Digital Collectible Card Games Will Earn $1.4 Billion This Year

It’s the circle of life . . . for gaming, anyway. Tabletop games gave way to video games, tabletop made a comeback, and now the rage is tabletop games you play in a video game—the best of both worlds. According to new findings from SuperData Research, the digital collectible card games (CCG) market will generate $1.4 billion in revenue worldwide in 2017. Video game brands, in particular, are playing to win with CCG spin-offs from existing franchises—creating a whole, new competitive gaming market in the digital space.

Growing The Collection

When you think of collectible card games, titles like Magic: The GatheringPokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! come to mind, each with its own loyal fan base and international competitions. While players continue to collect physical cards, digital versions are on the rise like never before. In fact, digital players account for 61 percent of the CCG audience thanks to greater accessibility.

Blizzard currently dominates the digital CCG market with Hearthstone—earning $395 million worldwide in 2016. Blizzard’s wildly popular game launches a major new content pack roughly every four months, which lets players prepare to spend on new cards. As with traditional cards, digital CCGs naturally lend themselves to competition and a foot in the door of widespread eSports fameHearthstone’s 2016 world championships featured a $1 million prize pool, inspiring players to achieve greatness through their favorite pastime.

“Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft earned roughly four times as much as its closest competitor in 2016 and is forcing transformation on the digital CCG market,” said SuperData. However, Blizzard may have some major competition with Shadowverse (developed by Cygames), 2016’s standout CCG that earned $100 million in just six months.

GWENT, based on CD Projekt's The Witcher video game IP.
GWENT, based on CD Projekt’s The Witcher video game.

The digital CCG genre is most popular in Asia with an audience of 11.6 million, while North America has the largest physical player base at 9.1 million. SuperData predicts that between the ends of 2017 and 2020, worldwide digital CCG revenue will grow by a CAGR of four percent.

ESports Growth

CCGs are taking off as eSports, and even smaller publishers are putting on tournaments to appeal to their most devoted players, SuperData noted, which naturally leads to online streams. Eighty-six percent of worldwide digital CCG players watch online videos about CCGs and 59 percent of viewers tune in to learn about new strategies. Among US digital CCG players, 7.6 percent spend money on in-game content and are more likely to spend than players of other types of hardcore or midcore video games.

For Counterplay, developer of CCG game Duelyst, telling a compelling story and providing quality gameplay are more important than filling stadiums. The lore, alone, took two years to write—covering 30,000 years of in-game history. “We don’t consider ourselves an eSport, since that’s a very top-down approach and mentality that we don’t believe in,” Keith Lee, CEO of Counterplay told [a]listdaily. “We take a bottom-up approach by nurturing, growing, and supporting the needs and aspirations for all types of players in our community. If competitive participation grows month-to-month, then we’re already successful.”

Meanwhile, new CCGs are being introduced all the time—from collectible card elements in Clash Royale to all-out warfare in World of Tanks: Generals. CD Projekt’s GWENT (a card game taken from The Witcher 3) is currently in beta, as is Smite Rivals from Hi-Rez Studios. While today’s hottest digital card games are played on PC, the player landscape is beginning to change.

“I think mobile gamers are at the phase where they just really like playing games on their phones, while some are becoming more hardcore and want to play on a stage in front of people,” Brian Grayson, project lead for Smite Rivals told [a]listdaily. “That audience was smaller a year ago and it’s naturally growing. We don’t have to do anything because it will grow organically, but we can support it by creating more opportunities for people to compete. Creating small grassroots tournaments, giving people venues, and even giving tools within the game to play against their friend and cultivate that competitive atmosphere. I think that will help the most.”

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.

Stream.Me Uses ESports To Take On Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Live

The streaming market today is dominated by big companies like the Amazon-owned Twitch, Google’s YouTube Gaming and Facebook Live. A new entry in the video game streaming space is Stream.Me, which has tournaments running on games like Killer Instinct and Street Fighter V.

The video platform gives viewers the ability to simultaneously view multiple players and casters in up to 4K HD resolution video running at 60 frames-per-second. Stream.Me also allows users to blend audio from several streams and combine chat rooms from different sources. Michael Thompson, director of sales and marketing at Stream.Me, talks to [a]listdaily about the opportunities streaming platforms open up for sponsors and brands in this exclusive interview.

What separates Stream.Me from Twitch and other streaming platforms?

There are three things that separate Stream.Me from other streaming platforms:

  1. Our multi-stream feature. The multi-stream feature allows users to stream up to four content creators simultaneously without using a third-party program or software. Everything can be set up on the platform itself.
  2. The multi-chat integration feature (which goes with the multi-stream feature). Multi-chat integration combines chats from up to four content creator streams into one multi-stream chat where people can interact with each other even though they are from separate channels.
  3. Our partnership process. Our partnership process is a lot less stringent than other streaming platforms. To be qualified for a subscription button, you need to create an account, stream and get 50 followers. Once this is achieved, you will receive your sub button. The streamer can set the cost of the subscription as low as $1.00 and as high as $4.99. With each subscription, the streamer will get a 70/30 split of the revenue in their favor.

How large is your beta audience?

The Stream.Me beta had a small audience at first. In the months since then, and as we have rolled out the world’s first features that some of our more popular competitors have since copied (like streaming live from your app), our platform has grown to host more than 200 streamers and over 100,000 viewers.

What’s your rollout plan? 

Like any good rollout out plan, Steam.Me’s strategy will be flexible to match current trends, but there are some definitive details, including leveraging the most popular events like PAX, MomoCon and E3 to market and promote the platform.

As you have seen, we also are partnering with some of the top talent in the fighting game community (FGC) and having them participate in eSports tournaments we organize and host on the platform. We work with some of the most talented players in the world like Sonic Fox, the most decorated Mortal Kombat professional in the world, and Xixo, a member of the now-disbanded Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) team that won the 2015 Hearthstone World Championship.

We have a lot of other exciting developments in the works, and once we finalize them, we’ll make sure you are one of the first to know.

What role do you see eSports playing for your platform?

It only takes a glance at the major corporate brands now advertising at eSports events, the countless professional athletes from traditional sports clubs buying eSports teams, and the massive viewership numbers of tournaments to realize eSports is exploding in popularity.

By hosting tournaments on our platform, we have seen our viewership and number of new users skyrocket with each tournament.

How are you currently working with sponsors and advertisers?

We have partnered with sponsors like Arozzi Gaming Chairs, energy drink companies and have other deals in the works with some of the biggest companies in gaming, who are excited to see how Stream.Me will help grow their brand.

Like our competitors, our sponsors and advertisers have their products advertised on streams to viewers who are not subscribers. We also have seeded products with some of our most popular streamers—providing benefits to the sponsors by including organic advertising on specific channels while simultaneously giving our most popular streamers the option to obtain some free high-end physical goods that would cost them hundreds of dollars if they were to purchase on their own.

What opportunities do events such as the Savage Series open up for sponsors and advertisers?

Our Street Fighter Tournament, Savage Series, will open a wealth of new opportunities to directly reach the passionate Street Fighter community. We’ve found that while there is some crossover between our most active viewers and each eSports tournament we host, each new game brings in new viewers who devotedly follow their specific title, favorite teams and players.

By partnering with one of the biggest names in the Street Fighter scene, Alex Valle, and hosting the first tournament after the new patch adds Akuma as a playable character, we are uniquely positioned to help our partners and advertisers reach a significant portion of the Street Fighter community at a time when not much else will be occurring.

How are you marketing your platform to eSports fans?

We are reaching the eSports community by hosting tournaments with top talent on our platform that has a superior feature set.

Stream.Me is able to attract the best teams by providing industry-leading payout times. Often, these professionals are forced to wait months after winning a tournament to receive a paycheck. In our minds, that is wholly unacceptable. If an NFL player collects a check after every game, why should an eSports player have to wait months to receive payment? These world class athletes agree with our position, appreciate our respect for their craft, and how we do business.

We are able to attract viewers by offering tournaments with top level talent on our platform with market-leading technology like a fully integrated multi-stream functionality that doesn’t require a third-party app. That, in addition to 4K HD streaming at 60 fps, combined with the ability to merge multiple chat rooms into one, gives the viewer a second-to-none experience that turns a one-time viewer into a weekly active user.

How are you reaching ordinary gamers?

You are correct in the assumption that while eSports fans are ordinary gamers, not all ordinary gamers are eSports fans. This means we need a different approach to reach this specific audience.

We will have a presence at numerous consumer-facing events like MomoCon and PAX, which will allow us to present our superior feature set directly to potential viewers and the amazing eSports content we host on the platform, while simultaneously showcasing our friendlier terms for broadcasters.

Viewers don’t watch channels solely because of the platform they are hosted on. If they did, they would have come to Stream.Me a long time ago for our superior feature set, which is still in beta. Viewers come to a streaming platform to watch their favorite streamers. With our friendlier terms for streamers giving them the opportunity to monetize quicker and receive a bigger slice of the revenue, we have been able to attract some top talent away from other platforms, and we’ve found their audience comes with them.

What other eSports initiatives have you launched?

We’ve had a few successful eSports tournaments. The Deck Gauntlet (Hearthstone) and Kombat Cup (Mortal Kombat) events were both outstanding. We were extremely pleased with the results. We also have new projects in the works, but I’m not at liberty to discuss what they are at this time. However, I can tell you a LAN event will happen in the very near future.

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.

Bryce Harper Is The Star For Under Armour’s Big Bet On Baseball

Bryce Harper is baseball’s first star born in the age of social media.

If you somewhat follow baseball, then you should know his story by now. His meteoric rise to the big show began in 2009 when at the age of 16 he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a Las Vegas prodigy with prodigious power ordained as the next LeBron James.

He put his pro career on the fast track by taking his GED and enrolled in a community college. By age 17, he was the No. 1 overall pick of the Washington Nationals. He made his MLB debut in 2012 and earned Rookie of the Year honors. At the tender age of 22, a monster 2015 season made him the youngest unanimous MVP in baseball history.

The historic campaign stamped his name as one of the sport’s rising stars, as well as its most sought after pitchman.

Last May, Under Armour added yet another distinction to Harper’s growing list of accolades—owner of the largest endorsement contract ever signed by a baseball player, a reported 10-year extension for a little more than $1 million a year. To boot, it was paired with his own signature line of shoes.

“At a very young age, UA gave me the opportunity, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. They really took me in like family. They did everything they could to help me out on a daily basis, both on and off the field,” Harper tells [a]listdaily, seconds after being flanked with UA founder and CEO Kevin Plank. “You want to be with companies that invest in you and know that you have the talent to possibly be one of the best baseball players or athletes in the professional sport that you play. Kevin does a great job with all of the UA athletes, and not just me. It’s a great brand to be a part of and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The pact with the brand, which also included UA stock, is a big boon for Harper because baseball stars get enormous contracts to play the game but often have difficulty securing endorsement deals similar to the stars in other sports because of baseball’s lack of global exposure.

In the prime of his career, the personality-filled and unapologetically brash Harper is in pole position to demand dollars from sponsors who previously spoiled the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Albert Pujols. In addition to being endorsed by UA for the previous six years, Harper has already secured deals with Gatorade, Jaguar, T-Mobile, MusclePharm and New Era.

And now he has his own shoe. The 24-year-old launched his own line of cleats with the UA Harper One during the All-Star Game in July.


“When UA came to me and told me about branching it out and making my own shoe I was kind of shocked and happy at the same time. It’s a dream come true,” Harper says. “I was very excited to be a part of that process. They really let me spearhead it by letting them know what I wanted with the feel, and look, and give back with my Las Vegas roots. There are little hints of who I am in the shoe. I couldn’t have asked for a better look for it. That was the biggest thing. I wanted for it to be comfortable, and something that doesn’t fall apart so kids can go to the store and take advantage of buying the shoe. And it’s something I can wear every day. It’s nice.”

The five-year right fielder and millennial/Gen Z fan favorite says the best part of having his own shoe is seeing people wear it. UA is pushing for the product to end up in the hands of consumers with the global marketing campaign “It Comes From Below.”

The message? “Every great sporting moment starts with the feet.”

“Being able to see kids out there wearing my cleat is cool. It’s like wearing certain brands when you were growing up—you want to be like that player,” Harper says. “When they are wearing my cleats, I feel like they want to be like me. I’m very blessed and humble to see someone wearing my product, and I can’t thank them enough for doing it.”


UA has only been making shoes since 2006 and the category represents just 17 percent of their entire sales. With sights on having a market share of the cleats category, especially with kids, it should help shrug off some of the struggles they’ve experienced in more lucrative shoes categories such as basketball and running, areas of which Nike dominates at 61 percent of all sales in the US.

However, on the cusp of Fortune 500 glory, UA is demanding a serious seat at the performance apparel, equipment and connected fitness table with the likes of Nike, Adidas and Reebok. They’ve steadily been hitting home runs by signing a stable of first-rate endorsers with the likes of Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, Jordan Spieth, Steph Curry, Cam Newton, Clayton Kershaw and the four-time All-Star Harper.

Already with more than 400 individual athlete partnerships across baseball, UA furthered their foothold in baseball in December by becoming MLB’s exclusive uniform provider. Their first professional league uniform deal will be for 10 years and kick into gear in 2020. The savvy moves have afforded the brand, which anticipates revenues of $4.9 billion for 2016, to steadily gain ground with a big bag of major marketing tricks. Athletes like Harper are noticing.

“I don’t want relationships to be watered down,” Harper says when asked what it’s like to work with brands. “I don’t want to just be with any product that’s out there. I don’t want to be with companies for only a year, or two months, and say ‘see ya later.’ I’m very fortunate to be associated with some very good products and can’t thank those people enough for what they do, and what they bring.”

Harper surely enjoys the spoils from sponsors off the field because of the monstrous numbers he’s put on it. Being marketable is one thing. Being marketable and an MVP candidate year-in and year-out is another.


Harper struggled to replicate his historic MVP season by batting a career low .243 in 2016—a campaign that was considered a down year altered by playing through a right shoulder injury.

He spent the offseason by going back to the basics and doing what originally got him there—swinging with his father Ron back home in Las Vegas.

“I’ve been in the gym every single day doing everything possible to get better,” he says. “That’s the biggest thing. You want to go into every single offseason and pick something to get better at. The swing has been feeling great. It feels amazing. I’ve been trying to get better, doing everything I can to get to that next step of getting the Nationals further into the postseason.”

Harper’s offseason was highlighted by marrying his longtime girlfriend Kayla Varner and avoiding arbitration with the Nationals by reaching a one-year, $13.6 million deal. Set to become a free agent after the 2018 season, his agent Scott Boras is reportedly seeking a deal in excess of 10 years and $400 million.

For now, it’s back to baseball again. Position players for the Nationals are scheduled to report for Spring Training on February 17, and Harper is champing at the bit to prove that a sub-par season, to his standards at least, was an exception and not a new norm.

“We have a great team and a great group of guys, and I know we are all looking forward to arriving in West Palm Beach for Spring Training and getting into Nationals Park and playing in front of our fans again,” he says. “I’m excited about it. I know everyone else is excited about it, too. I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds.”

How Fashion And Beauty Brands Strike A Pose On Snapchat

Snapchat is the place to be for brands to reach American youth, particularly teenagers and millennials. With only 10 seconds to tell a compelling story, the disappearing photo and video app favors candid, unpolished and authentic posts. Fashion and beauty brands, in particular, are having a bit of fun when it comes to engaging fans through Snapchat from scavenger hunts to behind the scenes and, of course, sponsored lenses to make those Snaps shine.


Fall is #UGGseason for fans of the luxury comfort brand, and to celebrate, UGG launched a custom, fall-themed 24-hour Snapchat lens in North America on September 22 featuring leaves, earmuffs and mini UGG boots that appeared once a user opened their mouth. The frame was accompanied with the line “Finally UGG season.”

“Snapchat is a focus for us because it’s a part of our fans’ everyday lives,” Jim Davis, vice president of consumer engagement for Deckers Outdoor Corporation, (parent company of UGG) told [a]listdaily. “If you look at Instagram as a visual lens into a person’s own brand, Twitter becomes their microphone—Snapchat occupies a unique space where the unpolished and goofy can be celebrated. Everyone wants authentic content—Snapchat is still one of the few platforms that offers that reality. Snapchat also offers the opportunity to reach GenZ and younger millennials in very authentic ways to help build brand heat with the next generation.”

Sarajevo , Bosnia and Herzegovina - May 31 , 2015: New gray iphone 6 with colorful screen in woman's hand. iphone 6 was created and developed by the Apple inc.


The luxury department store chain implemented a scavenger hunt Labor Day Weekend on Snapchat to celebrate the fall launch of its “100 percent” campaign. Inspired by mobile users playing Pokémon GO in their stores, Bloomingdale created custom geofilters for consumers to collect. When those filters were “Snapped” back at the company, that customer was entered to win a wide range of prizes such as concert tickets to Maddie & Tae, a meet and greet with Rebecca Minkoff during her fashion show, gift cards to Bloomingdale’s and a variety of fall products.

“Hiding hundreds of Snapchat filters at local stores around the country felt like a fresh take on a scavenger hunt or sweepstakes,” said Jonathan Paul, operating vice president of social media at Bloomingdale’s. “One of our insights came from Pokémon GO and that mobile user behavior. We thought that if we could gamify Snapchat geofilters we could connect with shoppers in a playful and creative way.”


Maybelline New York

The drugstore beauty brand offers tutorials, announcements and behind-the-scenes looks for make-up-loving Snappers each week. “Maybelline Girls” periodically takes over the account as well, acting as influencers to create must-have looks and product demonstrations. For National Lipstick Day, the brand sponsored a Snapchat lens featuring its new Loaded Bolds lipstick collection—allowing users to virtually test out each of the bold colors for themselves.


L’Oreal Paris

Beauty brand L’Oreal took Snapchat Spectacles to the Golden Globes Awards, allowing fans to witness the red carpet first-hand. Worn by make-up artist Sir John and two brand ambassadors, L’Oreal’s Snapchat followers were treated to behind the scenes clips like putting make-up onto celebrities’ faces. In the past, L’Oreal has sponsored lenses to virtually apply make-up on users’ selfies, as well.

“At L’Oréal Paris, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage our consumers,” said Kristen Comings, vice president of integrated consumer communications. “Snapchat serves as a proven tool to engage audiences.”

L'Oreal's Cat-Eye Snapchat filter. Source: Elle
L’Oreal’s Cat-Eye Snapchat filter. Source: Elle


Suicide Squad star Jared Leto took over the official Gucci Snapchat account in August for 24 hours, snapping candid photos together with scrawled messages and lenses. The takeover was to promote Gucci’s new fragrance, Guilty, with Leto as the new face replacing actors Chris Evans and Evan Rachel Wood. Choosing Leto as a spokesperson for the brand was an obvious one for his model looks, but also his millions of social media followers.

jard leto gucci


For Asos, Snapchat is “increasingly important” to its business. An early adopter of the app, Asos joined in mid-2013, snapping outfit ideas, office tours, discount codes and behind-the-scenes clips from events ranging from photo shoots to fashion shows. Snapchat’s roundup of Fashion Week Stories was viewed more than 20 million times in Europe, the company told investors last spring.


Ludacris Shares Words With Mobile Gaming Using ‘Slang N’ Friendz’

The mobile gaming world had its lexicon expanded today with the release of Slang N’ Friendz for iOS and Android. The word game challenges players from around the world to bust out slang terms that are usually rejected by traditional word games.

Furthermore, the game is backed by hip hop artist, Ludacris (Christopher Bridges), who said in a press release: “In a time when so much of the world is divided, technology has the opportunity to bring us together. Slang N’ Friendz encourages users to connect, be friendly and identify what they have in common through language. It’s also a chance for different generations to learn about each other’s unique forms of communication and find ways to use language to bridge generation gaps.”

Edwin Benton, CEO, founder and creator of Slang N’ Friendz, spoke with [a]listdaily and describes it as “a reinvention of the word game.”

“It’s similar to traditional word games, but we allow you to play commonly used words that aren’t allowed in other games,” said Benton. “What we’ve done is add slang dictionaries from around the world, and instead of denying points, we give users bonus points for playing slang words.”

Benton further discussed the uniqueness of the game by stating that “the interesting thing about slang is that a lot of words are dual—in that they’re regular words and slang words. So, you may get bonus points when you think you’re playing a regular word like ‘cool.’ You really discover a whole new world of slang by playing the game. We don’t just have American slang, we have Australian, Canadian and UK slang. If you’re playing against another country and they play their slang word, you can click on it and get the definition. That’s how we’re using this game to unite people from different cultures.”

(Left) Edwin Benton, Slang N' Friendz CEO, founder and creator. (Right) Hip hop artist, Ludacris (Christopher Bridges)
(Left) Edwin Benton, Slang N’ Friendz CEO, founder and creator. (Right) Hip hop artist, Ludacris (Christopher Bridges).

Uniting the world with slang is quite an undertaking, but Benton is up to the challenge. He details how the game will keep up with slang words, which are adopted in regions.

“We have a feature in the game where if you play a word and it’s not in our dictionary, you can suggest it,” said Benton. “That word comes to us and we research it. If it’s a real word, we add it to our database. We’re in the early phases of how we present slang words—right now we’re only showing the word’s definition, but eventually we’ll have more information like its origin, how it’s used in a sentence, and maybe a short GIF. We plan on taking slang words to another level.”

When asked whether outdated slang words would be removed from the game, Benton said: “No. Generally, different generations use the same slang words, and some words die out, but they’re still in slang history. My grandmother has slang words that we didn’t know about, but we’ve added them to the dictionary because we want older players to be recognized and for the younger generation to learn about what some of those slang words were. We don’t take out slang words, we only add ones that are in popular use.”

SnF-Luda-05-sansEdwinBenton then talked about how Ludacris became involved with the game.

“Ludacris is a wordie himself, and he plays various word games the same way I did before I created Slang N’ Friendz,” said Benton. “He realized the same problem I did—that there are words that we use that couldn’t be played. I was introduced to his manager by a friend of mine, and I told him what the game was about and that we were looking for a celebrity. Instantly, a light bulb went off, because the manager plays games with Ludacris all the time. He presented the idea to Ludacris, who loved it, and they were completely involved from then on.”

So how is Ludacris helping to promote the game? “Ludacris is the face of the game,” Benton said. “He’s going to tweet about it, he’s also done a commercial for the company, and we have access to his likeness and voice in the game. So, when you play certain words, he comes in and says certain things. He’s all the way integrated into Slang N’ Friendz, physically and digitally.”

Benton stated that bringing on a celebrity face is very beneficial for standing out in the mobile game space, and that Ludacris would be posting about the game to his 30+ million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. That’s in addition to the company’s own social media campaigns on Facebook and Instagram.

“There are a few different ways to stand out, but having a celebrity on board—who has the followers and can get the word out—was key for us,” said Benton. “It’s something we wanted to do straight out of the gate. Second to that is making the game different. There are plenty of word games out there, but ours is very unique. We also have the ability to add flags to your profile. Our goal is to connect everyone from around the world, so you can type in the name of your country or state and your flag will be represented on your [in-game] profile.”

With Ludacris being a wordie and gamer, the obvious question was whether or not players would one day have a chance to play against the music artist. “At some point, yes,” said Benton. “We are developing a system where you get to play against Ludacris. It will involve three different levels, and Ludacris will be the hard level. It’ll be an AI, but it will feature his likeness. We’re waiting to see what the response is before moving in that direction.”

But the big question is whether Ludacris will contribute to the game’s soundtrack. “We haven’t talked about that yet, but maybe so,” said Benton. “We have some cool music created by our in-house sound guy, and I’m sure—if things go the way we expect them to—we may be able to get a cool track from Ludacris onto the game.”

Slang N’ Friendz will monetize in various ways, including through traditional ads. “But we’ve done something unique to separate us from the competitors,” said Benton. “We’ve added customizable tile sets and backgrounds. Some games just have a gold tile, but you can change to five or six different colors of tile, with different backgrounds, in Slang N’ Friends. We can add to that continuously, and they’re bought using the in-game currency system, Slang Change.”

Benton also talked about whether the game will release for additional platforms, particularly Facebook Messenger.

“There has definitely been some talks, and we’re planning the messenger app version as we speak,” said Benton. “We just want to get off the ground first, see what our users want, and listen to them. We also have a physical game coming out under the Slang N’ Friends brand that I think users will be very excited about. Be on the lookout for that within the next five or six months.”

AppsFlyer Is Converging Performance Marketing And Brand Marketing

Marketing has become ever more dependent on data and analytics, and as a consequence companies that can provide tools to gather and analyze data effectively are doing quite well.

One such company is AppsFlyer, the leading mobile attribution and marketing data analytics company, which recently announced it has raised an additional $56 million in Series C financing. The company will invest this funding in the enhancement of its products to help even more marketers measure engagement with their target audiences.

AppsFlyer is growing strongly as the market for mobile advertising and marketing continues to expand. The company has grown revenues by 500 percent in the last two years, and expanded headcount from 40 to 240 people across a dozen global offices in that same period. Building on this growth phase is AppsFlyer’s new investment round.

“A lot of good things are happening at AppsFlyer at the moment,” said Jasper Radeke, AppsFlyer’s director of marketing for North America, speaking exclusively to [a]listdaily. “This funding of $56 million brings our total investment since our founding to $84 million. For us it’s a testimony to the expectation of continued growth of the mobile industry this company in particular. If you look at the growth trajectory of AppsFlyer and the products we’ve developed over the last couple of years, it’s a very strong indicator of us being on the right track when it comes to delivering on the needs of publishers for mobile measurement.”

Jasper Redeke
Jasper Radeke, AppsFlyer’s director of marketing for North America

Marketing analytics is becoming increasingly important, and Radeke explains why. “The state of marketing analytics and mobile attribution in general is that we’re now at a stage where it’s a must have,” Radeke said. “Over 80 percent of the top 500 apps in the App Store have some sort of mobile attribution SDK integrated. Publishers and app advertisers understand that they need to have a holistic view of their user funnel from the acquisition part, from the advertising part, up to engagement and retention. At the heart of this, giving publishers and app advertisers this perspective of the entire user funnel is what we’re doing. There’s a lot of talk about marketers becoming more and more data driven, and mobile is at the forefront and we’re supporting app developers with the tools to do that.”

While all kinds of app publishers are using mobile analytics, gaming is a key vertical. “A lot of this has been driven by gaming companies,” Radeke said. “We work with Activision, Bethesda, Konami, Sega, Playtika, Microsoft and others. This speaks to a larger movement of mobile companies becoming really interested in these types of products.”

AppsFlyer’s efforts have been very successful for gaming companies, according to Radeke. “If you look at the list of the products we’ve released, nearly all of them are about closing existing gaps in the funnel. We released uninstall tracking, which helps you better understand churn, and ties that back to the media sources that you use for acquisition. Especially for the gaming side, very relevant is the ad revenue attribution. Looking at how app publishers, especially gaming publishers, make money advertising plays a large role. We released a product that gives you a more holistic view of all your sources of revenue, including advertising. We released the most advanced anti-fraud suite in the market, it’s a combination of traditional anti-fraud measures but it’s also powered by the largest database worldwide on fraudulent devices.

“Our SDK is integrated, through one app or another, on 98 percent of the world’s mobile devices,” Radeke continued. “We use this information to identify potential fraudulent devices and really help publishers stop that traffic before it even occurs. We are thinking about the entire user funnel at all stages of engagement and how we can help marketers become more data-driven and gain actionable insights from the data we are providing.”

AppsFlyer dashboard

As mobile phone growth slows and the market matures, the role of marketing analytics is changing.

“Definitely, the days of the Wild West are over, and mobile app publishers and advertisers are becoming much more aware that you have to go beyond a pure install,” Radeke noted. “You have to really look at user quality, you have to look at engagement, and you have to find what that actually means. You have to think about meaningful events and data points that you can use to quantify that.”

Radeke has some advice about what app marketers are doing to make their apps successful in the current market. “One of the key success criteria that we see is being very smart about how you spend your user acquisition budget,” Radeke said. “This is what we ultimately help marketers with. For a long time there was this notion of trying to touch as many people as possible through your app, and hoping that somehow they will stick, and a couple of them will monetize. That was true for a while, but looking into data points that help you identify the most valuable audiences, help you to find engagement, and trying to acquire similar audiences based on these data points, that is one of the strategies that works really well.”

The future looks like an interesting one for mobile app marketing, from AppsFlyer’s broad perspective. “I think there are a couple of areas that are going to be crucial,” Radeke said. “What we’re seeing already is a convergence of performance and brand marketing. Performance marketing is becoming more than just metrics, it’s becoming sophisticated in terms of ad units. We’re looking at native ads, at different ways of how to build a brand on mobile. At the same time the brand marketers are looking more at the data. We’re going to see a convergence of these two approaches, which used to be portrayed as being at odds.”

AppsFlyer stats

Gaming and travel were the leading app categories, but that is changing.

“More traditional verticals are catching up and starting to develop their own very sophisticated ways of creating mobile-first marketing strategies,” Radeke said. “For example, AppsFlyer is integrated with four of the top five shopping apps in the United States. Mobile-second marketers are looking at how we integrate mobile experiences and tie them back into experiences in brick-and-mortar stores, and to online presence on desktop and web. A coming together of these different funnels to a true omni-channel marketing strategy that is driven by mobile but reaches into these different channels and makes it measurable is going to be very interesting to watch, and one of those areas where I see AppsFlyer putting a stake in the ground and saying this is one of the things we can own.”

Retail Game Sales Continue To Drop, Digital Console Sales On The Rise

SuperData has released its latest findings for digital video game sales throughout the month of December 2016, and there’s good news for digital publishers . . . not so much for GameStop or Mario.

At Least They’re Easier To Move . . .

The age of showing off one’s massive video game cartridge or disc collection may inevitably come to a close for future generations, as consumers are buying more and more digital copies instead. Retail software sales in the US experienced its worst month in December in two decades—dropping 16 percent year-over-year and GameStop’s stock price fell 28 percent from its highest point in 2016.

Meanwhile, SuperData observed that console digital revenue in the US has increased by 16 percent year-over-year, capping off a record sales quarter in which total revenue hit a combined $1 billion for the first time. Gamers just had to have their favorite titles this past holiday, evidenced by an impressive 21 percent jump in total full game download units in December.

Pocket Monsters Are Faster Than Plumbers

Super Mario Run has been more of a brisk walk compared to Nintendo’s mobile predecessor, Pokémon GO. Although the game was downloaded a third of Pokémon GO‘s total downloads—partly attributed to its iOS-only launch—the $10 price tag didn’t do much to boost sales. Super Mario Run made less than a fifth of Pokémon‘s total revenue when comparing launch months.

“With Super Mario Run, Nintendo shows it still doesn’t get the modern market,” SuperData observed in its report. “The exclusivity to the iOS platform (until March) contributed to a truncated launch. However, the combination of a relatively large $10 full game price tag in a largely free-to-play ecosystem, and no plans for microtransactions, indicates that Nintendo may still not be understanding the new market and audience.”


Let It Grow, Let It Grow, Let It Grow

The total digital market grew nine percent in December with almost every individual segment seeing year-over-year growth. Digital revenue is still dominated by the mobile segment, increasing 11 percent to its highest point ever. Free-to-play games continue to grow year-over-year as well, with a rise of seven percent.

SuperData’s Top-Selling Games For December:


  1. League of Legends
  2. Crossfire
  3. Dungeon Fighter Online
  4. World of Warcraft
  5. Overwatch
  6. World of Tanks
  7. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  8. Battlefield 1
  9. DOTA 2
  10. Fantasy Westward Journey Online II


  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  2. Battlefield 1
  3. FIFA 17
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Final Fantasy XV
  6. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  7. NBA 2K17
  8. Star Wars Battlefront
  9. Madden NFL 17
  10. Watch Dogs 2


  1. Clash Royale
  2. Monster Strike
  3. Clash of Clans
  4. Pokémon GO
  5. Mobile Strike
  6. King of Glory
  7. Fantasy Westward Journey
  8. Fate/Grand Order
  9. Puzzle & Dragons
  10. Candy Crush Saga

Big Ten Network Lays Out College ESports Game Plan

The Big Ten Network (BTN), a joint venture between the Big Ten Conference and Fox Networks, has partnered with Riot Games to launch a season-long BTN League of Legends tournament on January 30 on BTN2Go and with the championship game televised on March 27.

ESports clubs from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers and Wisconsin will compete in the inaugural season. Teams will compete in the BTN East and West, playing a best-of-3 round-robin against division foes. At the end of the round-robin, the top four teams from each division will compete in a single elimination playoff bracket and the East and West champions will face each other in the BTN League of Legends Championship.

Riot is offering scholarships to the schools participating through a partnership with Scholarship America. Erin Harvego, vice president of marketing for BTN, told [a]listdaily that each school will receive six $5,000 scholarships for this trial season.

The BTN League of Legends champion will then compete in the League of Legends College Championship, which features the best collegiate teams from across the continent to determine the overall League of Legends collegiate champion. Riot has been awarding scholarship prize money to the winners of this college tournament for several years now.

Harvego said this BTN league is the result of an experiment with Riot at PAX East last year, where Michigan State took on Ohio State in League of Legends at the BTN Invitational.

“We became familiar with eSports a few years ago through some Big 10 students wanting to host a League of Legends tournament with some other schools,” Harvego said. “Through that initial conversation, I was introduced to Riot, and we did a test at PAX East that went so well that we decided to do this longer-form pilot program.”

Harvego hopes to build the foundation of a successful platform for future eSports intercollegiate competition.

“We hope to learn a lot in this pilot season, including what the best format is to reach the largest amount of people,” Harvego said.

This marks the first time Riot has partnered with a national collegiate network for an official season-long competition. The game has become especially popular on college campuses, where players have been showing their dedication and drive in the Campus Series, a season-long competition featuring more than 200 university clubs, including more than a dozen programs that offer scholarships, playing across the US and Canada.

Harvego was at PAX East last year to witness the passion and excitement that League of Legends opens up. The recent League of Legends World Championship was held at Staples Center last Halloween, the second time that stadium hosted a sold-out event.

Considering that Big Ten schools sell out massive football stadiums and pack basketball arenas, could college eSports find a larger home in the future?

“We’re not sure right now what role stadiums could play in eSports,” Harvego said. “This year, we’ll take our time and figure out our long-term strategy once we have some data.”

To date, Harvego hasn’t had any negative feedback about the tournament. Additionally, the network hasn’t had to face the question that those not familiar with eSports often ask: How is playing video games a sport?

“We’ll always have basketball, wrestling and football fans because everyone has different interests, but there definitely can be a place for eSports and traditional sports in college,” Harvego said.

While eSports currently attracts a younger audience base than traditional college sports, it also opens up a brand new audience for colleges to market directly to.

Harvego said eSports also introduces new consumers for brands and sponsors to reach through BTN.

“ESports opens up more possibilities for us with a whole new audience,” Harvego said. “This is something from a network perspective that is great programming and we want it to flourish and test out this year and figure out best practices.”

One thing Harvego said BTN is currently working through is how to explain League of Legends to a more traditional sports fan base.

When asked if there’s potential to add other popular games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to BTN, Harvego admitted, “I’m a rookie in this eSports space, let’s see how it goes and figure out where to take it from there.”

The BTN eSports league is a network initiative and it not affiliated with the Big Ten Conference.

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.

AerServ Explains What Drives Mobile Brand Advertising

Mobile game publisher Gameloft has selected AerServ as their partner to drive in-app brand advertising, and this partnership illustrates the growth in mobile video advertising. Gameloft Advertising Solutions, Gameloft’s mobile advertising network, will gain AerServ’s expertise and technology to monetize and optimize yield across Gameloft’s arsenal of in-app advertising units. The goal is to bring high quality branded advertising into games. To that end, AerServ ads have been integrated into Gameloft games for rewarded video and mobile display ad units.

Mobile advertising is growing rapidly, and mobile video ads are leading the way as major brands see the benefits from in-app brand advertising. Video is the fastest-growing category on mobile, according to survey data from Cowen and Company. US mobile video ad spending is predicted to reach $17.42 billion in 2020, up from $4.35 billion in 2016, according to their numbers.

Gerhart small
Andrew Gerhart, AerServ COO

AerServ COO, Andrew Gerhart, spoke in depth with [a]listdaily about the deal and the future of mobile video ads.

Mobile video ads are performing well on mobile now, and Gerhart is optimistic about what lies ahead in 2017. “2016 was a fantastic year for mobile video, and we saw really great growth in that area and across all mobile applications, but video in particular had extreme growth,” said Gerhart. “That’s where we specialize the majority of our business. It performs really well for advertisers. Studies that we and other people have run indicate strong engagement and strong completion rates for advertisers that use those units. In addition, they seem to be the most engaging units for publishers and customers, as opposed to more intrusive units like an interstitial or a small banner ad. We’re seeing video continue to grow, and we anticipate in 2017 we’ll see continued growth in that area.”

Usually, in-app ads are about cross-selling other games, yet there’s a huge amount of brand advertising in other media that has yet to reach mobile in any great amount. Exploring opportunities for brand advertising in mobile games is what “kickstarted the Gameloft/AerServ partnership,” according to Gerhart. “That is where AerServ brings value to the mobile community. There are a number of different ad networks, exchanges and platforms that bring ads from other apps, cross-selling other apps. Where we add value is bringing the tools and the demand from brand advertisers like a McDonald’s, and a Chevrolet, and a Best Buy. That’s really where we focused our business, and it allowed us to engage with customers like Gameloft and drive great results for them.”

Brand advertisers have been dabbling in mobile ads, but the major influx that many have anticipated has yet to occur. “For brands, it’s not new for them, but they are certainly not at the maturity level (for mobile ad spend) as the games from Machine Zone or Supercell,” Gerhart said. “Those guys still dominate mobile ad spend, but it’s starting to shift. We’re seeing more brands come into mobile, but there’s still an education process and there are still some things that have to be worked out, but we’re seeing more spend in mobile coming from TV and non-digital media.”


AerServ has expertise and technology that can help brand advertisers take advantage of the mobile medium. “There’s a couple of things that we do differently,” Gerhart explained. “The main thing we do really well, which gets customers like Gameloft to engage with us and drives successful partnerships, is our focus on mobile video.” That includes the technology that AerServ has built, the way their server supports mobile video, and the formats they support. What’s also important is AerServ’s ability to handle programmatic advertising. “All the stats show that 60 or 70 percent of ad spend today is programmatic, and they’re expecting that to increase in coming years,” noted Gerhart. “We’re positioned really well to allow publishers and developers to consume the demand from programmatic, but also to use our technology and tools to get their own demand from there. Customers can not only take in open marketplace demand, but they can set up private marketplace deals to sell their inventory at a premium.”

On the other end, there’s a lot that game developers can do to make these ads more effective. The key is to integrate advertising into the gameplay. “When ads are intrusive, they don’t work for anybody,” Gerhart said. “In the long term, the advertisers don’t get good engagement, and the users aren’t happy. Rewarded video is a great option because it’s integrated well and it’s not intrusive.” He also noted that native ads are “still up and coming” and that banner ads still have a place. One thing Gerhart stressed for games is making sure that they’re using programmatic so that brands have access to their inventory. “That’s really important, and not all games do that today,” Gerhart pointed out.

Gerhart is very positive about what the future holds for mobile video ads. “In terms of the next twelve months, we’ll continue to see an increase in marketers and advertisers coming into mobile,” he said. “We need to see some better technology around attribution and different things that advertisers care about. There are still some of these lingering issues, but those are small. If we fast-forward five years and we’ll see an explosion in connected TV and other media like that, but I still think mobile has such a long way to go. For the past four or five years, we’ve been hearing that now is the year of mobile. Now that consumption is at an all-time high, the market is starting to become educated. Game developers are becoming aware of brand, which is great—they understand that they don’t always have to advertise their competitors in their games.”

Inside IBM’s Branded Content Strategy

Hidden Figures has been a box office smash ever since debuting in theatres this year. The film—which covers the story of three African-American NASA employees who turned around the Space Race in the ’60s and served as the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit—has spent two weeks at the No. 1 spot and already grossed more than $80 million. Not too shabby for a movie that worked with a $25 million budget.

The film also has opened opportunities for brands to enter the conversation about empowering education and diversity in tech—specifically through STEM—to act as role models for the next generation.

IBM’s branded content division was front-and-center behind this message by unveiling the branded AR app “Outthink Hidden” in partnership with The New York Times.

The experience entails 3D computer graphics and renderings that explore stories of STEM innovators through a mobile device by using a Pokémon GO-style hunt with 150 geo-fenced locations around the Unites States.

The virtual museum, complemented with audio and video narratives and written content about historical leaders in science, technology, engineering and math, enjoyed its day under the sun earlier this month at CES before the movie’s premiere.

Ann Rubin, IBM’s vice president of branded content and global creative, oversaw the “Outthink Hidden” activation. She joined [a]listdaily to discuss IBM’s strategy in the space.


Why was it critical for IBM to be at CES this year with “Outthink Hidden” and complement it with a mobile component and panel discussion as well?

The timing aligned perfectly with the Hidden Figures and our partnership with Fox and we knew people would really be talking about the film. It’s definitely a movie that has sparked a lot of interest and enthusiasm from people. We knew there would be a lot of buzz. At the same time, we were in a position to give people deeper insight into the film and the important women in history and tell a deeper story. People were super engaged, and the interest level was very high. We feel like it did what we intended for it to do in terms of inspiring them and thinking about STEM.

How did you engage with consumers through social and digital channels?

We had a Facebook livestream for the panel discussion hosted by Soledad O’Brien and posted lots of key pieces of content that pushed to a landing page with more content. We had plenty of engagement through Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. We like to experiment with new platforms and really try new things. It’s really a great way for people to interact with us in real-time. We make it a priority to engage and respond with them. It’s really nice because people can also watch it later. It kind of serves two purposes. We’ve been livestreaming strategically since last year, and this was one of the right places to do it. We got a lot of engagement.

IBM also produced mini-documentaries and created a micro-site, too. What was the overall marketing strategy for this activation?

The app itself is intended to let people explore the key figures in an immersive way. We were inspired by the Hidden Figures story to share more about the unsung heroes. The overall program itself was to increase diversity in STEM. It’s part of the core of our company’s culture and values. We want to continue to encourage how important inclusion and diversity is to a company’s success. Things like this program get people to think differently about other people, and perhaps new hiring processes, and that results in improved innovation and success within a company. It’s really critical to us as a company, and our clients, that we all think this way.

Why was augmented reality the best approach for the in-person experience? Why was it important for IBM to partner with a media company like The New York Times?

We’ll always look at what’s new and what’s emerging. We want to make the learning about science and technology as interesting as we can. We think people like to explore new technologies, so might as well make the learning fun and combine desire with curiosity. There are a number of companies who do AR, and we explored a few, but we landed on The New York Times. We knew that they would provide great quality from a tech perspective. We knew that they would collaborate with us and our ad agency for the creative elements. They are also a great distribution channel with the newspaper, online and the AR app to get the message across. It’s important for brands to partner with media companies who are publishers first to create great content because they can help us distribute the content to various platforms. We can learn a lot from the true publishers, so partnering with them just makes all of the work a lot better.

Which of IBM’s previous branded content activations has resonated most with people?

I love all of my children, but one that resonated particularly strong with people was our Cognitive Dress at the Met Gala that we did with high fashion designer Marchesa. It was one of the first big activations we did where people could really see man and machine working together to do something that they weren’t able to before. It was done in a very acceptable way; it was cultural, and approachable. Not everyone sees the amazing and incredible things that we’re doing with Watson. You can’t ‘touch’ it. But the cognitive tech was visually apparent for a dress in the public eye because it was analyzing social sentiment and social feeds and changing colors based on what people were talking about. It was so tangible, that people were saying, ‘we get Watson. I can see it happening, and how it can apply it elsewhere.’

Looking at the current marketing technology landscape and all that is currently available, what sort of tech and services do you think marketers are lacking?

For us, Watson is the technology that we continue to experiment and explore, even in our branded content. We test and implement in a lot of ways, and we’ll use the APIs to make the content more engaging and personal, so they can experience Watson and see it in action. It’s important for marketers to understand that cognitive technologies are here, it’s now, and it can be applied to business. Call it Watson, or cognitive, or artificial intelligence . . . it’s one of the main areas of experimentation. For us, we’re testing how we can personalize content for audiences in new ways based on personality and tone. It can help us predict what our audience wants to hear and how they’re feeling about it.

Do you think marketing executives can keep up with the current pace of innovation?

It’s our responsibility as marketers and leaders in the field to make sure we’re up to speed, just like a doctor would with the latest medical procedures. It’s the right events to go to, the right partners to talk to, or the right agencies to have.

How has IBM’s brand narrative evolved through branded content activations? How do you further plan on carrying the momentum this year?

Our main narrative is the same—that IBM can help companies, individuals, or even cities, apply data and science technology to all kinds of problems in order to perform better. It’s about world-changing progress. What changes with the current technology. Given where the world is today, it’s important for us to communicate cloud tech, or Watson’s cognitive technologies. Our branded content programs will focus on those areas. We’ve said that we are the ‘cognitive business and cloud platform company.’ Some things never change. Some things do.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan