The Turbulent State (And Future) Of Native Advertising

Native advertising, although not a new concept, is struggling to find its place in a time of fake news, distrust of the media and strict FTC regulations. As consumers crave authentic information on the internet, brands are investing in native ads with mixed results.

Native: The Ninjas Of Advertising

There seems to be a fine line between informative sponsored content and being so legit that no knows it’s sponsored. While FTC regulations for digital advertising may be daunting to understand much less implement, the reason for these strict guidelines is simple—consumers have a hard time knowing an ad from an article, especially youngsters. Eighty-two percent of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study.

A separate study by Contently and the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism found that the vast majority (77 percent) of respondents did not interpret native ads as advertising. Meanwhile, 44 percent were not able to correctly identify the sponsor of the native ad they read, 54 percent have felt deceived by native advertising in the past and 43 percent lose trust in a publisher when it features native advertising from an untrustworthy brand.

Not everyone hates the idea of advertising in this way, however. A recent study by IAB asked 5,000 consumers to view a number of websites with sponsored content in a desktop format. Nearly nine out of ten (86 percent) of respondents feel that free content is made possible by sponsors. Although consumers understand and accept the need for sponsored content, that doesn’t mean they have to like it, as 60 percent said that they were more open to content that tells a story rather than reads like an infomercial. IAB’s study revealed that while consumers are willing to entertain the idea of native advertising, relevant information, authority and brand trust were the top factors listed for drawing interest.


Investing In The Future

Despite transparency challenges, brands are still placing their trust—and money—in native advertising and are expected to keep investing for years to come. Business Insider predicts that US native display ad revenue will rise at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent between 2016 and 2021, reaching $36 billion. According to the report, media buyers will spend $84.5 billion on mobile advertising by 2020, with mobile accounting for 75.9 percent of all digital ad spend globally. The company predicts that native, in particular, will be a significant driver of mobile ad growth.

According to IHS and Facebook, native in-stream ads will drive 63.2 percent of all mobile display advertising at $53 billion by 2020. Third-party in-app native advertising (ads not running on Facebook) will be the fastest-growing ad format in digital advertising, Facebook predicts, and will grow at a 70.7 percent compound annual growth rate between 2015 and 2020 accounting for 10.6 percent of mobile display ad spend.


“Advertisers will start thinking more about engagement with the content rather than impressions,” predicted Arvind Jayaram, director of ad product for IGN. “We will see a shift in pricing models from CPM to CPV.” Jayaram and several other marketers offered their native advertising expectations for the coming year in a feature by IAB. The 2017 forecast further suggests that focus will shift to a mobile-first and visual content, notably video, will rise in relative importance.

“Prospective publishers will have to figure out better ways to drive traffic to content in order to show high engagement while keeping the amplification costs down,” Jayaram continued. “In order to mitigate ad blocking and low viewability rates premium publishers will host their native products on their own CMS rather than relying on third party platforms.”

While many brands continue to invest in native advertising, MediaRadar reports that native ad renewal rates from 2016 reached only 33 percent, with 20 percent of advertisers experiencing renewal rates below 20 percent.

Game Marketing Like A Pro: 5 Tips From Top Publishers

There are many ways to approach video game marketing, whether you’re a publisher with millions of dollars to spend or an indie developer with small but loyal community. In a digital world where consumers are constantly bombarded with ads, how do brands find a way to stand out? Five experts from some of the top video game publishers in the world share valuable advice on the topic.

Find Your Edge And Diversify—MZ (Game of War: Fire AgeMobile Strike)

How does MZ maintain its position on the top-grossing lists with just two games? Marketing is critical, according to MZ CEO, Gabe Leydon. “When we look at our marketing, you have to think about edges. What is my edge over the marketplace?,” Leydon explained during the Web Summit in London. “We track over 400 KPIs (key performance indicators) when we’re doing our marketing. That’s a tremendous amount of data we’re looking at when we’re making decisions on where we’re going to spend next.”

“Another big part of it is diversification in your styles of marketing,” Leydon continued. “Are you doing video, playable ads, banner ads, [or] fullscreen ads? I believe we make about 20,000 creatives a week now. It’s a very intense process, and I believe on Facebook we have about 50,000 different campaigns running at any moment. It’s very, very hard to do. Diversification is the most important thing you can do as a marketer, but it’s a very difficult and daunting task for most people.”


Learn From Your Mistakes As Well As Successes—Nintendo of America (Super Mario Run; Pokémon Sun and Moon)

“One of the things that we have to do better when we launch the [Switch]—we have to do a better job communicating the positioning for the product,” Nintendo of America president and COO, Reggie Fils-Aimé told [a]listdaily. We have to do a better job helping people to understand its uniqueness and what that means for the game playing experience. And we have to do a better job from a software planning standpoint to have that continuous beat of great new games that are motivating more and more people to pick up the hardware and more and more people to pick up the software. Those are the critical lessons. And as I verbalize them, they’re really traditional lessons within the industry. You have to make sure people understand the concept, you have to make sure you’ve got a great library of games, and when you do that, you tend to do well.”


Be UniqueSquare Enix (Hitman; Final Fantasy XV; Tomb Raider)

Square Enix senior director of marketing, Mike Silbowitz told [a]listdaily that when it comes to marketing a game, it’s important to stand out. “With how crowded the marketplace is these days, you can’t just show gameplay,” he said. “You have to find unique ways to show off your experience.”


Create A CommunityUbisoft (Tom Clancy’s The Division)

“YouTube is an amazing channel for the video game industry,” Ann Hamilton, brand representative at Ubisofttold ION. “It allows us to share our video content with our consumers directly through our own channels. It has been a great tool at building communities for each of our games. We release a variety of content including gameplay walkthroughs, interviews with game development teams, game trailers, as well as partnering with major creative talents on projects like Agent Origins. Additionally, it’s a venue for fans to create their own content based around our games and share it.”


Beware Of Using VR Just For The Novelty—Insomniac Games (The Unspoken)

“If eSports players and fans feel like they’re getting something crammed down their collective throat for the sake of novelty, it could de-position VR as nothing more than a fad,” Insomniac Games’ chief brand officer, Ryan Schneider, told [a]listdaily. “That’s why we’re approaching this from a very grassroots level, seeking game feedback from experts and the most passionate players. Certainly though, the potential is there to grow VR adoption because you have a huge base of PC players hungry for fresh, competitive experiences. On the surface, nothing in gaming is hotter at the moment than VR/AR and eSports. Marrying the two is inevitable.”


How ‘Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2’ Competes For Long-Term Engagement

One of the biggest trends to emerge in recent years is the concept of treating a game as a service. Whether it’s through regular DLC updates or eSports promotion, treating a video game as a service and catering to the players’ needs can significantly extend a game’s lifecycle well past its launch year.

One of the major proponents of treating games as a service is Electronic Arts (EA), which has emphasized player engagement as a core feature with many of its games. One such game includes Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, an online game that features both competitive and cooperative modes, all presented with a whimsical flair. In it, well-armed plants are in a constant battle against superpowered zombies in a struggle for control. It’s a premium game, but the developers, Popcap, provide regular free updates to keep the content fresh and engaging. Although the game released in February of last year, it received its fifth major update in December in addition to having new weekly challenges.

Marcel Kuhn, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2>/i> producer
Marcel Kuhn, associate producer for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

The associate producer for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, Marcel Kuhn, speaks to [a]listdaily about what it means to treat a competitive game as a service and how the approach impacts the engagement and lifespan of the title.

When asked what the term “games as a service” meant to him, Kuhn said, “‘Games as a service’ means having a plan when you launch your game and, even more importantly, being ready to make changes to your plan after you launch. You can fine-tune your Live Service Plan by having open betas and looking at what other games are doing, however having your community play the final game and provide you with feedback is by far the best way to adjust the plan in a meaningful way. A good example in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is how we handle gameplay tuning and improvements. We roll these into each update we launch based on what we hear from the community and what we see in our own telemetry. Only by combining these two sources of information, this becomes a service to our community.”

Kuhn also discussed how treating a game as a service is an evolution from the traditional way of launching and promoting games. “The video games industry has come a long way from planning and developing a game, putting it on a disc, placing the disc in a package and shipping it off,” said Kuhn. “In this day and age, the task of making a game is never really complete. The previous generation of consoles hinted at the potential, and on the current gen platforms, patches and server-side content updates are in full swing. That means engaging with the community to create meaningful content on a regular base, which in return, will generate long-term engagement.”

So, what is the key to long-term engagement with an audience? “Listen to what the audience says and make sure to find the right balance to give players what they want as well as what they need,” Kuhn said. “As developers, we have to keep the game balanced, honor the time players spend with the game by listening to their feedback, and on top of it all, continue to surprise them with innovations they didn’t expect.”

Keeping the game updated with fresh content also plays a key role. “Two of the key features in our Live Service Plan for PvZ: GW2 are the Community Challenges and the Mystery Portal Events that get updated weekly,” explained Kuhn. “We’ve launched these features knowing that we can release new and fresh content for our community on a regular basis. This generates a weekly rhythm, and our community knows that when they log in on specific dates, they will have something new and engaging waiting for them.”

We asked Kuhn how a game like Garden Warfare 2 competes for long-term engagement at a time when an increasing number of games are being treated as a service, thereby extending their lifecycles.


“Know your audience,” Kuhn replied. “As mentioned before, every game that launches should have a Live Service Plan in place. Knowing our audience allows us to have a solid plan, and from there on, it’s all about listening to the players and converting their feedback into in-game features. We’ve just recently launched our fifth updated, named Frontline Fighters, on December 1 in which we’ve added online split-screen. When we launched PvZ GW2, we did not plan to add this feature, but due to it being one of the most requested features by our community we’ve adjusted our Live Service Plan. By doing so, we hope the community sees that we value the time they spend in our game and reward them with some of the most requested features.”

Considering how a service can potentially go on indefinitely, we asked Kuhn how long a single game can expect to engage audiences. “With the right Live strategy, good games can extend their life cycles by several years,” Kuhn said. “It’s all down to how long the community actively engages with a title. The better the game team relationship with the community is, the longer the game will stay online.”

Three Great Reasons IoT Will Be An Even Bigger Thing In 2017

Thanks to the internet, this world of ours is connected like never before—from smart clothing to cars that fix themselves. Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices. The technology began with ATMs in the 1970s and today makes science fiction possible with a new age of innovative convenience and “cool factor” for generations to come.

More Access Means More Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) market is expected to grow to $151 billion by 2020, according to market researcher Research and Markets. That includes infrastructure, software, processors, sensors and other tech. The market is growing in part due to advances in technology, but also increasing areas of global internet accessibility.

While IoT may be all the rage, the biggest problem brands have faced is the sheer amount of data to process. Cloud storage technology has made IoT more feasible, but not without its challenges. In 2013, for example, Virgin Airlines announced a fleet of connected Boeing 787 aircraft designed to detect mechanical failures and prevent tragedies before they happen. The price of having everything from wing flaps to luggage on the network is processing half a terabyte of data each flight.

Tech Is “So Hot Right Now”

Today’s young consumers—millennials and Gen Z—are digital first and look favorably upon brands that utilize modern technology in their offerings. According to a recent study by Wikia, 66 percent of Gen Z’ers say technology makes them feel like anything is possible. Millennials like to keep things connected and simple when it comes to interacting with brands, too. Seventy percent of millennials feel good about chatbots, according to a recent study by Aspect and 54 percent prefer all customer interactions via electronic means.

More and more brands are happy to meet consumer demands for high-tech goodies. Mountain Dew, for example, partnered with youth-culture fashion brand VFILES to integrate media-based tech as part of their digital innovation program. The smart clothes collection, “Camo Out” includes a hat, Bluetooth jacket, solar-powered backpack and jackets and pants with built-in headphones—all debuted in November at the pop culture trade show ComplexCon in Los Angeles.

“When the brand is at its best, it’s constantly innovating, instigating and pushing the culture in a meaningful way for all of our fans—they expect it from us,” Stinson Parks, Mountain Dew’s digital marketing manager, told [a]listdaily. “The areas of tech and innovation are important for Dew and we are always pushing the boundaries as a digital instigator.”

Marketers Are Ready

IoT is now a reality and marketers have certainly taken notice. According to data published in November, 23 percent of US advertising and marketing executives identified the IoT as “very important” compared to AR/VR, conversational marketing and artificial intelligence at 14 percent each. In addition, a separate study by Deloitte found that in 2016, more than one third of executives said their companies were actively deploying IoT.

SensorTower: Games Dominate Mobile App Downloads Over Christmas

Holidays are a perfect time to catch up with family and friends, snuggle up with a loved one, or play on your phone instead of listening to your aunt ask why you don’t have kids yet. While the world was decking the halls, opening presents and the like, a whole lot of consumers were downloading apps onto their mobile devices. Each year, data firm, SensorTower analyzes which apps perform the best from December 24 through 26, and it looks like Auntie was nagging more than usual, because app revenue grew 52 percent over 2015.

Global app revenue reached a whopping half billion dollars over Christmas, with approximately 87 percent ($439 million) generated by mobile games. In fact, the top five grossing apps on Christmas were all games. Mobile game gross revenue grew 52 percent over the same period in 2015.

The top five grossing mobile apps between December 24 and 26 were:

  1. Supercell’s Clash Royale
  2. Mixi’s Monster Strike
  3. Supercell’s Clash of Clans
  4. Niantic’s Pokémon GO
  5. Sony’s Fate/Grand Order

In the US, gross revenue for both the App Store and Google Play grew compared to the 2015 period, but Google Play outperformed Apple’s store at 66 percent versus 18 percent growth, SensorTower reported. US App Store gross revenue grew 18 percent year-over-year from approximately $83 million to $98 million. Google Play’s US gross revenue increased from approximately $38 million to $63 million, or about 66 percent.


Non-game gross revenue grew 48 percent to $61.2 million, compared to $41.3 million one year earlier. The top five grossing non-game apps worldwide were:

  1. LINE
  2. Netflix
  3. Tinder
  4. HBO NOW
  5. Pandora

Spotify, 2015’s top grossing non-game app dropped to number six this year. The top five apps reveal a trend for increased downloads of streaming video and music apps on major holidays. “As for Tinder, we can only assume that consumers turned to the convenience of the app to avoid spending the holidays alone,” noted SensorTower, “or perhaps to get a head start on a New Year’s resolution to find someone special in 2017.”

A Look Ahead: What’s In Store For Mobile Games In 2017

Mobile gaming had a spectacular year in 2016 with the release of Pokémon GO, Clash Royale and others that brought the industry to a new level. Now the industry is poised to have another amazing year, with Apple’s subscription policies and technologies such as mobile VR poised to make big impacts. [a]listdaily speaks to a panel of industry insiders and experts to find out what big changes might be ahead for mobile in 2017.

“With ever increasing smartphone penetration of the nearly 7.5 billion global population, mobile gaming will only continue to grow in 2017. Much of the growth will continue to be fundamentally driven by the launch of the next set of megahits (likely to reflect some innovation in the thousands of mobile game apps launched every week) and incredible mobile game growth across APAC and emerging markets. Further revenue gains will be driven by big brands recognizing the need to reach consumers on mobile more than ever. Wild cards for 2017 include breakouts in mobile eSports equivalent to League of Legends and/or a mobile game phenomenon on Facebook Messenger.” – Terence Fung, chief strategy officer, Storm8

“I expect to see more exploration of real-time PvP, eSports, and location-based gameplay in mobile. As an extension to the potential emergence of a location-based trend in gaming, I expect to see more mobile game design built around the natural use patterns on mobile phones and tablets. The industry has already honed in on short session, one-handed gameplay, and other form-factor customization to better serve the mobile audience, but there’s still a lot of exploration left to better build gaming experiences that are truly tailored to consumers’ use patterns on a mobile device.

“I also have to call out mobile VR as an emerging platform that will continue to build momentum and possibly change the landscape in 2017. This is likely to be a year when at least a few studios start generating noteworthy revenue from mobile VR titles. I expect to see Google’s Daydream mobile VR platform continue to build momentum, and also expect to see mobile VR innovation from Facebook’s Oculus, which recently re-organized around separate divisions for mobile VR and PC VR.

“This continued platform investment in mobile VR is likely to yield a larger addressable market and commercial opportunity for game developers as the year progresses. To be clear, it’ll still be early days and I expect very small revenue compared to the overall mobile market, but I do expect to see the industry make major strides here in 2017.” – Chris Akhavan, chief revenue officer, Glu Mobile.

“Based on how mobile gaming evolved last year, I’m expecting a lot more niche games to be more successful. A large part of the last two years was dominated by Supercell, Machine Zone and King—games that could attract a large audience through brute marketing force and great products. But I see that base becoming a lot more homogeneous, so I think we’ll see a large number of subgenre games to appear in 2017 to cater to the tastes of advanced mobile gamers. It’s very similar to how music and movies evolved in the past. It’s not happening as much on console because it’s so difficult to distribute in that world, but it will definitely happen on mobile gaming.

“My second prognosis is that user acquisition the customer life cycle management will become a lot more complicated and challenging. In my opinion, retention is the new goal, not so much user acquisition. That’s what these folks (publishers) will focus on—retaining loyal customers and not relying on random downloads and installs which will never translate into real business opportunities.” – Piyush Shah, chief product officer, InMobi

“One of the most interesting and impactful developments that we see is alternative distribution. Mobile games will increasingly be distributed outside of the traditional app stores, as a download or played directly in the cloud. Netease in China is famous for this, but we also see a similar trend in Southeast Asia and the integration of games in messenger apps in the West could start to play a significant role in 2017.

“Mobile games may be well placed to become the soccer of eSports. One major reason soccer has become a global sport is that it is simple to play, cheap to get started in, and can be practiced nearly everywhere. So, while console and PC are the equivalent of an expensive elitist sport like fencing, which requires the player to spend heavily on equipment before they can even play, the low barrier of entry for mobile games may prove ideal when it comes to democratizing and opening up eSports to a mass market. Crucially, however, the speed with which mobile eSports become mass market depends on the region. China and Southeast Asia will likely have the early adopters in this regard. Already, around one-quarter of the top 100 grossing Android games in China have organized events or tournaments in the region, showing how mobile-first countries will take to the idea quickly. Countries like Germany (where PC is relatively dominant) and the UK (where the console rules) will be slower to embrace mobile eSports. In this context, mobile will drive viewers to eSports through the mobile web or apps such as YouTube, Kamcord, Mobcrush or Twitch, meaning that business opportunities for game companies lie in partnerships, sponsorships and advertising.” – Peter Warman, CEO, Newzoo

“Companies will refocus on factors outside of branding that are critical to the long-term success in mobile. Pokémon GO monthly revenue is declining rapidly because of problems with long-term player retention. I predict similar challenges for Super Mario Run after a first month of high revenue and downloads. The game’s premium business model will limit the per-player and long-term revenue. This year was the year major companies like Nintendo learned how to bring their brands to mobile and make a big splash. Next year will bring a refocus on the pillars of mobile success, long-term retention and monetization. I think we will see more games released with big branding, but more thought and development will have been put into the deeper metagame.” – Patrick Walker, VP of insights and analytics, EEDAR

CES 2017: Carnival Gamifies Cruise Industry With New Wearable Medallion

Carnival Corporation kicks off CES 2017 with its first-ever press conference and booth. The world’s largest cruise company, which has 10 brands, is showcasing Ocean Medallion technology. The 1.8-ounce wearable disc, about the size of a quarter, will make the cruise experience more engaging for Princess Cruise passengers beginning this November aboard the Regal Princess. The first Medallion Class ship will be joined by the Caribbean Princess and Royal Princess in January 2018 and March 2018, respectively.

The Ocean Medallion is the brainchild of John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival Corp. Padgett has been developing this new seamless chip, which includes a proprietary real-time artificial intelligence genome to make recommendations for each passenger, since 2014. Padgett is the man who spearheaded Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ MagicBand technology, which launched in 2013 and allows guests to use a single wearable to interact in Disney’s Orlando resorts and theme parks.

Padgett told [a]listdaily that he’s taking that Disney concept to another level, thanks to advances in new technology like Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC). The Medallion blends that technology with a proprietary Internet of Things layer through the Ocean Compass, a digital experience portal that acts as an ocean concierge.

“Using a MagicBand or an iPhone to pay for something requires you to hold something up against the reader, but the Medallion never comes out of your pocket or purse,” Padgett said, discussing how the technology works. In addition to enabling guests to open and lock doors automatically, purchase merchandise, services, food, beverages and excursions without any swipes or taps, Carnival is creating an array of interactive gaming and other personalized entertainment experiences for the Medallion.

“Gamification is a big part of our strategy,” Padgett explained. “One of the original drivers behind the cruise industry was casinos. While casinos are still casinos, gaming is a much bigger space. We view casinos as a function of gaming. When you have a digital layer around everything, everything can be gamified.”

Guests can use the Medallion to access Ocean Play, which offers a variety of casual and social games that can be played anywhere, including the guest stateroom on a large TV. “You can play the same game or similar game from the casino on any mobile device,” Padgett said. “You can turn off the gambling component to any game, and even play non-gambling versions on shore at any time even when you’re not on a cruise.”

Carnival has developed a story-based game around a pirate king and queen conspiring to steal your virtual money. Games will be spread across all the different physical spaces of the ship. As part of being retrofitted for this new technology, 4,000 interactive portals will be installed on each of the ships to open up new ways to interact.

“We’ll have everything from 24/7 bingo with virtual bingo cards, to multiplayer social games, to avatar-based engagements,” Padgett said. “The ships will also offer a poker passport, where the Medallion will track engagement across different experiences on the ship will unlock digital cards on a guest’s Compass, and at end of the day, they can play that hand.”

Gaming also will connect with the new Tag Along program, which allows passengers to create a custom digital avatar that shows up in certain spaces on the ship like in glass, on atriums and in the stateroom, as well as on smartphones, tablets and PCs when on or off the ship.

“We’ve gamified the Medallion to show guests that there’s a digital dimension to the experience,” Padgett said. “That experience has been designed to live persistently across smart devices before, during and after the cruise. In addition to being able to access games on mobile devices any time, Carnival will offer guests access to its Ocean Network of original content.

Over time, the Medallion will expand even further beyond the ship, airport and cruise terminals. Padgett envisions that Carnival’s private islands will be equipped with interactive portals and later public ports of calls will interact with the wearable device. “I could see a Bejeweled-style mobile game where you have to go to physical retail jewelry locations on shore to see physical jewels that are then unlocked as part of the video game,” Padgett said. “Our location-based services are best in the world.”

The Medallion will essentially eliminate the points-based loyalty programs that many cruise lines, airlines, hotels and other travel industries utilize.

“The reason you collect all these points in today’s world is because there’s some experiential activity and because you’re loyal,” Padgett said. “We’re less about categories and more about a linear slope. The more you engage with the Medallion, the better your experience is. We don’t need to have an artificial reward.”

CES 2017: ODG Previews Consumer AR Smartglasses

CES 2017 kicks off this week in Las Vegas and augmented reality (AR) will be a central theme at the show. Osterhout Design Group (ODG) is debuting a pair of new AR smartglasses that will ship in the second half of 2017 that have been designed for the early adopter consumer marketplace. Both wearables feature Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 processor, which will open up a variety of gaming, entertainment and work functionality in AR. The R-8 will retail for under $1,000 and deliver a 40-degree view in 720p high definition with a 16:9 aspect ratio and weighs just 4.5 ounces. Additionally, the R-9 weighs 6.5 ounces, will retail for $1,800, and features a 50-degree view in 1080p high definition with a modular system that allows for gaming and other add-ons.

Pete Jameson, chief operating officer at ODG, told [a]listdaily that the Pokemon GO phenomenon will help his company bring smartglasses into the mainstream beginning this year.

Pokemon GO took AR from early adopters and innovators and brought it into the masses,” Jameson said. “People that had no idea what we do or how we do it are chasing Pikachu around the neighborhood. We put Pokemon GO on the R-7 and superimposed it in the real world with our glasses. From an awareness standpoint, and informing the broader consumer market, it’s been fantastic. It’s similar to the impact Google Glass had with fantastic awareness, but then the reality of the experience was limited.”

Back in 2013, Google Glass was limited by the technology available at the time. “Google Glass was a low resolution static display off your up high and out of your field of view,” Jameson said. “Now picture putting on slightly oversized sunglasses that’s a full mobile computer—like a high-end tablet on your head. It’s Android-based and can do everything a smartphone or tablet can do. And it puts a 120-foot monitor floating in front of your eyes. The image quality is like watching an HD monitor. Our goal is to marry mobile architecture with this visual experience that allows you to experience VR content with no pixels—replicating the cinematic experience at a high level with augmented reality experiences that blend the digital and real world.”

ODG, which just raised a record $58 million in a Series A funding round from companies including 21st Century Fox, Shenzhen O-film Tech Co. and Vanfund Urban Investment & Development, is the first wearable powered by Qualcomm’s advanced processor. That opens up a lot of new opportunities for gaming, along with Android and Unity support. The company will showcase multiple AR demos powered by Vuforia, including the world’s first interactive racing game that combines augmented, virtual and mixed reality.

“We’re going early with these smartglasses at CES is to start and build that momentum in the developer community,” Jameson said. “We’ve already talked to all of the big game publishers.”

Strategically, focusing on Android has opened the door to a lot of games that can be optimized for the smartglasses. In addition, VR games will also run on the wearables. “You can’t take your game and have it run immediately because of the differences in the display systems, so a little work needs to be done,” Jameson said. “But it’s very straightforward and we expect developers to modify games for our glasses.”

Jameson said that if a game is developed with Unity, it will also be a straightforward to port from Windows 10 to ODG’s smartglasses. This opens the door in the future for VR games developed for Microsoft’s HoloLens and potentially Project Scorpio. “We love what’s happening in VR today, where there are a lot of developers creating great content and generating awareness,” Jameson said. “With our front-facing cameras, we’re merging digital content with the real world and taking VR and making it mobile.”

Outside of gaming, ODG will be demonstrating a variety of entertainment experiences from Fox, including an AR Alien experience, as well as Fox News, Fox Sports and National Geographic content. “We’ll have a series of experiences to showcase how these smartglasses would be used from a consumer perspective, from email and web browsing and 360 videos to mobile VR, augmented and mixed reality entertainment, and education,” Jameson said.

Having already become a staple across enterprise, scientific and educational fields with its R-7 smartglasses, ODG is expanding to the consumer market for the first time. ODG will be distributing the R-8 and R-9 globally this year. The company signed a deal in December with China Mobile’s MIGU.

“Eventually, we believe that head-worn devices will replace all the screens in your life,” Jameson said. “However today, R-8 and R-9 are designed as devices that complement your handheld devices, offering a richer and interactive visual experience for specific use cases. The glasses aren’t designed to be worn all the time, but rather to pull out of your pocket to play games, watch movies or use as a hands-free enterprise tool.”

The Top 5 Brands Beloved By Millennials In 2016

We all know that millennials are tech-savvy, creative and know all too well how influential they are to brands. While most companies target this demographic and struggle to “make their brand bae,” not everyone succeeds . . . but these brands certainly have. From tech to food, here are the top brands chosen by millennials for 2016.


Recently named the world’s most valuable portfolio, Apple holds the coveted spot as millennials’ favorite brand, according to an annual survey of 1,500 millennials by Moosylvania. The tech giant has an almost cult-like following and wowed its supporters with the iPhone 7, new Apple Watch and a strategic partnership with Nintendo this past year. For young consumers, the brand captured imaginations by making them the focus of advertising via the “Shot on iPhone” campaign—featuring user-created videos and images across billboards, print ads and TV spots. Apple also created a World Gallery site with the content, accompanied by tips for shooting pictures and video. “Shot on iPhone” produced over 10,000 photos in 25 countries, acting as the “largest mobile photo gallery in history,” according to the company.



Rising the ranks of millennial favorites, Target came in number two on Moosylvania’s list compared to number ten on a separate study in 2015 by Goldman Sachs and Teen Vogue. While Moosylvania’s poll asked 1,500 millennials both male and female, the latter survey focused on the “It Girl”—1,200 millennial females who achieved a kind of celebrity status by living a socialite lifestyle. Target is reaching its young audience by being the first to utilize eCommerce ads on Snapchat. The ads, which appear on Cosmopolitan’s Discover channel, showcase Target products and encourage viewers to swipe up for more information or down to purchase the shown product.



Millennials agreed to “just do it” across multiple studies and genders, including Moosylvania (coming in at number three) and Goldman Sachs (number four). Traditional sports are a major draw for young consumers, and Nike has been especially busy this past year creating special content for them. From remaking one of its most iconic commercials in virtual reality to limited-edition FIFA 17 cleats, Nike is bringing its A-game to the millennial audience.

Undefeated-NIke-IM360-NikeLab Dunk Lux-Pat The Roc-1


This tech giant has been at the forefront of social and virtual reality marketing in 2016 from its innovative, Don’t Breathe 360-degree experience to the PSVR. While promoting Ghostbusters, Sony utilized both cameras of phones (front and rear) for the first time with a sponsored Snapchat lens. Sony came in at number four in Moosylvania’s millennial brands poll and when it comes to gaming consoles, millennials prefer the PlayStation 4 according to a recent study by PayPal.



Coca-Cola has been a “refreshing” partner for video games in 2016, partnering with Riot Games for its League of Legends Championship Series since 2013 and is now looking at Overwatch as part of the company’s eSports outreach. Coca-Cola hosted viewing parties across the US and commissioned a “1ofONE” Coke ESports custom gaming PC for the 2016 League of Legends Championship and partnered with EA by offering a collectible Slurpee cup activation at 7-Eleven stores across the US, along with a FIFA 17 contest featuring over 10,000 prizes. Outside of gaming, the Diet Coke “It’s Mine” campaign featured millions of uniquely designed Diet Coke bottles—no two of the glass bottles were the same—partnering with E! host, Brad Goreski to give away $10,000 worth of fashion and a year’s supply of Diet Coke. While the “It’s Mine” campaign appealed to millennials’ love of self-expression, marketing to this health-conscious demographic has been a challenge. Despite these obstacles, Coke came in at number five on Moosylvania’s top 100 millennial brands list and continues to reach young consumers through its Millennial Voices program within the company.

Coke eSports PC

Featured image source: Adobe

KFC Brings Playable ‘Kentucky Fried Football Challenge’ To Instagram

KFC is appealing to hungry football fans with a “real team” of its own and an interactive video game on Instagram. The restaurant chain has stepped up its marketing game just in time for the college championship game on January 11 and the NFL playoffs just around the corner.

Debuting on January 4, the Kentucky Fried Football Challenge will invite users to play the beloved sport via a series of animations on KFC’s Instagram page. A page of thumbnails will create an image of a football field on the chicken purveyors’ profile, along with a “start here” tab. Users will then select the play they want to run from the caption area and are directed to a football field with a marker showing how far the ball progressed down the field. Users then watch a replay of the gain or loss before choosing their next move—repeating the process toward scoring a touchdown.


Kentucky Fried Football Challenge continues a gamification trend on social media—following Gatorade’s Serena Williams’ Matchpoint and UnderArmour’s It Comes From Below. While the aforementioned games were available only on Snapchat, KFC is debuting its football challenge via Instagram instead.

KFC is also making good use of its newest in a long line of revolving Colonel actors, Rob Riggle. The Daily Show veteran is perhaps the first actual Colonel, being a retired Lt. Colonel with the United States Marine Corps Reserve, to take the role and play up the tongue-in-cheek humor. Riggle stars in a number of TV spots featuring KFC’s first “professional football team,” the Kentucky Buckets. As the “owner, head coach and marketing director” of the team, Riggle assures viewers that the Kentucky Buckets is a “real team and not just a marketing gimmick to get buckets of delicious chicken in front of football fans” while strolling through the locker room.

The running gag continues with “Speech,” a spot in which Riggle inspires his team for what turns out to be a photo shoot and “Mascot,” in which an injured player is miraculously healed by their oddly-creepy bucket of chicken mascot.