App Developers Testing Gamified Ads; Brands Move Programmatic In-House

Video Ads, Metrically Speaking

For marketers, social videos work best for creating engagement, according to a report by Magisto. Customer testimonials and product overviews were most popular social video content, with 51 percent of respondents favoring each.

On mobile devices, however, marketers are looking to add more interactivity option to their video ads. A survey by AdColony finds that 69 percent of app developers have tested have tested playable ads this year, up from 33 percent in 2016. Despite full-screen video’s dominance in the market, 46 percent of app developers claim that playable ads are the opportunity that excites them most going into 2018.

Despite marketers’ focus on digital video as the future of ads, bad apples have somewhat spoiled the barrel. A survey by Clutch found that consumers trust ads they see online and on social media the least, with only 41 and 38 percent putting faith into the medium, respectively. Unsurprisingly, the established formats of broadcast video and print fared best, with around 60 percent of consumers trusting content in both formats.

Brands Pull In On Programmatic

A new report by the Association of National Advertisers has found that in response to growing transparency concerns, more than 35 percent of national brands have expanded their internal programmatic media buying structures. Last year, only 16 percent had shifted their programmatic in-house.

This shift reflects major brand concerns about the state of programmatic media buying—78 percent of marketers are concerned about brand safety and programmatic, and just 40 percent are comfortable with the current levels of transparency with their programmatic strategy.

2018 Projections

In the coming year, consumers want brands to improve their existing offerings more than new innovations, according to a poll by Code Computerlove. Just 18 percent of consumers claim to be looking for “something they haven’t experienced before” from digital experiences in 2018.

Marketing and advertising executives are predicting an increasing difficulty in finding creative talent next year, according to research by The Creative Group. Few executives (just 5 percent) expect to expand their creative times in the first six months of 2018. Instead, 78 percent of marketing executives plan to maintain the size of their existing teams, only hiring to fill vacant positions. Fortunately, no executives reported plans to downsize their creative staff, at least in the next six months.

Part of this lack of growth may come from a talent shortage—53 percent of executives reported difficulty in finding skilled creative professionals. Marketers report finding the most difficulty in finding employees in the fields of web design, research, brand management and digital marketing.

Rather than expanding their creative teams, marketers are investing in marketing technology, a survey by Conductor indicates. Of the marketers surveyed, 68 percent plan on spending more on martech in 2018, and 30 percent reported plans to increase their spending by as high as 25 percent. Over a quarter responded that they’re already spending more than $100,000 on martech platforms annually, and 4 percent spend more than $1 million.

Kids These Days

Gone are the days of children playing outside, a survey by eMarketer finds. Among US children up to the age of 11, the digital video viewing penetration is 47.5 percent. Between 12 and 17, that figure jumps up to 92.6 percent. Digital video viewership peaks between 18 and 24, at 94.7 percent.

Increasingly, a generational divide is appearing on the platforms used by influencers. Research by RBC Capital has placed Snapchat as the frontrunner among US teenagers, with 79 percent of those ages 13-to-18 having a Snapchat account, compared to 73 percent for Instagram and 57 percent for Facebook.

When asked which social network was most important to them, US teenagers further widened the gap between platforms. Forty-four percent responded that Snapchat was most important to them, compared to 24 percent for Instagram and just 14 percent for Facebook. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not Snapchat’s Stories or Discover features that drive the most use: 68 percent claim that messaging is the app’s most important feature.

Despite its unpopularity among American teenagers, Instagram’s user base is expected to balloon in the coming years. A new forecast by eMarketer projects Instagram’s worldwide monthly active users will reach 928 million by 2021, largely swallowing adopters in emerging markets. As a result, Instagram’s ad revenues are slated to reach $10.87 billion in 2019.

“We see no signs of this slowing down in the near future, and the company’s strategic push toward international markets—in particular, Southeast Asia—will continue to fuel growth in the years to come,” said Cindy Liu, a forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

Authentic Influencers Drive Sales

A new survey by CITE Research gives more insight into the impressions and effects of influencers on the general public. When it comes to brand awareness and purchase consideration, social media influencers are a powerful tool—31 percent of US and European consumers have reported purchasing a product or service because of an influencer post. The majority consider someone to qualify as a social influencer once they reach the 10,000 follower threshold, while only 21 percent claim that being famous is a requirement. Additionally, less than half of the survey’s respondents considered promoting brands as a requirement to be an influencer.

“Through our extensive work with brands, we’ve found that influencer content is most resonant and powerful when influencers apply their own expertise, style and creativity—without heavy brand influence,” said Pau Sabria, co-founder of Olapic.

When it comes to influencer behavior, just 39 percent claim that on average, influencers post higher-quality content and just 31 percent think that influencers use ads in their posts more frequently. Authenticity is a major factor for consumer trust in influencers, with 43 percent claiming it was their top reason and 39 percent finding it important for endorsers to actually use the products they promote.

IAB: Small Businesses Are Driving Competition In Digital Advertising

Accessible tools, low prices and in-house creative options are leading millions of small businesses to invest into digital advertising this year, competing with national brands for viewability in search and social channels. According to the IAB’s latest bi-annual advertising revenue report, small business marketing efforts are in a large part responsible for the continued growth of advertising marketplace.

On Wednesday, AListDaily sat in on a livestream presentation of the findings from the IAB’s biannual advertising revenue study, which stated that over half of the companies on 2016’s Fortune 500 list are posting declining revenues, and yet, total digital advertising revenue continues to rise.

Advertising spend in general grew by 2.8 percent in the last year, yet for companies making over $250 million per year, that number was just 1.2 percent. To account for this counter-intuitive data, the IAB-commissioned Borrell Associates found that easily accessible marketing tools on platforms like Google and Facebook drew almost seven million small businesses to buy digital ads in the last year.

“There is a large (and growing) cohort of small- and medium-sized businesses who are engaged in digital advertising,” read Borrell’s report that was made available to AListDaily. “Their budgets are, of necessity, smaller—but their numbers are significant such that there is reason to believe they are, en masse, injecting significant dollar volume into the digital advertising ecosystem.”

What’s notable about this cohort isn’t just its size (6.8 million) but its saturation: 75 percent of businesses earning less than $50 million per year spend on digital advertising, and 63 percent of those expect to increase their spending in 2018.

Part of digital advertising’s appeal to small businesses comes from its budget-friendliness. Social media is the most popular and effective form of small-business marketing but accounts for just 4 percent of their marketing budgets.

“Local advertisers are going online to do their own buying,” the report reads. “Nearly two-thirds are inexperienced at marketing, and 70 percent of those amateurs make decisions without anyone’s assistance.”

The prevalence of inexperience makes social media’s accessibility and do-it-yourself options especially attractive to small businesses. In fact, four-in-five small businesses buy advertising on self-service platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This represents a potential for marketing service providers, as self-starters who may not be willing to spend on full small business marketing campaigns will benefit from the know-how of established professionals.

“Misfires and frustrations are likely to spur a stronger demand for marketing education and a greater level of consultation from marketing-savvy ad reps,” Borrell writes.

For the current growth to continue, small businesses might be the industry’s best bet.

“Better understanding this cohort will allow for all participants in the digital advertising ecosystem to tap into the opportunity they represent, as well as increase the value of digital advertising for this important constituency,” the report declared.

5 Standout Experiential Marketing Campaigns From 2017

This year, countless brands from Planters to Prime threw their hats into the experiential marketing ring, incorporating digital and social media innovation to real-world events. Despite the expanding number of examples, marketers still found niches to deliver memorable moments to content-saturated consumers.

As KFC’s hidden tiny pop-up shop in Portland proves earlier this week, these activations still have plenty of space to shine, innovate and delight.

Louis XIII Cognac and Pharrell Williams: “100 Years”

To highlight Louis XIII Cognac’s century-long decanting process, the importance of protecting the environment and the traditions of the brand, the luxury alcohol distillery partnered with Pharrell Williams to produce an exclusive single, which they recorded on a clay disk and locked away in a water-soluble safe with a bottle of cognac and a time-lock set to open in 2117.

If water levels rise too much, both the safe and song will be destroyed, though presumably, the cognac will be fine.

If there are boxes to be checked with marketing campaigns, Louis XIII’s partnership with Pharrell Williams checks just about all of them. Celebrity endorsement? Check. Cause-marketing message? Check. Cutting-edge technology, an exclusive party and ties to a fundamental brand value? Check, check and check.

Refinery29: 29Rooms

Style publication Refinery29’s 29Rooms activation—an annual even described as a “funhouse of style, culture and technology“—has become a mainstay example of experiential marketing. Other brands have begun to piggyback off of the event’s popularity with sponsored exhibits.

The Instagram-friendly exhibition has become so popular that it’s inspired other, completely unaffiliated pop-up experiences, such as Happy Place in Los Angeles.

Misereor: The Social Swipe

Credit cards have long made material purchases simpler, but less so for charitable donations. German charity Misereor sought to make helping the needy as easy as swiping a credit card.

Set up in airports, digital posters displayed scenes of strife, urging travelers to slice a loaf of bread or cut rope bonds (and also donate two euros) with just a swipe of a credit card.

Visually representing the effect of even a small donation empowered the donors and gave the experience the sort of feel-good ending that most calls for charity simply can’t.

Better Call Saul: Los Pollos Hermanos

To promote the third season of its Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, AMC put its stars to work on a multi-city tour, drawing in not just fans of Bob Odenkirk, but fried chicken as well.

To fans of the shows, Los Pollos Hermanos is as much of a character as Walter White or Saul Goodman are, and the intentionally generic-looking fast food restaurant pop-ups drew in methamphetamine enthusiasts in droves in several cities, including Austin for SXSW, Los Angeles and New York City.

Unfortunately, the location didn’t sell any fried chicken, but fans got the chance to score autographs, branded soda cups, curly fries and the chance to share stories of a snack at a fictional fast-food restaurant.

Shows like Saved by the Bell (The Max) and films such as Coming To America (McDowell’s) also tapped into fan nostalgia throughout the year and debuted similar-styled restaurant pop-ups.

The Last Jedi: Lightsaber Battles

The lightsaber is easily one of Star Wars’ most iconic images, inspiring people of all ages to try their best to whack each other with light-up plastic sticks. Generally, it leads to well-meaning, if less than graceful attempts to replicate the battles they see on screen, though some fans pull out all the stops.

To market The Last Jedi in the UK, Disney flipped the script on conventional experiential-campaign wisdom. Rather than attempt to make the fantastical elements of the film more accessible, stunt fighters Shania West and Anton Simpson-Tidy showed off the potential when professionals get the chance to make it exciting.

“From day one of our shoot here in the UK, the feeling of excitement and love for Star Wars has been palpable, and if you grew up loving Star Wars, you grew up loving lightsabers,” said The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

In addition to putting on a display for bystanders, Instagram influencer Matt Scutt took long-exposure photos of the duel to further emphasize the illumination of the lightsabers.

The Weakest Link In Blockchain Is Still Human Nature

Blockchain technology is disrupting the way data is stored and verified. While blockchain is more secure by design, humans are prone to mistakes and corruption.

What Is Blockchain?

While the technology of blockchain gets rather complicated, the basic idea is simple—one network that accurately tracks data from point A to point B and prevents tampering.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger that is shared among users rather than stored in one location such as a server. Everyone in the chain of information has a copy of the same information—updating with each new entry.

The blockchain is made up of a series of blocks containing encrypted data, along with a unique identifying number called a hash that corresponds to the entries before and after. This creates a ledger that keeps everything in its place and cannot be changed—at least not easily.

As data is recorded, it creates a new block with a new hash and adds it to the sequence—hence the name “blockchain.” Because it’s a distributed ledger, everyone gets the latest information at the same time. If the information doesn’t match—i.e. tampered with, it is rejected. Users no longer have one place to hack. This creates a transparent system of verification with an endless amount of uses.

Practical Applications

Imagine if you could trace your coffee beans all the way back to where they were grown. Blockchain would allow you to verify its origins and whether or not they are free trade. Donations to a charity could be tracked to make sure they reach the intended recipients and citizens could see exactly how their tax dollars are spent.

This new technology is already disrupting a number of industries, beginning with finances. First prototyped in 1991, blockchain is the distributed ledger that underlies Bitcoin. The technology cuts out the third party such as a bank, allowing users to transfer and verify the transfer of currency from one account to another.

For marketers, blockchain could solve the problem of programmatic advertising fraud. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is currently investigating the application of this technology to address challenges, as well as develop best practices.

Technology Versus Humans

Blockchain technology is important because it could solve the age-old problem of “the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.” But despite its built-in transparency and encryption, data is still entered by human beings—who are not perfect.

Whether through innocent error or intentional deceit, blockchain data is only as accurate as those creating the blocks.

Famous hacker Kevin Mitnick often used “social engineering”—the manipulation of people, not computers, to obtain passwords and other key information.

“Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls, encryption and secure access devices, and it’s money wasted because none of these measures address the weakest link in the security chain—the people who use, administer, operate and account for computer systems that contain protected information,” Mitnick said in his court testimony.

While a traditional hack of distributed ledger technology is inherently difficult, there is something called a ‘51 percent attack.’ That means when more than half of a blockchain network of computers supplies incorrect information, the rest of the system believes it to be true.

Blockchain is a powerful technology, but the market has yet to fully invest in exploring its potential. There’s still plenty of blank space in the blockchain landscape, and major players will likely need concrete proof that it’s worth the risk before they fill in the gaps.

Unicode’s New Inclusive Emojis Met With Mixed Feedback

The Unicode Consortium is furthering efforts to make its emojis more inclusive, expanding its emoji catalog to offer more diversity for hair colors and styles. Finally, people with red, white, curly or no hair will be able to see themselves in icon format.

Several of the additions, such as representation for redheads, have been in demand for more than a year. Curly or natural hair on emojis has been so hotly demanded that Dove released an emoji keyboard just for curly-haired women.

With emoji-based marketing generally considered to make brand messaging more fun—especially among women and those ages 25-to-44—this added diversity can only give brands more options for producing more inclusive content.

But Unicode is already taking flak on Twitter for its female curly-haired emoji, with some claiming that the hairstyle does not accurately reflect natural hair. According to Unicode, the look is based on the real hair of lifestyle YouTuber Ciara Anderson, but the emoji curls have many still feeling left out.

The new emojis are now available in beta, which means that the community backlash may result in a total redesign before the batch is released in Q2 of 2018.

The rest of the 130-emoji collection has been less controversial, with new additions like a fire extinguisher, stick of dynamite and frowning feces failing to spark any heated discussion. In the document discussing the added emojis, Unicode explicitly omitted non-natural features such as dyed hair, piercings and tattoos, which may well be the subject of the next inclusivity push for the image icons.

This year has seen many marketers pushing to better represent the diversity in the communities they serve, and the latest emoji update marks at least another small step in that direction.

The 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit And D.I.C.E. Awards Come To Las Vegas In February

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences’ 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit (#DICE18) and D.I.C.E. Awards (#DICEAwards) will take place February 20-22, 2018 in Las Vegas. Leading video game executives and creators will gather to participate in the premier industry networking event and listen to key speakers address the conference theme – Made Better – tackling some of the industry’s biggest ideas and trends.


Main stage presentations of all kinds —solo presentations, fireside chats or panels are available for the entire attendee base.  With the conference theme Made Better, speakers this year will examine the full spectrum of what drives the creative development process within the interactive entertainment community.  What are the measures of success, and how do we design towards them?  How do we evolve and balance innovation risk?  How do we inspire individuals and teams to drive change?  D.I.C.E. speakers will share personal insights and experiences on how they foster creativity and prosperity within the video game industry today and beyond.


Workshops are smaller, breakout sessions geared towards a greater level of audience interaction and sharing. Panels and discussions engage with an audience of approximately 50 people and emphasizes joint exploration of ideas and concepts relevant to the industry and workplace.


Roundtables compose of intimate idea sharing with groups of approximately 10 to a table. A roundtable leader will present a compelling topic which will be explored from the varied perspectives of table participants. This is an excellent networking opportunity paired with premier idea sharing. There will be three different roundtable rooms, each focused on a specific theme: Business Leadership, Creative Development and Media Topics.


Unmatched networking opportunities are a hallmark of the D.I.C.E. Summit experience. This year’s networking events include Topgolf Las Vegas, Magic: The Gathering, go-karting, a golf tournament and a poker tournament on the first day, networking parties, lunches and happy hours.

2018 D.I.C.E. AWARDS

On the final day, the conference will culminate with the 21st D.I.C.E. Awards co-hosted by Greg Miller and Jessica Chobot, honoring the best video games from 2017. The D.I.C.E. Awards serve to recognize excellence among peers currently working in games.

Don’t miss out on the 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit and Awards! AListDaily members receive a 20% discount to the conference and event.  Please reach out to to get your code for registration.

Top ESPN, BET TV Execs Step Back; Domino’s CMO Promoted To International Team


ESPN president John Skipper announced his retirement, citing struggles with substance abuse. George Bodenheimer, who served as ESPN’s president from 1998 to 2011, will take over in the interim while the network searches for a permanent replacement.

“I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on,” said Bodenheimer. “The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.”

Skipper has been with ESPN since 1997, when he joined as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. He has held his current position since 2012.

BET Networks announced the appointment of Scott M. Mills as president, taking over day-to-day operations from BET chairman and CEO Debra Lee, who is relaxing her control over the network.

“I have spent more than 20 years leading this incredible enterprise and I am so proud of the BET team and all that we have accomplished,” Lee said in a statement. “As I look to the future, I believe it is the right time to take a step back from day-to-day responsibilities at BET.”

Before taking over operations from the BET chairman, Mills served as executive vice president and chief administration officer for its parent company, Viacom. He has served as president of BET Networks once before, during which time he launched the channel’s mobile and digital video operations.

Domino’s Pizza is promoting Joe Jordan, its US chief marketing officer, to its international executive team. As executive vice president, Jordan will oversee global marketing efforts, focusing on growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, the company is hiring a new marketing executive, Art D’Elia, as senior vice president and chief brand and innovation officer for Domino’s US.

“As our brand becomes a global leader in markets around the world we have a chance to expand our great leadership and provide opportunities for exceptional performers,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO. “We’re excited about this change, and the chance to share our resources and put proven leaders into positions we believe will help us accelerate our brand trajectory.”

Prior to becoming Domino’s Pizza’s top marketing executive, Jordan served as the pizzamaker’s CMO for three years, and was responsible for double-digit sales growth between 2015 and 2017. D’Elia previously was the chief marketing executive at Danone Dairy UBN, where he led marketing efforts in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Rest Of The C-Suite

Amusement park entertainment company Cedar Fair has tapped Tim Fisher as its latest chief operating officer.

“We are making significant, strategic, long-term investments within and adjacent to our parks,” said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair president and CEO. “Tim’s significant industry experience, coupled with his extensive knowledge of our parks and target markets, will deepen our management team and help us fully capitalize on all of our park-level initiatives.”

Fisher joins Cedar Fair from Village Roadshow, another theme park operator, where he has served as CEO since 2009.

BFS Capital, a financial services provider for small businesses, has hired Mary Harris as its new CMO.

“I look forward to expanding our market presence and visibility across the US and building new and lasting relationships with our customers and partners,” Harris said.

Prior to signing on with BFS Capital as its head marketing executive, Harris served as senior vice president of marketing and public relations for BankUnited, helping the bank rebrand and earn accolades from Forbes.

Andrew Lustgarten has risen to the position of president of The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG).

“[Lustgarten’s] unique experience in sports, live entertainment management and corporate development will be critically important as we continue to focus on enhancing our core businesses and identifying compelling opportunities that further our presence and influence in live experiences,” said James Dolan, MSG’s executive chairman and interim CEO.

Lustgarten has been with MSG since 2014, when he joined as executive vice president of corporate development and strategy. Prior to that, he spent seven years at the NBA, where he held the position of senior vice president of global strategy.

Madison Square Garden is still looking for a new CEO, after David O’Connor departed the company in November.

Job Vacancies 

Director of Marketing Insights HP San Diego, CA
VP, Global Business Marketing Facebook Menlo Park, CA
VP of Marketing Bitly San Francisco, CA
VP, Worldwide Marketing Partnerships Paramount Pictures Hollywood, CA
VP/SVP of Marketing & PR Hugo Boss New York, NY
Integrated Brand Director, Global Influencer Marketing Nike Portland, OR

Make sure to check back for updates on our Jobs Page.

Executives Share Marketing Lessons Learned In 2017

The calendar’s turn to December marks a quintessential time for many marketers to reflect back on the year that was, while keeping sight of the strategies they’ve already set for the forthcoming year. Since ‘tis the season of giving, AListDaily asked executives to give their insight into what they found to be the most important lessons, learnings and realizations each had in marketing over the course of 2017.


—The Most Influential Brands For Marketers In 2017
—Marketing Executives Tell Us How They’re Championing Diversity
—Executives Tell Us Which Holiday Marketing Trends To Watch

“That’s a very big question—I’ve learned a lot at Asics. This is the first time I’ve worked in this industry, so I’ve learned a lot about industry marketing. I’ve learned how much consumer behavior and consumption patterns are changing and dictating how nimble we need to be with marketing. Gone are the days of us talking at consumers—we need to adjust and modernize as we go. A lot of what I’m learning is how we test and learn in the digital space and try to make that strong connection back to sales, either from an in-store or e-commerce perspective.

“Secondly, [we’re learning] how we’re defining sponsorships and partnerships, making sure that we’re looking outside of what the traditional model looks like for most footwear and apparel companies, and focusing more on planning from a consumer perspective and where their passion points lie.”
Sarah Bishop, vice president of marketing for Asics

“I’m not sure I had any great revelation in 2017. Rather, it reinforced my belief that—particularly with innovative technology—you cannot fall in love with the shiny new object. You must keep focused on the end goal rather than the technology itself and to the extent that it can help you realize that goal, it can be a powerful vehicle for delivering accelerated results.

“It’s vital that marketers share the goals and objectives of any significant investment in technology up front and across the enterprise so that there is support and alignment, or at least minimally an understanding of ‘why.’ Otherwise, marketers run the risk that business partners—for example sales—will see technology investments merely as play toys for marketers yearning to go to Cannes and collect trophies that might not add a drop of value to the shareholders.”
Lee Applbaum, Patrón’s global chief marketing officer

“The promise of digital was not really fulfilled with all of the ad fraud in programmatic, and putting content against things that shouldn’t be there from a brand standpoint. [Brand safety concerns], efficiency and efficacy of digital marketing were major themes for marketers.”
Nathan Tan, associate director of brand partnerships and experiences for Cadillac

“In my industry, it’s more obvious to me than ever that consumers are ready for a change. Traditional retail is declining; e-commerce is booming. Female-led businesses are at the forefront. Natural brands are overtaking conventional. People want to support businesses that match their values and shopping habits, and we’re seeing that born out in a dramatically evolving competitive landscape.”
Michael Cammarataco-founder & CEO of Schmidt’s Naturals

“Consumers want to be entertained. I think more brands are understanding that the new consumer is looking for experiences—not just products—and taking products and making them experiences then communicating that experience is where you win in the new market.”
Joe Alexander, CEO and founder of Nest Bedding

“The power of product positioning. We’ve [been trying to] pioneer the modern stroopwafel category in the United States. So, making sure we position our brand and product in a way that is easily approachable, easily understood and connects with American culture is crucial to really establish a fast-growing company.”
Rip Pruisken, co-founder of Rip Van Wafels

“Consumers today are willing to buy whatever and whenever, and you need to grab them by meeting them where they are.”
Stefanie Reichert, Sennheiser’s director of American trade marketing

“For me, it was looking at social media and figuring out best strategies for platforms other than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. We all understand that social is important, and it’s there. But what about Spotify? I saw that some brands still haven’t figured out how use Spotify to market their brand. I think that there’s something there to reach millennials specifically—especially for our brand—which starting next year our Giulia and Stelvio will have Apple Car Play and Android Auto. I’m definitely keeping my eye on to see how we can use the platform to our advantage.”
Katie Inderelst, head of Alfa Romeo marketing and communications

Taylor Swift’s Social App Cuts Out Music Marketing Middlemen

Taylor Swift wants to create her very own social network with the launch of The Swift Life, a new Instagram-esque platfrom that focuses on the star songstress and allows fans to see behind-the-scenes footage, images of her at work and all-in-one access to the thoughts and news from their fellow Swift enthusiasts.

She joins a legion of other celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj who have cashed in on their recognizable faces and released their own branded apps. However, as others have emulated popular mobile games, Swift is abandoning high scores and flashy graphics for a straightforward social platform, perhaps hoping to eliminate previously proven music marketing tactics across digital channels.

If the Glu Mobile-designed social app takes off, Taylor Swift will have a chance to completely control her public-facing persona, bypassing third-party publications to market her albums and tours.

The Swift Life isn’t just an Instagram knock-off, either. Fans can earn Swift-themed emojis, dubbed Taymojis, by completing in-app challenges. The impatient and wealthy can bypass this process with in-app purchases, and can pay extra to get access to a Taymoji that supposedly guarantee Swift herself will look at their post. While other celebrities, like Kardashian West, have created their own emoji, gif and sticker sets tied in with existing social networks, Swift’s take on the trend is only usable within her own app.

This isn’t the first time that Swift has sought to control access to her music—she partnered with Ticketmaster in August to give exclusive concert tickets to fans who completed a variety of hype-generating, sales-increasing tasks. She also continues to delay the release of her albums on Spotify, pushing her biggest fans to the artist-controlled Tidal service if they want day-one access. It’s not clear yet how her music will be incorporated into The Swift Life.

Only time will tell if the app actually garners any major traction, and even so, its replicability for other brands seems dubious. Even brand faces as recognizable as Colonel Sanders lack the power of Swift’s cult of personality.

‘Jumanji’ Marketing Leverages Success Of Escape Rooms

The concept of Jumanji is that you don’t play the game, it plays you—drawing unwitting players into real-life adventures that require skill and teamwork to survive. It just so happens that escape rooms and scavenger hunts offer a similar premise—so marketing for the film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle invites fans to do the same with escape rooms, scavenger hunts and virtual reality.

In partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, a Jumanji escape room has been added to 60out Escape Rooms in Los Angeles. Groups of four to eight people “sneak” into their friend’s room, but he isn’t there. Participants then solve a series of puzzles before being immersed in a jungle environment from the Jumanji game. There, each person embodies a role and must use his or her unique strengths to “survive” within the given time limit. Other rooms based on the franchise are planned to roll out across the US.

“The Jumanji films have always been about puzzle-solving and using your wits to survive,” Jamie Stevens, executive vice president of global licensing at Sony Pictures Consumer Products told Forbes. “In that way, the franchise is a perfect mix for escape rooms.”

Popular in Europe, the US market for escape rooms has grown a staggering 8,800 percent in the past three years. Jumanji marks the first time Sony Pictures Entertainment has partnered for an escape room of its own.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is also the first film to get its own 360-degree VR experience with Facebook. The experience is an interactive scavenger hunt for six items that will lift a curse. Inside a tree house, users must look in all directions across three areas to find each item. Doing so unlocks rewards such as clips from the movie, trailers and behind-the-scenes videos. Users can also explore each character’s profile, including special skills and weaknesses.

The team at Facebook Creative worked closely with Sony to review the script early on and develop interactive ideas.

“We captured the treehouse on set—a key element of the narrative and a location that bridges both the first Jumanji film and this next part of the story—in 360-degree video, giving us an authentic experience from the film that we could share with audiences in never-before-seen ways,” Facebook Creative Shop’s North America head of entertainment, Jen Louis Barrett said in an Oculus blog post.

Jumanji: The VR Adventure, meanwhile, has users play a virtual table-top game with Oculus Rift and Touch devices. Together with characters from the movie, users must reshape elements of a 3D jungle to lift a curse before time runs out. The experience is also being distributed by VRX Networks, whose VR kiosks can be found in shopping centers and movie theaters across the US and UK. Jumanji: The VR Adventure, along with other Sony VR film-based content, will eventually be released for PlayStation VR (PSVR).

“We look to create aspirational moments for audiences,” Jake Zim, SVP of virtual reality at Sony Pictures Entertainment told AListDaily. “When, where and how these immersive experiences take place is dependent on the experience itself, but we believe they can exist in parallel with the movie.”

Amazon Prime members were offered an early screening of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle two weeks ahead of its official release, grossing close to $2 million according to estimates. The film’s opening weekend may fetch as high as $60 million.