Buffalo Wild Wings Delves Further Into Esports With Team Dignitas Partnership

Buffalo Wild Wings has partnered with Team Dignitas, which is owned by the Philadelphia 76ers. The restaurant chain will become the official hangout for Team Dignitas while receiving a prominent logo placement on the sleeve of the team’s jerseys. As part of the sponsorship, there will be scheduled player appearances at restaurants, exclusive video content featuring players, and branding on monthly Team Dignitas livestreams across Twitch and Facebook.

Buffalo Wild Wings and Team Dignitas hosted a 1v1 amateur League of Legends tournament at TwitchCon on October 22 featuring 16 attendees. Each participant in the three-hour tournament received a custom gift bag, while the winner took home a grand prize package that included a $300 Buffalo Wild Wings gift card and Team Dignitas-branded merchandise. Team Dignitas players Terry “Big” Chuong and Adrian “Adrian” Ma competed head-to-head with finalists in front of the live audience as well as across Twitch.

The companies will team up to host an online amateur tournament in the coming months.

While this marks the brand’s first sponsorship of an esports team, the restaurant chain previously sponsored Turner and WME/IMG’s ELeague last year.

Bob Ruhland, vice president of marketing at Buffalo Wild Wings, told AListDaily why he felt the company’s sponsorship of ELeague was a great entry into the gaming industry.

“We learned a lot about fans’ passion for their games, teams and tournaments,” Ruhland explained. “It is incredible how engaged this rapidly growing audience is with the different players or teams digitally. We learned that the esports community was looking for a place to watch streams together. This understanding helped evolve our commitment to esports, which is how we landed on a partnership with of Team Dignitas.”

Ruhland continued by stating that Buffalo Wild Wings and Team Dignitas are two internationally recognized brands that have a lot of parallels.

“At the core, both brands support and encourage fans’ passion for competition, and have a desire to provide them with the best viewing experience,” he added.

There’s also the added benefit of having an NBA team as the ownership group behind Team Dignitas.

“The ownership from the 76ers will help bridge any gap between the growing esports community and more traditional sports fans,” Ruhland said. “It helps showcase how important the esports community is to the overall sports industry.”

Video content plays a key role in connecting brands with the global esports fan base. Ruhland said one of the ways his company is utilizing the team’s video capabilities is through the “Buffalo Wild Wings Stream of the Month.” Every month, a team member will host an all-day stream on Twitch for Team Dignitas fans to engage with.

“We will also work together to promote some of the unique activations that Buffalo Wild Wings and Team Dignitas are putting together in the future,” Ruhland added.

Traditionally, Buffalo Wild Wings has targeted a young professional sports and college sports fan demographic to its restaurants, which stream live events from across all leagues. This overlaps with the burgeoning esports fan base.

“Both groups are younger and highly connected, spending time on their phones watching and engaging with their favorite sports,” Ruhland said. “On top of all that, they enjoy watching sports in a social setting, whether at a Buffalo Wild Wings or hanging out at a friend’s house.”

When it comes to the Buffalo Wild Wings brand, Ruhland believes the company’s passion for competition and desire to provide unique experiences is a big aspect of what sets it apart from other chains.

“Esports fans are always looking for new ways to view their favorite games, teams and tournaments, so we plan to work with Team Dignitas to provide those unique activations in-person, online and in our restaurants,” Ruhland said.

Buffalo Wild Wings ran into some issues last year with individual locations not broadcasting TBS ELeague competitions consistently.

We learned a lot from our broadcasting of ELeague last year,” Ruhland explained. “Working with our partners, we will work to eliminate misperceptions to ensure Buffalo Wild Wings stores are providing the best possible viewing experience for fans of all sports.”

While MLS, NFL, MLB and NBA games are regularly broadcast across the many HDTVs inside Buffalo Wild Wings locations, esports could become a more regular staple as the brand attempts to connect with this growing fan base.

“We’re always looking for new ways to celebrate competition in our restaurants,” Ruhland said. “Our partnership with Team Dignitas is one of the many ways we can continue to support our Fans’ passion for sports of all kinds and connect with the rapidly growing esports community.”

Buffalo Wild Wings has already kicked off its first live player appearance, and that’s another angle that traditional sports can’t compete with.

“Oftentimes fans only see pros behind a screen, but hosting pro players in Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants brings esports fans an exciting opportunity to come together and engage in a new setting,” Ruhland added.

There are currently more than 1,230 Buffalo Wild Wings locations across the world.

Vertebrae Expands Immersive Media Offering, Frees AR Ads From Apps

Vince Cacace, Vertebrae founder and CEO

Editor’s note: The original headline of this piece was inaccurate and has been updated to reflect the story. We apologize for the error.

With support from both Apple and Google, augmented reality could become the technology of choice for advertisers and marketers, as demonstrated by the immense popularity of Snapchat Lenses and camera effects on Facebook. However, AR has been limited to dedicated apps and social media platforms, which impacts their overall accessibility. But advertising platform Vertebrae announced a solution that will bring AR to the masses—an ad suite that launches AR experiences directly from users’ mobile web browsers.

“We’ve had display, banner and video ads since the dawn of TV, so we see AR and VR as new mediums that provide unique and differentiated value to advertisers,” Vertebrae founder and CEO Vince Cacace told AListDaily. “They create experiences in new, personalized and contextual ways. With our new AR suite of products, we’ve taken our first step into the world of AR.”

Vertebrae’s previous efforts have largely focused on VR, including the creation of a native VR ad network that reaches nearly three million people a month. That’s in addition to working with publishers such as Forbes, Time and Hearst to develop 360-degree videos for the web and mobile devices. Based on that experience, the company is now it is turning its attention to AR.

“We saw a lot of scale on the web and mobile piece because everybody has a cell phone,” said Cacace. “So, with this AR suite, we tried to figure out what else we could deliver that provides a differentiated user experience but has a lot of scale potential.”

Vertebrae’s AR ad would appear like any other banner or display ad on a website, except that it expands into an AR ad experience right from the browser. These experiences cover multiple formats that include “try on,” where users can put on a pair of virtual sunglasses using their phones—blending the physical and digital worlds and possibly removing the need for a physical product to be present for purchasing decisions. Other experiences include “car ad,” where users can check out the interior of a vehicle or see how it looks in their driveways while changing its colors and walking around it. Entertainment companies may be the most interested in the selfie filters, which are like traditional Snapchat Lenses, but aren’t limited to a specific social platform.

“With the AR ad suite, we’re essentially enabling AR right over the mobile web browser,” Cacace explained. “We think that’s important because previously, for companies to use AR for advertising, they had to do it in an app-based experience. There’s a lot of friction to having an experience like that because you need to make a consumer download an app or point them to a third-party app. What we’re able to do is serve ads over the web, where users just need to allow camera access to have the augmented experience.”

Cacace said that he thinks of it as advertising outside of the walled garden, giving advertisers much more freedom. However, assets can be brought to other platforms such as Facebook or Snapchat if they wish to. He also added that the Vertebrae ads take advantage of existing adtech stacks, so advertisers still get all the data and recording capabilities that they’re accustomed to in addition the new camera and event data.

Although there are some impressive AR apps out right now, chief among them being Pokémon GO, Cacace believes that developers are still figuring out what works in the app space.

“There are some great ‘adverAR’ apps out there, like the ones by Ikea and Porsche,” he said. “But the hard part for an advertiser is getting people to the app. There are a lot of people who have app fatigue and don’t want to download an advertising experience.”

“There are a lot of people who have app fatigue and don’t want to download an advertising experience.” — Vince Cacace, Vertebrae founder and CEO

But that doesn’t mean that these ads will necessarily replace AR apps.

“Apps provide a richer and deeper experience,” Cacace admitted. “In an ad, you have size constraints, depending on how fast you want the experience to load. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense to bring Ikea’s entire catalogue in. You’d also be missing the advanced interactive capabilities something like ARKit enables. So, there are trade-offs, but we see the scale factor of the web outweighing them because we can still deliver a high-quality experience.”

Cacace believes that instead of replacing apps, Vertebrae could supplement them by driving discovery.

“They could have a smaller version of the app that lives as an ad that drives people to download the app,” he said. “An example of that would be taking one couch from Ikea and letting people place it in their living rooms, then directing them to the app for the full catalogue.”

Vertebrae’s AR suite does not take advantage of advanced AR hardware such as Google Tango, with Cacace stating, “We’re focused on the widest use cases possible, which don’t require things like ARKit or ARCore. Things all happen within the browser, so you don’t need special hardware to view any of the ads.”

However, a big focus for Vertebrae is delivering AR at scale, which seems to be happening quickly. About 50 percent of iPhone users have upgraded to iOS 11, so the technology already captures half of the Apple market. As for Android, the ads will work on version 5.0 of the operating system or better, but because there’s a lot of inventory available with newer devices, Vertebrae has been leaning more toward Android 6.0.

Cacace also discussed the topic of location tracking in AR experiences to drive users to destinations, similar to Pokémon GO.

“Theoretically, an advertiser could put a marker or tracker to cue part of an experience,” he said. “We can also have interactions based on real-world objects. The other thing that we’re doing with location seeing effectiveness, like whether they walk into a store after seeing an AR ad.”

AR/VR Marketing Highlights Ease, Affordability And Inspiration

AR and VR marketing takes many forms as the technology continues to grow and find its place in the world. As with any new medium, fate favors the bold and that goes for marketers, too. Until everyone jumps on board the hype train with checkbooks in hand, here’s how AR and VR are marketing themselves.

Making AR And VR Easy

Last year, Pokémon GO took the world by storm using the fact that anyone with a smartphone could play. Niantic’s real-world monster-collecting game is a proof of concept that continues to inspire AR developers to this day—and vice versa.

Mobile AR was a major selling point for Apple’s Keynote this year, and brands on Snapchat are creating AR games through the app’s Lens feature. The mobile AR market is projected to grow from $1.01 billion in 2017 to $18.69 billion by 2020, according to SuperData. By 2020, games will account for 18 percent of the mobile AR market’s total revenue.

Thanks to the Pokémon GO effect, many consumers are aware of AR, and pop culture has kept VR in the public’s eye for decades. A study by YuMe revealed that 86 percent of consumers have heard of immersive technology like VR, AR and 360-degree video, while 29 percent of consumers have tried it.

Making AR And VR Affordable

Basic 360-degree “VR” video experiences can either be viewed for free or through a viewer for just a few dollars. But interacting with an entire virtual world can cost hundreds or even thousands (when you factor in the headset and the high-powered computer to run it).

Facebook is trying to find the “sweet spot” between price and power with Oculus Go, a self-contained VR unit. Microsoft released its Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which is compatible with many PC and mixed reality headsets.

“New VR headsets like Oculus Go and Microsoft’s new mixed reality headset are significant and important technological steps forward—simplifying the experience, reducing the setup friction for customers, and of course, lowering the price to make it more accessible,” Debby Ruth, SVP of global media and entertainment at Magid told AListDaily.

For those who can’t afford or don’t want to buy VR headsets of their own, they can still give the technology a whirl thanks to VR arcades.

“The trends we’re seeing in the AR/VR spaces in terms of investment and growth are location-based opportunities,” Stephanie Llamas, vice president of research and strategy at SuperData told AListDaily. “VR Arcades are cropping up all over the world and we are seeing big investments from companies like Disney. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing announcements from other big entertainment companies like Universal Studios soon. The Void is creating more experiences (The Ghostbusters Experience has been a smash hit) and IMAX and AMC are throwing in their hats, as well.”

Making AR And VR Inspirational

The idea of stepping into a new world has fascinated humanity since storytelling began around the campfire. VR has the ability to take users on a sensory journey from anywhere in the world, which makes it an attractive technology for entertainment.

AR and VR are visual mediums that have been readily adopted by the film, television, video game, fashion, beauty and music industries. Travel is another beneficial use for the technology, as consumers can step into a destination through VR or 360-degree video to find inspiration for their next trip.

Shopping can be an inspirational experience for those visualizing through AR or VR. Gartner believes that by 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality.

Outside the public eye, AR and VR are already being used in industrial sectors for engineering, medical research and more.

A recent study found that only eight percent of marketers currently use VR as part of their marketing strategies. This could be attributed to the fact at VR marketing is a fairly new and untested idea—after all, measuring ROI can be challenging enough without a case study to reference.

“It will take time, patience, continued innovation and a strategic decision to ‘play the long game’ for companies in the VR space,” said Ruth. “The industry needs to embrace the idea that VR is unlikely to go mainstream overnight and that in addition to addressing price, form factor and complexity, they also have to present a compelling entertainment use case and content.”

One In Four Americans Have Amazon Prime; Children Flocking To Mobile Media

More than half of Amazon’s customers in the US subscribe to Prime, per an estimate by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. There are a total of 90 million Prime subscribers, making up 63 percent of Amazon’s American userbase.

Satisfaction with the service is at an all-time high as well—95 percent of current Prime members claimed they would “definitely” or “probably” renew their memberships.

Screen usage among young children is soaring, according to a study by Common Sense Media. Children ages eight and younger spend 48 minutes a day on mobile devices, a 300 percent increase from 2013. Furthermore, 42 percent of the group now have their own tablets, compared to just 7 percent in 2013.

The overall level of media consumption by children has not changed significantly since 2011, but the means by which they access it has. Mobile now takes up 35 percent of total screen time, up from 4 percent six years ago.

This technology is hindering togetherness, according to a survey conducted by Comcast. Of the parents they polled, 98 percent stated that “disconnecting” from devices improved family bonding. Despite this consensus, 52 percent reported having been told by their children to put down their phones during dinner, and 42 percent responded that they could not remember their last device-free meal.

The more VR changes the advertising environment, the more it stays the same, research by YuMe indicates. In virtual environments, pre-roll video ads are still much more memorable than banner ads or product placement, despite the interactive nature of the medium.

Aided recall for pre-roll ads topped out at 86 percent, compared to just 50 and 25 percent for banners and product placement, respectively. The differences in unaided recall were much less dramatic, with pre-roll ads achieving 43 percent, only five points higher than banner ads’ 38 percent.

A study by OnAudience.com estimates that 26 percent of US internet users have installed an ad blocker, up from 22 percent last year. These missed ad views account for $15.8 billion in lost revenue this year in the US and $42 billion internationally.

With Google set to implement a built-in ad blocker in its Chrome browser in 2018, consumers bypassing digital advertising is set to become an even larger problem than it is already.

Games make up most of ARKit-powered app downloads, according to a report by SensorTower. Augmented reality games make up 53 percent of all ARKit-only app installs and represent a 62 percent share of revenue.

Furthermore, 35 percent of AR apps on the store were games, compared to just 19 percent for utilities, the second most popular category.

TV advertising spending is down by double-digit figures for Q3, according to analysis by MoffettNathanson Research. Due to broadcast network viewership dropping by 31 percent compared to Q3 last year, ad revenue dropped by 10 percent.

“The negative ad growth will mark the greatest decline over the past six years,” said Michael Nathanson, senior research analyst at MoffettNathanson Research. He adds: “We currently project a return to growth in the [fourth quarter], but given the current ratings trends, this could prove to be too optimistic.”

Additionally, Zenith has released its mobile advertising forecast for 2017, which predicts that mobile will account for 53 percent of all internet ad dollars this year. Zenith expects this trend to continue, setting the 2019 figure at 62 percent.

Mobile ad spending actually lags behind usage, according to Zenith’s report. Users will spend 73 percent of their time web browsing on mobile by 2018, compared to 65 percent in 2016.

Influencers are ditching Snapchat for Instagram in droves, according to research by Mediakix. Compared to February of this year, the 12 top social media influencers posted 33 percent fewer Snap stories and 14 percent more Instagram stories. As of August of 2017, top influencers posted to Instagram twice as often as they did to Snapchat.

Zero-UI devices such as smart speakers are driving a significant increase in smart-home product adoption, research by The NPD Group indicates. Among American households with an internet connection, home automation device ownership has jumped up 50 percent in the last year and a half, from 10 percent in April 2016 to 15 percent in October 2017.

More than a third of smart home device owners also own a smart speaker, and around half (57 percent of Google Home and 48 percent of Amazon Alexa users) claimed to buying a home automation device after purchasing a smart speaker.

Netflix has coined a new term to describe members of its core userbase: binge racers.  Defined as users who have watched an entire season of a show within 24 hours of its release, binge racers number 8.4 million, increasing 20-fold between 2013 and 2016.

According to a report by YouAppi, marketers are mistiming their holiday marketing pushes. More than half of consumers aren’t interested in holiday offers before Thanksgiving, yet 68 percent of marketers begin their campaigns much earlier.

(Editor’s Note: This post will be updated daily until Friday, October 20.)

Cheez-It Explains Brand Development Into Esports

Seth Ladetsky, senior vice president of sales at Turner Sports

Kellogg’s Cheez-It brand has entered esports for the first time through a new cross-media marketing program with Turner and IMG’s ELeague. Seth Ladetsky, senior vice president of sales at Turner Sports, told AListDaily that the hope is for the deal, which just kicked off, to run for “a long, long time.”

At the heart of the new marketing plan is the sponsorship of the brand new Players’ Lounge, which Ladetsky said will be part of every tournament moving forward. Upcoming game tournaments that will feature the Cheez-It Players’ Lounge include CS:GO and Injustice 2. Kellogg’s brand will receive a full array of promotion, including signage, product placement and advertising across digital and TV broadcasts.

“We’ll have pre-game and post-game shows from the lounge featuring interviews with the players,” Ladetsky said. “The Players’ Lounge offers a behind-the-scenes look at these players as they’re gearing up for competition. It’s like a second studio that we’re using for live coverage on digital and TV, but we also use it for social content to make it snackable across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and social media.”

The Cheez-It Players’ Lounge is one spoke in the bigger sponsorship wheel, which also includes traditional commercials and social outreach. Ladetsky describes the lounge as one cool piece of a much larger pie Kellogg’s is buying into.

“The partnership with Turner ELeague extends our presence in the world of gaming,” said Jeff Delonis, marketing director, Kellogg, in a statement.

Kellogg’s is one of 30 brands working with Turner across its ELeague tournaments, with others that include Geico and Dell. Ladetsky said to date, endemic brands have been focused on particular esports events, while non-endemics are more interested in reaching the overall esports fan base across multiple games.

“We’ve been seeing a gaining momentum with non-endemic brands taking a stronger view of the esports space,” Ladetsky said. “As we wrap up the second year of ELeague and look at Season 3, we have the umbrella of ELeague with multiple IPs and tournaments that allow brands to can get a ‘best of all worlds’ with us.”

Over the course of ELeague’s seasons, Ladetsky has seen a lot of brands become more comfortable with their understanding of this space.

“A lot of clients are now educated on esports and they’re making their moves,” Ladetsky said. “These fans appreciate sponsorship support if it’s done to augment their viewing experience. We want to bring a partner in and give value to the audience that they wouldn’t have had. With Cheez-It, they’re get behind-the-scenes access for this Players’ Lounge. It’s a great example of creating new content to get additional value and experience for both the brand and the fans.”

With the start of the NBA season, Turner has taken a different approach with esports. Turner produces Inside the NBA and NBA TV in the same complex as the ELeague Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Ladetsky said what’s unique about esports is that it employs a live studio audience, more akin to a stadium. The ELeague Stadium also employs a moving set that allows the shoutcaster desk to move around.

“The NBA fan and ELeague fan are both comprised of a really young demographic, but they’re different psychographics,” Ladetsky explained. “The typical NBA fan has a lot of other interests when they’re not consuming media, while esports fans spend their free time playing a lot of video games and competing with their friends.”

Also, the NBA is a very mature organization, which means brands connect with a dedicated audience across multiple generations. But that also means advertising is just par for the course. Ladetsky said the advantage with esports is that ELeague fans have more appreciation for new brands entering their sport to further legitimize their pastime.

“The NBA is a great model to emulate,” Ladetsky said. “We’re trying to bring esports to that level.”

‘Geostorm’ Releases Lighthearted Marketing In Spite Of Timing

After a rocky production and several release delays, Warner Bros.’ and Skydance Entertainment’s Geostorm is finally in US theaters. The big budget film starring Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen) is set in the near future when the weather is controlled by technology. Naturally, everything goes wrong, because the film isn’t called “Geopartlycloudy.”

The star of any disaster film is, of course, the disaster—and all the tidal waves, earthquakes, tornadoes and more can be experienced in IMAX 3D. But users can bring the storm to them with a sponsored Snapchat Lens that overlays lightening, fire and freezing conditions onto photos.

The Discovery Channel website teamed up with Geostorm to create an interactive experience involving real locations. Users simply enter an address, pick a storm—tornadoes, fire, ice or lightning—and see the result. Visual effects consume the scene, reacting with objects. For example, the sound of crushed metal and breaking glass played when a tornado “touched down” on a car in the photo. Users can also watch the film’s trailer and conduct virtual weather experiments.

Despite its $120 million budget, overall marketing for Geostorm has been more of a light drizzle. Advanced screenings were not offered to critics and Warner Bros. opted instead to partner with social media creators. The campaign included partners that targeted film fans (Just Movie Things), students (Exam Problems, A Level Problems and Student Problems) and gamers (Pack Addict).

Additionally, an official mobile game was quietly released October 12 for Android and iOS devices. The free turn-based puzzle game—also called Geostorm—follows the plot of the film and challenges players to gather and transfer data about the storm to the International Space Station (ISS). Developer Sticky Studios says that the game is fully playable without prior knowledge or viewing of the film.

The biggest campaign was a taxi prank, in which a New York City taxi took passengers into an area that was hit by a freak ice storm. Warner Bros. went all out for the prank, going so far as to toss frozen prop pigeons out of the sky onto the cab, place icicles on buildings and frozen citizens on the street.

The timing of this weather disaster film is both relevant and unfortunate, but Warner Bros. has made attempts to be sensitive to viewers surviving real-life disasters. The studio pulled one-sheets from theaters that read, “Brave the Storm” and canceled an advanced screening in Houston.

“I think everybody is concerned about this affecting anybody in a negative way,” Geostorm director Dean Devlin told Rappler. “Of course this movie is not at all meant to be cynical or any kind of exploited reaction. At the time we made the film, we were still calling these kinds of storms the storms of the century, and now they’re happening that fast. So while I regret the timing of the release of the movie, I also at the same time feel that it’s never been more relevant.”

Geostorm is expected to fetch between $10 and 12 million in its first weekend.

‘H1Z1’ Ditches ‘King Of The Kill’ Branding As Pro Esports League Forms

Eric Correll, director of brand and IP development, Daybreak Games

The H1Z1 brand has gone through many changes recently. Last year, developer Daybreak Games announced that it would be split into two distinct games, one being the single-player zombie title H1Z1: Just Survive (subsequently renamed to Just Survive) and the other called H1Z1: King of the Kill—a battle-royale game where players compete against each other to be the last one standing.

The multiplayer game has been featured on CW. The televised tournament was such a success that it inspired a partnership between Daybreak and Twin Galaxies to create a new esports league expected to launch in 2018.

On Thursday, H1Z1 announced yet another change—the game is rebranding by dropping King of the Kill from its title and going back to just H1Z1.

“We thought it made a lot of sense, given how most of our players call it H1Z1 or informally as H1,” Eric Correll, director of brand and IP Development at Daybreak Games, told AListDaily. “It reflects the brand—plus it’s a really cool, short name that rolls off the tongue. With branding, I find that keeping it short and succinct is gold. Also, King of the Kill posed some challenges globally with the word ‘kill,’ so dropping that is in our best interest.”

Making The H1Z1 Brand New Again

As part of the rebranding effort, Daybreak is revising its logo and key art so that it better represents the game, which Correll says is one of the first standalone battle royale games to hit the video game scene.

“We were the first to take a commercial chance on the genre, and we’re proud of that,” said Correll. “So, as we continue to articulate our brand of battle royale, it makes sense to look at the individual identity of the game and revisit it, connecting it back to what it’s all about—which is competitive, fast-paced and action-packed at its core. The new branding truly reflects that—the branding always needs to reflect the experience of the game.”

He also explained that since the split last year, there is little connection between it and its single-player counterpart.

H1Z1 is its own game and so is Just Survive, and because we split them, we view them as separate products,” he said. “The survival game offers its own experience and H1Z1 is a battle royale game.”

Daybreak will be showing off the fully rebranded game at TwitchCon, where it will host three separate tournaments. The All-Stars tournament will have $200,000 prize pool and will feature some of the game’s most engaging livestreamers from around the world. Meanwhile, The Legends tournament, with its $250,000 prize pool, will include the world’s best H1Z1 players. Finally, the Challengers Invitational is a competition between TwitchCon attendees and Road to TwitchCon contest winners, who will all battle for a $50,000 prize pool.

“This is the third time we’ve been there since the inaugural one, and we’re going to be bigger and better than ever with three different tournaments across the three days in our own H1Z1 Arena,” said Correll. “We timed the game’s rebrand to lead up to TwitchCon, where you’ll see all the new visual ID so people can start to ingest the brand’s new look and feel.

But even though H1Z1 may enjoy the status of being the first standalone battle royale game, it certainly isn’t the only one. Games such as Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, designed by Brendan “Playerunknown” Greene (who helped create H1Z1), has skyrocketed in popularity. Furthermore, Fortnite got in on the action by launching its own battle royale mode.

“I think it’s great,” said Correll. “We were one of the first to identify it as its own genre, and we’re proud of being the first to take a commercial chance on it. It’s great that there are other competitors out there to help validate the genre as we continue to focus on our brand and put our mark on battle royale.”

Correll also said that the strength of the H1Z1 comes from Daybreak’s commitment to the game.

“We’ve been refining the game, listening to our community and understanding what make H1Z1 so much fun to play,” he said. “We’ve seen continued growth and we are consistently at the top of the Steam charts of concurrent daily users. I think that our brand of battle royale, with the fast-pace and competitive gameplay, has made its mark and we’re now working to crystallize that vision of H1Z1 to players. As the genre grows, we want to tap into the H1Z1 brand to let them know what we offer—this is our type of battle royale.”

Growing Battle Royale Through Esports

Being broadcast on CW and being featured during all three TwitchCons has certainly helped H1Z1 stand out from the growing number of battle-royale games. Daybreak has also hosted elite competition series at Dreamhack events, but what may get the most attention is the H1Z1 Pro League.

Anthony Castoro, general manager of H1Z1 and PlanetSide, Daybreak Games

Anthony Castoro, general manager of H1Z1 and PlanetSide at Daybreak Games, detailed the joint venture with Twin Galaxies, an organization that tracks video game world records and conducts gaming promotions.

“Our focus is to make sure that we create a new kind of league that can be independent and economically viable for both players and owners,” Castoro told AListDaily.

He said that having hosted a number of battle royale competitions, H1Z1 turned out to be a natural fit for the esports scene. As the game grew in popularity, members of Twin Galaxies played the game and became big fans. That’s how the relationship between the two began, but the Pro League didn’t start until the CW broadcast.

“We talked about what was wrong with esports, what we could fix for players and why H1Z1 has a natural groundswell of support,” said Castoro. “As the game and pro scene evolved, we did the CW H1Z1: Fight for the Crown event together and that broadcast—the second esports tournament to show on the CW—did so well that we continued the conversation and eventually worked out a deal where we formed this joint venture and announced the Pro League.”

Although there won’t be any early H1Z1 Pro League tournaments hosted at TwitchCon this year, Castoro said that Daybreak would be meeting with potential teams, owners and players at the event to give details about the formation of the Pro League.

“The biggest goal for us is to have more viewers than players, like any other successful professional league,” Castoro explained. “Our goal is to make an experience that’s just as much fun to watch as it is to play. Although we have millions of people who play H1Z1 now, our goal is to have tens of millions of viewers enjoy the league and define what success can look like—where players can make a living with our game, and fans can be as versed in battle royale as they are in basketball.”

“Our goal is to have tens of millions of viewers enjoy the league and define what success can look like—where players can make a living with our game, and fans can be as versed in battle royale as they are in basketball.” — Anthony Castoro, general manager of H1Z1 and PlanetSide at Daybreak Games.

To further grow H1Z1 as an esport, Daybreak will need to reach beyond the core fan base. Castoro said that doing that will involve traditional marketing tactics, with the focus of putting the game in front of people to see. Another part of its promotion is through celebrities, athletes and influencers.

“We have some major personalities from the MMA scene and all kinds of different sports and entertainment,” said Castoro. “As people watch TwitchCon and hear about who is doing what, that will be a big part of it. I think you’ll see Daybreak partnering with Twin Galaxies to bring some interesting public figures, personalities and public figures into the game to make sure they’re aware.”

Castoro emphasized that H1Z1 is a watchable game, and that it doesn’t take long for new viewers to understand what’s going on and enjoy it.

“It’s natively viewable, so a big part is just getting it in front of people so that they know that it’s out there and they can talk about it,” said Castoro. “With our broadcast on CW, we might have even beaten the NHL game that was happening on the same night. So, we know we can get in front of a large audience and that’s why we’re investing in this business.”

Given H1Z1’s success on broadcast TV, which was the inspiration for the Pro League in the first place, Castoro revealed how Daybreak, Twin Galaxies and Vision Venture Partners (formed by former NBA star Rick Fox) were talking to partners about televising the tournaments in addition to broadcasting on digital platforms.

“We’re in active conversations with a variety of carriers on all formats,” said Castoro. “Our goal is to bring the experience to as many viewers as possible. You might expect that we’d be talking to CW, but we’re also talking to other broadcast providers for television and other formats. That’s another reason we partnered with Twin Galaxies and Vision Venture Partners. They bring some additional capabilities and pro scene experience to the table. They’re heavily connected in the areas of business development . . . We’re very excited to continue pioneering this space and the Pro League is another big step. Daybreak is committed to H1Z1 and its success.”

Hulu And ESL Discuss Hosting Four Esports TV Shows

Hulu is the latest Hollywood company to cater to esports fans. The digital network has partnered with ESL to produce four new esports series comprised of about 15 hours of content, including the video game talk show, Player v. Player; an Immortals CS:GO docu-series, Bootcamp; a weekly show focusing on a key esports topic, Defining Moments; and an hour-long recap show that follows big tournaments, ESL Replay.

Nik Adams, senior vice president of global media rights and distribution at ESL, told AListDaily that both Hulu’s and ESL’s audiences are digitally savvy and range younger than the age demographics of linear television, making Hulu the perfect platform for esports content.

According to Nielsen’s latest study, The Esports Playbook, esports fans already spend 3.5 hours per week watching digital or streaming content through services such as Hulu, so by creating esports content exclusively for this platform, Adams said ESL is bringing familiar material to a service that these esports fans are already watching.

Justin Rutsky, senior content acquisition manager at Hulu, told AListDaily that the company partnered with ESL because they understand the audience and what connects with them, and have a wealth of data to support it.

“As a digital-first platform, we are well positioned to introduce our subs to premium esports programming, which is truly digital-first content,” Rutsky said. “As the industry continues to grow, we believe esports fans are more likely to be watching content online or on SVOD platforms more than traditional linear networks.”

Rutsky said esports content provides a significant overlap with Hulu’s young male (18-34) audience, which comprises a strong share of its subscription base and watches adult-animation, comedy, superhero shows and anime on the platform.

“We hope to introduce new fans to esports with these shows by making it easier to access on Hulu, and show existing esports fans something they haven’t seen before, but will truly enjoy,” Rutsky explained.

With more non-endemic brands entering the esports ecosystem on a regular basis, including Coca-Cola, Buffalo Wild Wings, Geico, Nissan and Axe, new platforms like Turner’s ELeague and Disney XD’s esports block will offer more exposure to a traditional television audience.

“As esports become more mainstream on platforms like Hulu, non-endemic brands are more likely to feel comfortable with various forms of esports content and consider sponsorship,” Rutsky said.

Earlier this year, ESL signed deals with Twitter, Facebook and Disney. Adams said this latest deal with Hulu will continue to broaden the base of esports fans with new ways of developing original content that appeals to a more mass audience in an entirely new way.

“As the world’s biggest esports company, ESL knows the ins-and-outs of the esports landscape, from streaming to putting on the largest esports tournaments in the world,” Adams explained. “ESL is a natural fit for developing original content since we already have the infrastructure in place.”

ESL is producing all four of the original shows at its Burbank, California studio in close coordination with Hulu.

“Similar to that of traditional sports storytelling, ESL’s content includes behind-the-scenes esports storytelling, like getting to know key players, hearing opinions and perspectives of industry figures, and re-living memorable esports footprint moments,” Adams said. “Through a fly-on-the-wall, authentic viewing experience, the audience will uncover and deep dive into the journey and lives of the players beyond the competition itself, just as traditional sports would explore.”

Adams said ESL is looking to create content that appeals to a more mass audience with its shows. Player V. Player will focus on core esports fans, while ESL Replay and Bootcamp will provide storytelling geared more towards anyone who is interested in anything about esports. Defining Moments offers a middle ground for those wanting to learn more about the esports industry and its history.    

All four shows will premiere on Hulu this fall.

Salesforce Explains Approach To Data, AI And Retail Marketing

Salesforce is continuing its company quest to deepen its roots in data and artificial intelligence by unveiling a new data center that provides marketers real-time insights into shoppers’ buying behavior and preferences during the busy holiday shopping season.

From trending online sales to consumer shopping preferences, trending social conversations and more, the San Francisco-based cloud computing company is looking to leverage its data hub and provide retailers with key insights to potentially increase revenues during the shopping season.

“We’re seeing shoppers today interact with retailers across multiple channels, including mobile, online, in-store and voice,” Shelley Bransten, senior vice president for Salesforce’s retail industry solutions, joined AListDaily. “With so many different touchpoints, retail marketers find it difficult to reach shoppers with the right content at the right time.”

According to a connected shopper report conducted by Salesforce in September, the most-used channels for research include website (74 percent), email (43 percent), social media (38 percent) and mobile apps (36 percent).

By using relevant martech, retail marketers have visibility into the entire shopper’s journey, including the web, mobile, social and store, allowing them to tailor their communication based on these interactions, Bransten said.

“Retailers can transform how they connect with their customers at every step along their buyer journey—from discovery, engagement and transaction to advertising, analytics, community and service,” she said.

Bransten went on to describe to AListDaily the different ways data and AI will disrupt the retail industry.

Shelley Bransten, SVP for Salesforce’s retail industry solutions

How will data transform business solutions and save the future of brick and mortar?

Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever before. Armed with the ability to research products online and through social channels, shoppers can often appear more informed than the store associate. Additionally, associates aren’t aware of the shoppers’ product knowledge when they enter the store or their purchase history. As a result, brand loyalists are often treated like first-time customers each time they walk through the door. Millennials are 1.8 times more likely to say that store associates need the ability to use mobile devices to reference automated product recommendations based on a shopper’s profile information. With the power of data and AI, store associates can use near-field communications technologies to identify when a shopper is near the store. From there, the associate can access the customer’s profile and see that she had added two specific blouses to her shopping cart earlier in the week, for example. Thanks to this background information gathered from web data, the store associate could then pull the blouses in the customer’s size and—using AI capabilities—even recommend a complementary necklace or pair of heels based on what other shoppers who bought the same dress purchased to go with the outfit. This type of VIP treatment merges both the in-store and online experience and creates brand and store loyalists.

What are the foremost challenges retailers are facing today?

As shoppers turn to multiple devices and numerous channels throughout their shopping journey, they’re creating trillions of customer interactions. Our connect shopper report says that 63 percent of people feel like retailers don’t truly know who they are. Retailers are struggling to keep pace with these various touchpoints. For them, it has become a real challenge to meet shoppers’ rising expectations that all their interactions with a brand will be coordinated into a single, unified experience. The underlying root of this challenge stems from a retailer’s disparate and duplicative systems, which causes customer data to be scattered across many systems and creates siloed customer touchpoints. Retailers are also having to deal with complex backend integrations, which are brittle because of how many systems are involved. Because retailers must sift through so many different sources of truth, they’re struggling to deliver a seamless experience throughout the shopping journey that shoppers have come to expect.

How are marketers leveraging data to withstand Amazon’s grip on retail?

Retail marketers are using data to fuel personalized experiences across channels for consumers, helping retail marketers create hyper-local targeting, personalized product recommendations and engagement opportunities at scale. For example, Room & Board, a modern furniture company, is using data to personalize its product recommendations through Salesforce Einstein, allowing the brand to engage with customers individually and create a curated one-to-one relationship with each shopper. Since implementing it, data-powered product recommendations have helped Room & Board boost sales and achieve a 150 percent higher conversation rate.

What is the one big shake-up retail marketing needs today?

Many retailer marketers understand the importance of AI in automating processes and driving predictive engagement with consumers. Our fourth annual state of marketing report (Editor’s note: A more recent report from Salesforce, available here, reflects the current landscape as of November 2022) found that 57 percent of marketers that use AI say ‘it’s absolutely or very essential in helping their company create one-to-one marketing across every touchpoint.’ While AI adoption is happening among retail marketers, it’s slow overall and many question the investment. However, as consumers continue to demand a personalized, seamless and delightful shopping experience across all channels and devices, AI will become more and more important in predicting messages and content and delivering relevant experiences.

Why is AI a transformative technology and necessary for retail marketers to stay ahead of the curve in retail’s new paradigm?

It’s already changing how retailers are uncovering information and engaging with consumers. For example, consumers are now posting photos of their favorite products across countless social media channels, but many retail marketers have yet to crack the code on how to use this information to their advantage. With AI, retailers can automatically analyze images that shoppers post on social media channels like Twitter to better understand their preferences and tailor marketing campaigns based on this data. 

Why should marketers be increasingly leveraging data to capitalize on a shoppers’ buying behavior and preferences?

Shoppers are turning to more channels than ever to inform their purchases. For retailers, it’s never been more important to leverage data to hone in on what shoppers are interested in and inform personalized, targeted marketing campaigns to drive engagement. By putting the right data into action, retail marketers can understand what their customer data means and learn from it by incorporating curated messages into their marketing strategies to create a seamless shopper experience.

Digital Video Marketing Spend Balloons To $135B In US

Digital video marketing combines two of humanities favorite pastimes—the ancient art of storytelling and hanging out on digital devices. Mobile video production company Magisto released the first in a three-part report that examines how marketers use digital video marketing.

In Video’s Payday Part One, Magisto describes how the rules of engagement have changed from branding controlled by the marketer to a sense of belonging, as driven by a customer narrative.

“Since video combines the emotional impact of story with the efficacy of digital advertising, it is a perfect way for businesses to authentically engage with today’s consumers,” Oren Boiman, CEO of Magisto, said in a statement. “The enormous influence of social media and the bottom up culture of millennials have led to a new marketing condition where the consumer is in control, word-of-mouth is a medium unto itself and authenticity is paramount to engaging customers.

Magisto surveyed over 500 marketing decision makers in the US at businesses of various sizes from July to August 2017. Applying responses to the industry as a whole, the company found that on average, each American business will spend $20,000 on video marketing in 2017, for a total of $135 billion.

This figure includes the cost of video capturing, creation, hosting, distribution, analytics and staffing. To put that $135 billion in perspective, TV ad spending is predicted to reach $71.65 billion this year, according to eMarketer.

Brands are creating more videos, as well. Eighty-four percent of marketers said they intend to create more business videos in 2017. A majority (60 percent) of these marketers allocate more than a quarter of their budgets to video marketing, and 64 percent create their own videos in-house.

In a world where consumers are bombarded with ads and information on a daily basis, marketers are looking for ways to cut through the noise. To do this, authenticity and consistency are the name of the game. Fifty-six percent of businesses surveyed engage in video creation at least once a week, according to the study.

Reaching millennials is all the rage—and a necessity—but marketers between the ages of 30 and 45 (Gen X) are 250 percent more likely to be heads of marketing than any other age group. Gen X are 40 percent more likely to spend on video marketing, as well, compared to millennial marketers. Of both age groups, 77 percent of Gen X marketers allocate more than a quarter of their budgets to video.

Gen X creates more often than their millennial counterparts, as well, making daily content at 37 and 23 percent, respectively.

“Done correctly, video has the scale of television, the precision of digital marketing and the power of authentic story,” said Magisto. “Businesses are using video to distribute their messages in ways that contribute real value to the attention economy and, as a result, is becoming a fiscal economy unto itself. All told, video marketing, composed of all business video communication excluding Television, is already a $135 billion dollar industry in the United States and this is a story that is just getting started.”