content and create experiences that will truly capitalize on the amazing benefits to come as VR matures. We have learned so much in creating Bait!, listening to users along the way, and adapting to changes in the market and across platforms. Right now we’re focused on taking these lessons learned and molding them into best practices that will help define the industry and hopefully bring that maturation to market sooner than later.

Bait!‘s number of downloads represents a significant share of the total install base of Samsung Gear VR. What marketing did you do for the game?

We haven’t done any marketing, really. We’ve had some great press at the launch of Bait! and saw the game get featured shortly after, which of course gave a pretty good boost. However, we’ve seen a steady flow of new installs and healthy player retention along the whole life of the game since its launch in March.

Treehouse River

What part of your marketing efforts has been most successful, and why?

At this stage it’s really all about putting any and all efforts into making the best possible gameplay experience so that when users play Bait! they want to share that experience with their friends and family. And, that’s really what Resolution Games is all about. We want to make the content that people think of when introducing VR to others for the first time. We make our games so someone new to VR, or even games for that matter, could put the game on, have fun and get it within minutes, while also creating the quality gameplay and visuals to challenge and engage even the most avid gamers or VR enthusiasts for hours.

What do you think the VR market will look like for the rest of 2016? Will we see significant growth in the install base for any particular hardware?

Absolutely. It may not be significant in 2016, but within this year most of the anticipated large players will have devices in the market. And, this is just the first iteration of those devices and manufacturers. New ones are emerging on the market and challenging the standard. The VR industry is growing at a faster rate than almost any other we’ve seen. Much of that is due to the impressive state we’re at with processing power, which just keeps getting better. But, on the content side of things, we have the luxury of having had battled it out on mobile and other platforms and now can take the relevant lessons learned from there and apply where it makes sense for VR. This has created a compass that has enabled us to move at a much faster pace. Although, I must note that VR content must be dreamed up and created for VR from the ground up.

Are you looking forward to the launch of Google Daydream devices, and do you plan to support it? What sort of response do you expect to Daydream over the next year?

Very much so! We were actually one of the first game developers to commit to creating content for Daydream when it was announced earlier this year. We’re actually full throttle into creating an amazing game, Wonderglade, that will be live when Daydream is publicly available later this year. The game invites players to explore a whole world of carnival-themed gameplay and will be accessible so everyone can get in on the fun and revisit the wonders of new and familiar carnival games. We think Daydream will play a big role in taking VR mainstream, which is a big part of our vision and mission for VR as well. It also shows that mobile VR is taking the lead in the VR headset space—something we have always felt was important for making VR accessible to not only early adopters and hardcore gamers, but the whole family. And, Resolution Games makes perfect content to introduce new users to VR, something we think Wonderglade will be ideal for.


You’ve just launched your first add-on content. What are your plans for marketing that, and for future add-on content?

We’re mostly focused on ensuring the game is so exceptional that players are compelled to share their experience and have it spread organically. However, we do have some fun ideas that may come to life around integrating virtual fishing tournaments with real-world tournaments, and things like that. We’ll see. For now, the most important thing for us is to focus on creating great content and experiences to make initial VR users’ first impressions exceptional in an effort to help grow the market as a whole.

Do you think your marketing strategy for Bait! and other VR titles will be changing over the next year? How will it change, and why?

Yes. We’ll likely switch our thought process a bit as VR is more proven, more devices are in the market and more eyes are open to experiencing new VR content. We see it maturing from an educational and first impressions tone to one more similar to what you see with mobile eventually. However, unlike the luxury mobile games have in users being able to link to content and experience marketing through their mobile platforms, VR will be very different. Although it’s yet to be seen how open to marketing VR users will actually be over time, there is the inherent challenge with interrupting such an immersive experience for marketing purposes, while also not being able to link through across VR, web and mobile. Needless to say, there are still many challenges to face in this rather young market.

What’s your prediction for the growth of the VR market in 2017?

Next year will likely be the year that we see a good portion of the market shaken out with those content creators and hardware manufacturers who have truly innovated rising to the top. This will only make the ongoing VR experiences better, which in turn will grow the market of users more substantially. I think we’ll also see that many of these initial unknowns will be answered as so many entrepreneurs and innovators are drawn to the platform like we are and really want to see it take off.

Players Can Now Stream Blizzard Gameplay To Facebook

Watching live video on Facebook will now include Blizzard Games such as OverwatchHearthstone, Diablo IIIStarCraft II and World of Warcraft. Blizzard Streaming is now live in the Americas, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, allowing players using Blizzard’s Battle.net client to stream gameplay to Facebook with the click of a button. Friends can subscribe to feeds and get notified when new streams are available.

“Blizzard Streaming is accessible in the top-right corner of the Blizzard Client,” Blizzard noted in the press release. “Once you’ve updated your Blizzard Client on PC, simply click the stream button, use Facebook Login to allow permission for Blizzard to post to Facebook, and you can stream your gameplay! Mac support for Blizzard Streaming is coming soon.”

As of July, Battle.net users could login to the service using their Facebook account in order to “pave the way for new social functionality in Blizzard games.” The partnership between Blizzard and Facebook helped solidify the social network as a serious livestreaming contender. With over eight billion videos viewed on Facebook every day, the site is prime real estate for the growing eSports market. Facebook knows this and is planning accordingly. In June, the company hired former pro League of Legends player and eSports superstar, Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis, as the company’s new eSports strategic partnerships manager.wow_legion blizzard

Facebook has been hard at work securing partnerships to create a go-to source for video game content, such as Activision Blizzard to broadcast eSports competitions and Unity to publish games directly to the social network. “For developers who hadn’t considered Facebook or PC as a target platform, or want to expand their existing platforms, the ability to unlock additional business opportunities by going cross-platform onto a new PC gaming platform offers a huge upside with very little effort,” a Unity spokesperson told [a]listdaily about the partnership. “It’s exciting to think they will now have the chance to participate in the Facebook platform, an ecosystem that paid out over $2.5 billion to just web-game developers in 2015 alone.”

Blizzard has been at the forefront of eSports, livestreaming and pop culture for years, from Starcraft competitions to the infamous “Leeroy Jenkins” incident in World of Warcraft and being featured on episodes of South Park. There are countless stories of gamers making friends and finding love through Blizzard games, and the company embraces the community it has created.

“Blizzard games are best when played with friends, so it’s important to us to provide our players with features and services that make it easy and fun to share their experiences with each other,” said Gio Hunt, executive vice president of corporate operations at Blizzard Entertainment in a statement. “We’re working closely with Facebook on this integration for Overwatch, as well as our other games, and we look forward to sharing further details on our plans as development progresses.”

The integration of Facebook is just in time for World of Warcraft‘s new Legion expansion, which releases on August 30. As of July, Overwatch remains among the top five games for both physical and digital sales.


Apple Named World’s Most Valuable Brand Portfolio

At nearly $146 billion, Apple, Inc., has been named the world’s most valuable portfolio by Brand Finance for the second year in a row.

Each year, the business valuation and strategy consultancy evaluates thousands of the world’s top brands to determine which is the most valuable by country, industry and how they compare to other brands.

Despite only having one brand included in the study, Apple, Inc. holds the top spot and its value grew 14 percent since 2015 while they were at it. Coming in second is Alphabet, Inc., the holding company for Google—demonstrating the current power of technology and communications brands in the world today. With 17 brands and an estimated value of $99 billion, Alphabet Inc. experienced higher growth than Apple, at an impressive 25 percent over last year. Samsung Group dropped one spot to number three with a value of $83 billion, making the US and South Korea the most valuable tech and communication brands in the world, according to the study. At 539, Nestlé Sa’s portfolio has the most number of brands, valued at $66.6 billion. The company climbed to seventh place after 14 percent growth.


“Accelerated growth [for Nestlé Sa] in North America was largely due to the turnaround in frozen meals,” Brand Finance explained in a statement. “Whilst in Latin America, Nestlé cited instant coffee as the core reason for growth. Nestlé’s category dynamics and innovation, which can be seen in its range of bottled water, are also factors that contributed to its strong growth. Furthermore, an increase in health awareness in relation to carbonated drinks gave Nestlé the opportunity to promote its bottled water segment which other companies may have failed to embrace. Nestlé’s success is largely due to the range of product segments it provides, allowing it to more effectively overcome challenging global trends than its competitors.”

Toyota Motor Corp, valued at $55.2 billion, climbed six spots to number 10 and experienced the fastest growth at 30 percent compared to 2015. The fastest-falling portfolio of brands was Volkswagen Ag, whose value dropped 36 percent and 17 spots to $42.2 billion. Brand Finance attributes this sudden decrease to “the latest emissions scandal,” but forecasts overall growth in the light vehicle industry, particularly in China, India and across continental Western Europe.

The total value of the table is $3.2 trillion, and half of the top brands hail from the United States—44 US companies with a combined value of $1.68 trillion. Fourteen Chinese companies also made the list, rendering it the country with the second-highest number of portfolios. They make up $347 billion of the total sum. Nine European Union countries are also listed, with a total of 29 brands, nine of which are UK-based—more than any other European country.

Optimove CEO Discusses Google Ads Integration Into Cloud Marketing

Google Ads is a valuable tool for acquiring new business, but it’s less useful for targeting existing customers. However, the marketing cloud specialist Optimove is out to change that by integrating Google Ads into its services. With it, Optimove can help businesses target customers with personalized ads on Google.com and across the Google Display Network based on past and predicted behavior and purchasing patterns.

Pini Yakuel, CEO and founder of Optimove, talks to [a]listdaily about its “emotionally intelligent” approach to marketing, how Google Ads will help business engage and retain customers, and how the company has stated that it treats every campaign like a “marketing experiment.”

Pini Yakuel, CEO and founder of Optimove
Pini Yakuel, CEO and founder of Optimove

How would you describe Optimove’s approach to marketing?

Combining marketing art and data science, Optimove’s Customer Marketing Cloud empowers marketers with the “emotional intelligence” required to communicate with customers most effectively at all times, via all available channels. In other words, Optimove helps companies grow by more successfully engaging and pleasing their existing customers.

How is Google Ads integrated into Optimove’s services?

The Optimove software is granted access to a brand’s Google Ads account and then uses the Google Ads API to automatically add and remove customer IDs from individual Google Ads audiences.

What can Optimove accomplish that wasn’t possible before?

Effective retention marketing relies on targeting many small segments of customers, also known as customer personas, with highly relevant and personalized messages and offers. The biggest challenges for harnessing channels such as Google Ads in this way have been (1) determining which customers to include in which ad audiences and then (2) updating dozens or hundreds of different audience lists on a daily basis.

Because there has been no automated solution to both of these challenges, it hasn’t been possible for marketers to target large numbers of individual customers with timely, highly-personalized Google Ads.

This week’s announcement highlights the fact that Optimove now provides the only comprehensive solution to these challenges. Optimove fully automates the management of Google Ads audiences based on advanced, predictive, granular customer segmentation. We allow marketers to identify and target large numbers of highly-granular, behavior-based micro-segments of customers and then automatically update the customers in each Google Ads audience list every day, in tune with each customer’s most recent behavior signals.

In what ways does Optimove enhance the use of Google Ads, and how does it help marketers further understand, engage with, and retain customers?

Most marketers use Google Ads for customer acquisition. Optimove’s new Google Ads integration transforms this channel into a powerful tool for customer retention as well.

Optimove gives marketers the power to leverage the extensive information they have on their existing customers—what products they buy; how much they spend; how often they order; what web pages or app areas they visit; how and when they initially became customers; where they live; how they responded to previous marketing communications; their predicted future value; their predicted risk of churn, etc.—to engage with each customer in the most relevant ways, via all available channels.

The ability to hyper-personalize messaging (offers, incentives, etc.) to individual customers via online advertising channels such as Google Ads and Facebook Custom Audiences—either in conjunction with other channels (email, SMS, push notifications, etc.) or as stand-alone campaigns—enhances the customer experience and dramatically increases the financial uplift realized by retention marketing efforts.

What are the benefits of targeting small groups of customers using granular details?

Personalization means greater relevancy, which leads to greater customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and customer lifetime value. By presenting customers with the most relevant and appealing offers and incentives, they feel understood and are far more likely to respond to the offer and fall in love with the brand.

In the past, most marketers were product-focused, and thus would send most or all of their customers the same offers for the same products, regardless of what each customer was interested in, if and when they last purchased the mentioned products, or even if the products were in their potential price range. Today, by using all the customer behavior data available, marketers can send dozens or hundreds of different hyper-targeted messages to small, distinct customer groups, ensuring that each customer receives a highly-relevant offer.


How does Optimove use data to distinguish between an audience’s need compared to a fleeting interest?

At the core of everything Optimove’s Customer Marketing Cloud does is an advanced predictive customer modeling system. In fact, before a new brand can begin using Optimove, the brand’s marketers and Optimove’s data science team work together for a few weeks in order to create a unique customer model for that brand. The custom model reflects the brand’s business, the parameters which best define and differentiate its customers the terminology used by the brand and so forth.

Marketers use Optimove’s “explorer” applications to delve into their customized customer model; analyze and understand their customer base; discover new and valuable customer personas; and to create granular “target groups” of customers who will receive communications especially suited to their preferences, affinities and predicted behaviors. They can then assign automatically recurring campaigns to each target group, ensuring that each customer receives only the most relevant, personalized messages.

The possibilities with such an approach are endless. Savvy marketers can take advantage of this power to create deep, dynamic segmentation in order deliver the most relevant messaging to every customer.

The Optimove blog states that every campaign is run as a “marketing experiment.” Can you elaborate on what that means?

Many marketing delivery and/or automation systems measure the success of campaigns based on “proxy metrics,” such as open rates and click rates. However, much better metrics to track are actual spend (i.e., the financial uplift) and overall engagement. The first point here is that because Optimove’s single customer view data warehouse contains all customer-related data, Optimove is in the position to actually measure these effects.

The second point is that Optimove measures every campaign using the same methodology used by scientists to ensure that the results of their experiments are statistically valid. This involves two techniques:

  1. No additional stimuli may be applied to the test subjects while the stimulus being tested is active. In practice, this means that Optimove will not allow any customer to receive another marketing campaign while a prior campaign is active and being measured.
  2. Uplift metrics (such as increase in customer spend, increase in customer-generated profit, increase in site/app activity, etc.) due to a particular campaign must be calculated based on the differences in observed behavior between the actual recipients of a campaign (referred to as the “test group”) and very similar customers (taken from within the same target group) whose behavior is tracked—even though they do not receive the campaign being measured (referred to as the “control group”). At the time a campaign is sent, Optimove automatically and randomly divides the campaign’s target group into a test group and a control group, and calculates the campaign’s actual uplift based on an analysis of the difference in behavior between the two groups.