Audience Profiling With AI Emboldens Personal Messaging

Editor’s note: Robin Boytos is the VP of Ayzenberg Insights. AListDaily is the editorial and publishing arm of the Ayzenberg Group, the parent company of Ayzenberg Insights.

What if you could tell whether a daughter used her mom’s public social media account? What if you could tell if the person who commented on your post was a family man, or if the person who liked your page was quirky?

If you’re a content marketer, this knowledge is extremely helpful. You’re able to gear your communications to different people in ways that resonate.

As an analytics professional, I’ve recently discovered the power of audience profiling as a tool to understand consumer behaviors. With the emergence of AI and machine learning processes, computing capabilities have soared, and now analytics is catching up and using this information to create content and marketing strategies.

Social media is the largest source of unsolicited consumer opinions, giving us loads of information on target consumers ages 13 to 34—those who use social media the most. We’re presented with a well of information for marketers to better understand their consumers via audience profiling.

Audience profiling takes textual data from social media posts and translates it into personalities, needs and values. Audience profiling also gives us information about what kinds of branded and non-branded content our audience responds to, when they typically interact on social media and, most importantly, gives us insight into why they are more apt to respond to certain types of content.

The benefits of audience profiling are extensive. We can now segment consumers not just by demographics and general reported interests, but by personality and demonstrated behaviors, too. And this information allows us to develop creative that resonates more personally with the targeted audiences.

For me, the most exciting part of audience profiling is seeing a post like this:

This one is easy—between image recognition and understanding social speech we know this person is a nerd and quirky.

But what about this?

This language is not so obvious. The way that the speech is written indicates a few things: he takes pleasure in life, he is highly curious, open to experiences and willing to try new things. Granted, this is just one post, and it takes much more than one post worth of speech to define one’s personality, but you get the point.

So how does this help me as a content marketer?  Let’s take these opinionated political posts:

Old school marketing tells me I should feed this person with political ads because they’re talking about politics, right? But new school marketing with audience profiling tells me this person is a leader, challenges authority and has a high degree of emotionality.

That means we should serve them confident, bold messaging—maybe something that speaks to them as a leader. When I match that with the fact that they also liked a post about shoes several months ago, we have bold, confident messaging tied to a shoe brand. I think that’s powerful.

What if someone’s social speech revealed they have an impulsive personality, and they just received a promotion at their job? Their emotions are on high—hitting them with an ad at that moment is a recipe for success.

The industry isn’t that far yet, but with ever new computing capabilities, the possibilities are endless.


ELeague Is Using Eye-Tracking Biometrics To Engage Esports Audiences

Although ELeague is still relatively young, the Turner-owned esports competition has established itself as a leader in the space by finding new ways to engage with its broad audience, which includes both hardcore fans and casual ones that tune into televised games—even watching from Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants.

Robert Occhialini, vice president of esports products and technology at ELeague

ELeague has never been shy about pushing the envelope through technology, and the league has partnered with to have tournaments broadcast in VR, while Dojo Madness offers advanced analytics and data visuals. Most recently, ELeague partnered to integrate Tobii eye-tracking biometrics at the ELeague CS:GO Premier earlier this month through its partnership with Alienware. In a sponsored segment called “Getting Technical,” commentators used highlights gathered from the eye-tracking technology to give audiences further insight into the gameplay and perhaps what players are thinking.

Getting Technical

Robert Occhialini, vice president of esports products and technology at ELeague, started at Turner’s NBA sports digital group, so he’s accustomed to advanced analytics for sports.

“When I came over to esports, I was really excited because a lot of the limitations of advanced analytics in traditional sports are about data capture,” Occhialini told AListDaily. “You can only do analysis on what you can capture. But with esports, the game itself is made out of data, so the bottleneck of capturing data is removed, and you’re left with this problem of analysis. So, we knew we wanted to do something with bringing more advanced analytics to Counter-Strike.”

Occhialini explained that all the technological integration, from VR to biometrics, came from months of planning and discussion. The way eye tracking works is that the device shines infrared light onto the player’s eyes while special cameras and software track their movement. It was originally developed to help the disabled, but Tobii partnered with Alienware to explore its gaming applications. The technology can be found on Alienware 17 laptops, which is the reason the high-end gaming computer brand facilitated this partnership.

“For us, working with ELeague was a factor of wanting to have an esports sponsorship that was more than business as usual with logo and hardware placements, which we do with nearly every partner in the esports space,” David Chen, esports project lead for Alienware and Dell Gaming, told AListDaily. “What we wanted to do with ELeague was find someone who had the same focus that we did in terms of creating something meaningful for the esports industry—something that would be memorable and interesting.”

“We’re very committed to continuous improvement,” said Occhialini. “So, we’re always going to be out there looking for the next thing that is going to enhance the broadcast. I think the advanced analytics and eye tracking biometrics are both ways we can enhance our broadcast and help people understand the game better—understanding why teams are good, not just that they’re good.”

Occhialini explained that ELeague wants to give its fans both self-directed and user-directed immersive experiences. For example, the VR experience has the 2D broadcast embedded in it. Therefore, audiences don’t have to give up the 2D screen to experience the tournament in VR.

“What I would say is that it’s not resting on our laurels. It’s not in our DNA to be complacent and do the same thing in the next season that we did in the one before,” said Occhialini. “With ELeague, we’re trying to be additive to esports. Esports coverage is a new thing, and it should be evolving rapidly, so that means we should be trying new things to better people’s understanding.”

Expanding Technology

David Chen, esports project lead for Alienware and Dell Gaming

By all accounts, the eye-tracking debut at the CS:GO Premier was a huge success on social media and Reddit, much to the joy and surprise of Occhialini himself, given how new and untested the technology was in an esports setting.

“ELeague tweeted some of the videos, and the fan reaction was even better than what I could have hoped for,” he said. “They totally get it, they understand how valuable it is, and they want to see more of it. That’s a home run.”

Chen said, “If you read through the Reddit threads that popped up over the [first] weekend, [you’ll find that] the community is also very excited. They’ve been super excited to see the possibilities of what this technology can do for them. There are some people who are extremely excited to see the eye-tracking replay for their favorite players. We are all approaching this technology not just as marketers and business folks on these teams, we’re also approaching as fans. We want to see what this technology can do to make an impact on the scene.”

Both Chen and Occhialini agreed that this was just the beginning for the technology, as they figure out ways to further integrate and refine eye tracking so that audiences may better understand the games. Chen joked that if there were a Dell partner that specialized in wireless heart rate monitors, haptic suits and sweat peripherals, he’d be knocking on their door to talk about esports integration.

Looking To The Future

A possible next step for the technology is to help aspiring players learn more, either by watching the eye-tracking highlights, analyzing the data or using the technology at Alienware Academy, where players can learn from the pros.

“I think the biometrics and advanced analytics adds content to the broadcast that hasn’t been there in the past,” said Occhialini. “They give fans of the game a way to understand some things they might not have before. Also, it gives people who play Counter-Strike an opportunity to understand what separates the pros from them and maybe give them an idea of how to improve.”

“If esports is solely built on a digital platform like PC, there should be an obvious next step for how all that data can be used in a practical and friendly way,” Chen added. “I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg now, and we aspire to see how we can leverage technology like this to help esports gain more traction and acceptance.”

Chen also said that with Alienware being such a premium brand, Dell wanted to create something that audiences could think back on and hold in high regard.

“There are a lot of tournaments out there, but if you want to look for the most cutting-edge esports experience, it’s going to happen on ELeague,” said Chen. “Hopefully, it will be because of a partner like Alienware. In 10 years, I want Dell to be known as that catalyst for that kind of change.”

Although biometrics may be a great benefit to hardcore fans, ELeague also has to think about the televised tournaments on TBS, which attract more casual viewers. Occhialini explained that technologies like VR—being a separate experience—can be an addition without subtraction, while eye tracking might help both casual and hardcore fans understand the game better, making Counter-Strike more accessible. Understanding the game better will make it easier to explain it to other people

“I don’t think that any of these technologies are things that only hardcore fans will get value or benefit out of,” said Occhialini. “I do think that there’s a delicate balance between addressing the hardcore audience and making sure that you’re making the broadcast accessible, but I think we’ve been managing that since Season One.”

“The good thing about CS:GO compared to other esports is that it is the most straightforward and adjustable to a mainstream audience,” said Chen. “As it is a game that’s already more digestible, this added ey- tracking layer described by the casters in the right way will only serve to make the game and broadcast even more palatable for a mainstream audience.”

Chen explained that the eye tracking has been a very meaningful debut for Dell, as the company looks to target a broad audience of gamers.

“When you talk about the gamut of audiences ELeague will go after this year and in the future, our goal is to say Alienware [brought] innovative stuff like eye-tracking biometrics, but we also have Dell and its monitors for games like Rocket League or Street Fighter. We try to balance out the right products for the right audience as supported by what ELeague is able to do throughout the year.”

The inclusion of eye tracking was a major success, but it’s still too early to tell how far ELeague will go with the technology. Short-term goals include putting tracking on more systems to cover more players, but fans will have to wait and see if the technology will be included in other tournaments.

“We see ELeague as a very long-term partner for us, and as we talk about how we can make the data behind esports more adaptable, useful and meaningful as we present it, a lot of how Alienware and Dell Gaming are going to innovate in this space are all going to share similar tenets as far as driving innovation and production,” said Chen. “A lot of our esports partnerships are going to rely upon the core strengths of our partners so we can take it to the next level.”

“I hope that in the future, we’re seen as leaders that are adding to the space and moving the fan experience forward,” said Occhialini. “We’re looking forward to incrementally improving the stuff that we put out there.”

Brands Are Using Facial Recognition To Customize Marketing Efforts

Facial recognition is no longer the stuff of science fiction. The technology has been used for everything over the years from identifying criminals to tagging friends on Facebook.

An obvious use for facial recognition is marketing, as brands hope to cater messages to each individual.

The facial recognition market size is estimated to grow from $3.35 billion in 2016 to $6.84 billion by 2021, at a compound annual growth rate of 15.3 percent, according to Markets and Markets.

Here are some ways that brands are using the technology to interact with a consumer’s face.

Expedia—Discover Your Aloha

Expedia partnered with the Hawaii Tourism Authority to create an interactive campaign called Discover Your Aloha.

The Discover Your Aloha microsite features brightly colored images and video footage designed to represent a variety of possible activities on the islands. With the viewer’s permission, custom-built facial recognition software identifies which footage evokes the most positive reaction and offers a discounted vacation package to match.

“By integrating the facial recognition technology to identify the content and guide that resonates most positively with the viewer, the experience and perception of the Hawaiian Islands as a travel destination can be even more personal and inspiring for the viewer,” Noah Tratt, global senior vice president for Expedia, wrote on the company’s website. “It’s not just about being innovative, but it’s using innovation in a strategic way to achieve the right results.”

Olay—Skin Advisor

Consumers can tame oily skin, wrinkles and other concerns by allowing Olay’s AI-powered app to take a look.

Users who download the Olay Skin Advisor app are asked a series of questions about their existing skin regimen and areas of concern. Taking a selfie allows the tool to identify skin problems and recommend Olay products that can help.

“Many people don’t realize that it was Olay scientists who developed the technology behind the portable facial imaging systems most commonly found today in department stores and dermatologist offices,” Dr. Frauke Neuser, Olay’s principal scientist told AListDaily. “These systems are great tools to provide a personalized skin analysis—but the technology behind it is linked to feature-based image analysis and is, therefore, hardware-based. In order to make this type of consultation mobile and available to many more women, we knew we had to come up with a different, ‘smarter’ approach. AI was the perfect fit to provide an extremely accurate, yet educational and engaging user experience.”

Douwe Egberts—Bye Bye Red Eye

A few years back, Dutch coffee company Douwe Egberts used facial recognition to dispense free coffee whenever a passing traveler yawned. The company set up a coffee machine at the O.R. Tambo International Airport and word quickly spread—sending consumers “yawning” to partake in the promotion.

Apple—Face ID

Keep your new iPhone X safe from evil twins, because Apple’s latest gadget forgoes the home button in favor of facial recognition. The same technology can be used to animate and record messages through emoji.

Talking poo may be entertaining, but Apple no doubt has a bigger plan in mind for its neural engine. With facial recognition built right in, Apple will be able to gauge consumer reactions to apps and advertisements. While the company has not expressly announced these plans, they would not come as a surprise to anyone.

Other uses of the technology have included displaying messages targeted to women on bus stops, advancing through an ad by blinking, “checking in” to a location to receive special deals and more.

Magid On The Rise And Future Of Core Esports Viewership

Esports awareness and viewership are on the rise—up 20 percent since 2013—according to Magid Associates, a media consulting and research company. Core esports viewership is increasing at an even higher rate, says Magid, and it shows no sign of stopping.

Core esports viewers are defined as those who watch streamed esports content at least once a week.

Mike Vorhaus, an executive of Magid Associates, attributes this “hot trend” to the wide use of competitive gaming in pop culture, but also to the fact that esports content doesn’t necessarily require one’s undivided attention.

“I think in terms of watching [esports] on a computer, phone or digital device, it’s good multitasking content,” Vorhaus told AListDaily. “You can watch someone playing League [of Legends] or Overwatch or whatever it is they’re playing and you can be doing something else.”

Multitasking could explain how the average core esports viewer finds time to watch 6.7 hours of live esports content in a typical week, and another six hours watching highlights or recordings of esports content.

Over the past six months, 52 percent of core esports viewers have watched more esports content than the previous six months, according to data made available to AListDaily. In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of those surveyed expect to spend even more time watching esports over the next six months.

Esports viewership skews 73 percent male, but Vorhaus sees more women getting involved.

Hearthstone is well known [as a game] that women have engaged with. League of Legends is actually not that all-male either. I think these are games that are more story oriented, more fantasy oriented or somewhat more casual like Overwatch,” explained Vorhaus. “I think you’re finding those [games] played by women because they’re accessible, they’re not violent, their friends are playing it, etc.—and so it makes them somewhat interested in watching the professionals play these games on Twitch or over a stream. In all those cases, we see roughly a third of the fans are women.”

Overall, the most dedicated fans were found to be more educated and earn more money. According to the company’s findings, 65 percent of core esports viewers have graduated from college, compared to 44 percent of all esports viewers. Fifty-seven percent of core esports viewers also make more than $75,000 a year, compared to 49 percent of all esports viewers, Magid notes.

One thing about fans is consistent, however—over a quarter of viewers don’t want their viewing interrupted. Twenty-eight percent would prefer to purchase an ad-free subscription service rather than deal with an ad-supported platform.

“The data shows that people are willing to pay cash for this stuff,” said Vorhaus, recommending that marketers offer a subscription and/or an a la carte purchase of the stream or competition. Additionally, he said he would recommend putting time and effort into sponsored content that is creative. “Not just terrible, boring and intrusive 60-second TV ads.”

Vorhaus predicts that as the esports industry continues to grow, so will the value of its professional players.

“I don’t think it’s out of the question that three-to-five years from now, some of these [esports] teams could be selling for hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “I think the value of these teams is going to skyrocket [and] I think people are going to be surprised at how valuable these teams are.”

Minute Media’s Strategy For Engaging With The Esports Audience

Earlier this year, sports media company Minute Media (which owns 12up and 90min) revealed that it was expanding into esports with its new platform DBLTAP. Its specialization is fan-focused video content that gives audiences an inside look at the players and what happens behind-the-scenes of major tournaments.


Duncan McMonagle, SVP at Minute Media and GM of esports

Although the platform is only a few months old, it has already gained immense traction by signing partnerships with the world’s leading esports organizations, including ESL, ELeague, DreamHack and Fnatic.


“We want to be the next best experience to actually attending an esports event in person,” Duncan McMonagle, senior vice president at Minute Media and general manager of esports, told AListDaily. “We’re very very focused on telling fan-centric stories, and being on the ground and present is key. We’re also very focused on storytelling. The tournaments do a wonderful job of organizing the events, streaming, and reporting on the live action, but what we found when looking into esports is a lack of storytelling in and around it.”

DBLTAP follows the lives of players so that fans may understand them better—answering questions like what it’s like to be in a player’s house, how these athletes got their starts and what they do in their spare time. According to McMonagle, DBLTAP generates this kind of content on a near daily basis from every event, including expos, where cosplayers are also interviewed.

McMonagle recognizes that companies like Activision, Red Bull and others are creating their own esports-related videos and documentaries featuring esports celebrities. However, he states that what sets DBLTAP apart from the rest is the near-daily stream of content.

“I think these documentaries sort of happen as one-offs,” said McMonagle. “One of the advantages DBLTAP has is our official partnerships with ESL, DreamHack and ELeague. We are following games like Counter-Strike all through the calendar year and all around the globe. Nobody else has made that commitment. Developers like Blizzard and tournaments like ESL will create their own programming, but there’s no one else that tells that narrative all through the year. That’s the commitment we’ve made. We know that no other publishers or content creators are making that commitment because we’re the only ones there every single week.”

As a result, McMonagle says that DBLTAP has developed close relationships with the teams and it is being recognized as part of the shows.

Additionally, McMonagle explained that DBLTAP works with its partners in two ways. First by taking the seeds of content that are provided at events to create highlight videos that feature DBLTAPS unique tone, and second by leveraging these partnerships for access to players so that they can be interviewed before and after matches or ahead of tournaments.

DBLTAP has taken players outside of the tournament space, and McMonagle said that once you remove the players from their “work mode,” that’s when they relax and their personalities start to show. For example, some players have been taken to shooting ranges to see how their skills translate into the real world.

“Getting these guys away from the day-to-day really helps us get them to open up, and the fans of these teams also benefit because they get to understand that player a little better,” said McMonagle. “In a way, I think DBLTAP is helping players and teams connect in a more meaningful way with their fans.”

There’s also a great deal of overlap between the traditional sports coverage that Minute Media usually deals with and esports. McMonagle explained that Minute Media learned about esports while doing research for Nike to create a football campaign on 90min. Nike wanted to know what football-obsessed fans were doing when they weren’t playing or watching the sport.

“We surveyed around 5,000 of our users and found out overwhelmingly (about 85 percent) that they were avid gamers, playing over five hours a week online with friends,” McMonagle recounted. “So, we knew that we had the audience for esports, and we knew that there was an enormous crossover opportunity for sports titles if they become more involved in esports. That’s something that excites us because we have over 80 million monthly uniques across 90min, DBLTAP and 12up, so this is a massive crossover opportunity. This is the same demographic. They’re broadly young males, and DBLTAP is a natural progression for us to engage with this kind of audience.”

As a result, DBLTAP has developed a range of content that engages with fans, sometimes through interactive widgets where viewers can participate in polls and quizzes. McMonagle said that the platform looks for topics that people want to discuss as they evolve, then gives its users the tools to speak their minds.

“We have a strategy of, ‘If you’re there, present, committed, authentic and creating content on a near daily basis, then you’ll grow an audience.’ That’s exactly what we’ve seen over the last month or so since we’ve been live,” said McMonagle. “The numbers of the platform are growing, and we’re already up to three-or-four million monthly uniques on DBLTAP alone. Our YouTube channel went from nothing to over 10,000 subscriptions in the space of four weeks, and we expect that to continue to grow to somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 by the end of the year.”

DBLTAP’s growth has been almost entirely organic. McMonagle reiterated that the key to making content that connects with esports fans is to be present (on-site and live), timely and informed so that you remain relevant. That, in turn, drives engagement and discussion. He also added that there is an appetite for differentiated and fun formats that take athletes out of the tournament context to show their true personalities.

Furthermore, DBLTAP’s Minute Media connections have enabled the platform to develop branded content for large global brands looking to engage with a male millennial demographic. They include Nike, Warner Bros., Paramount, Mastercard and PepsiCo.

McMonagle said that DBLTAP signed a deal with Mountain Dew to create a video series called “Doing It My Way,” which tells the personal stories of how these players became professional esports athletes.

Additionally, DBLTAP hosted a “King of the Day” event to help Warner Bros. promote the movie King Arthur at DreamHack tours in France, where the most improved player of the day was crowned on stage.

“We feel that brands like to work with us because we can credibly and authentically weave the messages and themes of their products into our existing editorial in subtle ways—ways that delight, entertain or otherwise have very a positive value exchange for the consumers and users on our platform,” said McMonagle.

‘NBA 2K’ Works With Nike And Other Brands To Reward Gamers

Nike’s new NBA jerseys not only look cool, but they also unlock exclusive in-game virtual currency in 2K’s NBA 2K18. Each NBA team will get four new Nike jerseys this season, including the new Statement jersey. Through the NikeConnect app, gamers can scan the tag on the front left side of the jerseys to receive in-game boosts.

Alfie Brody, vice president of marketing for NBA 2K, said the origin of this unique blending of the real and virtual worlds came from a brainstorm with Nike about the most dedicated NBA 2K gamers.

“We’re leveraging our engaged and very fanatical fan base by rewarding them for buying new NBA jerseys through new content for MyTeam and MyPlayer,” Brody said. “We know our fans consumer content in different ways, and now new technology is allowing us to connect the jerseys they buy with our game.”

When gamers go to any retailer and buy a Top 20 player NBA jersey (as established by the NBA), they can download NikeConnect and swipe the barcode, which links to the NBA 2K API. Then, when they start NBA 2K18, they’ll see a prompt to redeem content, which includes a Free Agent card—a high-value card with a rating for that player in the MyTeam mode. They’ll also get a random boost for MyPlayer, which can be rescanned every day that team plays on the NBA schedule.


If the jersey doesn’t relate to anyone on the Top 20, then they’ll receive an Arena Card (which is a team or arena-specific card) that can be used in MyTeam. The same random boosts will apply, and they can also be used on the day of the game.

Brody said 2K is currently talking with Nike to figure out additional ways to reward gamers through NikeConnect, further connecting real players and teams with the video game universe.

2K also recently partnered with General Mills to offer redemption codes in Reese’s Puffs cereal, which unlock in-game currency for NBA 2K18 players.

“Over the past few years, we have done a code on packaging to give extra value for that product,” Brody said. “We’ve done research on the consumer packaged goods side with companies that are also NBA partners, exploring the crossover of their fan base with ours. This is another method to incentivize consumers to further engage. Our fan base is really engaged and always looking for ways to boost their MyPlayer. Even NBA players take it very seriously.”

Both NikeConnect and Reese’s Puffs promotion connect gamers to NBA 2K18’s “The Neighborhood,” which is the core game mode of MyCareer. This year, the mode is more open world, allowing those additional boosts to help gamers’ MyPlayer on the NBA court and also on the streetball court of The Neighborhood.

“Our jobs as marketers is made easier by the hooks, innovations and improvements in the game year over year,” Brody said. “We’re delivering what our consumers want by engaging with them across social media, offering up the best talent, and ensuring that the actual gameplay experience is the best quality.”

This year’s NBA 2K18 marketing got an unexpected boost when cover athlete Kyrie Irving demanded to be traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and subsequently moved on to the Boston Celtics.

“As a marketer, we didn’t see that happening, but it provided another marketing beat for us,” Brody said. “There were a lot of complexities to hit the brakes on everything we were doing with Kyrie and refocus on the Celtics, but the timing worked out, and Kyrie is excited to be on his new team, and we were able to harness that. These guys are very good at NBA 2K. Paul George and Kevin Durant and Irving are the top in the league, so that trade gave us a unique opportunity.”

2K also faces competition from Electronic Arts for the first time in years.

“We don’t focus on the competition, but we’re aware they’re there,” Brody said. “Whether we have competition or not, our development team always tries to innovate and take risks. We think it’s good to be on your toes.”

Heading into 2018, NBA 2K18 is also at the center of the new NBA 2K Eleague, which has already given the game a boost through additional esports media coverage. Eighteen of the NBA’s 30 teams are on board for the inaugural season, which tips off next year.

“Right now, there’s not a ton of marketing momentum, but the NBA 2K Eleague announcement and the model of consumers having a path to becoming pro athletes is very exciting thing to talk about and harness,” Brody explained. “When we get to the February/March timeframe, we’ll kick this off, and consumers can try out for NBA teams and be seen by GMs. That’s going to be what we focus on. Then with the launch of the regular season late next spring, it’s a great opportunity for marketing the brand.”

This new “aspirational” journey for gamers will be solidified in 2018. Brody said people are entering the franchise and now they have the opportunity to participate in tournaments at retail. 2K has done Pro-Am tournaments the past few years with plans for a third one still in play. Then NBA 2K Eleague offers that next step for gamers to become professional athletes.

By 2019, the plan is for all 30 NBA teams to be recruiting gamers to field their video game teams. There’s also a plan to expand NBA esports globally.

“NBA 2K has seen double-digit growth in Europe year over year,” Brody said. “In China, we have fewer console gamers, but NBA 2K Online has over 36 million subscribers. NBA’s very big in China and they consume a lot of the product at retail and online.”

2K is also marketing its console game in Europe and Latin America while focusing on mobile and online in China.

‘Cabiria, Charity, Chastity’ Earned Kenzo $70K In Earned Media Value On Instagram Alone

Cabiria, Charity, Chastity is the latest short film from French fashion house Kenzo. The independent film was written and directed by Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black) and features a star-studded cast including Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live), Fred Armison (Portlandia), Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone 2), Matt Lucas (Little Britain) and more.

The bizarre and colorful film was released to coincide with New York Fashion Week. But rather than dressing its stars with the latest fashions, Lyonne was given complete creative freedom to “reinvent” Kenzo’s Fall/Winter collection however she saw fit.

“We had designed the clothes and we knew we wanted to give a platform to Natasha (Lyonne),” explained Kenzo designer Humberto Leon in an interview for the fashion house. “We told her we had a design philosophy of what the collection was about, but which she didn’t need to incorporate. What was interesting for us wasn’t about following the commercial guidelines, but seeing what she would read in the clothes.”

Lyonne worked with Academy Award-winning costume designer Arianne Phillips (Walk The Line) to reimagine Kenzo’s bold print and color scheme into a character all its own.

Cabiria, Charity, Chastity has been viewed nearly 38,000 times after a week on YouTube, but where the campaign really shines is on Instagram, where video views are seven times higher. Facebook’s photo and video sharing app is a popular hub for fashion and beauty brands, so it’s no surprise that Kenzo’s branded content would thrive in that environment.

The film has earned considerable attention thanks to Instagram posts not only by the official Kenzo account but by its stars and fans as well. We calculated the earned media value from posts about Cabiria, Charity, Chastity on Instagram since its announcement in July.

“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, the Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties. (Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg Group. To read the updated Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)

Kenzo partners with talent from within the entertainment industry to promote each of its seasonal fashion collections. For the Spring 2017 line, Khalil Joseph (of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” fame) directed Music Is My Mistress.

“The clothing is almost secondary,” said Kenzo designer Carol Lim at the Music Is My Mistress premiere in February. “That actually feels right to us because we’re not here to create a fashion film. All of the directors are proud to include the work that they do with us as part of their body of work.”

Learn everything you need to know about turning insights into data at AList Sessions, a new invite-only event series for marketers, on October 26 in Los Angeles.

‘Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite’ Marketing Celebrates Its Varying Roster Of Characters

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (or #MVCI) has finally arrived after plenty of fanfare from both brands. Marketing for the new fighting game focuses on the playable characters, as well as the many ways they can be used to defeat an opponent.

Capcom hosted a pre-launch event at the Folsom Street Foundry in San Francisco on September 18. During this event, fans were given early access to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite prior to it going on sale. The entire event was broadcast live from the Capcom Fighters Twitch channel. Early copies were available at a nearby Gamestop, where executive producer Yoshinoro Ono was on hand for autographs.

Providing hands-on experiences with the game has been Capcom’s biggest strategy for urging pre-orders, beginning with E3 and followed by a large San Diego Comic-Con activation. Marvel Games were on-site with an arsenal of games, including Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite for players to try.

Funko Pop! created a series of special vinyl figures inspired by the game—each coming in a pack of two that pairs one Marvel character with one one from Capcom. Dueling pairs include Captain Marvel vs. Chun-Li, Rocket vs. Mega Man X, Gamora vs. Strider and more.

Customization is a major draw for fighting game fans, not just aesthetically, but for creating different play styles. In Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, using Infinity Stones grants a character special abilities or boosts to aid them in battle.

To help illustrate all the possibilities for gameplay, Capcom hosted a number of livestreams and interviews and released trailers that focused on specific character abilities.

Of course, aesthetics are fun, too—and the game offers a number of variant costumes for its battling heroes. Pre-ordering Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite unlocks special costumes for Thor, Ryu, Hulk and Mega Man X. A special Captain Marvel pilot costume is available for PlayStation 4 players.

“Gladiator Hulk” and “Warrior Thor” costumes no doubt help build hype for Thor: Ragnarok before it hits theaters in November, as well as Captain Marvel—whose film won’t debut until 2019 but is still getting a lot of hype.

A special collector’s edition of Marvel vs. Capcom is available and it includes four statues—Mega Man X, Chun-Li, Captain Marvel and Iron Man—along with a deluxe edition of the game and a box of light-up Infinity Stones. Marvel unboxed the collector’s edition on Facebook Live, giving fans an exclusive first look.

Marvel celebrated the game in August by creating 20 variant covers that feature Capcom character battles. Titles include Iron Man, I Am Groot, The Mighty Thor, Rocket and more.

Capcom is investing a great deal in esports for its fighting franchises and is considering the addition of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite into its Capcom Pro Tour. In addition, Capcom is building an infrastructure for mobile esports, beginning with its Street Fighter franchise. If the company’s job postings are any indication, other franchises may soon enter the mobile esports arena.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Study: When It Comes To Purchase Intent, Earned Media Matters

New research by Northeastern University indicates that messaging on owned media does not increase purchase intent, while earned social media has a notable effect.

The study, led by Koen Pauwels, analyzed the stock data, social media posts, and consumer mindset metrics for 45 brands over 270 days to measure brand awareness, purchase intent, customer satisfaction and stock performance.

On average, increasing a brand’s social media output on owned media by 10 percent saw a 7 percent increase in brand awareness, a 4 percent increase in customer satisfaction but a 3 percent decrease in purchase intent. The same percentage increase in earned social media led to jumps in all three categories: 12, 3, and 6 percent, respectively.

“Consumers look to their peers before making purchasing decisions, which is why earned social media is so valuable,” said Pauwels. “Both investors and consumers distrust companies who boast about themselves because it’s hard to know what weaknesses they’re trying to hide.”

Not all brands are created equal in this regard, however. Pauwel’s findings indicate that brands with superior reputation or credibility enjoy much more effective owned media than ones dealing with negative public perceptions, though did not offer hard figures in the report.

Northeastern’s research also found that purchase intent had a greater influence on a firm’s stock value than consumer satisfaction: while both increase stock market returns, only purchase intent was shown to decrease unsystematic risk, the risk tied exclusively to a particular stock and not the surrounding market.

These findings support the activities by conversational brands such as MoonPie and Wendy’s, and suggests that companies use owned media to increase their own perceived quality, rather than directly attempt to drive purchase decisions.

Johnny Damon Hits With ‘Sparc’ By Taking On Troops In VR

Former baseball star Johnny Damon once hoisted a World Series trophy in Yankee Stadium as a member of New York’s famous sports franchise. On Friday, he returned to the Bronx for a different kind of challenge.

Instead of stepping up to the batter’s box, the 18-year MLB veteran stepped into virtual reality to play Sparc—a VR sport that crosses racquetball with tennis—against US Army soldiers stationed at Riyadh Air Base in Saudi Arabia and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Soldiers from West Point and Fort Hamilton were also at Yankee Stadium to take on the two-time World Series winner.

Johnny Damon, two-time World Series champion

“I’ve been a big gamer ever since I was a kid, I’ve always dreamed about virtual reality, and I’m also a big military guy,” Damon told AListDaily. “My dad served our country [for 20 years], and I heard that we had the opportunity to play against troops in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.”

The event was organized in a partnership headed by Pro vs. GI Joe, an organization founded by Greg Zinon and his wife Addie Zinon, which pits professional athletes against active soldiers in video games like Call of Duty and Gears of War.

The event marked the first time Pro vs. GI Joe has featured a VR game, and for Sparc creator CCP, the event further underscored the message of how it’s more than a video game—it’s a full sport that happens to be played on PlayStation VR (and it will release for other platforms in the future).

“I hope that this event will at least play a small part in helping drive VR to where it’s going in the future,” Adam Kahn, senior director of communications at CCP Games, told AListDaily. “We’re at the very beginning of VR right now, akin to where we were with mobile phones in the early 1980s, where it was a novelty and the equipment was pretty big and expensive, so not everyone had it. [CCP] has gotten on this train early, and we want to see where it’s going.”

But even at this early stage of the technology, it makes for a great experience for all those involved. Even for Damon, Sparc was more than a video game.

“The game is also a total body workout, and you could see me sweating quite a bit,” said the two-time All Star outfielder.

“It’s about boosting morale,” Pro vs. GI Joe and 514 Esports founder Greg Zinon told AListDaily. “For the last 10 years, we’ve had the unbelievable success of getting as many athletes as we get. Coming up, we have 22 NFL teams in just over a three-month period, and it’s all to boost the morale. That’s it. We just want to give the guys a little fun where they typically wouldn’t have any, like in Syria or Turkey.”

Although connecting active soldiers with pro athletes through video games has been a passion project for both Zinon and his wife, he admits that part of him didn’t think that a cross-continental VR match would be possible.

“I didn’t think it would happen,” said Zinon. “Even 10 years later, when you pull up the guys in Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s crazy, even with the way technology is today. It’s crazy to pull out these guys and have them play online from 6,000 miles away. But it can happen. It’s one of those things you need to see to believe.”

Zinon said that the event was inspired by how the military already uses VR to train and how the organization is always looking to push the envelope when it comes to bringing online gaming overseas.

Greg Zinon, founder of Pro vs. GI Joe and 514 Esports

“The world is changing, especially on the military side of things,” he explained. “They’re using VR on their end, and what better partnership to bring in on the gaming side? If they’re going to do it for work, why not do it for fun? So, it seemed like a perfect match.”

But there are other reasons why VR holds a lot of interest for Pro vs. GI Joe.

“You make a fool out of yourself with the way you’re swinging around, and it makes for great content,” said Zinon. “It’s like when we used to play Guitar Hero—it’s funny watching these big athletes play. Same thing with virtual reality. They’re shaking their hands, and it’s wild.”

Although an online VR competition featuring Damon (who was playing a VR game competitively for the first time) at Yankee Stadium was a significant event, it was attended only by military guests and media without being livestreamed. That might seem like an odd decision, but Zinon explained the reason for it.

“What we found is that livestreaming is a matter of consistency,” said Zinon, who originally planned to livestream all the Pro vs. GI Joe events. “If we had a consistent livestream Monday through Thursday, then this would fit in. But since we don’t have other livestreams this week, and we won’t have an NFL event until October 3, consistency is broken. So, I don’t think you would have the viewership you would expect or want, even if Johnny said, ‘Watch me play Sparc’ on social media.

“It typically doesn’t work the way people think, where half the people who follow him on social media are going to watch. If we had done three events and livestreamed all of them, then we’d start picking up steam on the third, just like a typical Twitch stream. Another thing is the length of the event, which is one or two hours. Twitch feeds start picking up in viewership after two or three hours. So, having a shorter event wouldn’t be as successful as people would think, and it’s better not to do something than have it not be successful.”

However, that’s not to say that the event went unnoticed. In addition to the press, Zinon pointed out how all the attendees from West Point and Fort Hamilton were sharing their Yankee Stadium experiences on social media, bragging about how they were going to take on Damon in a VR game.

Zinon also explained how this could lead to more VR events in the future, featuring other celebrities.

“We deal directly with the athletes and celebrities,” said Zinon. “Before coming here, I had dinner with one of the top surfers in the world, one of the top skaters, some of the WWE girls and some of the top NFL guys. They always know what we’re doing, and I told them about the Yankee Stadium event with Sparc to gauge their interest and see how we can move forward.”

Meanwhile, Damon shared his thoughts about the growth of esports.

“I think this is the wave of the future, and the future is here,” said Damon. “This was a tremendous opportunity to let people know about this game and I think it’s going to really take off.”

Although no one could tell who would win the VR game competition, Damon admitted that the GIs had the initial advantage. The retired ballplayer won the first game, but the GIs were able to figure out his strategy and defeated him in subsequent matches.

“That’s good, because our troops need to know how to win and that’s exactly what they did,” said Damon. “The GI Joes definitely had the advantage, and we thank them for everything they do. I’m just glad we had an opportunity to have fun with the GIs thousands of miles away.”