What Makes Nvidia Shield TV The Streamer For Gamers

The Nvidia Shield TV has gone through quite a few upgrades since it first launched almost three years ago. In addition to being an Android-based game console, it can stream PC games over a home network and supports content from a variety of services, including Netflix, Google Play, and Amazon Video, making it a cord cutter’s dream come true. In 2015, Nvidia launched a cloud-based service called GeForce Now, which can stream video games to Shield devices at their highest video quality settings. Earlier this month, it was announced that the service would be expanded to PCs and Macs, making it possible for gamers to play their favorite PC games using almost any computer from anywhere with a fast internet connection.

But it looks like the Shield TV isn’t done evolving. Earlier this month, Nvidia revealed that the Shield TV would sell as a bundled package (which includes the device, the voice-command enabled remote, and a gaming controller), and that it would also feature 4K HDR video streaming from supported services such as Netflix. Furthermore, Nvidia decided to step beyond gaming and entertainment by integrating features from its artificial intelligence (AI) projects to make the Shield TV the central hub for smart home devices such as Philips Hue lights and Nest thermostats and cameras. An update will bring Google Assistant support to Shield TV, and its capabilities can be enhanced with an upcoming voice-activated device called Nvidia Spot, which can hear commands from almost anywhere in the home.

Ali Kani, general manager of Shield at Nvidia
Ali Kani, general manager of Shield at Nvidia

When asked to describe the Shield TV with its myriad of features, Ali Kani, general manager of Shield at Nvidia, said: “It’s the world’s most advanced streaming media player that provides unmatched experiences in media streaming, gaming and home AI.”

He also added that “it’s the best at delivering 4K HDR content from popular apps like Amazon Video and Netflix. Shield also delivers more gaming capabilities, streaming multiplayer games from the cloud, and 4K HDR casting from a local PC. And coming soon, it’ll be the only streaming media player with AI capabilities in the home with hands-free Google Assistant and SmartThings hub integration.”

Kani also discussed the lessons that Nvidia learned from selling and promoting previous Shield TV models. “One of the biggest takeaways was that our customers really wanted both a remote and a controller,” he said. “While the Shield controller packs the same level of control, many Shield owners felt more comfortable using the remote. With the new Shield TV, we’re bundling a remote for the same price to provide what we feel is the best all in one entertainment experience.”

We asked Kani how the company was engaging with its fans to make them aware of the new Shield TV. “Our core fans are gamers, so we’re bringing gaming to the forefront,” Kani replied. “You’ll find a completely redesigned website that improves discoverability for games so they can see the breadth of options available on Shield.”

Furthermore, Kani noted that, “we also know that our fans want the best performance, so we’re highlighting the platform’s strengths as a streaming media player. Tying this all together is the moniker that Shield is the streamer for gamers. We’re developing a marketing campaign with appropriate assets to help with education and awareness.”

When it comes to reaching past the core audience, Kani said that “it really comes back to content and platform capabilities. By shipping Shield with a remote and a game controller, and adding a lot of content to the platform (e.g. Amazon Video, Spotify, ESPN, Disney), Shield now appeals to a much broader audience. We are also excited to integrate Google Assistant onto Shield in the coming months as it further increases our product attractiveness by providing customers with the industry’s first hands-free TV viewing experience. With all these enhancements, we can now appeal to customers who just want the world’s best streaming experience.”

So, what convinced Nvidia to integrate home AI capabilities, bringing the Shield TV far past its media streaming and gaming origins? “Shield is an Android TV device,” said Kani. Couple that with Nvidia’s leadership in AI and it was a natural fit to work with Google to bring Assistant to TVs.”

He added that “the Google Assistant experience on Shield is fully integrated into our user experience. You can play TV shows or music, fast forward or pause your media simply by using your voice. Google is also optimizing the Assistant experience on TV so you can see visual cards that enhances the audio-only answer you would get on a Google Home device. Finally, Shield integrates Samsung SmartThings hub technology to let our customers control their smart home via voice to do tasks like turn off their TV or lights, change living temperature or even make some popcorn.”

But with devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo already available, what space is the Shield TV looking to fill? “Shield is designed to enhance the experience of Google Assistant in rooms with a TV,” said Kani. “With a TV screen, customers get enhanced, visual answers from their Google Assistant as well as deep integration into all the content they would typically consume in the living room. When we get to release Nvidia Spot later this year, we will give customers the opportunity to expand access to Google Assistant throughout their home.”

Kani also clarified that the Nvidia Spot will not be required to take advantage of the Shield’s AI features. “Customers can access Google Assistant hands-free through a far-field mic on Shield’s controller. Spot is an optional speaker and mic accessory that extends intelligent ambient control throughout the entire home, enabling Shield to serve as the center of your AI home.”

Inside Lexus’ Super Bowl Strategy And New Brand Ethos

Lexus is celebrating its second-biggest sales year on record in the US market by making a splash in the Super Bowl with the release of a new commercial that is fast, furious and moves as aggressive as a defense on a jailbreak blitz.

Street dancer Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, also known as “the Baryshnikov of jookin,” introduces the new 2018 LC 500 coupe and the completely redesigned Lexus LS 500 as he contorts and gyrates his flexible frame that’s as smooth as an ocean wave to singer Sia’s unmistakable vocals in “Move Your Body.” British actress Minnie Driver narrates a new chapter for the luxury car manufacturer in “Man and Machine” that complements the contemporary expression under the global tagline “Experience Amazing.”

“The Super Bowl is the one event of the year when the audience is looking forward to the ads as much as the game. With two new halo vehicles launching this year, along with a new tagline and a new voice of Lexus, a high-profile commercial in the Super Bowl was an ideal opportunity to highlight our new brand direction, represented by the first-ever flagship LC coupe and the all-new LS luxury sedan,” Brian Bolain, general manager for Lexus’ product and consumer marketing, told [a]listdaily. “‘Experience Amazing’ was specifically chosen so that everyone in the chain, from engineers, to marketers, to dealers and sales representatives would find something useful in the language that would inform their daily efforts to ensure Lexus’ rightful spot as a global tier-one luxury lifestyle brand.”

Like many other top-tier brands, Lexus is looking to join the Super Bowl conversation in what is arguably the most significant day of the year for marketers and advertisers alike. With viewership records destroyed year-in and year-out, Fox is commanding top dollar for brands to get some play time across the airwaves this year—the average cost of a 30-second ad for the Super Bowl is $5 million.

Bolian says the hefty price tag for their 30-second version of the commercial that will run in the second quarter of the game was well worth it since they also consider premium sports as well as culinary as key verticals.

“We feel that launching this commercial during such a high-profile event offered a great platform to reach our target audience of current and future customers. So, yes, it is worth it when you also evaluate how much buzz is given to the spot before, during and after it airs—coupled with the other campaign elements that support the spot. However, the cost of admission is a key reason why we don’t view this as an ‘every-year occurrence.’ Lexus truly uses the Super Bowl when there is significant brand news that makes the investment worthwhile.”

This will be the third time the Toyota-owned brand is running an ad in the Super Bowl. With such a steep price tag, marketers can’t afford to fumble their chance to reach the projected 110 million people who are going to tune-in to watch the game. That’s 72 percent of all homes in the United States.

Just as important is pairing the TV efforts with a strong second-screen digital sidecar. If you really want to get an idea of how well an ad is performing, head to Twitter, where last year’s game generated 16.9 million tweets, 4.6 million of which were users opining about the ads that aired during the game.

Lexus is pairing the TV commercial with a social extension that features Lil Buck doing popular end zone dances launching on Lexus’ Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels. A behind-the-scenes video will reveal more of Lil Buck’s intricate choreography and offer a glimpse into how the commercial was filmed after the Super Bowl.

Bolain says the positive feedback they’ve received so far makes them already consider the spot a success.

“The social and media chatter saying that this spot is so different for Lexus means we’re making noise and really delivering on our brand promise to bring more excitement to everything we do, he says. “The Super Bowl is our opportunity to announce the LC and LS, but later in the year will be our chance to actually launch them with two unique, integrated campaigns. . . . It feels like the maximum benefit from the spot comes from the amount of conversation it causes during the windows of time both pre- and post-Super Bowl.”

The marketing for the new LC is not only limited to Sunday’s game. Lexus started showing the LC as early as last summer in a prototype form at a variety of activations around the country to the enthusiast an influencer audience. During this time they also continued to explore virtual reality. Bolain says consumers were able to see the LC up close through a VR experience that takes the idea of a configurator to an entirely new level. They shared the technology with consumers at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and had some costumers phoning their dealers on the spot.

“From a messaging perspective, you’ll find creative work being developed and written specifically to the idea of ‘Experience Amazing.’ And for the foreseeable future, you’ll hear this new tag line voiced over at the end of each Lexus spot,” Bolain says. “From a more practical perspective, Lexus’ goal is to create amazing experiences for our customers, both in-vehicle and through every touchpoint of customer engagement.”

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Ludicious Founder Hopes To Bring Next Rovio To Zurich

More than 600 game industry professionals attended the third annual Ludicious: Zurich Game Festival in Zurich, Switzerland January 26-29. The festival has grown from 200 attendees in 2015 to its current size by offering a trio of game contests across student, international and Swiss competitions and an in-depth series of lectures and panels exploring game development. Those numbers don’t include the families that flock to the festival by the thousands over the weekend to play virtual reality, console, PC and mobile games.

Dominik Marosi, head of Ludicious, told [a]listdaily that the idea for this festival came from two different entities–the city of Zurich and the Swiss cultural agency–both wanting to bolster the local game development scene. Marosi’s pitch for Ludicious, a celebration of game culture through a festival and multiple game competitions, won out.

“One of the reasons Ludicious exists is to promote the companies and schools were have here in Zurich and Switzerland,” Marosi said. “The Zurich University of the Arts has had a strong program for ten years educating game design from both the programming side and from the arts side. They have very talented teams with a lot of creativity.”

Zurich is also home to Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), which Marosi said is one of the top universities in Europe. Disney Research also has a lab in town. Marosi said there’s a second hotspot located in Geneva with additional art universities.

“We decided to combine all these forces and come together for three days to present themselves,” Marosi said. “Ludicious is also about the industry outside of Switzerland in Europe and internationally. We’d like the students and game and technology developers to find a home here in Switzerland and not have to relocate to Canada or somewhere else.”

Switzerland is home to Giant Software, makers of the international hit franchise Farming Simulator, as well as Urban Games, the developer behind Train Fever and Transport Fever. Sunnyside Games is developing mobile games, and there are startups specializing in VR and AR, such as Apelab, which is developing for Google Tango and is working together with Kenzan Studios.

“There’s a good mix of startups here, but what’s missing is a big publisher or a really big studio that is available to hire all those students that come out of the universities,” Marosi said.

Facebook-owned Oculus VR purchased ETH startup, Zurich Eye last year to enable inside out tracking for Oculus Rift. Faceshift, which created software that enables real-time tracking of faces, was acquired by Apple in 2015.

“We’ve seen a lot of success on the tech side already working, so it would be great if we could get it working on the creative side as well,” Marosi said.

Ultimately, Marosi would love to see Switzerland turn into a Finland or Sweden when it comes to a game development hub. That’s one reason so many speakers from Finland, home to Rovio Entertainment, Supercell and Housemarque, were invited to speak at Ludicious.

“Finland also had the same problem starting out because it’s a very small local market, so you have to work together for international success,” Marosi said. “And that’s what they did. We’re trying to find out so what exactly is the recipe for success, so we’re looking to them for advice. We’re still hoping for a runaway success like Angry Birds that starts opening the doors and pushing the money in and gives even more trust for investors to invest in game companies.”

All Switzerland needs is one studio to hit a home run because studios like Rovio in Finland spawned many smaller successful studios like Supercell that also grew.

“If you look at the ratio of how many awards and how many nominations are going to Swiss teams compared to the size of the country and the size of the development community, it’s very tough to compare to other countries that have much, much larger developer communities,” Marosi said. “So we’re really happy with that, but translating all those awards and nominations into commercial success is the big goal.”

Over 300 games were submitted to Ludicious this year for the competition, which includes games from studios and colleges outside of Switzerland. Given the level of quality from the 11 international finalists, it’s obvious that this event is already on the map for those making games.

Ludicious also incorporates an accelerator pitch program, which already had a success story last year. Developer EverdreamSoft found a partner in All 4 Games, the video game publishing arm of Channel 4, to release its mobile Bitcoin blockchain game Spells of Genesis.

Keeping It Real: Video Game Experiential Marketing At Its Best

Video games take us to faraway worlds and thrust us into adventures most would never experience in real life. Being interactive by nature, video games create unique opportunities for experiential marketing, custom-suited to an already engaged fan base. After all—who wouldn’t want to explore their favorite video game for real? In a world where consumers value peer opinions and social media stars over the press, publishers like Microsoft and EA are shifting their marketing efforts toward in-person events. While many such activations take place during obvious gatherings like E3 or San Diego Comic-Con, these particular video game activations did not—but certainly went above and beyond to get fans excited.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Ahead of the game’s launch, Capcom hosted Resident Evil 7The Experience in London from January 20 to 23—a real-life adventure that plunged fans into a horrifying world of zombies and much, much worse. Following the demos’ story, visitors took on the role of an intern reporter working for a paranormal investigation group called The Sewer Gators. Visitors had just 45 minutes to brave the dark house in search of missing team members, presumably without getting killed in some horrible fashion.

Final Fantasy XV

Lucky fans in the UK got to check out the game a week early and have a bit of experiential fun when Square Enix teamed up with IGN for the Final Fantasy XV IGN Premiere event in London. The exclusive event on November 22 featured life-sized creature statues, game demos and even a potion-making station. For those who weren’t able to attend, there was a one-hour live broadcast from the activation with developer interviews and never-before-seen game content.

ff event

Dishonored 2

In London and at MCM Comic Con, Bethesda hosted a scavenger hunt that sent fans (literally) running toward locations to find replica “bone runes,” the collectible in-game currency used to obtain and upgrade abilities. Along with the runes, fans could pick up invitations to the Karnaca Supper Club—an immersive three-course meal set in the world of Dishonored 2. The activation, hosted by Grub Club, was a huge success and those who attended showed up in cosplay and posted dozens of times across social media. One couple even got engaged at the dinner table!

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Celebrating the launch of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition, Crystal Dynamics teamed up with Cliff Hodges’ Adventure Out to host Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration survival training. This one-time event led 35 participants into the wilderness of Boulder Creek, California for five hours of survival training that included fire-by-friction, constructing earthen shelters, collecting and purifying water and making a bundle bow for hunting food. Joined by NatGeo Remote Survival host, Cliff Hodges and crew as well as members of Crystal Dynamics’ Rise of the Tomb Raider development team, fans competed for rare prizes and were treated to a BBQ lunch.

Watch Dogs 2

On October 13, Ubisoft invited game fans to an interactive tour of a smart home outfitted with HAUM, the in-game connected home technology used in Watch Dogs 2. The tour was captured on surveillance cameras and streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, where online fans were invited to “hack” everything in the home from the lighting to the music and even the temperature. The event attracted more than 350,000 impressions during the event, according to Lucile Bousquet, senior director of marketing and communications for Ubisoft Canada. To make the event seem more real, Ubisoft coordinated with Canadian news outlets, TSN and RDS, working with Bell Media to simulate the sites being hacked. Bousquet told Media In Canada that as a result, 50 percent of traffic to Ubisoft’s site on October 13 was from TSN and RDS.


A recent study by EventTrack revealed that 98 percent of consumers capture content at live events, and 100 percent of those who capture content share it across their social media networks. While 83 percent of consumers share content from events up to 15 times—nearly half (47 percent) would prefer to share content they captured versus content fed to them by a brand. Experiential marketing allows gamers to meet other fans, share their adventures across social media and help solidify their nostalgia for a brand. All the more reason to get creative and invite fans to experience video game worlds for themselves.

Featured image credit: Phillip Noakes

What Facebook’s New Video Algorithm Means For Marketers

If your brand is planning to invest in social video this year, you may have heard some buzz about Facebook’s updated News Feed algorithm. Essentially, Facebook users may see longer videos in their feeds based on their viewing habits. Mind you, these new changes won’t affect paid video advertisements—but for those who invest in original, organic content on the platform, longer doesn’t necessarily equal better.

Finding The Completion Sweet Spot

You would think that the shorter a video is, the more users would consume the entire message. Surprisingly, a study by Kinetic Social found that video ads less than 15 seconds were only completed by 26 percent of users. Meanwhile, video ads more than two minutes long were completed by 31 percent of users. At a completion rate of 44 percent, video ads between 30-to-60 seconds in length appeared to be the sweet spot.

While Facebook’s new algorithm doesn’t affect video ad distribution, it’s still interesting to note the behavior of viewers and attention spans thereof. It’s worth noting that as of September, around 93 percent of Facebook users accessed the site through a mobile device. How long a user is willing to spend watching a video on his/her phone will vary, but even Facebook admits that video length should depend on the story brands want to tell.

“As always, Pages should focus on creating videos that are relevant and engaging to their audiences,” the social network advised in a blog post. “Longer videos that people don’t want to watch will not perform better in News Feed. The best length for a video is whatever length is required to tell a compelling story that engages people, which is likely to vary depending on the story you’re telling.”

The idea behind Facebook’s new update is to give users more of what they’ve enjoyed in the past. “[L]onger videos that people spend time watching may see a slight increase in distribution on Facebook,” the company noted, “so people who find longer videos engaging may be able to discover more of them in News Feed.”


Making The Way For Mid-Roll

Facebook is testing mid-roll ads for its live videos, which would be great news for brands who’d like to earn more on the platform. If the tests are successful, mid-roll ads on Facebook will encourage creators to upload videos of at least a 90-second duration, and the ads only appear once a viewer has watched a clip for at least 20 seconds. In order for these ads to appear, however, the News Feed algorithm has to find enough videos that are long enough—and completed enough—to even show up.

Boasting roughly 100 million hours of videos viewed per day, Facebook continues its quest to compete with Twitch and YouTube for video-viewing supremacy. Whereas users typically pop onto the aforementioned video sites with a topic in mind, Facebook faces the challenge of engaging consumers with seemingly random videos that appear organically and automatically begin playing without sound.

In a statement accompanying Facebook’s third quarter earnings, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said they are “making progress putting video first,” which includes testing a new app feature that will offer direct access to the camera with one swipe—similar to Snapchat or Instagram.

Op-Ed: Balancing ESports TV And Digital Broadcasts

The first Heroes of the Dorm tournament (a collegiate eSports competition where teams play Heroes of the Storm to win $500,000 in scholarship money) was hailed by Activision Blizzard as a major milestone, being the first eSports event to be televised in the US—shown on ESPN2. However, that was two years ago, and now ESPN is scaling back its eSports coverage plans amid criticisms and low ratings for the tournament, giving Facebook a chance to pick it up and grow its eSports audience instead.

Although ESPN has aired both Poker tournaments and eating competitions, eSports may have been a step too far for many of its viewers—and there are good reasons why the company’s efforts haven’t been as successful as Turner’s ELeague, which hosted the ELeague Major over the weekend with a televised Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) Grand Final.

“We understand that the native platform for eSports is digital,” said Craig Barry, executive vice president and chief content officer for Turner Sports, discussing ELeague’s first season. “Understanding that the majority of our audience lives and breathes in the digital space creates a great opportunity.” The challenge for ELeague was to properly introduce eSports, which continues to grow in the digital space, to a more mainstream TV audience. That’s one of the reasons events like the ELeague Major play-offs and Quarterfinals were shown on Twitch and YouTube while the Grand Final was aired on television. However, there’s more to it than deciding on which tournaments to show.

Choosing The Right Game

There are quite a few games that are popular among eSports enthusiasts, chief among them being League of Legends (LOL), Dota 2, and CS:GO. ESPN was right to hope that light coverage of eSports might bring in a fresh, younger audience, especially considering how millennials watch as much eSports as they do baseball. It was also smart to look to a then an up-and-coming game developed by Blizzard as a starting point. Heroes of the Storm, which was still in beta at the time, was already growing in popularity among college students. Except, it turned out to be the wrong game for the wrong channel.

One of the main reasons ELeague chose to feature Counter-Strike instead of League of Legends was because it was both popular and accessible to viewers. There’s less explaining that needs to be done with a first-person shooter than with a MOBA, which usually starts with having to explain what MOBAs are and why people like them. Additionally, ELeague worked with key sponsors, including Arby’s, to help promote the CS:GO competition and win over gamers, who may have helped explain the game to newcomers.

While many hoped that Heroes of the Storm would shake up the eSports status quo in a way World of Warcraft changed MMORPGs, there was no getting around the fact that the game was Blizzard’s entry into the MOBA market, and its players and fans are generally the ones who understand it. Those that don’t have little motivation to learn more and find out what all the excitement is about. Furthermore, it was a newly released game that, despite Blizzard’s reputation, hadn’t made a name for itself yet outside of dedicated gaming circles.

According to Christina Alejandre, general manager of ELeague and VP of eSports at Turner Sports, TBS successfully attracted a younger audience. The first season of ELeague brought in a 70 percent increase in the male 18-34-year-old demographic, while there was a 38 percent increase in men 18-49. She also talked about how airing eSports on television helped bridge generations, as families came together on Friday nights to watch televised tournaments.


It’s Still A Digital World

ESPN’s Heroes of the Dorm coverage last year may have been a kind of course correction, with a different balance between the digital and televised coverage of the tournament. However, it may have been too little too late. While ELeague hosted an Overwatch tournament during the off-season, ESPN viewers had to wait a year between Heroes competitions, and most dedicated fans were already used to watching tournaments online.

It’s also important to note that while Overwatch is also developed by Blizzard, it is a first-person shooter, and it quickly skyrocketed in popularity among both viewers and gamers despite not being free-to-play. Similar to the CS:GO tournament, only the Overwatch finals were televised while all the competitions leading up to it were broadcast online.

Even with the televised coverage of less esoteric games last year, audiences already got the message: ESPN was not the channel for eSports fans. Therefore, its annual broadcast was not enough to attract a new audience. So, perhaps the move to Facebook is the right move for everyone involved, being that it’s a digital platform for a largely digital fan base—especially given Blizzard’s livestreaming partnership with Facebook.

It remains to be seen how far ESPN intends to scale back its eSports plans and whether this move will impact coverage of games like Street Fighter V and Madden NFL. Will ESPN back out of eSports completely, handing the audience over to someone else, or strengthen its online presence before experimenting with TV broadcasts again?

Christina Alejandre is speaking at the [a]list summit. 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 alistsummit.com for more info.

Dell Exec Discusses IoT: It Has To Be Practical, Valuable And Solve A Real Problem

IoT is transcending industries and stimulating emerging markets, and executives are toiling on the frontline trying to identify proper use-cases for their brands to better connect with consumers for some next-level connectivity.

After all, by 2020, there will be over 26 billion connected devices in the ether for what is being billed as a $151 billion market; one third of executives admit that their companies actively deployed IoT in 2016, per Deloitte.

Mainstream vendors like Dell are leading the commercial side of the industry by pushing for smarter IoT devices and building on equipment and data by leveraging current tech investments to securely enable analytics-driven action.

On Wednesday, as part of the Dell IoT Solutions Partner Program, the hardware company made another move on that front by inking a deal with Great Bay Software to further facilitate visibility into IoT devices connected to heterogeneous networks as part of their Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series.

Jason Shepherd, Dell’s director of IoT strategy and partnerships, joined [a]listdaily to discuss how they’re enabling secure IoT solutions and what brands need to do to create meaningful IoT activations.

Jason Shepherd, Dell’s director of IoT strategy and partnerships
Jason Shepherd, Dell’s director of IoT strategy and partnerships

On Dell’s IoT strategy . . .

“We’re focused on commercial and industrial use-cases. We’re seeing a lot of IoT in both of those markets. It’s clearly fragmented across the board. You’re seeing a lot of stuff around Alexa in the consumer space. Personally, the winners in the IoT world for consumers will be whoever owns the content pipe because you already will have that customer relationship. Amazon is doing great things there. We see some opportunity over time for Dell. But for us, it’s more on the commercial side. We have a lot of credibility in that space and customer relationships, too, with our partners that bring more of the operational side of the business. We come from the IT side. That’s where our traction is going to be.”

On how brands can create meaningful IoT activations . . .

“It has to solve a real problem. I can’t emphasize enough to be focused with experimentation and be practical about it. Solve a core problem, and don’t take on too much. Unfortunately, right now there are a lot of consumer-facing activations across the board that are not useful, and are out there just because marketers can do it. But they aren’t really valuable. And that’s why you don’t see traction. My advice to brands would be to solve a real problem and not just do something because it’s cool. It won’t fly because the average consumer won’t spend a lot of time and money, unless they like to tinker. We’re seeing a lot of ‘hey, look what I can do.’ That’s not that interesting. From a Dell perspective, it’s all about going after use-cases that drives a hard ROI for businesses that is repeatable. For us, we’re in a business to find the killer app and scale these solutions. We bring the infrastructure. Our partners bring the services.”

On the security concerns plaguing IoT . . .

“The key to security is that there is no magical answer that solves all problems. It’s about a layered approach, and knowing what you are doing. The DDoS attack that took down parts of the internet late last year was a bot that went out to IoT devices and started swarming the servers. Most of those devices had almost no security applied to it. What’s happening with consumers is there is this balance of instant gratification and ease of set-up and not having a password. You don’t have that issue on the commercial side because you’re going to do whatever you need to protect your business. There needs to be an education on the consumer side. It’s working with reputable suppliers. You’ll see that, especially with the consolidation happening with some of the larger players who own the pipe on the consumer side. You will build that in. You have fragmentation with all of the players doing cool things from a maker-movement standpoint when security is an afterthought because first and foremost it’s about going to market for them and just get something out there. It’s so fragmented and noisy that you can’t cover everything up. The attack surface is too big. When you get some centers of gravity, then you can start applying the security models and it starts to consolidate a bit. At Dell we’re doing the same thing on the commercial side for helping drive certain standards and being active in that community by working with partners. We have a lot of expertise in applying security measures. It’s about education and applying the right models.”

On education journey that needs to take place . . .

“You have to start with the use-case, and not be everything to everybody. That’s the struggle that needs to be balanced. A lot of it is going through and talking about the stories, and the impact of the use-cases. We used [Entourage star and Dell Social Good Advocate] Adrian Grenier for the potential of green impact for smaller farms. It’s about getting the message across of social and environmental impact. We’ve seen pockets of the killer app emerge. The big focus for us is to get that clarity.”

On the future of IoT . . .

“It’s driving the awareness and knowledge of security. We’re actively working on how to drive more consolidation on standards. We have to get the data integration problem more in check. Buzz really started peaking over the past couple of years. People were looking at it like ‘I want to own the customer. I want to lock people into my platform. I want to do everything.’ In 2016 people realized ‘holy crap! This is hard.’ They realized that they did not have to reinvent the middle. The industry needs a consistent baseline in the middle. You don’t have to own that and be proprietary to still add a lot of value. A big part of this year will be a consolidation effort. You’ll start seeing the platform proliferation die down. Over the next 12-to-18 months, you’ll see the platforms cut in half—some through acquisitions, some through just fizzling out—because you just don’t need 400 platforms to solve these problems.”

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan


Newzoo: Forget What You Know About ‘Core’ PC Gamers

PC gamers have traditionally been a market unto themselves—hardcore, rig-building fans ready to tackle the most graphically intensive games on the market. While stereotypical hardcore PC gamers do exist in all their overclocked glory, data gathered by Newzoo reveals a parallel group of PC gamers who play less visually intensive—yet more competitive—games online, calling to question previous assumptions about the demographic as a whole.

Using its PC Gaming Hardware Tracker, Newzoo examined the specifications of computers used by millions of US game enthusiasts for two popular PC games—League of Legends (LoLand Battlefield 1. Both games are competitive, highly popular and played on a PC—and yet when it comes to hardware, these titles only had a four percent audience overlap. While Battlefield 1 requires a more expensive kit to run its near photo-realistic graphics across 64-person multiplayer, League of Legends does not, allowing it to reach a wider audience and increase its portability.

“This is particularly essential for games used in eSports,” Newzoo noted in its findings, “where a low barrier of entry and a higher level of device portability are required to allow teams of players to travel, train and compete together.”


Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo, told [a]listdaily that marketing a PC video game is no longer just about the players, but those who are watching livestreams as well. “There are a large number of game enthusiasts out there that spend more time viewing than gaming,” he said. “This also offers strategic opportunities for developers to branch out in terms of business models or to create interactive elements on top of streams. There already are some games in which the viewers determine the sequence of events in multiplayer games that are played by others.”

Warman went on to say that analytics behind games should cross all three groups—gamers, creators/streamers and viewers—and be combined to power effective marketing strategies. “We would rather ditch the term ‘core gamers’ and ‘core games’ completely,” he added, “and speak of game enthusiasts, immersive games, competitive games, etc.”

Newzoo is taking a “hardware per franchise” approach to identify segments of game enthusiasts that can be referenced for developers and publishers, as well as the increasing number of endemic and non-endemic brands that want to enter into eSports. “The eSports trends are finally giving these brands the opportunity they have been waiting for a long time,” Warman said, “to engage with digital natives and millennials through their favorite pastime—playing and viewing games and sharing content.”

When it comes to marketing to PC gamers, not all enthusiasts are alike.

“We are trying to make the point that graphically intense is not the only metric for what we used to call ‘core’ games,” Warman added. “Free-to-play business models that require as many players as possible and rely on extensive online multiplayer functionalities are not immersive in a graphic sense, but equally immersive from a competitive standpoint. These games put way less pressure on the graphics card. Performance depends more on the CPU and memory—especially considering the fact that these gamers are ‘mega-taskers’ who stream, communicate, run in-game apps and play a game all at the same time.”

Featured image source: Top Setup Magazine

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 alistsummit.com for more info.

Editorial note: Some of the original language in this story has been changed. While the term, “PC Master Race” has long been utilized by the gaming community, we don’t defend the language. In light of the political climate, it’s insensitive and despite its commonness, we need to be better about moving the language forward rather than just being compliant.

Facebook Hires New Head Of VR; Vox Media Appoints First CMO

From mass media to home improvement, here are some of the biggest marketing job moves from the past week.

Vox Media has appointed Lindsay Nelson as its first CMO and Armando Turco joins as the first general manager of Vox Creative, leading the company’s branded content division. Nelson will drive relevance, authority, and aggressive business growth for Vox Media and its growing portfolio of brands and businesses.

Toys “R” Us has hired Carla Hassan as executive VP and global chief marketing officer to lead its global marketing efforts. Hassan previously served as senior VP for brand management at PepsiCo and worked at the company for 13 years in various marketing roles.

Lowe’s chief marketing head, Marci Grebstein, has left the company after 14 months in the position. However, the home improvement store chain quickly named a successor, Jocelyn Wong, as chief marketing officer. Prior to joining Lowe’s, Wong served as senior VP and chief marketing officer at Family Dollar.

Ford has hired former Apple executive, Musa Tariq as its vice president and chief brand officer. He starts on January 30, and will work to further build and differentiate the Ford brand.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts announced the appointment of SiuYin Ko to the role of corporate director of sales. In this role, she will provide leadership and strategic direction for Rosewood’s North American Regional Sales organization. Additionally, Ko has been tasked with establishing a new regional office in San Francisco

Health technology software company, OptimizeRx promoted Ed Berger to the new position of SVP of marketing. In this role, Berger will be responsible for leading the company’s marketing communications strategy.

Adtech company, Mixpo has promoted Adam Noble to Vice President of Marketing and Erin Martin to vice president of customer experience and operations. Noble will oversee all brand and product marketing functions from the company’s Boston office. Martin, who was previously Mixpo’s director of marketing, is charged with enhancing customer experience and building the team, process, and operations structure to further Mixpo’s promise of best-in-class service.

Frozen food company, Birds Eye UK, has appointed Steve Challouma as its new marketing director.

Former Turner Sports VP of marketing, Jeff Mirman, has been named as chief digital officer at McCourt Global. In this role, Mirman will initially focus on the development of enhanced digital strategies for the sports and media assets in the McCourt Global portfolio.

Facebook hired Hugo Barra to head its virtual reality division three days after Barra announced that he was stepping down as Xiaomi’s global vice president.

Jagex Games Studio, developer and publisher of the MMORPG, RuneScape, has named Phil Mansell as both its COO and acting CEO. Mansell previously served as vice president of studios at Jagex and takes the role following the departure of outgoing CEO, Rod Cousens.

Florian Hunziker, former Harmonix COO and EA business director, has been named PlayStation America‘s new VP of third party relations and developer technology group. I Hunziker said that the company will continue to mix big publisher deals with support for small indie studios in an interview with Gamesbeat.

Grand Theft Auto veteran, Leslie Benzies confirmed rumors that he was starting his own game studio. The company doesn’t have an official name yet, but it will include former Grand Theft Auto leaders, Colin Entwistle and Matthew Smith. Based out of Los Angeles and Edinburgh, Scotland, the company is working on a next-generation open-world game called Everywhere.

Mobile gaming giant, King Digital acquired data analytics firm Omniata for an undisclosed price. King is known for using internal analytics and marketing to promote games such as the wildly successful Candy Crush Saga.

Italian publisher, Digital Bros has acquired the Assetto Corsa racing game developer, Kunos Simulazioni, in a cash and stock deal totaling €2.75 million ($3.45 million).

Warner Bros. has officially re-opened Avalanche Software after acquiring the company from Disney. Avalanche is best known for developing the toys-to-life game, Disney Infinity.

Crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo has appointed Nate Murray as its head of gaming. Murray has extensive experience raising funds for tabletop games, which he will use to help get video games started.

Media company Rooster Teeth, makers of Red vs. Blue, has launched its own indie game publishing division. The company has experience publishing its own game, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse, and is now it is now signing on more titles from independent developers. Its first game will Battlesloths 2025: The Great Pizza War from Invisible Collective.

Have a new hire tip? Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

Connecting With Livestreamers That Best Suit Your Brand

As livestreaming for video games and other content continues to grow in prominence across platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Live and Facebook Live, more brands are looking to tap into this space. Twitch in particular, with its numerous video game streamers, connects strongly with the hard-to-reach millennial audience. But what should brands keep in mind as they look for the right broadcaster to sponsor? How do they ensure that they find the person that best represents them? [a]listdaily spoke with industry insiders to get their advice for getting onboard the livestreaming trend.

Twitch offers to do all the work when it comes to creating custom campaigns and community-facing sponsorships. However, John Newlin, custom solutions director at Twitch, offers advice for those looking to foster a relationship from the ground up. His three tips are:

  1. Don’t focus on reach alone. Just because a broadcaster has a large viewership, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for the brand. It comes down to community. Streamers who foster a sense of community on their streams and engage with their viewers will be able to help brands better connect with their audience. Also, look for Influencers who genuinely like and use the product or service. If selling more hamburgers is a brand’s goal, don’t go with the vegetarian streamer regardless of how popular they might be.
  2. Read the rules. Since most broadcasters list guidelines for their chat on their channel pages, look for those that promote their channels as being a hub for positive community interaction and convey a family-friendly vibe.
  3. Do your research. The types of games being streamed can help weed out channels that might be less brand-friendly, such as streamers who have a penchant for gratuitously violent and profanity-heavy games. Check out their archived videos to get a sense of which games they stream the most. Regardless of the games they play, it’s also important to learn about the type of community a streamer is cultivating and how much moderation they employ. Checking out their chat replay is a good place to start.

Roker Media co-founder and managing partner, Ronald Pruett, states that brands should start by considering the platform before connecting with a broadcaster. He also recommends devising a livestreaming plan, which would differ greatly from a traditional video series.

“Unlike a lot of platforms with influencers, livestreams are unique. I would say that different platforms go after different audiences. In other words, you may find an influencer or star on a platform [like YouTube], but their audience will be younger. Whereas someone on Facebook might target an older audience. So, platform selection is critical.

“More importantly, the whole concept of influencers and brands finding them is just starting to develop on livestreams for this reason: there are not a lot of folks out there who are great live. The output on platforms like YouTube are heavily edited. If I were a brand, I’d be extremely careful about confirming that the person I was working with has done a lot of livestreaming, and can manage the representation of the brand live.”

Chris Carley, TriplePoint PR’s influencer relations specialist, said that if there are already streamers who use and evangelize a sponsor’s product, they should be considered first for possible sponsorship. Although they may not be the largest influencers, they’ve proven to have a relevant audience, so a positive working relationship could have significant value. But the biggest advice he has for starting out is simple: Know who you are working with.

“First off, understand that content creators are not journalists, nor are they video producers with a full production team behind them. These are gamers and entertainers working to make a living off video content they produce themselves. The vast majority of content creators did not go to journalism or business school. Things like press embargoes, contracts and payment systems may be new to them. The more a sponsor understands this and can be patient with the content creator, the smoother the process will be.

“Second, similar to properly targeting your story pitches to the right journalists, sponsors should always take the time to watch as much of the potential streamer’s content as possible. Is the creator a variety streamer or focused on a specific genre of games, and would the sponsor’s game fit the audience? Do they use inappropriate language, do they rage at online opponents, or do they display any kind of behavior that the sponsor might deem inappropriate and not want to associate with? Sponsors should do the due diligence required to verify that they are ok with the maturity level of their content, and that they display and address games they play in a way that the sponsor is comfortable with.”

Additionally, Carley said that sponsors need to get comfortable with “relinquishing creative freedom to reach the desired outcome,” and that they shouldn’t try to control the messaging or insist that a streamer do something that goes against the character of the show. “This leads to a no-win situation,” he said. “The sponsor won’t get a good return on their investment, while the damage to community trust will hurt the streamer and their show. Sponsors should look for the right fit, not monetary-driven control of the talent. This isn’t a celebrity tweet nor a traditional ad spot.”

ION’s group talent director, Steven Lai, had this to say:

“As brands, it’s important to treat the broadcasters they choose to work with as a true partnership. And like any great partnership, it’s key to evaluate fit not just from a numbers perspective (viewership, audience size, engagement) but more importantly, a personality standpoint. Does the broadcaster share your brand’s values, ideals, and viewpoints? Identifying the personalities that match on all levels provides further credibility to the partnership leading to a much more meaningful, impactful, and long-term relationship.”

Image credit

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