Ford Is Marketing Millennials With A Small SUV And Snapchat King DJ Khaled

It wasn’t quite the level of broadcasting the birth of his newborn baby, but DJ Khaled had yet another one of his major key alerts this week when the hip-hop producer and Snapchat raconteur introduced the Ford EcoSport on the social platform on behalf of the brand.

The subcompact and redesigned EcoSport, an SUV sold outside of the US since 2003, will be making its stateside debut and be marketed toward millennials and downsizing empty-nesters. The vehicle reveal marked the first-ever on Snapchat for any major car manufacturer.


“He’s the king of Snapchat,” Ford spokesman Michael Levine told [a]listdaily at the LA Auto Show. “We know that our younger customers love to share experiences over buying new things. The customer is looking for something that has a great value to it, and experiences that they can share with friends and family. That’s a growing lifestyle.”

Levine said that they wanted to introduce a versatile car that was more desirable to mobile, connected consumers. And what better way to connect with customers and attract a new market than enlisting the ultimate millennial whisperer who has a following of 6 million people on the breakout platform of 2016.

The tiny SUV made a major splash with the maestro to uniformly speak with its “going small and living big” message behind the car.

Ford created a special compound in the heart of Hollywood for the unveiling where other influencers like Ryan Seacrest and musicians like Echosmith and Chromeo took turns engaging the fans who had gathered for Ford’s three-day interactive experience.

The pop-up consumer event, entitled “Go Small, Live Big: LA,” was a Venice Beach-inspired installation lined with tiny homes, a minizoo featuring animals from the Los Angeles Wildlife Learning Center and local food trucks. The hipster haven was also paired with a Snapchat geo-filter.

Ford first used social media to unveil the Explorer SUV in 2010 on Facebook. For the EcoSport, they also had a live Facebook reveal with iHeartRadio.

“Whether they are watching TV or listening to radio or increasingly using digital media, we like to talk to our customers wherever they are at. We’re very pleased with the results that we see,” Levine said. “We have presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and with the all-new EcoSport, we know that our customers love to stay connected with great technology. It’s not one way, or another. It’s multiple channels to talk to all of our customers.”

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

The Best-Selling Games Of October And Other Must-Read Marketing Stats

This week, retailers brace for holiday impact, marketers find a way to measure social campaign performance and millennials go crazy for the sweet taste of Overwatch.

100 Percent Organic Apps

Well, 90 percent, anyway. That’s how many apps are downloaded directly from the digital marketplace, according to a new report by TUNE. Drawing from a number of studies conducted between 2015 and June 2016, the report reveals that while most apps are downloaded directly (without first clicking through an ad), previous exposure to branding may be the cause. “Seventy percent of people have seen or heard of an app at least once prior to installing it,” TUNE reported. “For almost a third, they’ve seen or heard about it more than three times. That’s especially true for women.” For anyone using the internet ever, they’ve no doubt seen a number of digital video ads for an app or other product—ever wonder how effective they are?

Performance Review

In a recent study by Sequent Partners and Eyeview, nearly two-thirds of brand marketers said they would want to measure digital video ad performance by the cost-per-acquisition, order or sale in the coming years. Only 40 percent of respondents said they do that now. US brand marketers who worked in the automotive, CPG, retail and travel industries participated in the survey, focusing specifically on measuring the performance of digital video advertising. Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of brand marketers named site traffic as their preferred measurement tool, while more than half of respondents said they look at their return on investment (ROI). Brand metrics, as well as store traffic are other ways they currently measure digital video advertising.

Sometimes, a brand gets found the old-fashioned way, but it’s not easy. A study by Ascend2 reveals that while 57 percent of brands see content creation as the most effective SEO tactic, it’s also the most difficult at 48 percent. Forty-nine percent find the right keywords and phrase searches do the trick, while 39 percent turn to social media integration.

How do you measure return on investment (ROI) for social media marketing campaigns? Are clicks as valuable as “likes”? How does a comment affect your success? In an ever-changing social landscape, it can be difficult to choose which actions are the most valuable to your needs. Luckily, the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) can help.

Reindeer And Retailers

‘Tis the season for consumers to get the best deals on holiday shopping, and retailers are bracing for impact. Sixty-four percent of small business retailers and 88 percent of middle market retailers think they will need to be more aggressive in sales and promotions in order to stand out, according to the American Express Holiday Growth Pulse. This survey of 1,502 small and middle market businesses across a variety of industries gives us a picture into what business owners hope to accomplish this year in terms of audience reach and brand awareness. American Express reports that in order to raise their company’s profile, 89 percent of small business retailers will utilize social media this holiday season—of those, the greatest number are using Facebook (81 percent).

As for attracting customers with those sweet savings, more than two-thirds of small business retailers (67 percent) say their company will be offering holiday discounts this year. We know Americans go crazy for a good deal, but what about other countries?

Ready, Set, Spend

Black Friday is largely a US tradition, but it’s starting to catch on in other countries. An average of 16.5 percent of those surveyed in eight countries indicated that they plan to shop online Black Friday, while nine percent said they will get their deals on Cyber Monday instead. The shopping frenzy tradition began in the 1960s and is slowly expanding to other countries through the digital age. This study, conducted by One Hour Translation and Google Consumer Surveys illustrates that while roughly 26 percent of US consumers plan on doing their online shopping on Black Friday, Japan isn’t impressed with just five percent planning to take part. 

Finding the best deal isn’t always easy, but Amazon Prime members are savvy shoppers. About 70 percent of Prime members said they “often” or “always” check Amazon’s prices before buying elsewhere, compared to about 56 percent of non-Prime members. The Amazon User Study 2016 by Feedviser also indicates that free shipping is more than a bonus—more than 85 percent of customers consider shipping charges to be a deal-breaker.

When it comes to finding the perfect gift, entertainment plays a big part in family holiday traditions. According to the 2016 Holiday Shopping Study conducted by Fandom, 71 percent of participates believe that sharing their favorite movies, TV shows, and video games with their family is a part of the holidays. Seventy-nine percent of participants agree that introducing their kids to their favorite fandoms via movies, TV shows, and video games was “an important rite of passage in their family” and 84 percent of parents agree that movies in particular bring the family together.

ESports Fans Like What You’re Selling

According to a study conducted by Simmons Research, 53.4 million respondents 18 and older have watched, participated in or attended an eSports tournament. These same fans are nearly two times more likely to be influenced by ads on a team or league’s website than other traditional sports fans. For millennials, supporting their favorite team comes with major purchasing power. Forty-eight percent say that their opinion of a company goes up when it sponsors a team or athlete.

Gamers, in general are early adopters of technology and big spenders on digital content, but one game in particular is attracting a very lucrative fan base. Out of all Overwatch eSports fans, 68 percent of them are in the age 18 to 34 millennial demographic, according to the 2016 Nielsen Esports Report and Nielsen Video Game Tracking. This is higher than the average for other competitive games, which is at 61 percent. This is great news for advertisers, especially since Activision Blizzard announced its Overwatch League.

PC video game sales are way up compared to last year, according to NPD’s October video game industry report. Generating $33.8 million in revenue, this is a whopping 172 percent leap from the same month last year. Console and handheld games also saw a leap, although a more modest increase at 31 percent. Hardware sales are still 20 percent lower than last year’s despite releases of the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro. Individually, however, Nintendo’s 3DS handheld another story.

“The 3DS experienced its fifth straight month of year-on-year growth,” noted NPD’s VG industry analyst, Sam Naj. “Both unit sales and consumer spending for October grew 12 percent as average pricing was flat year on year.  It is likely that continued consumer interest in the Pokémon franchise and Monster Hunter: Generations has driven this growth.”

The NPD’s top 10 best-selling games for October 2016 are:

  1. Battlefield 1
  2. Mafia III
  3. Gears of War 4*
  4. FIFA 17
  5. NBA 2K17
  6. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim*
  7. WWE 2K17
  8. Civilization VI
  9. Titanfall 2
  10. Madden NFL 17

*Asterisks indicate that digital sales were not accounted for.

How Airbnb’s New Experiences Turn Travel Into Stories

Airbnb has introduced Trips—a way for travelers to purchase experiences beyond just a place to sleep. During the Airbnb Open on Thursday, company co-founder, Brian Chesky, likened travel to Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” Every story has an origin, crosses a threshold and the hero is transformed by a challenge before returning to their starting point. This inspired the concept of not just a destination, but a journey that transforms the person—so Airbnb decided to provide that adventure.

Chesky unveiled a new version of the Airbnb app that includes not just homes and places but a newly-added Experiences feature. The promotional video used examples of people riding on dirt bikes, running and even learning to become a burlesque dancer.



“We’ve designed this to be both magical and easy,” Chesky said during the reveal. Experiences are divided into two groups, both designed to immerse a traveler into the local community. “Immersions” are multi-day experiences filled with activities while “single” experiences can include tours, etc. for just a few hours at a time. Users can choose an Experience based on passion, like food, dancing or photography. Half of the experiences are priced under $200, but all of them are presented like a film or old-fashioned travel poster. In fact, each experience comes with its own trailer to add the storytelling element. In addition, 10 percent of experiences are offered by non-profit organizations, who receive 100 percent of the trip proceeds.

A major focus of the Airbnb is not just having fun, but the importance of knowledge that is shared among guests. Even its Places option is sorted not by reviews, but reviewers—offering personal recommendations from the local area from where to eat to the best dancing hall. In one Experience, Nelson Mandela’s prison guard offers a tour of the prison in which he stayed and relates how Mandela changed his life. In another, a Korean woman teaches the art of intricate embroidery—a skill all but lost to machine production. Each experience includes not only interaction with his/her guest, but the opportunity to learn something new by participation. These new Experiences are available now starting in Detroit, London, Paris, Nairobi, Havana, San Francisco, Cape Town, Florence, Miami, Seoul, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

Future app features will include airfare, services and food, adding eCommerce to the mix. As the world enters an era of virtual reality, automation and artificial intelligence, however, Airbnb is making humans a priority. “Everything we do and everything we will do will be powered by people,” Chesky said. “The magic was, is and always will be in the people.”

NBCUniversal Names VP Of Worldwide Live Entertainment; Multiple Promotions At Discovery Networks

From worldwide live entertainment to managing emerging platforms such as VR, here are some of the top personnel moves in marketing over the last week.

NBCUniversal has named industry veteran, Carol Nygren as vice president of worldwide live entertainment. In this role, Nygren “will spearhead the strategy and development for cross-category world-class live events and entertainment. While managing current partnerships, she will also be responsible for creating new relationships globally, and implementing tailored strategies to ensure revenue and creative consistency based on the studio’s dynamic portfolio of intellectual properties,” according to a press release. Prior to NBCUniversal, Nygren led programming efforts at Fathom Events and served as EVP and managing director at Live Events Management Inc. before that. Nygren also worked at The Walt Disney Company, where she was SVP of Licensed Live Family Entertainment and developed the Disney On Ice brand.

Former id Software and GameStop executive, Steve Nix is stepping into virtual reality with a new startup studio called ForwardXP. The company will focus on developing virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences. Although the company is new, this isn’t Nix’s first time working with the technology. He previously served as general manager of VR and interactive at ReelFX, and was the CEO of Yvolver (an engagement and analytics platform he co-founded) before that.

Discovery Communications has quite a few promotions and new hires. Beth Greve has joined the company as SVP of digital ad sales, and Nicole Cleary was promoted to SVP of national advertising sales. Keith Kazerman is now the group SVP of client solutions, Robert Voltaggio is group SVP of ad sales planning and operations, and Jill Steinhauser has been promoted to SVP of ad sales planning and operations. Additionally, the company has hired Rebecca Howard, a virtual reality consultant and former head of video at The New York Times, to the role of SVP of emerging platforms and partnerships.

Paramount Pictures has named several executives in its marketing division in creative advertising. Mo Rhim has been hired as SVP of international digital marketing along with Kath Skerry, who will be VP for digital marketing. Nav Kaur is now director of marketing partnerships and Vivianne Waisman is serving as VP of licensing. Additionally, Brandon Nichols has been appointed to director of digital marketing while Natalie Bowman was named director of creative advertising.

Jori Arancio has been promoted to SVP of communications at ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios. In this role, she will be responsible for all corporate communications, consumer press campaigns, awards outreach and talent relations. Arancio’s previous role was as VP of communications for Freeform, and was part of the rebranding from ABC Family to Freeform.

Mimi Turner, former marketing director for The Lad Bible, has taken the role of senior vice president of strategy at Vice. In this role, she will use her experience with younger audiences to expand Vice’s UK business across digital, social, television, marketing, data and commercial.

Former Apple CEO, John Sculley has accepted the position of chairman and chief marketing officer at the pharmacy benefit management company RxAdvance. Sculley is a founding investor in the company and has served as its vice chairman.

AMC Networks announced that Ellen Kroner will be retiring from her longtime role as executive vice president and chief communications officer. Following her departure, Georgia Juvelis and Jim Maiella will succeed her and begin their roles as senior VPs and co-heads of corporate communications in 2017.

OmniGuide Holdings, a patient safety-focused medical technology company, has appointed John Barnhill as VP of marketing and business development, where he will be responsible for global marketing efforts and business development strategy.

Professional certification provider Simplilearn recently appointed Mark Moran as its chief marketing officer. Moran will oversee the company’s marketing initiatives, communications, and go-to-market efforts as it expands its presence across US markets.

Accounting software developer FlexiInternational named Mary Brandon as the company’s new vice president of marketing. Brandon has over 25 years in the tech industry as a marketing executive, and she’ll be responsible for corporate branding and communications, product positioning, lead generation, and partner marketing for Flexi Software and Renovo Corporation.

Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

Why Twitch Became An ESports Sponsorship Sales Representative

Today, the video streaming platform, Twitch announced a new partnership with two professional eSports teams, Team SoloMid (TSM) and Cloud9 (C9). The agreement makes Twitch the teams’ official sponsor sales representative, connecting them with brands outside of the gaming world and further growing the eSports industry. Twitch will remain the exclusive streaming platform for the two teams while it builds relationships with brands looking to tap into their combined audience.

“These brands will have one-stop access to Twitch’s audience of nearly 10 million daily viewers and TSM and Cloud9’s global fan bases, ensuring unified, authentic engagement with the growing eSports audience,” read an official statement from the company.

Twitch’s vice president and commercial director for eSports, Kristen Salvatore, spoke with [a]listdaily about connecting non-endemic brands with eSports teams and how this partnership will help grow the industry.

What convinced Twitch to officially represent two eSports teams?

ESports is part of Twitch’s DNA—we’re deeply invested in the success and growth of the eSports ecosystem. Putting more money into players’ pockets is a core focus of our eSports strategy, and leveraging our sponsorship sales expertise on behalf of teams is a benefit we’re glad to provide.

What drew Twitch to Team SoloMid and Cloud9, and how did the deal come together?

TSM and Cloud9 have longstanding relationships with Twitch that span many years. They’re two of the largest, most recognizable teams in eSports with a strong Twitch presence. In addition, they have top league placings and believe in treating their players really well. Since they’ve been partners with us in the past on new initiatives, it was a natural fit for us to work together in this way.

What are the challenges for eSports teams trying to connect with non-gaming brands?

Sponsorship sales is an exciting space, but it’s also quite fluid. Ensuring the right match between a team and a sponsor—one in which both brands’ aims are being met, and consumers are delighted by the results—takes full-time focus. Twitch’s sizable, well-developed global sales team can leverage our scale, brand recognition, and experience to do the sponsorship sales heavy lifting, so TSM and C9 can focus on what they do best: winning.

We’re also able to combine team sponsorship activations with exclusive access to the large advertising inventory available on Twitch—something no other sales team can offer. This level of integration is especially appealing to non-gaming brands who may be new to eSports.

In what ways does this partnership help the eSports industry grow as a whole?

Bringing new, particularly non-gaming brands into the world of eSports is critical to the ecosystem’s success. ESports fans make up an enormous audience that’s deeply desirable to brands–and extremely difficult to reach through traditional advertising channels. Leveraging our sales expertise to ensure that non-gaming brands enter the space in a meaningful way is a decisive first step toward that necessity.

Does this partnership open the possibility for Twitch to represent more teams in the future?

Yes, absolutely. It’s always been our mission to help content creators make a sustainable living on Twitch, and that includes teams and players. We’d love to connect them with sponsors whose brands are a great match for their own.

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSports on 2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

ESports Steps Into Virtual Reality At Intel Extreme Masters Oakland

ESL and Intel, the title sponsor of the global Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) eSports tournament, are bringing virtual reality to IEM Oakland at Oracle Arena November 19-20. It’s the first time the traveling tournament is setting up shop in the home of the Golden State Warriors, having used the San Jose Sharks’ SAP Center in recent years. One of the key focuses for Intel at the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) event is virtual reality, according to Intel’s worldwide event marketing manager, George Woo.

“We’re always looking to push the envelope and trying to get some good experiences at the tournaments,” Woo told [a]listdaily. “We’re hosting a VR celebrity match between Navin “NS” Shenoy and Jason “Moses” O’Toole playing The Unspoken to drive home the VR messaging and show Intel’s leadership position and where we want to take the technology.”

The winner of the celebrity match will donate $10,000 to Iridescent, an organization whose mission it is to open up the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to youth in disenfranchised communities with a special emphasis on girls. Woo added that VR is a big marketing focus for Intel. That’s one reason why IEM 2016 will also be the first Intel tournament to be livestreamed in VR through a partnership between ESL and Augmented live stats will be integrated into the 360-degree livestreams across CS:GO and League of Legends matches.

Intel will have 8-to-10 VR stations around the arena spread across all three levels, so the approximately 10,000 anticipated attendees can watch the broadcast. There will be multiple VR headsets inside the Intel Showcase, which will showcase different VR experiences as well as local desktop gaming. Oculus VR is a new partner this year and will have VR games on display, including Insomniac Games’ The Unspoken.

Woo said one of the key marketing messages Intel is explaining to people is needing a Core i7 processor to get a truly immersive VR experience on the highest settings, as well as features like multitasking, 4K content and streaming. “We want to target the early adopters and help take VR more mainstream,” Woo said. “ESports will help continue that drive.”

Intel has a multiyear approach when it comes to the future integration of eSports with virtual reality. “The first step is to offer this spectator view in eSports, and then a few years down the line when more headsets are in the marketplace, we’ll evolve VR into eSports,” Woo said. “We’ll have teams competing in VR games with headsets and the ability for fans to spectate both in the arena and on the gameplay field. That’s the end goal. We want to be at the forefront of VR and eSports.”

Although there aren’t as many VR headsets out in the world today, Woo explained that supports a 360 view on mobile devices. “It’s not as immersive an experience as with goggles, but you can use the accelerometer to get a 2D view of both the stadium and as a spectator in the game world,” he said.

Since Intel doesn’t have a direct marketing partnership with (that relationship is with ESL), Woo said Intel is trying to tell its VR story through the on-site VR Celebrity Match.

“Viewers might not have a headset, but they should think about it,” Woo said. “We’re starting this journey and hope it will continue to evolve.”

Outside of virtual reality, Intel is also showcasing its support of the growing collegiate eSports outreach. IEM 2016 is hosting a League of Legends college match between Stanford and Cal Berkeley, which mirrors the college football match-up that same weekend. “ESports is going to college campuses and a lot of universities are getting into it, and we want to continue to keep that moving forward and get more involved,” said Woo.

This is the third year of IEM in the San Francisco Bay Area. Woo said Intel has secured a lot more partners to participate in the exhibit space, including Oculus Rift, iBUYPOWER, HyperX, Xfinity, Acer and Totino’s. Over the past 11 seasons, Intel has used over 10 different games. In fact, Counter-Strike 1.6 was one of the tournament’s first titles. Last year, IEM welcomed CS:GO into its competition.

“One reason a lot of leagues are using CS:GO is because of how easy Valve makes it to license and run the game,” Woo said. “There aren’t the restrictions like what Riot would do with LCS. The only challenge is that there are so many leagues and companies using CS:GO and many believe they can dump money into it and it just works, which isn’t the way to build a successful eSports business.”

Intel works with ESL, which uses its grass roots pro league platforms to test new potential eSports titles out. “Once it warrants to be on the level of IEM, they give us recommendations,” Woo said. “We’re looking at some games right now, but we still need to work with the publishers. We know Overwatch is a big title and growing fast, and we’re keeping an eye on that. And we’re also looking at Quake Champions, which has a 1-vs-1 first-person shooter competition that would be simple to add. We continue to look at both of these titles. Between the two, Overwatch would probably be first.”

Woo called IEM the Wimbledon of eSports and said “we may not have the biggest prize pool, but people know what to expect”

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSports on 2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

From Building YouTube To Founding A Food-Focused Social Platform

Nom is a food-focusing livestreaming social platform founded by former YouTube CTO, Steve Chen and former YouTube engineering lead, Vijay Karunamurthy. Chen helped create YouTube and Karunamurthy worked for many years building the team that worked on the user experience. One of the things the two found most inspiring about YouTube was how the platform helped connect people and gave them a means of expressing themselves in new ways, ultimately building a new category of creators.

After YouTube, Chen and Karunamurthy moved to Google Ventures, where they were brainstorming startup ideas. It was in a café at Google, where a new chef was brought in every month, that the concept for Nom came into being. They were more interested in talking about the food, ingredients and what they were going to eat than startup tech ideas.

“I think there’s a new energy around food and cooking for a young audience,” Vijay Karunamurthy, now CEO of Nom, explained to [a]listdaily. “It’s kind of a new world of exploring different cultures, different stories and different parts of people’s lives through the world of food and cooking.”

To make Nom come to life, they first had to think about mobile devices and how people relate to video on them. “It’s important to connect what people do when they’re on a smartphone with what they want to do in real-life,” said Karunamurthy. “By the fact that you’re interested in a cappuccino video and photos shared by a barista around the corner, we might be able to suggest to you a great coffee bar here or in Tokyo (if you’re traveling out there) and encourage you to go out and explore things on your own.”

The app, which launches today, recommends content by learning the user’s tastes through the types of ingredients, recipes and restaurants they swipe on. If a user selects a lot of vegan or vegetarian recipes, the app is not likely to recommend a charcuterie place. The aim is to connect users with great food that’s relevant to them, which could include everything from local restaurants to eateries in other countries, using photos, video clips, and livestreaming videos featuring food lovers talking about what they’re excited about.

In addition to restaurant discovery, Nom can also provide tips around the kitchen using special ingredients. A passionate community, with its own language and rhythms, is also a very important aspect to the platform. So, Nom will have professional chefs share recipes or give behind-the-scenes looks at their kitchens. The platform has partnered with ABC’s The Chew and Vice Munchies in addition to DIY food bloggers to engage with the community by answering questions about ingredient substitutions and more.

Karunamurthy talked in-depth with [a]listdaily about how Nom could become a powerful and engaging platform for the food community.

Vijay Karunamurthy, Nom co-founder and CEO
Vijay Karunamurthy, Nom co-founder and CEO

How does Nom differ from existing food-themed apps and communities on Facebook, Twitch and YouTube?

It doesn’t much resemble a lot of food apps, where we see a lot of text recipes or text reviews of restaurants. When you go out, we hope that you share a couple photos, a video clip, and really engage with the audience rather than writing a review of the restaurant.

It relates to how people want to communicate today. People use social media to share a beautifully crafted photo of a dish that they made last night. Our hope is that we give you a way to express yourself through stories in a way that you bring the audience into the act of making a meal or eating out at a restaurant. What I mean by that is that you can see the art of creation or go behind-the-scenes of what chefs do in a new way that existing social media platforms aren’t really built for.

How is Nom using influencers to grow the community?

One of the things that got us excited about food and cooking is the huge diversity of voices you can find. We’ve got content from influencers who know the best coffee shops in San Francisco, and hearing their voices on video is pretty special because some of these people have built huge followings across other social media channels, but they’ve never had that one-on-one connection with audiences.

We also have top-tier Michelin star chefs—folks like Corey Lee at Benu, the first Michelin three-star restaurant in San Francisco. And Timothy Hollingsworth in LA; he opened Otium after working at French Laundry for many years and has a cool perspective on the Downtown LA food scene and everything being revitalized around there. Being able to share their voices as top-tier chefs is very important to us and it relates to the content we’re getting from ABC Disney and other media partners with their celebrity chefs. There’s a huge range of how those experiences are shared and what you expect to see from either a rock star celebrity chef or one that just opened an amazing restaurant around the corner from you. Having that full range of content is very important.

Were you inspired by the growing popularity of Korean muk-bang videos?

The muk-bang videos in Korea are super popular now, and we have an investor—Psy from the Gangnam Style video. He has a strong background in cooking in Korea because his grandmother owned a chain of noodle shops there. He can walk into a restaurant in Koreatown in LA and order a whole bunch of fishes, pickles and other ingredients to make his own noodle dishes at the table. So, we’re excited to have him advise us on how we can share that celebrity angle of how food and cooking can connect with the audience.

Sometimes, people want to have as much fun watching a food video as they want to learn something. We’ve been thinking about that as we approach the angle of educating and entertaining at the same time—sharing a few clips from Psy and photos of ingredients that go into a recipe. I think the muk-bang videos are an interesting social angle, where people want to connect over the food they’re eating. Sometimes just viewing someone livestream eating is enough to spark that connection.

nom_screen_profileWill Nom remain exclusive to mobile devices, or is there consideration being given to platforms like desktop computers, Roku or Amazon Fire TV?

There’s something special about mobile, where you have the phone in front of you and get an immersive, engaging experience. You have to accommodate short attention spans, so you don’t have ten- or twenty-minute long videos. But you can also connect with people who are out and about and doing things. If someone is viewing a restaurant video, we want to provide a chance for them to book a table at that restaurant, and get people out there doing things. That’s a special opportunity when you’re on mobile, and we think that’s what everyone is trying to figure out right now. They’re trying to figure out the right format for video, live video and engagement. We think the community angle of food and cooking ties it all together.

We’re looking at other platforms in the future, but we’re focusing on mobile right now. A Roku or Apple TV could be a very different mindset or environment for how you want to think about video—when you’re on your couch as opposed to being in your kitchen.

How did The Chew and Vice Munchies become involved with Nom?

One of the things we wanted to figure out, launching this week, is: who are the people who have figured out the right format for storytelling and content? Because they’re connecting with the audience already. Both The Chew and Vice connect with a huge audience right now.

With The Chew, if you go to a live taping, the audience members get really into being there with Mario and Carla, and they interact with the audience behind-the-scenes as they go along. We wanted to bring that energy to the mobile audience by showing what’s happening in the middle of filming, or more about the recipe.

Vice Munchies has a global perspective on the world of food and cooking. They’ve reached the millennial audience by focusing on human stories of these chefs and ingredients like king crab in Asia. Getting a different perspective, seeing upcoming shows, and behind-the-scenes clips are important for us because they capture the social energy around food.

nom_screen_storyAre you going to integrate brand sponsorships into some of the content?

One of the things that was special about YouTube, from the very early days, is that we focused more on the user experience than we did on advertising. I think that YouTube has the global impact that it has today because of that relentless focus on a great user experience and encouraging users to create more great content—even while other folks were thinking about advertising earlier than us.

With Nom, we think there are opportunities but also huge challenges for advertising with the community and live engagement. We don’t want to get in the way of a great user experience. So, for the time being, you’re not seeing any advertising on there. What we want to do is connect people with what they want to do in real-life. So, if we know you’re chatting about a restaurant in the app, we want to suggest booking a table there. If you’re chatting about a Sicilian pasta recipe, we can suggest having pasta delivered to you.

Connections are more important to us than trying to just make money or revenue off advertising because they help you, as a user, do things that you wouldn’t be able to do if you didn’t know about them.

What do you think it is about food and eating that relates so well with social connection?

Two things. One is how food is a universal passion for people. A lot of people spend their lunch break thinking about what they’re going to get for dinner. When shopping for groceries, they think about fun new recipes they could try. There’s a renewed focus on how food is a fun, interesting, exciting and social part of people’s lives that we’re excited to tap into.

Second is that it’s something that everyone can appreciate and do. A lot of people who watch music videos might not necessarily know how to play a guitar, but people can watch a recipe video or see a dish at a restaurant and try it out at home. It has become a very participatory way for people to express themselves. We’re excited about this angle of the community, where it’s more than just passively watching—it’s doing things. That creates a new category of creators, how people connect over mobile video, and a new way of thinking about live video.

Inside This Fall’s Best Branded Virtual Reality Experiences

When it comes to experiencing a story in virtual reality, brands are learning that story and interactivity are key. It’s not enough to let someone turn their heads and look around with a headset over their face—and today we’re highlighting some exceptional examples of what branded VR content can be.

The Martian VR Experience

Following the plot of Ridley Scott’s Oscar-nominated film, users can interact with the surface of Mars, steer at zero gravity through space, drive a rover across the red planet and play basketball with potatoes in a variety of mini-games as a virtual Mark Watney. The experience uses footage from the film starring Matt Damon to connect these interactive elements.

The 360-degree teaser below became one of the most watched VR experiences for the Samsung Gear VR. “For future products, we’d like to have a mobile experience that could be played untethered,” Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Innovation Lab president, Mike Dunn, told [a]listdaily. “We’re very bullish on the expansion of mobile VR.”

Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue One X-Wing VR Mission

In anticipation of Star Wars: Rogue One, EA will soon release a special VR mission inside Battlefront. Just as the name implies, this immersive experience, made for PlayStation VR, will place users right in the cockpit of a rebel X-Wing in the Star Wars universe. Coming this holiday season, the VR mission will be free to anyone who owns Star Wars Battlefront for PlayStation 4.

In addition to carrying out “an important mission for the Rebellion,” Star Wars fans can take in a bit of virtual reality with two new Rogue One-themed Google Cardboard viewers from WOW! Stuff, available in designs for either K-2SO or an Imperial Death Trooper. The viewers can be used with the Star Wars mobile app for a special VR experience and to watch the recently released a 360-degree experience called Rogue One: Recon on the official Star Wars YouTube channel.

Ghostbusters VR – Now Hiring

If you’ve ever wanted to explore the infamous firehouse headquarters of the Ghostbusters reboot, Sony continues its big VR promotion push with a free interactive mobile app that’s designed to help promote the digital and Blu-ray editions of the movie. The game allows players to re-assemble proton packs, hunt ghosts and trap them in containment units and even touch ecotoplasm.


John Wick Chronicles: An Eye For An Eye

This HTC Vive game lets players explore the world of renowned assassin, John Wick in anticipation of the upcoming sequel, John Wick: Chapter Two. In addition to exploring iconic locations from the franchise like the Continental Hotel, players are given challenges like defending a rooftop from waves of attackers. The episodic game series will debut in February to match with the film’s premiere, but fans got to try out the first chapter at New York Comic-Con in October.


Emotional Impact

A recent study conducted by YuMe, Inc. and Nielsen proved that immersive, story-driven VR experiences work better because SCIENCE. Through eye tracking and biometric measurements, researchers found that consumers elicited 27 percent higher emotional engagement in the branded content when viewed in VR compared to 2D, and 17 percent higher emotional engagement than a 360-degree video on a flat screen. VR viewers are emotionally engaged 34 percent longer than when they view the same content in 2D and 16 percent longer than when they view the same content in 360-degree video on a flat screen.

The Tasty Relationship Between Food and Video Game Brands

From begging our parents to buy Nintendo cereal to grabbing a slice of pizza at the arcade, food and gaming have always gone together. Over the years, the relationship between video games and food have grown into a delicious pairing that continues to target a passionate (and largely male) millennial audience.

GrubHub, for example, has partnered with Ubisoft for a Just Dance 2017 campaign asking consumers, “what’s your doorbell delivery dance?” Users are invited to use a special Just Dance code at checkout for a chance to win the game.

PepsiCo is definitely a heavy-hitter when it comes to marketing to gamers, especially with its Mountain Dew brand. Its GameFuel campaigns partner with major game releases like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Halo offering limited-time flavors and special offers. This time, the company is offering a combo with both Mountain Dew and Doritos to offer additional XP, a special PvP mode, in-game skins and a chance to win an Xbox One—all to promote Titanfall 2 in a promotion called “Fuel Your Titan.” Buffalo Wild Wings also got in on the action by offering access to the PvP “Coliseum Mode” to those dined at the restaurant at the end of October.


While Doritos is often paired with Mountain Dew, PepsiCo’s crunchy tortilla chip brand has been featured in a few gaming promotions of its own. For example in May, a gamified campaign for Doritos Mix offered a sweepstakes to win prizes such as an Xbox One, Xbox Live memberships, copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, a Samsung Gear VR headset and more.

Taco Bell and PlayStation have become BFF’s when it comes to giveaways, with a relationship that spans back to the PlayStation 3. The two companies have formed a tasty alliance that includes sweepstakes, instant wins and recently, a pop-up PlayStation VR arcade.

As always, enlisting the help of an influencer can boost engagement for both food and the games they partner with—for the launch of Halo 4, Pizza Hut Delivery teamed up with YouTube personality, FlawlessCowboy and Microsoft to introduce the Halo 4 Stuffed Crust Pizza. The promotion came with its own microsite, where fans could order food and claim exclusive items like Halo avatars and win prizes. The pizza even arrived in a Master Chief-themed box. This holiday season, Pizza Hut has once again partnered with Microsoft to give away Xbox One S consoles and custom red Pizza Hut controllers.

Healthy Eating

It hasn’t always been an easy journey for food and gaming brands, however. Times are changing in the way consumers view advertising, quality of food and stereotypes of what it means to be a video game fan. Global food experts calling to regulate or ban advertising to children for products deemed unhealthy and some gamers prefer healthy choices to sugary snacks. With the rise of eSports and the need for this new kind of athlete to perform at his/her best, it will be interesting to see what kind of food partnerships arise.

“There’s no question for me that a healthy lifestyle reduces fatigue and helps concentration levels.” Pro StarCraft II player Samayan ‘BlinG’ Kay told Red Bull UK. “I definitely feel I’m more alert throughout the time I’m practicing and can stay that way for longer compared to times where I slip away from keeping active and start to binge out a bit.”

Gaming and food go together so well that brands are even creating their own specialized products. Gamer Grub produces an array of snack foods designed to be eaten out of a pouch and claim to be full of vitamins and neurotransmitters to increase performance. The brand has even partnered with eSports world champion, Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel to promote.

Quest Nutrition, maker of the Quest Bar, is the first non-endemic sponsor to get on board Robert Morris University’s (RMU) eSports program. “After researching the space, meeting with pro players, and talking about their training regiment, we realized that these athletes need to treat their bodies much like traditional athletes do and we want to help them tell the story of how living a healthy lifestyle can help their performance,” Nick Robinson, chief marketing officer of Quest Nutrition, told [a]listdaily.

Meanwhile, Totino’s Pizza rolls doesn’t seem concerned about the health craze and is taking a different approach when it comes to marketing. “When we decided to go after that millennial audience, we saw thousands of people were making fun of the product on social media, being irreverent, but having fun,” Caio Correa, marketing manager for Totino’s told the Star Tribune. “We realized, they were talking to us, but we weren’t talking to them.” The result was “Live Free, Couch Hard”—a snarky, self-depreciating campaign that embraces what it is—a snack food for lounging. After some fun tweets back and forth this spring, the brand teamed up with Sega for its 25th anniversary celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog at San Diego Comic-Con. Last October, Totino’s had an on-pack partnership with Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and this year, the brand has an on-pack partnership with Microsoft’s Gears of War 4.

General Mills, the parent company that owns Totino’s has set its sights on eSports, partnering with Yahoo ESports to sponsor its weekly live shows. The company has been marketing Cinnamon Toast Crunch to late-night gamers for years, and has integrated Reese’s Puffs directly into Yahoo’s Twitch and Facebook Live channels.

How Fitbit And ‘NBA 2K17’ Are Partnering To ‘Gamify’ Fitness

Fitbit was originally conceived by CEO James Park after he played Nintendo Wii for the first time, following a long early morning of waiting in line to be one of the first to pick up the motion sensor-based console. Park assembled a team of top technologists and gamers to build Fitbit into the top wearable brand in the world today. Now Fitbit is coming full circle and working with 2K to integrate real-world exercise into the gameplay experience for 2K Sports’ NBA 2K17.

Beginning November 25, gamers around the world who achieve 10,000 steps in a day tracked with any Fitbit device will receive a temporary attribute boost to their MyPlayer in NBA 2K17, on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, enhancing their MyPlayer’s performance on the court. After users reach the steps milestone, the game will prompt them to apply temporary +5 attribute boosts and success rate to their MyPlayer in categories like agility, layups and dunks, and more that will significantly improve performance for the next five games played that day.

This deal is the result of two years of conversations between Tim Rosa, senior vice president of global marketing at Fitbit, and NBA 2K developer Visual Concepts president Greg Thomas. Rosa spent five years as director of marketing at 2K Sports and he still plays on a San Francisco Bay Area hockey team with friends from the company.

“This is the gamification of health and fitness,” Rosa said. “I helped put people on the couch for a decade working at 2K and Electronic Arts, and now I’m taking them off the couch with this 2K game integration.”

Over the past nine months, Rosa worked with Thomas and the marketing and business units of 2K to launch this first-of-its-kind integration before Christmas. Rosa knew many Fitbit consumers were already looking for this type of virtual and real-world connectivity.

“We saw through our research that parents are concerned with kids spending too much time playing video games and they were requiring them to do homework and hit a step goal before they could play Xbox or PlayStation,” Rosa said. “They were tying homework and physical activity to gaming already. We’re the first company to attempt this and hope to change some of the perceptions about gaming by encouraging kids to get off the couch and giving them in-game rewards.”

Fitbit Flex 2
Fitbit Flex 2

Rosa has spent the past four years building the Fitbit brand across a variety of devices. Sales are expected to reach 60 million devices by year’s end. He’s seen millennials gravitate towards the Fitbit Flex, and with the recent launch of the Fitbit Flex 2, Rosa is finalizing a soft bundle for retailers Best Buy and Target that will include a copy of NBA 2K17 with the fitness device. Pricing is still being finalized, but consumers will get a discount by purchasing the bundle.

Rosa said Best Buy and Target are also working with 2K and Fitbit in a New
Year’s health initiative for consumers to get in shape for the new year. Separately, there will be cross-marketing and promotions across Fitbit and 2K, including in-game promotions.

This is just the beginning of the partnership, which Rosa said could expand beyond the NBA 2K game franchise. 2K also publishes WWE games, based on another physical sport.

“Our devices track things like heart rate and activity minutes, and you could see down the road we’ve talked about possibly tracking VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake) and heart rate so you could apply bonus levels if you reach a certain heart rate zone that could improve your cardio in the game,” Rosa said. “There are interesting things you could play with.”

Rosa also tossed out a scenario where they could work with a 2K cover athlete or Fitbit athlete Harrison Barnes on a whole real-world training program that could help kids trying to increase their endurance or lose weight. That same gameplay would apply to game telemetry in the video game.

“We’re not doing any of that for this implementation, but Greg (Thomas’) vision is to expand and iterate on this in the game,” Rosa said. “He has a road map with software releases and updates. He’s passionate about doing things that are legit and authentic. The conversation has been to continue iterating on that and potentially other games in the future.”

Rosa also sees other game publishers taking advantage of Fitbit technology at some point down the road, but he also wanted to make sure 2K was the company to debut this feature. “The idea of gamifying physical activity is a huge opportunity,” Rosa said. “Pokémon GO got people excited about going out and playing in the real world, and we’re applying that physical concept to a console-based game.”

Additionally, Rosa said a first-person shooter game franchise publisher did approach him for integration, but he turned them down because it didn’t align with the brand and health and fitness.