Treat Yourself To These Spooky Halloween Marketing Stats

It’s Halloween! Stuffing candy in your face and pretending to work today? No problem, we’ve got your back—here are some Halloween-themed marketing facts for ya know, research.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $6.9 billion in total on Halloween this year—a slight decrease from last year’s spending, which was around $7.5 billion. The NRF predicts the average person will spend $74.34, compared with $77.52 last year.

Want to know what millennials are up to? Eighty-one percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 planned to celebrate Halloween.

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Candy!

Nine in 10 Halloween shoppers will buy candy, NRF estimates, spending a total of $2.1 billion, with an additional 33.5 percent spending $330 million on greeting cards. Talkwalker reports that social media has exploded with conversations about Almond Joy, increasing by 230 percent, while Kit Kat increased 114 percent. Toblerone (349 mentions) 3 Musketeers (339 mentions) and Starburst (339 mentions) were all emerging themes over the past week.

Decorations

A 44.8 percent of NRF survey participants planned to decorate their home or yard this year. The average person planning to buy decorations will spend $20.34 with total spending expected to reach $1.9 billion. Nearly half of millennials surveyed for NRF said that they were either throwing or attending a Halloween party this year, and one third were visiting a haunted house.

Costumes

If you’re wearing a costume today, you’re not alone. The National Retail Federation estimates that 68 million Americans will dress up for Halloween, with another 20 million pet owners pulling their furry friends into the celebration. Forty-nine percent of millennials search for costume ideas online, 34 percent in a retail store or Halloween shop and 24 percent are inspired by current events.

For example, the most talked-about costumes on social media according to data intelligence company, Talkwalker are robbery victim Kim Kardashian (11,488 mentions), Donald Trump (9,006 mentions in the past 30 days, Hillary Clinton (5,297), red-sweater wearing presidential debate superstar Ken Bone (6,973) and Batman Supervillian Harley Quinn (5,644).

Adult costume spending is estimated to reach $1.2 billion this year, $950 million on costumes for the kiddies and $350 million on costumes for their pets.

With that said, we’re now 24 days away from Thanksgiving.

‘Learning’ Characters And Creative Chatbots: This Week’s Game Promotions

It’s Halloween and also a big week for Call of Duty fans. What better way to celebrate than with zombies and the scary idea of Twitter shaping a video game character?

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Activision has been laying the groundwork for its latest title for some time, beginning as far back as April. Call of Duty: Black Ops III players in the popular Nuk3town map noticed a mysterious spaceship hovering overhead in the level’s end cinematic, and a character named Lieutenant Reyes appeared on monitors throughout—prompting mass speculation among fans. The next day, bad guys from Infinite Warfare infiltrated the Black Ops III universe, leaving propaganda all over the place. On Sunday morning, Reyes appeared and directed players to what he described as the only secure communications channel left: Facebook Messenger, where players could interact with him and get help finding clues hidden within the game and elsewhere the internet. The chatbot was a massive success, with over six million users participating. Those who found codes were able to unlock the Infinite Warfare trailer ahead of its public debut.

Activision recently followed suit with another chatbot, this time serving as a choose-your-own-adventure tour guide through the world of the game. Starring actress, Kate Micucci (Garfunkel and Oats) as Alana the tour guide, fans can interact to explore various interplanetary locations and even unlock a few easter eggs.

The publisher has a reputation for enlisting celebrities to help promote its games, particularly when it comes to live-action trailers. Most recently, Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, and comedian Danny McBride appeared in a trailer called “Screw it, let’s go to space”—a tongue-in-cheek nod to public criticism over the game’s location as well as election-year strife. Unable to handle it all anymore, citizens simply get on a spaceship and forget their woes in a symphony of explosions and gun fire. Appealing to sports fans, UFC champion Conor McGregor plays a villain named Captain Bradley Fillion in the game’s campaign mode in both voice and likeness which is sure to bring some excellent cross promotion.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare throws a bit of ’80s nostalgia into the mix with its Zombies in Spaceland mode—employing celebrities from the era like Paul Reubens and David Hasselhoff. To celebrate, Zombies in Spaceland became the focus of a retro-themed commercial for the suped-up PS4 Pro:

. . . and what would Halloween be without zombies? Activision hosted a spooky livestream to build hype ahead of the November 4 launch date. As an extra incentive, Activision offered a free copy of its remastered, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for anyone who pre-ordered Infinite Warfare. For COD fans Down Under, an iOS card game called Call of Duty: Siege was released in Australia.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization

Bandai Namco has invited players to help “raise” a character in its new game that releases on Saturday. The upcoming PS4/Vita sci-fi role-playing game, already released in Japan, follows a four-player party’s adventures in a fictional virtual reality MMO. Dubbed “artificial intelligence girl raising project CODE ZERO: Premiere,” this character will shape her personality based on Twitter accounts she is given access to.

Premiere will be an NPC (Non-Playable Character) appearing day one in-game, but will receive a patch to update her “vocabulary and personality,” taken from her Twitter interactions. Her progress is recorded via a Twitter account, although for English-speakers, understanding clumsily-translated Japanese may prove more frustrating than fun. To find out what Premiere’s personality is, fans will just have to pick up the game on Saturday.

Kongregate Picks Up Steam: Marketing To PC Owners

GameStop’s Kongregate subsidiary has been seeing increasing revenues from its web and mobile publishing efforts in the last few years. The company is looking to continue its growth by publishing games on Valve’s Steam digital distribution service. Its first PC title, Slashy Hero, the award-winning Halloween-themed action game from Gentlebros, is available now on Steam and Spellstone, the popular collectible card game from Synapse Games, is slated to launch in November.

“Gamers have so many options—from mobile to console to PC. In fact, according to a recent poll, nearly 70 percent of our audience plays across multiple platforms,” said Emily Greer, president and co-founder of Kongregate. “Despite the growth of newer platforms, PC gaming remains a viable and exciting option that our players want to explore. By adding Steam to our publishing business, we can support even more indie developers and deliver unique and innovative content to gamers worldwide.”

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Emily Greer, Kongregate CEO

Kongregate also announced it has released a new unified SDK that will allow developers to view consistent metrics across platforms from web to mobile and now Steam. That’s going to be a fundamentally useful tool for game marketers and developers alike, particularly since those sorts of metrics (common in mobile games) are sorely lacking in many PC games. Kongregate’s new SDK also allows game progress to be saved across platforms. Current Slashy Hero mobile players can download and play the Steam version with their upgrades, characters and saved games intact.

In order to get some more detail on how Kongregate’s move will affect the platform and its marketing efforts, [a]listdaily spoke with Kongregate CEO Emily Greer.

Why did Kongregate decide to publish games on Steam?

Expanding to Steam is a natural extension of our publishing business. Our mission is to help independent developers succeed, and we want to work with developers on any platform where we think we can add value—whether that be browser, mobile, PC or console. By pushing games to more platforms, we’re bringing hit games to audiences on their preferred platform, and adding incremental revenue. There are also games and genres that are right for PC but not mobile, and we want to be able to help developers of those games, too.

With the new cross-platform metrics, will you be encouraging developers to make their games available and cross-playable across web, mobile, and Steam?

Our cross-platform SDK is currently for publishing partners only, but yes, we’re encouraging developers to make their games available and ideally cross-playable. We’ve seen for a while that cross-platform players are incredibly valuable, and it’s great to be able to offer players the convenience of playing on whatever platform they choose.

That being said, every game is different, and you need to think about the gameplay and the audience on each platform. Because of controls and pace, some games are really only right for mobile, and similarly some games are only right for PC. We’ve got some of each in our portfolio, and we don’t want to force anything.

How does the Steam audience differ from Kongregate’s current audience?

There’s a lot of overlap, and a lot of games have started on Kongregate and gone on to tremendous popularity on Steam: AdVenture Capitalist and Clicker Heroes are both great examples of that. I think there are bigger differences between the broad mobile audience and Steam, a lot of which are related to device and time available. When you’re at a PC, you have the opportunity to play with a big screen and a longer session, and some games are more fun and more playable, some less so.

Do you think the Steam audience will be drawn to different types of games than the web or mobile audience? 

Yes, we’ve been looking to bring some of our titles to Steam for a while, but we didn’t want to just port games willy-nilly without thinking about what’s right for the Steam audience. On our CCG (Collectible Card Game) Spellstone, for example, we really wanted to add synchronous PvP because we think that’s a crucial feature for a PC audience, where you have longer sessions and reliable connections.

How does game monetization differ between web, mobile, and Steam?

There are substantial differences between the platforms in terms of what’s expected and viable: premium games have a tough time on mobile, but mobile ad revenue can be very strong. But you need to look at the game and genre just as much when you think about pricing and monetization. A multiplayer card game like Spellstone is well-suited to free-to-play on any platform, but we felt an arcade title like Slashy Hero should be revamped for Steam. It was ad-supported and free-to-play on mobile, but we reworked the balance, added content, and are releasing it on Steam as a $6.99 premium title to give it the best chance of success.

How will Kongregate change its game marketing efforts with games on Steam, web and mobile?

We’re currently exploring a lot of different options, from email to paid advertising, to press and show presence, to figure out what works. What works in terms of marketing is probably the single thing that is most platform-specific.

How will Kongregate help its games stand out amid the huge number of titles on Steam?

That’s part of the reason for our expansion to Steam. As Steam has become more open, it’s also become more competitive, and our mission as a publisher is to help developers succeed in challenging environments. Off-Steam marketing and promotion is becoming key to rising above the noise, and a publisher with resources, experience, and a substantial existing audience is in a much better position to drive that than the average indie developer.

The Rise Of Double Take Comics

Double Take Comics, owned by Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive, is out to add a new twist to age-old zombie stories. The comic book publisher made the ambitious move of launching ten books simultaneously last year, all based in the same world inspired by the 1968 George Romero movie Night of the Living Dead.

The comic book publisher is looking to further shake up the comic book industry by developing its books with an emphasis on digital reading on mobile devices before bringing them to printed pages—in that every panel is animated with each tap or click. The first few issues of each comic can be read for free on Double Take’s official website.

Bill Jemas, general manager at Double Take (and former VP at Marvel Comics) and story editor, Mike Coast talk to [a]listdaily about Take-Two’s interest in the comic book industry. The two also discuss the challenges of breaking out as an increasing number of comics books are adapted for movies and television, along with the unstoppable power of zombies.

How did the idea to create Double Take Comics come together?

[Jemas]: I wanted to get back into creative development work, and Take-Two wanted to start a comic book division. So in 2013, Take-Two hired me to start Double Take. Our story editor, Mike Coast, was our first employee. We spent a year making mistakes, if you will: trying things and developing things that Mike and I didn’t think were good enough to see the light of day. It’s not unlike what we did at Marvel—throwing 5,000 characters against the wall and Spider-Man stuck.

Take-Two Interactive is mainly known as a video game publisher and developer. What is its interest in comic books?

[Jemas]: Comics are an excellent way to conduct R&D on new creative—especially with our method of storytelling. We have excellent in-house storyboard artists, Stan Chou and Jon Ashley, who can turn a rough concept into a visual story in a day. So, it’s very easy for us to test what works and doesn’t work, which in turn, fosters wide-open creativity.

Why isn’t Double Take publishing comics based on popular Take-Two properties such as Grand Theft Auto, Borderlands, BioShock or Red Dead Redemption?

[Jemas]: All of those games are wonderful and wildly successful in their own right, and the Double Take team would love to work on them, but Take-Two wants to expand its portfolio of entertainment properties.

Double Take’s stated goal is to be different and change the status quo. What distinguishes its comics from others, including Marvel, DC Comics and Skybound Entertainment?

[Coast]: One of the ways that we’re different is that we’re actively trying to reach people who don’t normally read comic books. Maybe they’re fans of comic book movies, maybe they’re science fiction fans, or maybe they’re not normally into geek culture at all. So, we wanted to have a very low barrier for entry—affordable comic books, first issues that weren’t loaded with backstory, and dialogue that is interesting, informative and funny. One of the other ways that we’re different is that we’ve focused on digital from the very beginning. Our production process builds panel-by-panel rather than page-by-page.

What led to basing the Double Take universe on Night of the Living Dead?

[Jemas]: After a year of trying new ideas that didn’t stick, Mike had an idea that we start stories set in the universe established by Night of the Living Dead. He knew the film was in the public domain and it had a decent cult following. So, we had a blast; we let our imaginations and our zombies run wild for the first few months, and over a year, refined that into the stories you see today.

How do you keep zombies, based on one of the most well-known zombie movies in history, fresh and original?

[Coast]: I think that’s a two-part answer. The first part is that we don’t focus on the zombie aspects all that much. Almost all of these books focus on central characters with lives and goals that center on things other than zombies. Yes, there are zombies, and it’s a big part of some of the stories. But we didn’t want this to feel like the only goal of each comic was “survive the zombies.” Not to completely spoil everything, but there are politics, super powers, aliens and all sorts of other things happening in the pages of these issues; not just zombies.

The second part is that we did something different with the zombies. They’ve come back from the dead, sure. But that doesn’t mean that they’re brainless, witless or speechless. Most of them start out that way. But we’re treating them in many cases as real, rounded characters who can learn and grow over the course of a story arc.

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Launching ten books simultaneously sounds like quite an undertaking. What convinced Double Take to use this approach?

[Jemas]: It was a trip to Midtown Comics. We saw the shelves stocked full with thousands of comics. We realized then that releasing one or even three titles would be a drop in the ocean. So, we decided to release all ten in one big bang.

How do you make readers aware of ten simultaneous, connected books?

[Coast]: We tried to make it so that a reader could read just one series and have a full experience. We didn’t want to require readers to have to buy ten comics at once to understand a given story. At the same time, we wanted each series to have connections to other titles so that the more someone reads, the richer the experience would be. One way that we drove awareness of the crossover was packaging the individual issues in Super Packs—that is, all ten first issues, all ten second issues, etc. Similarly, we packaged the graphic novels into two Binge Boxes, each containing five graphic novels.

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Is it challenging to create comic books that present well in both physical and digital formats?

[Coast]: We were lucky in that we realized early on that it was easier to build for digital and then convert to print than it was to build for print and then convert to digital. We found that in panel-by-panel, we were able to create a digital storyboard that animated as a reader flipped through. This provides a unique reading experience on desktop as well as, more importantly, mobile. Our comics read better on cell phones than any other experience I’ve had. So, while it’s challenging training traditional comic writers and artists (as well as ourselves) to think in terms of panel-by-panel rather than page-by-page, we think that it’s worth the effort.

img_8384_540x720_72_rgbHow do you handle discoverability, both through digital comics and physical?

[Jemas]: Since issue one, we’ve been offering our content to readers for free. Our first issue was made available for free on ComiXology and on our website. New readers can still read issues 1-3 of all ten series for free on doubletakeuniverse.com.

Most recently, we gave away 15,000 graphic novels at NYCC (New York Comic Con) as prizes. Con-goers could spin the wheel, play blackjack, or draw a random card to win a book. If people like the content, they’ll come back for more—and they certainly did at NYCC.

Are you seeing a strong move to digital comics instead of physical comics?

[Jemas]: I don’t think the comic industry is taking advantage of the potential online audience. Outside of traditional readership, the industry hasn’t tapped into digital books in any meaningful way. I think one reason is because the digital books are overpriced. Another is because the tools—like Guided View on ComiXology and the PDF scroll on MadeFire—aren’t good ways to read graphic fiction. As Mike’s described already, we spent a lot of time developing our storyboard format to optimize our stories for digital reading: you can read panel-by-panel on your phone clearly.

With so many zombie-themed comics, books, TV shows and movies out now, what do you think is the enduring attraction of the undead?

[Coast]: For creators, they make for an easy enemy most of the time. It’s sort of a shortcut. Almost like a natural disaster. They’re something that has to be survived. That seems to be the case most of the time. Some zombie stories are more nuanced than that—we like to think ours are. And, of course, zombies provide plenty of opportunities for violence and gore. From an audience perspective, it’s a glimpse into a world where there are no rules, which could be fun, or terrifying, or a mix of both. I don’t think many people would want to live in the world of a zombie story, but it can be fun to visit for a few hours at a time.

Brands Are Connecting With Mobile Millennials In Snaps

Snaps is a mobile messaging platform that connects top Fortune 1000 companies to cell phone obsessed consumers through Facebook chatbots, Apple iMessage apps, branded keyboard emoji and stickers. Christian Brucculeri, CEO of Snaps, told [a]listdaily that Snaps has evolved greatly over time, but at its core, Snaps allows consumers to engage with their favorite brands in a completely native way.

“Our language is increasingly visual, and Snaps saw a great opportunity presented by the possibility of encouraging visual communications in a new and exciting way,” Brucculeri said. “Snaps was the first and is the leading platform for branded emoji keyboards and stickers. We work with the major Fortune 1000s—Pepsi, Starbucks, Burger King, Coach, McDonald’s, Sephora, Dove and over 100 more. We launched a dozen clients on iMessage alongside Apple. We also are a leader in chatbots. We’re constantly looking at what’s next and honing in on it.”

Brucculeri said that with 257 billion conversations taking place on mobile every day, brands need to be on the cusp of the latest trends rather than passively waiting for consumers to come to them. “Millennials seek brands with personalities. They want to identify with brands,” Brucculeri said.For example, are you an Apple or a PC? Snaps’ branded emoji and chatbots give brands a voice and an image.”

Brucculeri said people are emoting via image, and they can do so instantly. A text message takes seconds, and a chatbot answers faster than humans can, and can work 24/7. “iMessage specifically has opened up the doors for branded keyboard emoji and stickers,” Brucculeri said. “Brands are able to present images with little to no friction for the user. Furthermore, these new iMessage apps allow for higher engagement than ever before. Users can collaborate, create and even order via iMessage.”

Coach, Marriott Rewards, Burger King, L’Oréal USA, Toyota, Dove, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nickelodeon’s The Splat, Sephora, and ‘Iris Meets I.N.C.’ by I.N.C. International Concepts for Macy’s are working with Snaps to connect with millennials through iMessage.

The company worked with actor Kevin Hart’s production team HartBeat Digital to launch KEVMOJI, which includes a keyboard with emoji, stickers, GIFs, and sound paired with an iMessage sticker pack. The KEVMOJI iMessage app allows fans to drag-and-drop static and animated stickers over the top of messages and photos right within the iMessage experience to add some comedy to the conversation.

In addition to sticker packs, Snaps has rolled out a never-before-seen collaborative feature for Coach’s Coachmoji application. The iMessage app allows users to curate a completely personalized look, which includes dresses, purses and accessories. The user can then share and collaborate on the looks with friends all within iMessage, and save the looks for future sharing.

Snaps worked with Marriott Rewards and L’Oreal USA and other client partners to design and launch sticker pack experiences for these digitally focused brands. These sticker packs allow users to dress up their text for life’s biggest moments, whether it’s getting dressed up to go out with friends or preparing for your next trip, these sticker packs make it easy to share that sentiment in iMessage.

“We’re still collecting those numbers (iMessage launched September 13) but, as a hint, within 10 days our clients who launched with iMessage had already totaled 10 million impressions,” Brucculeri said.

Dove’s #LoveYourCurls emoji campaign showed incredible results in the first 60 days—with 10.1 million impressions, 2.76 million shares and a 278 percent increase in purchases. This campaign was prior to the launch of iMessage apps, which Brucculeri said would have increased engagement even more.

Apple has created an iMessage store that is specifically for emoji and stickers,” Brucculeri said. “Facebook chatbots are launching left and right. We are seeing rapid growth in engagement on all of these platforms and are so excited about what’s to come.”

Messenger has over 900 million monthly active users who can experience GIFs, videos, sound, and files that can be distributed within a brand chat. Brucculeri said chatbots make the perfect distribution method for sharing your latest content with your audience in a personalized, conversational setting.

Bud Light recently launched the #MyTeamCan Beer Delivery Bot with Snaps on Facebook Messenger, which allows fans to have beer delivered to their home within an hour. Hollywood studios have also been eager to be where younger audiences are connecting with friends.

“We have worked with Fox, Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon to bring fun, native, and sharable content to their tech-savvy fan base,” Brucculeri said. “Fans of these franchises are passionate and actively seeking ways to insert their favorite shows into their vernacular. It makes the perfect recipe and we had really successful branded keyboards with all of them.”

Super Shoppers And Smart Watches: 11 Stats You Shouldn’t Miss This Week

This week we explore what makes shoppers tick, why the age of smart watches may be running out and sometimes, it pays to say “please.”

Is This The Real Life?

mshololens_mixedrealityspace_08516_3x2_rgb-1024x683-630x420Mixed reality—the combination of real and virtual elements—has been around for a while, but it’s experiencing a massive surge in popularity in recent years. The global mixed reality market is expected to reach $6.86 billion by 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. “The surging acceptance in entertainment and automobile and aerospace designing arenas is expected to boost the market growth,” the company states.

In fact, a number of industries are utilizing mixed reality to preview shopping choices, vacations and more. “[Mixed reality] technology would become an essential part of the retail industry, which is expected to drive the industry growth over the forecast period. Most of the retailers would use this technology to provide their customers with an interactive experience, which gives their shopping a whole new edge.”

Competing In An AI World

Artifical intelligence is transforming the worlds of marketing and communications. According to a survey of 150 senior executives by Weber Shandwick across five markets, 68 percent said their brand is currently selling, using or planning for business in the AI era. When gauging which types of marketing will greatly affect their world, 55 percent named AI over social media.

Video Games Score Big In September

According to the latest report by Superdata, the global, digital video games market reached $6.2 billion in September—an increase of 5 percent over September 2015. While mobile game revenue saw an increase of 11 percent, PC saw an overall decline of of 6 percent and console sales dropped 14 percent.

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Learning Your A/B Conversions

A/B testing is the most common form of conversion optimization used by client-side marketers, according to a worldwide poll by Econsultancy and Red Eye from August. 61 percent of participants said that they currently employ the comparison method, followed by online surveys (54 percent) and copy optimization (51 percent). When compared to 2015, marketer opinion on the importance of A/B testing remained unchanged at 60 percent, but exploring the customer journey became less important, dropping 2 percent over the previous year.

Are Smart Watches Out Of Time?

The worldwide smart watch market experienced a year-over-year decline in shipment volumes for the third quarter of 2016. According to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, 2.7 million smart watch units shipped in the third quarter, a decrease of 51.6 percent from the 5.6 million units shipped in third quarter 2015. “It has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers in a statement. “Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount, hence many vendors are focusing on fitness due to its simplicity.”

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‘Pokémon GO’ Get A 3DS

Hype around the wildy popular Pokémon GO that launched in July, together with anticipation of Pokémon Sun and Moon in November, have inspired consumers to invest in Nintendo hardware worldwide. “On the hardware side, Nintendo 2DS saw sales growth,” reads Nintendo’s quarterly report. “The release of the smart device application Pokémon GO led to increased sales of software in the Pokémon series released in the past and drove the Nintendo 3DS family hardware sales growth, particularly outside of Japan.”

Socially Awkward

That little blue bird is having a rough time of it lately, not being acquired by after all, and discontinuing Vine. Currently, just 19.5 percent of internet users and 16.1 percent of the US population uses Twitter, compared to 51.5 percent on Facebook. Outside the US, only 3.9 percent of people around the world use Twitter this year, and by 2020 the figure is only expected to rise to 4.8 percent, according to estimates by eMarketer. There may be hope, however. eMarketer estimates that more than 52 million people in the US will use Twitter on a monthly basis, particularly with the rise of mobile app usage. The company predicts that a little less than half will use the service on both PCs and mobile devices, while a majority of US users will be on mobile for the first time in 2018.

All Hail Mobile, King Of The Internet

75 percent of Internet use will be accessed via a mobile device in 2017—up from 68 percent this year, according to a mobile advertising forecast released by Publicis’ Zenith unit. Covering 60 countries worldwide, the report focuses exclusively on mobile advertising and technology trends. Spain leads the way for internet markets with 85 percent, followed by Hong Kong at 79 percent, China at 76 percent and the US at 74 percent.

“Advertisers also need to think about consumer mobility, not just mobile devices,” the report notes. “During the day consumers shift their attention from tablet to desktop to smartphone, sometimes while watching TV, so advertisers need to build brand experiences that are coherent across screens and devices.” The report estimates that mobile’s share of global Internet usage will reach 79 perecent by 2018, nearly doubling since 40 percent in 2012.

Zenith predicts that mobile will account for 60 percent of all internet advertising, reaching $134 billion in total ad budgets and making it bigger than newspapers, magazines, cinema and outdoor advertising combined.

Looks Like A Job For Super Shoppers

Today’s breed of shoppers are the most informed they’ve ever been, with seemingly endless amounts of brand and product information at their mobile-using fingertips. Google Insights has compiled some telling data about these “super shoppers” that illustrates how and why they buy—and why they don’t. 76 percent of mobile shoppers, for example, change their mind about who and what to buy after searching on Google. Meanwhile, mobile searches for “cool gift ideas” rose more than 80 percent year-over-year.

Be Vewy Quiet, We’re Hunting Customers . . .

Despite very best efforts, all the charts in the world don’t always tell brands how customers behave and where. According to a report, Shopper Marketing: The New Rules of Engagement, 83 percent of marketers said customer data is informing them of behaviors on the brand’s website, but only 13 percent said their data points to customer behaviors outside the brand and retail partner sites. “While marketers say that access to real-time customer voice and shopping behavior is critical, less than 10 percent are able to tie their content efforts directly to customer shopping behavior,” says the CMO Council, who prepared the findings.

Don’t Block Me, Bro

Ad blocking is a big problem for online publications, including The Financial Times, with 20 percent of its traffic being affected. To combat revenue loss and gauge reader perception, The Financial Times conducted a 30-day experiment with 15,000 registered readers. Three groups were created, including a control.

The first group was asked to whitelist the newspaper’s website with their ad blockers, allowing its ads to appear normally. Even though they had the option of dismissing the notice, 40 percent agreed. The second group were shown a version of the site that had words missing—a visual representation of the percentage of the company’s revenue from advertising. 47 percent responded by whitelisting. The third group was given two options only—allow ads or leave. When given this ultimatum, 69 percent agreed to whitelist. Of the control group that wasn’t asked to whitelist the site, 5 percent did so anyway.

How BMW Is Using Virtual Reality To Develop And Market New Vehicles

It’s no secret by now that a cavalcade of car manufacturers are shifting their marketing messages into new gears by using virtual and augmented reality to engage with consumers.

Using the immersive technology to shun showroom space, and to model a caravan of cars is crucial to revolutionizing the retail experience—all while cutting costs and raising demand and global brand awareness.

Exercising AR and VR for marketing, training and research and development is a growing trend forward-thinking brands like Volvo, Mazda, Kia and Ford, among several others, have spearheaded in recent years. And why wouldn’t they? According to Bloomberg, US car dealers spend $2.75 billion annually on interest to keep new vehicles on their lots.

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One such automaker using VR for a variety of research-and-marketing-related verticals is BMW, utilizers of VR systems in the development process since the 1990s.

In April, the luxury German automobile manufacturer partnered with HTC Vive to help develop new cars while using VR to offer the greater flexibility, faster results and lower costs.

According to company officials, they became the first car manufacturer to introduce a mixed reality system into vehicle development that has been devised entirely using components from the computer games industry. BMW also using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 technology.

Niklas Drechsler, who handles corporate and governmental affairs for BMW Group, joined [a]listdaily to detail some of the ways of which BMW is speeding through the VR vertical.

How was the MINI Augmented Vision received by consumers last year? Looking back at it now, what worked well, and what will you tweak for next time?

This is a visionary prototype that is intended to demonstrate how see-through glasses can aid safety and comfort in the area of personal mobility. Until today there were no sales launch of MINI Augmented Vision—first and foremost because it has not yet been decided whether MINI will actually produce such glasses itself. It is quite conceivable that MINI would concentrate on interfacing existing AR glasses from other manufacturers with MINI vehicles if the technology were to go into production.

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How will BMW leverage see-through tech as a possible potential in regard to future customer devices?

BMW Group is constantly screening and analyzing visionary innovations. We think that a see-through device has big potential.

How will VR change the car-buying process in the future? What are virtual showrooms/dealerships in a briefcase capable of? How is BMW Group using VR for its marketing campaigns?

BMW Sales Germany has been using VR glasses and applications as supporting tools for its sales and marketing activities for a number of years now. In the summer of 2014, for the BMW i8, we introduced a pilot project with Google Glass. The journey of innovation to experience pioneered developments in the BMW i8, such as Laserlight, carbon and plug-in hybrid technologies. It was used at major German airports. In the fall of 2015, for the BMW 7 Series experience with Intel Real Sense, it was an interactive out-of-home installation meets gesture control in the BMW 7 Series. In seven cities, people were able to interact with promotional material intuitively using gestures—mirroring the new operating concept of the BMW 7 Series. In the spring of 2016, for our Innovation Day at dealers to mark BMW’s centenary, we used VR glasses at dealers to experience the BMW Vision Next 100 from the inside. It was complemented by Vision Gate, which allowed visitors to experience the BMW Vision Vehicle at closer quarters and create a virtual snapshot of the car.

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Why is it important for brands to be at the forefront of VR? 

Virtual reality applications are a good way of making our innovations something to experience and of illustrating our technology in clear terms. We use it both for our employees in training courses and for our customers at dealers.

Why is VR the major trend of the future? What does it enable that other tech simply can’t?

From our point of view, it’s a little bit too overestimated to talk about the major trend in regard to VR. We think that VR is one of the important innovations of the future.

What kind of a role will VR have in auto industry in five years? 

As the field of VR is developing very fast, it’s tricky to make any predictions. I think that hype aside, more companies will actually look very carefully in which cases VR gains advantages and use this technology in such cases.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Paris Games Week Is All About ESports, VR And Influencers

Paris Games Week is upon us, and publishers are taking this opportunity to get games into the hands of holiday shoppers—especially since 307,000 visitors attended the expo last year.

As with Gamescom 2016, large publishers like Sony and Microsoft have abandoned the press conference in favor of hands-on fan events with the hope of enticing influencers. Fans are encouraged to interact with the developers themselves, a privilege usually reserved for journalists at events like E3.

Bethesda, for example, is hosting a book signing by Sébastien Mitton, artistic director for Dishonored 2 and Microsoft is hosting a Gears of War 4 cosplay competition. YouTube Gaming also has a large presence at the show, hosting interviews and talks with gaming influencers in a casual, lounge-like setting.

ESports is a major focus at Paris Games Week with the Electronic Sports World Cup. The global competition features the best players across Just Dance 17CS: GO, Clash Royale and FIFA 17. 

Sony is hosting 40 playable PS4 and PSVR games over 300 terminals and in a theater at the PlayStation booth. This is great news for those who missed out on the sold-out PSVR launch, as they can try the units for themselves and demo games like Batman: Arkham VR and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Sony’s booth features a number of games available now like Destiny: Rise of Iron, NBA 2K17 and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s Endas well as upcoming titles like Horizon Zero Dawn, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Resident Evil 7 biohazard.

Microsoft, fresh off the heels of its Xbox One S launch, is celebrating 15 years of the gaming brand. The major publisher arrived with a more modest showing of just 15 games over 100 stations—the main attraction being its on its AAA titles in Gears of War 4, FIFA 17, Battlefield 1 and Forza Horizon 3

Fans can also get their hands on upcoming games like Dead Rising 4 and Halo Wars 2 ahead of the February launch. At the ID @ Xbox booth, fans are encouraged to try eight indie titles like Cuphead and Raiders of the Broken Planet to help promote Microsoft’s developer partnerships.

September hardware sales across all platforms dropped 10 percent over the same month last year, so a bit of hype might have been just what the doctor (Mario) ordered.

Surprisingly, though, Nintendo is sitting out Paris Games Week this year despite the recent announcement of its new console. With the Switch releasing in the spring rather than before the holidays like PSVR and Xbox One S, Nintendo doesn’t seem too concerned.

“Nintendo has a quite appropriate reputation of doing its own thing,” Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aimé told [a]listdaily,so whatever Microsoft and Sony decide to do, that’s for them to manage.”

Featured image source: Yahoo!

Alienware Celebrates 20 Years With Actress Chloë Grace Moretz

Alienware is celebrating its 20th anniversary by partnering with actress Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass; The 5th Wave) for a video series where she plays both with and against some of gaming’s top personalities, including Angry Joe (Joe Vargas) and Rooster Teeth’s Achievement Hunter team. The goal is to both celebrate gaming and help overcome the stereotype that girls don’t play games, even though statistics show that females make up about 48 percent of the video game community.

The first in the 3-part video series released on October 17 and features the game Rocket League with Achievement Hunter, while the next one comes out next week on November 1, where Moretz will play Broforce with Angry Joe. The final video releases on November 14, and Moretz will challenge Alienware’s own in-house pro-gamer, Anna Maree (aka rxysurfchic) to a friendly 1v1 game of Overwatch.

Chris Sutphen, global marketing director at Alienware, spoke with [a]listdaily about working with Moretz to break down stereotypes and how the PC gaming landscape has changed in two decades.

Chris Sutphen, Alienware global marketing director
Chris Sutphen, Alienware global marketing director

How did the partnership with Moretz and streaming personalities to create a video series come together?

Chloë’s very active on social media and is often featured in the press. And through her posts and articles, we noticed that she is very passionate about video games. With four older brothers, she grew up gaming, often playing first-person shooters and constantly being challenged to improve her individual and team play. It was a natural fit for Alienware to partner with Chloë and to communicate that gaming is a great equalizer. Big, small, male, female, young, old—it doesn’t matter. If you’re in it to win it, then game on.

What made Moretz the ideal person to be featured in the series?

A perception exists that females are not avid gamers, even though 48 percent of active gamers are women. Chloë certainly dispels that notion and wants to speak up about gender stereotypes and be a role model to females by stating, “Gaming is not a male sport or female sport. Gaming is for anyone who wants to challenge themselves, escape, have fun and create comradery with other gamers.”

How did you choose which games they’d play in the videos?

The three-part video series features Chloë playing against Rooster Teeth (Achievement Hunter), Joe Vargas (Angry Joe Show) and Alienware’s resident gamer and host Anna Maree (@rxysurfchic). Against Rooster Teeth, Chloë speaks on team dynamics. Counting on your team member for their unique strengths, all for the win. Achievement Hunter helps amplify this point and how gamers can play online with virtually anyone in the world.

Joe and Chloë discuss how gamers build connections, and Angry Joe takes it a step further by showing his Broforce game character costume and his enjoyment creating it. Playing against Anna Maree in Overwatch provided an opportunity to speak to the rise of female gamers, how/why they’re both part of the movement and the expansion of gaming to a much broader, more inclusive audience.

What systems are they using to play Rocket League in the first video?

Rocket League gameplay was shot at Rooster Teeth Studios, powered by our latest Alienware Aurora desktop. Our mid-size form factor is designed to deliver experiences extending to Oculus VR or HTC Vive solutions, 4K gaming and even up to 12K gaming with our highest graphics options. It offers an ultra-wide variety of upgradeability options and spans many performance and budgetary considerations gamers consider.

What do the videos say about the Alienware brand?

Alienware is thrilled to partner with Chloë to bring the message that gaming is a great equalizer. The videos demonstrate the power of Alienware that offers the most immersive gaming experience on the planet while creating communities that get players closer and deeper into the games they love. And females and people of all ages, sizes and races make up that community. Gaming is for everyone who wants to experience the rush and fun of individual and team competition within a PC gaming environment and experience new cutting edge technologies like VR. We’ve led the industry for 20 years in innovation while helping communities grow and will continue to do so.

How has the PC gaming audience changed in the 20 years since Alienware was founded?

Twenty years ago, Alienware spent its early years building credibility among die-hard gamers as PC gaming started to gain mass market appeal. Through the years, the PC gaming audience demanded innovation, and Alienware delivered many firsts: custom colored desktops, gaming laptops, liquid-cooled desktops, the graphics amplifier and the list goes on.

How PC games were delivered into the home and types of games changed significantly as influential PC games steadily mutated the player experience—from the complex scripting and immersion of Half-Life to the generation-defining MMO of World of Warcraft; from the globally dominant multiplayer online battle arena of League of Legends to the revolutionary online game delivery system of Steam. A main goal of ours at Alienware will be to continue to innovate and adapt to the PC gamers needs.