MoonPie’s Twitter Sass Earned Over $380K In Earned Media Value In Just Two Weeks

Thanks to a considerable amount of sass over the past few weeks, the MoonPie Twitter account has earned a fair amount of attention. Witty remarks from the social media team have been directed at everyone from competitors to other brands and even singer Lana Del Rey—much to the delight of Twitter fans looking on.

It all started on August 21, the day of the solar eclipse. Like many brands, Hostess used the occasion to market its products—and MoonPie took the opportunity to make a joke out of it. Two-word responses were enough to get the internet laughing, and Time even picked up on the attention, adding momentum to the online “feud.”

The now infamous exchange wasn’t MoonPie’s first attempts at sarcasm on Twitter, but poking fun at a direct competitor made all the difference when it comes to audience engagement. Even brands jumped into the conversation, including Wendy’s—a brand famous for its snarky comments and fearless burns on social media.

MoonPie has not only poked fun at its competitor but at the very idea of what it means to market a brand on social, admitting that it wants retweets and for images to “go viral.”

When a brand gets witty on Twitter, it’s certainly entertaining and there is value in creating brand loyalty through humor. To calculate how much MoonPie would have had to spend to achieve the same kind of attention, we calculated the earned media value from the now infamous Hostess tweet all the way until September 11.

“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 are 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 the Ayzenberg Group. To read the updated Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)

Humor can be an effective way to reaching a diverse range of audiences, especially with Gen Z. A recent study by Kantar Millard Brown found that 72 percent of Gen Z said humor increases their receptivity to ads.

MoonPie is enjoying its media attention at a pivotal time for the brand, as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. Combining nostalgia and humor is attracting new followers—over 6,000 in the last three weeks alone.

A case study by Twitter found that 69 percent of users are more likely to shop with interactive brands. In the age of Rick and Morty and a meme for every occasion, today’s consumers appreciate a well-timed sense of humor that is authentic and speaks to them.

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.

Go to for more info.

Facebook Partners To Bring ‘Paladins’ Esports To The Next Level

The competitive shooter Paladins has enjoyed tremendous success since it released on Steam Early Access last fall, and it continues to grow despite how it’s still in Early Access. The game was featured at the Hi-Rez Expo in January alongside Smite, Hi-Rez Studios’ flagship esports game, where eight teams from around the world competed for a $150,000 prize.

Todd Harris, Hi-Rez Studios co-founder and COO

In August, Hi-Rez Studios took its esports plans for Paladins even further with the Paladins Premier League (PPL), a top-tier competitive platform that was announced as the game hit 15 million players. Paladins has the honor of being the second game after Counter-Strike to have a league sanctioned by the World Esports Association (WESA) despite how it’s technically still in development.

“Our league structure supports minimum salaries for players and also shares league revenues with participating team organizations,” Hi-Rez Studios COO and co-founder Todd Harris told AListDaily. “After announcing the league, we were thrilled to see participation announcements by 10 of the strongest endemic organizations in esports: EnVyUS, Fnatic, G2 Esports, mousesports, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Renegades, SK Gaming, Splyce and”

Endemic partners aren’t the only ones to take an interest in the new league. Facebook announced that it would become the exclusive livestream partner for the PPL. That means that the Paladins community will receive live coverage and community-based features on Facebook Live that encourage interaction and will ultimately bring players closer together. Plans include a weekly Paladins Esports Show on Watch, Facebook’s newly launched platform for shows, which will present news, insights and analysis of the competitive scene.

“As a community-driven developer, we try to meet our players where they are,” said Harris, explaining how the partnership with Facebook came together. “We saw many of our players organically coming together via Facebook groups, and they were talking with each other mainly about champion strategies, how to form teams and where to find tournaments. So, there was clearly an appetite to play competitively and we thought we could really amplify this activity with a bit of structure and support.

“So, we created our own Facebook Group called the ‘Paladins Global Series’ for people who wanted to enter grassroots open tournaments that would be organized and broadcast by Hi-Rez. Within one month, that group grew from zero to over 30,000 people, and we had hundreds of teams forming. There is now this very large group of Paladins competitors on Facebook, which can feed into the highest tier of competition being the Paladins Premier League. That made the Facebook platform partnership a natural fit.”

The partnership runs deep, as Facebook integration is already built into the game. Harris said that Hi-Rez plans to make further use of integration by enabling one-button livestreaming and ways to discover and view Paladins livestreamed content.

When it comes to bringing esports fans to Facebook compared to Twitch or YouTube, Harris said that highly engaged esports viewers are on multiple platforms, but what makes the partnership with Facebook unique is that the vision is not only around viewership, but participation.

“We provide a comprehensive path for a player to go from casual, to competitive amateur, and all the way to professional if they have the talent,” said Harris. “A player’s passion for Paladins might start with a conversation with a friend or joining a Facebook Group, and we can present them an opportunity to join a team and compete against the very best in their region or potentially the world.”

Facebook will help bring together amateur players and give them a path to complete at a professional level through Facebook Groups. Harris said that Premier League content will be promoted across various social channels in addition to how Facebook users can discover videos from the Watch tab—an alternative to the news feed notification.

Harris said that Paladins made for a better choice for this partnership than Smite because it’s a newer game that is growing faster than any of Hi-Rez’s previous games, now having over 17 million registered accounts. But that’s not to say that Smite’s thriving esports scene is slowing down, as its players earned about $3 million last year from competitions.

Even though Paladins is still in Early Access we wanted to serve the competitive community with a robust league and strong partners, and we feel great about the inaugural PPL season starting this fall,” said Harris.

HP Advances Omen Brand With Esports Fans

HP is focusing heavily on gamers and esports fans with its new line of Omen laptops and peripherals. As part of that effort, the company has sponsored Team Vitality, Immortals and Team Secret’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Julia “Juliano” Kiran for the past two years. That’s in addition to serving as an official sponsor for Gfinity and as the official PC and display partner of Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch World Cup, which has its finals at BlizzCon 2017.

Josh Kocurek, global marketing manager for gaming and esports at HP, told AListDaily that these deals are strategic decisions.

Josh Kocurek, global marketing manager for gaming and esports at HP

“We have very clear goals for what we want to achieve in the PC gaming and esports space, and it’s important that the teams and pros we look to partner with share that vision and possess values that are similar to ours,” Kocurek said. “We really look at every investment and endeavor as a mutual partnership, where both parties are working towards a bigger goal.”

For the Omen brand, Kocurek said it’s all about advancing the industry in a positive manner and keeping the gaming audience as its primary reason for doing anything.

“As esports continues to grow and take on bigger and better forms, like with the Overwatch League and franchised regions within League of Legends, I want Omen to be a part of that half-dozen or so companies who really help usher in the next generation of professional gaming,” Kocurek explained.

From a marketing perspective, competitive gaming is a universal language. Kocurek said it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what game you play, everyone can respect the skill and dedication that professional esports teams put into becoming the best.

“That’s why we made the conscious decision late last year to go all-in on esports, and use that as the focal point for all of our storytelling,” Kocurek added. “It also doesn’t hurt that we’re continuing to see such a massive growth in the esports audience year-after-year. It’s definitely helped Omen make a bit more of an impact in the gaming scene, considering we’ve only been around for a little over a year now.”

Kocurek pointed to the Overwatch World Cup as a perfect fit for what the brand is trying to do in celebrating the global nature of esports. He said sponsoring the Overwatch World Cup allows the company to not only power every second of gameplay these teams will be competing in, but also shows that the brand is interested in working with teams all over the world.

The company ships its new Omen X Laptop this fall. It’s the latest in a line of products designed for esports.

“One of the most exciting parts about partnering with esports teams and athletes is being able to work closely with them on the R&D side of Omen’s product development,” Kocurek said. “Whether it’s a high-end gaming laptop, or a mouse aimed specifically at maximizing performance in first-person shooters, the feedback we get from our teams and players is incredibly valuable. We have a continuous open dialogue with them, so they’re providing feedback on everything from key features and product designs for upcoming releases, to their thoughts on prototype ideas that are still two-to-three-years down the road.”

Esports athletes bring a completely different level of conversation to the table, according to Kocurek. They can speak more technically in nature and highlight extreme-use cases of what HP needs to think about when developing its gaming products. For the Omen X Laptop, the conversations were a mix of design and performance like: How big is too big? What trade-offs are you willing to make for performance to fit a certain size or weight? How close are we able to replicate the professional, esports environment for a particular game?

HP also gets marketing mileage out of its esports sponsorships through its players’ social media reach.

“Esports pros, regardless of the title they play, have crazy travel schedules,” Kocurek said. “Gaming is their lifeblood—it’s something that needs to be done whenever and wherever they want. Gaming laptops are the perfect solution for this, one that we’re happy we can provide for our teams. As for how this helps marketing for Omen, we’re well aware that many gamers who purchase a laptop are looking for a device that has them covered at work, at school, at home and even as they travel. Working with our professional teams to showcase this solution is just a natural example of what gamers are looking for.”

Working with esports teams, the Omen brand is also integrated into short-form and social video content that dives into the stories of the players and of the tournaments that captivate so many millennial and younger fans around the globe.

“At the end of the day, Omen is here to dig in and tell more of an authentic story around professional esports athletes, the same way Nike and Under Armour strive to do in the traditional sports world,” Kocurek added. “As for our laptops (and other products), they’re just the ‘shoes’ these athletes are wearing along the way.”

Apple’s Keynote Mixed Emotion With Technology For iPhone Announcements

The 2017 Apple Event was all about emotion for the company and its viewers. Beginning with a touching tribute to Steve Jobs, every announcement was centered around how its products have or will make consumers feel.

As the first event held at the Steve Jobs Theater, the event was destined to be nostalgic, which CEO Tim Cook played to the max during the keynote—honoring Jobs and also the many ways iPhone changed how mobile phones were used.

“I love hearing his voice,” CEO Tim Cook said, taking the stage after a recorded message from Jobs, “and his inspiring message. Today and always we honor him.”

The new Series 3 Apple Watch was presented among accounts of a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate and a video in which real customers explained how the Apple Watch changed their lives. The clip showed each customer reading their letters to Apple aloud while being active, from fitness training to traveling the world at age 99. The new smart watch is focusing even more on fitness and health, including updates to the heart rate app to include more detailed information. The company is using this technology to help others with The Apple Heart Study, partnering with Stanford Medicine to examine and detect atrial fibrillation.

Apple’s new Series 3 watch with watchOS 4 has a built-in cellular connection, meaning users can stay connected to calls, internet access, Siri (who now speaks) and stream Apple Music without needing a phone present.

Next came a recap of TV’s history from black and white to 4K graphics, Cook explained how Apple TV is bringing cinematic quality to consumer homes. The journey through time brings back a sense of nostalgia, but was also meant to ilicit a sense of wonder through brighter colors and detailed graphics.

“At the heart of Apple TV 4K are two key technologies that are driving the next evolution of the TV experience,” said Cook, referring to 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR).

But the announcements audiences were eagerly awaiting were for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Apple placed much of the emphasis on capturing life’s moments through the new and improved camera, which uses new technology to capture the perfect selfie. Meanwhile, augmented reality (a first for iPhones) and gaming are designed to immerse users and bring them together.

Other features are designed for security and giving the user a sense of individuality.

The iPhone X does away with the home button, replacing it with a facial recognition feature. The neural engine adapts to subtle changes such as facial hair, glasses, etc. but should be protected against “evil twins,” Cook joked.

The same facial recognition technology can be used to animate and record messages through emoji, as demonstrated during the presentation by Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller.

“If you were, by chance, wondering what humanity would do given access to the most advanced facial tracking technology available, you now have your answer,” said Schiller while animating a Poo emoji.

While the humor isn’t lost on Apple, emoji have proven to be an effective way of communication between friends and loved ones. Animating them with one’s own voice and facial expressions adds even more individuality to the experience.

Apple wants to make its users feel good about what it creates and does. The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” played as the 2017 Apple Event drew to a close, although if you want an iPhone X, you might be singing “Money (That’s What I Want).”

‘Windjammers’ Relaunch Comes To Life With Official Wham-O Flying Power Disc

French retro gaming publisher DotEmu capped off the summer with the release of Windjammers—a classic game that was originally made by SNK for its Neo Geo console in 1994—in August for the PlayStation 4 and Vita consoles. The company’s stated goal is to bring back the classics of yesteryear so that a new generation of gamers can rediscover them as gems on modern gaming systems, and the fast-paced arcade sports game fits the goal nicely.

But DotEmu doesn’t just want players to play the classic game, it wants them to live it like it’s 1994. To that end, the game publisher has partnered with Wham-O, creators of the original frisbee, hula hoop, hacky sack, slip ‘n slide and more, to bring the game to life with a real power disc—an authentic Windjammers-branded frisbee for sale exclusively on Fangamer alongside other Windjammers products.

In Windjammers, players hurl power discs into each other’s goal zones to score points, kind of like air hockey but with special moves. Although the gameplay is relatively simple (it only supports two players, and controls only require two buttons), the disc-throwing game’s challenge has won over the hearts of many classic game fans.

Windjammers is remembered by many as one of the greatest ‘versus’ games of all time,” Arnaud De Sousa, marketing and communication manager at DotEmu, told AListDaily. “Originally released on the Neo Geo arcade system, Windjammers perfectly blends sports and fighting games.”

De Sousa explained how the project to bring Windjammers to modern systems started two years ago, as it’s a game that DotEmu keeps close to its heart. Even though the team plays a lot of classic games at the office, Windjammers turned out to be the one that they played the most.

Given how the game features flying discs, it was only natural for DotEmu extend Windjammers into using frisbees. So, it contacted Wham-O to turn the idea into a reality.

“Wham-O is all about being active, going outside, having fun and enjoying time with your friends and family,” said a Wham-O representative. “We are super excited to be partnering with DotEmu at their relaunch of everyone’s favorite arcade games. Now, fans of the game can enjoy Windjammers both on the screen and with their friends and family in a backyard or on the beach.”

However, special moves are not included with the Windjammers frisbee. DotEmu worked with Wham-O to create an exact replica of the flying power disc from the game, meaning that it doesn’t glow in the dark, nor are there any lights or sounds built into the disc.

“We tried to preserve the key design features and patterns in order to appeal to the fans and frisbee enthusiasts,” said De Sousa, who is happy that the Windjammers disc has a place alongside Wham-O’s large variety of frisbee products.

DotEmu is working closely with social media influencers in the gaming community along with both professional and ameteur frisbee players to get spread the word about the real-life power disc. Furthermore, the company has been working with professional WWE SmackDown wrestler Austin Creed (Xavier Woods) as a brand ambassador for the Windjammers relaunch in addition to offering products such as t-shirts, pins and hats.

De Sousa recounted how, back in the 90s, the Neo Geo was a legendary platform that every kid wanted to own, calling it the “Rolls Royce of gaming.” Although the console didn’t sell well at the time because of a high price, fans still regard the console with fondness today. This sense of nostalgia, what De Sousa calls an “aura of fun,” is what DotEmu is looking to leverage as it promotes the relaunch of a 23-year-old game.

“There’s still a great fanbase that knows Windjammers and Neo Geo and knows what those names mean in terms of fun and a gaming experience,” said De Sousa. “Even though the game was first released in 1994, Windjammers is still been played today all around the world, from France to Japan and the US. There’s an amazing community of passionate gamers that keep the fire burning at the highest level.”

The game’s complexity and nostalgia factor has made Windjammers a longtime fan favorite in the fighting game community.

“Our goal is to help those various communities grow, have fun and push them to enjoy the game as much as possible,” said De Sousa. “Of course, we also want to bring a new generation to play Windjammers, but we think that the game speaks for itself. Play it once and you’re hooked!”

Facebook Cozies Up To The Music Industry While YouTube Struggles With Copyright

Facebook is offering major record labels and music publishers hundreds of millions of dollars so that its users can legally include songs in videos.

This news, reported by Bloomberg, comes mere weeks after a debate between YouTube and executives from the music industry about how much should be (and is actually) paid. Negotiations have been underway as early as February of this year.

Remaining competitive with YouTube is all part of Facebook’s “video first” business plan. “I see video as a megatrend,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors during its fourth quarter earnings in February. “That’s why I’m going to keep putting video first across our family of apps.”

Facebook just launched Watch tab—a direct competitor to YouTube. The new video hub will compete with Amazon’s Twitch by allowing users to interact in real-time as they watch, with the goal of creating communities around original content. Facebook is reportedly spending as much as $1 billion for original Watch programming this year.

The company knows that in order to succeed, it will have to play nice with the music industry. Helming music rights negotiations for Facebook in this matter is Tamara Hrivnak, a former executive for YouTube as well as Warner/Chapell Music.

Warner Music Group begrudgingly renewed its recorded music and publishing deals with YouTube earlier this year, according to a memo obtained by Billboard.

“There’s no getting around the fact that, even if YouTube doesn’t have licenses, our music will still be available but not monetized at all,” Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper wrote in the memo. “Under those circumstances, there can be no free-market ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ negotiation.”

Facebook may have a better chance of obtaining a more satisfactory deal with Warner Music Group and others under the guidance of Hrivnak. If so, such a deal may force YouTube to match or rethink their payment methods, as well. Higher royalties could make Facebook Watch more attractive to music labels and marketers during a time when advertisers are already concerned with brand safety and fake traffic through Google.

The memo said that Warner Music Group was able to secure “the best possible deals under very difficult circumstances” and that term for the deal is shorter so to allow for “more options in the future.” These options, probably refer to the music industry’s hope for stricter copyright legislation—closing the “value gap” between streaming site income and safe harbor sites like YouTube and Facebook.

The current legal framework for copyright online allows users to upload video with infringing material and leaves enforcement up to rights holders. YouTube allows these rights holders to monetize the videos rather than take them down—keeping users relatively happy while ensuring at least some income for the creators. The music industry isn’t satisfied with the solution, especially since streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music pay billions each year.

In the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) annual state of the industry report, IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said, “The whole music community is uniting in its effort to campaign for a legislative fix to the value gap and we are calling on policymakers to do this. For music to thrive in a digital world, there must be a fair digital marketplace.”

Until copyright laws require video sites like YouTube to pay the same as streaming music companies, Facebook can at least sweeten the deal with a whole lot of money.

Samsung: “The Gaming Industry Is Extremely Attractive”

An exclusive US partnership between Samsung and Xbox will include various marketing and retail activations throughout the country. In addition, a national Samsung TV spot will air around the launch of Xbox One X this fall.

“The gaming industry is extremely attractive to Samsung because these are passionate consumers that desire the best technology available to drive the ultimate gaming experience,” Eddie Combs, vice president of home entertainment marketing at Samsung Electronics America told AListDaily. “Samsung QLED TVs provide 4K UHD picture with HDR for a truly immersive experience. Samsung QLED also features some of the industry’s lowest input lag and ultra-fast motion rate to enable amazing gameplay.”

Touted as the “world’s most powerful console,” Microsoft’s Xbox One X features a six teraflop GPU compared to PlayStation 4 Pro’s 4.12 teraflops. For gamers, this means smoother animations, faster rendering and playing in 4K HDR environments.

However, if you want to count all the pores on a game character’s face, you’ll need a 4K TV. Although prices for them have dropped significantly over the past months, QLED TVs in particular aren’t cheap. Much like virtual reality, consumers need to try a game in 4K before they’re ready to spend over a thousand dollars on a Samsung QLED TV in addition to a new $500 gaming console.

Samsung’s QLED TV uses Quantum Dot technology to make tiny details visible. Three-step image processing results in low input lag of less than 20 milliseconds. In other words, it looks really pretty without slowing down the game. The new QLED TVs even have features built in with gamers in mind. Samsung’s Smart Hub has been expanded to automatically recognize a connected Xbox One X. Saying “Game Mode” into the voice control remote optimizes audio and video settings for gaming.

“We are seeing a rise in consumer demand for best-in-class virtual reality, TVs and gaming-centric monitors,” said Combs. “Gamers are passionate about their hardware.”

The 4K experience isn’t just for gamers. Movies, TV and even Facebook are now offering a plethora of 4K content, which is driving adoption of the new technology. Shipments of 4K UHD displays are forecasted to reach 15.6 million units in 2017 and earn $14.6 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). If CTA’s predictions are true, unit sales will increase 51 percent over last year, with revenue increasing 38 percent.

For E3 2017, attendees could demo games on the new Xbox One X—all playing on Samsung QLED TVs. The aforementioned retail activations throughout the US will create more opportunities to try and see both products in action. Samsung has partnered with Microsoft for several years now to promote its mobile phones and laptops. For gaming, it partnered with PlayStation to include streaming games on its smart TVs, but that service has been discontinued as of August 15, most likely due to expanding partnerships with Microsoft.

With the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, the video game industry is a natural fit for partnerships of this kind. Earlier this year, Chinese manufacturer Hisense partnered with esports team Evil Geniuses to market its line of products, including 4K TVs.

General Mills’ Reese’s Puffs Score Positive Brand Engagement With ‘NBA 2K18’

General Mills hopes to hit nothing but net with its latest video game marketing activation. The cereal maker has teamed up with game publisher 2K to promote NBA 2K18 alongside its Reese’s Puffs cereal. It’s the latest marketing activation targeting gamers, following last year’s sponsorship of Yahoo Esports Live.

Mike Siemienas, brand media relations manager at General Mills, told AListDaily that the Reese’s Puffs brand looks to “fuel the fandom” of consumers by focusing on sports gaming.

“The goal is to promote Reese’s Puffs by aligning with consumer passion points of sports,” Siemienas said. “NBA 2K is the top-rated sports video game in the US, and our Reese’s Puffs consumer is passionate about sports and gaming. They’re unapologetically all-in with their fandom. From filling out brackets to spending all day watching games with their friends and family, sports are social activities that fuel their lives.”

Siemienas said the NBA is known for its intense competition and iconic personalities that bridge the intersection between sports and popular culture. The NBA also provides a lifestyle element for fans, and through the NBA 2K franchise, delivers billions of impressions to one of the largest audiences in the world. NBA 2K has been the best selling and top-rated sports game in the US, with hundreds of millions of games played each month.

“Together, the NBA, NBA 2K and Reese’s Puffs will create unique and compelling platforms to generate awareness, engagement and trial (sampling) for Reese’s Puffs,” Siemienas said.

The Reese’s Puffs locker code promotion works across the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC versions of NBA 2K18. Specially marked boxes of Reese’s Puffs cereal contain a 25-digit code printed inside that unlocks 2,500 worth of in-game currency that will give players a jumpstart in building their custom MyTEAM when the game launches on September 19 with Kyrie Irving from the Boston Celtic on the cover.

2K developer Visual Concepts introduces a new career mode called The Neighborhood, which combines the MyPark, Pro-Am and MyCareer experiences in a shared world that explores the life of an NBA athlete both on the court and off. PS4 and Xbox One users can now download a free preview of this mode called The Prelude.

Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts, said in a statement that this new mode puts players at the center of a fully-immersive basketball environment to explore, socialize, and compete. The Neighborhood offers an online world for custom-made MyPlayers to live in a city block environment with locations like tattoo parlors and barber shops to visit, filled with other MyPlayers, characters and NBA players like Irving.

In-game currency plays a large role in the new game, allowing the Reese’s Puffs brand to connect with fans in a positive light. General Mills has been targeting gamers and NBA 2K fans all summer through samplings at a Reese’s Puffs branded lounge during the Dew NBA 3X Tour. The brand will also be activating at GameStop locations nationwide via sampling with the game’s launch.

“We will promote the partnership on NBA and NBA 2K digital and social channels, as well as Reese’s Puffs social channels.” Siemienas said. “Throughout our combined activations and packaging promotions we’re expecting to reach millions of consumers.”

2K and General Mills teased Reese’s Puffs locker codes through a YouTube video. The NBA 2K team will continue to promote this partnership through a number of social media posts/channels throughout the program.

“We know that NBA 2K gamers are eager to get their teams going for the season and Reese’s Puffs can help them jumpstart their teams through our Locker Codes,” Siemienas said. “We hope that NBA 2K gamers will become more aware of Reese’s Puffs and have a chance to try it and love it.”

The codes will be valid through January 31, 2018. They also tie into the new NBA 2K18 feature “The Road to 99,” an overarching meta-game that rewards users for improving their MyPlayer’s overall rating, regardless of which modes they choose to play. Featuring a unified badge system across Pro-Am, Park and their NBA journey in MyCareer, gamers’ attributes, animations and badges all combine to define their play style on their road to a 99 overall rating.

The Reese’s Puffs brand has also been incorporated into the game, showing up in digital advertising at the scorer’s courtside table. That type of integration will connect with additional eyeballs next year with the launch of the inaugural season of the NBA 2K ELeague.

“We’re in the early stages of our partnership with the NBA and will continue to evaluate everything it has to offer, including the NBA 2K ELeague, for Reese’s Puffs,” Siemienas said.

Past gaming marketing activations across multiple General Mills brands has helped the company further connect its brands with gamers.

“We’ve learned that gamers love our brands, which has given us the confidence to continue to pursue partnerships like the NBA 2K promotion,” Siemienas said. “We know that these activations resonate with our consumers and provide value in key moments.”

Intel Engages Demanding PC Gamers With Esports And VR

Intel is almost synonymous with PC gaming, as the technology company not only makes computing hardware, but also sponsors some of the biggest esports events in the world, namely the Intel Extreme Masters. This year, Intel is taking extra steps to deepen its relationship with the gaming community with the launch of the powerful X-series and Core i9 desktop CPUs, which promise to take games, VR and esports to the next level.

Lee Machen, general manager of gaming and virtual reality sales at Intel

“I think the Intel brand is integral and endemic to gaming,” Lee Machen, general manager of gaming and virtual reality sales at Intel, told AListDaily. “We’ve been involved in gaming on the PC side for such a long time that when people think about what you need for great gaming performance, Intel and our Core brand of processors come to mind.”

Intel made a big impression at E3 this year, where it was the new sponsor for the PC Gaming Show, taking over from AMD. Among the multitude of video game announcements, Intel showcased its new line of high-end hardware and announced the VR Challenger League, which is helping to bring VR and esports closer together.

“Gamers are the most demanding PC users that I’m aware of,” said Machen. “In response to their ongoing need for more performance and better hardware, we’ve launched a new line of very high-end desktop CPUs called the X-series.”

As it turns out, PC gamers don’t need a lot of explanation when it comes to new technology. Machen said that most times, they just want to see the features and they’ll know exactly what it can do and how to build it.

“We tend to just focus on the benefits of the current line of products and what you can do with that level of performance, [then] leave it to the end user to decide whether they can do that with their current line of products or not,” said Machen, explaining how Intel encourages users to upgrade. “That helps them make the decision on whether it’s time for an upgrade.

But Intel isn’t overlooking less tech-savvy users. In fact, it has demonstrated a range of use cases that can take advantage of the hardware’s performance. For example, the base X-series desktop processors have four cores, but they can support up to 18 for an incredible amount of power that will allow gamers to do pretty much anything. To prove this, Intel showed a person playing a VR game with a green screen behind him, which put the player in the game while the computer both recorded and livestreamed the video.

“We showed off our 18-core CPUs pretty much being used across the board as much as possible,” said Machen.

Machen said that sponsoring the PC Gaming Show was an unusual step for Intel, since it usually brings its products to OEM partners (computer manufacturers like Dell), who then explain the value of the PC systems to end users. However, with the launch of the X-series and Core i9 branded products, Intel decided that it was important to tell its story directly to the PC gaming audience at E3, and the PC Gaming Show was a great venue to do that.

He then explained how, in addition to marketing to the gaming community through a variety of channels on television and online, esports played a critical role in reaching the gaming audience.

“We’ve been involved with ESL to put on the Intel Extreme Masters series of esports events that’s now in its 12th season,” said Machen. “So, we’ve been involved since the early days of esports, and in those 12 years it has grown to an enormous viewer base, and there’s going to be over 300 million people watching esports in 2017. We view that as a very big way to engage with a lot of people who watch and largely play competitive games online.”

While discussing whether Intel approached the pro gamer audience differently than general gaming enthusiasts, Machen suggested that there might not be a lot of difference between the two.

“I think there’s a lot of overlap between those two areas,” he said. “There are certainly plenty of gaming enthusiasts that are big esports fans as well, but there are plenty of people that play games that are not involved in esports. From our standpoint, we’re engaging with both.”

Another area that demands high technology is virtual reality, and Intel is partnering with Oculus to link the worlds of VR and esports together while working with developers to make sure games (especially VR games) work smoothly with its processors.

“The current games being played in esports are going to be hugely popular for a very long time to come, but we also think that there’s room in esports for some additional types of games to be watched and competed in,” said Machen. “So, we announced that we’re doing a partnership with Oculus to bring two Rift games to the Intel Extreme Masters. It’s going to be a competition series using two games, The Unspoken and Echo Arena. We’re going to have competitions at Intel Extreme Masters events that culminate into the finals in Poland next year.”

Machen believes that VR is going to become a huge driver for hardware upgrades, despite how premium VR headsets haven’t reached mass adoption yet.

“Even though the number of VR headsets that have been sold on the market is relatively small, there are a lot of people that I think are looking to make a VR purchase decision in the near-term, and they want to make sure that their PCs are ready to go for when they do dive in,” said Machen. “So, there are plenty of people upgrading their PCs to be VR ready.”

Machen also shared how Intel engages with PC gamers, the most performance-demanding group around.

“When we engage with a gaming end user, the game developer and the pro gamer, what we’re looking for is feedback on what we can add to our products that will increase their competitiveness, immersiveness and the fun,” Machen explained. “We also want to understand what they’re looking to do in addition to playing the game itself—things like streaming—so that we can make sure that we’ve got the performance head-room to do that. There are always new things coming to gaming, and they typically happen on the PC first. That happens because we’ve got openness and we’ve got the performance for people to do all kinds of things—anything that they can think of.”

Spending On Radio, Data, Analytics Increases; Email Marketing Stays Dependable

According to a survey by WideOrbit, programmatic radio advertising is set to substantially increase in the next 12 months. Ninety percent of the survey’s ad buyer respondents reported an intention to use programmatic platforms, compared to just 30 percent who admitted to using it already. The difference is dramatic, but it should be noted that while WideOrbit reports that over 9,000 professionals were surveyed, fewer than 300 actually responded.

Email marketing retains its rock-solid dependability, according to surveys by the Data & Marketing Association. One-hundred percent of healthcare and hospitality marketers report using email to reach consumers. Retail was the lowest adopter of the format with only 81 percent usage.

According to surveys by email service provider Emma, 58 percent of marketers in the US plan to increase email marketing budgets in 2017, a higher response than in any other channel.

Forecasts by the Radicati Group predict that email marketing messages will grow by 4.4 percent annually, meaning that by 2021 319.6 billion marketing emails will be sent out per day.

The August edition of The CMO Survey is now available, reporting on marketing-industry trends for the second half of this year. Most notable of its findings was a projected 6.4 percent increase in hiring and a 5.1 percent increase in outsourcing by marketing departments, the highest figures in the past two years.

Spending on data analytics is also predicted to increase, from 5.5 percent to 18.1 percent of marketing budgets in the next three years.

“More firms are using quantitative tools to demonstrate the long-term impact of marketing investments,” said The CMO Survey director Christine Moorman. “The number remains low, but it has increased more than seven points since we first asked about it four years ago.”

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of U.S. adults now get at least some news from social media. That same stat is higher among minorities at 74 percent.

Facebook has more American millennial users than there exist in the United States, according to a report by Brian Wiesser at Pivotal Research. The social network claims there are 41 million 18-24 year-olds, while census data reports just 31 million. The discrepancy may result from the fact that Facebook’s data relies on self-reporting for its age data.

Ethnic diversity among podcast fans has increased by 20 percent over the last seven years, according to a report by Nielsen. According to their information, “ethnic” listeners represented 30 percent of the market in 2010, rising to 36 percent in 2016.

The report also revealed that 51 percent of homes that buy bottled water also listen to podcasts, and continued to draw conclusions that self-acknowledged “avid” podcast fans spend nominally more than the less enthusiastic group.

A new study by Viant has revealed that Hispanic millennials are much more active on social media around brands than their non-Hispanic counterparts. According to their information, 50 percent of Hispanic respondents reported using a brand’s hashtag or discussing brands online, compared to only 17 percent of non-Hispanics. Furthermore, 58 percent of Hispanic millennial women follow beauty brands on social media, a marked increase above the 14 percent reported by the general population.

As hand-me-down smartphones become more common, American teenagers are becoming increasingly reliant on them, per a new eMarketer report. Seventy-nine percent of 12-to-17-year-olds will become regular smartphone users this year, finally surpassing the general population’s penetration of 77 percent.

A survey of 253 teens ages 13-to-17 reports that 38 percent of high-school aged teens claim they would not be able to go a full day without their phones, a number that skews slightly higher for women, at 43 percent.

An Influenster survey conducted recently reports that women overwhelmingly approve of branded content, with 87 percent claiming to enjoy it. Other notable findings are that over 90 percent responded that they mostly interact with branded content on mobile devices and that brands and social-media influencers increase purchase decisions more than celebrities do.

Flexibility and affordability are at the top of consumers’ minds this summer, according to surveys by Google. Of those surveyed in April, 16 percent reported they won’t plan their activities until they’ve already arrived. Furthermore, Google reported that inexpensive travel options have broken into the top search trends for family and couples vacations.

Searches for family vacations, luxury travel and couples/honeymoon travel grew three times faster year-over-year than in ecotourism or adventure travel categories.

Airbnb has seen massive growth in China, reporting a 495 percent increase in bookings in Hangzhou and a 388 percent increase in Chongqing.

Family travel on the home-stay app continues to rise, with eight million family bookings between May 1 and August 31. According to their report, the most common destinations are the United States, France, Italy and Spain.

Amazon is making waves in Japan: the island nation is the online retailer’s second-largest and quickest-growing market as of last year. At a Digiday conference in Fukuoka, 55 percent of the brands surveyed reported devoting part of their advertising budgets to Amazon’s platform, but only 23 percent claimed to spend more than a quarter of their budget on it.

Leanplum has released its latest mobile marketing research, which reports that promotional push notifications result in 960 percent higher user purchases as compared to those who did not receive a message, and increase in-app expenditures by 16 percent.

The most effective times to send push notifications are Saturdays and late afternoons, resulting in 220 percent and 270 percent more purchases, respectively.

Subscription services are enjoying unprecedented popularity with millennials, according to surveys by Fluent. As compared to baby boomers, the tech-native generation is 24 percent, 35 percent and 28 percent more likely to be subscribed to meal kit, shave club and beauty subscription boxes, respectively.

The subscription box category is growing rapidly, with Amazon and Walmart both attempting to enter the fray earlier this year.

Even with the relatively low penetration of voice-activated devices in the US market, a survey by Magid Advisors reports that almost half of those surveyed are interested in owning one.

Furthermore, despite Amazon’s best efforts to break into the market, its Echo still lags behind Apple’s Siri in both awareness and usage—by five percent and 12 percent, respectively.