A Marketer’s Guide To Esports Competitions

Originally published at AW360.

Competition is a prominent element in both the worlds of marketing and esports. For an esports player as well as for a brand, the ability to find and pursue opportunities is what determines success.

In marketing, the biggest opportunities often involve major events, and in esports marketing specifically, these are tournaments or leagues–major competitions where esports players test their mettle against some of the best players in the world.

This is where esports players are tested. Marketers, on the other hand, are tested in formulating business strategies based on careful research.

Esports leagues and competitions appeal to a wide variety of gamers, which means a vast demographic marketers can pull from. This three-part article will look at the largest and most relevant competitive opportunities in esports and how to choose which leagues to sponsor.

What to Consider Before Partnering

Choosing a competitive event to sponsor is a deliberate process. Among other factors, a company should consider the size, popularity and age of the event; how the event is broadcasted or organized; the audience demographics; how accessible the event is to casual viewers; and how well the event aligns with the brand’s image and goals.

Respectively, these considerations can be simplified to infrastructureformatsaudienceaccessibility and brand fit.

Infrastructure

Being such a new industry, esports often lacks infrastructure – from reliable, lasting audiences, to resources to support their growth. For a competitive event to succeed, not only does the game it’s built around need to attract a crowd, that game needs to keep growing its audience.

An event won’t succeed if the game it’s built around loses its audience (or has a small audience to begin with). The Heroes of the Storm and H1Z1 pro leagues both fell through in 2018, with Heroes unable to attract a substantial audience and H1Z1unable to pay its players.

Beyond that, the Internet has created a globally connected esports community, but that often results in statistics that are displaced from regional or even national data. A game might be enormously popular in South Korea or China, but for a brand who can only target the US, that means very little.

That’s why it’s important to consider audience trends and regional data. It’s crucial for brands to consider games and competitions that have staying power, and audiences within their reach.

Brands should also keep in mind how competitions are promoting themselves to drive viewership.

Formats

Brands should also consider how viewers will watch a competitive event, or how the event is formatted. To make sound advertising decisions, it’s important to be aware of how an event is structured. In that way, a brand can consider every advertising opportunity.

The majority of esports competitions are hosted online but move to physical venues during the playoffs and finals. A brand might want to consider audiences who will watch online, as well as audiences who will buy tickets to see the event live. Common sponsorship assets include in-broadcast overlays, branded content segments (during live competitions), in-venue advertising, social content with integrated league assets, game equipment and apparel.

The goal is creating experiences for audiences that aren’t disruptive and increase brand awareness in positive and relatable ways.

Audience

Along similar lines, a brand should consider how an event is streamed to audiences. Events that stream exclusively through certain platforms are more likely to miss essential viewership.

When ESL terminated its exclusive broadcast deal with Facebook, and FACEIT announced it would stop broadcasting exclusively through Youtube, these organizers were motivated by audience growth. They saw the importance of reaching audiences across as many platforms as possible.

Additionally, when considering audience metrics, it’s important for brands to look at data that can be compared tangibly to digital and television. While there is definite potential in the esports industry, it’s still relatively new, and a lot of information might be exaggerated or inflated. Metrics such as “total viewers” and “max concurrent viewers–”metrics which have been widely considered in the past–might seem comprehensive enough, but they often fail to account for audience engagement and brand exposure.

Some competitive events have started partnering with Nielsen, to give brands more comprehensive data. This should allow brands to make more informed sponsorship decisions.

Accessibility

Many esports titles, such as League of Legends or Starcraft, don’t translate to real world sports or activities. They have their own internal mechanics that are often difficult for average viewers to understand. This means that for the uninitiated, these games may be too much trouble to follow.

This isn’t necessarily a concern right now, as esports audiences are mostly comprised of dedicated fans, who have no trouble following what’s happening on-screen. In the future though, brands and competitions may want to expand their reach.

Harder-to-understand esports could alienate future viewers. Brands interested in a bigger picture might consider less abstract games, where the objectives and tactics are easily understood by even unfamiliar viewers.

Barring that, brands should research whether competitions or esports leagues plan to consider more casual viewers. In 2018, Riot games and ELEAGUE broadcast a 1-hour-intro to League of Legends on TBS, discussing some of the mechanics and history of the game. ELEAGUE offered a similar program for Counter Strike: Global Offensive. These “101” segments may be a viable way for games and competitions to grow their audience.

Brand Fit

In the long-term, brand image is often much more meaningful than brand exposure. To gain and keep an audience, a brand should always consider what it’s saying to consumers and how it’s saying it, and esports marketing is no exception.

Which game or competition a brand associates with can say a lot to consumers, whether positively or negatively. Awareness of the audience and history, both of game franchises and competitive events, is essential. Many brands will also want to consider gameplay that is brand safe–as removed from controversy as possible.

That’s not to neglect the importance of brand strategy. A competitive event might tie in well with a brand’s image, but if audiences have to go out of their way to support the brand, the sponsorship is much less effective. Non-endemic brands should consider how to seamlessly (but not disruptively) integrate themselves into the event, to make consumer response as efficient as possible.

A strong brand strategy connects with event audiences both online and offline.

With all these elements in mind, here are some brief overviews of some of the most established esports leagues and what makes them unique.

Established Leagues and Tournaments

1. League of Legends Championship Series (LCS)

Through its championship events, League of Legends has become a premiere name in esports, and the LCS (US specific tournament) is the highest tier competitive League of Legends has to offer.

The LCS is organized by Riot Games, the company responsible for League, and boasts ten franchise teams that compete in the US. The LCS annual season is split between spring and summer, culminating in the World Championship, which starts in October.

What makes it unique: While League of Legends is certainly not the most popular competitive esport in the US or North America, it has attained globally iconic status. Riot operates fourteen regional leagues globally, of which there are more than 100 teams.

Riot’s recent partnership with Nielsen, to deliver more comprehensive numbers to marketers, makes the LCS an even more enticing prospect.

2. Overwatch League

The Overwatch League is Blizzard’s ambitious attempt to bring esports to the mainstream. Modeling itself off of real-world sports leagues like the NFL and the NBA, OWL created franchise teams tied to major cities around the world.

Blizzard’s goal is to make global inroads, creating a global network of stadiums. They would have OWL travel the world between home and away locations, further mirroring

What makes it unique: Aside from the unique structure of OWL among esports, which should be realized in 2020, Activision Blizzard is another Nielsen partner.

Overwatch is also quite popular in the US.

3. DOTA Pro Circuit

DOTA 2 has a lot in common with League of Legends. Both owe their existence to a Warcraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients; both have adopted a free-to-play model; and both have become iconic esports internationally.

The DOTA Pro Circuit includes five Major tournaments and five Minor tournaments, concluding in a final annual tournament called The International. The difference between a Major and a Minor tournament is that a Major is significantly more likely to qualify a player for the International, while also offering a larger prize pool.

What makes it unique: The International’s prize pool is crowdfunded, pulled partly from the sale of battle passes in DOTA 2. Battle passes give players access to virtual goods, which provide cosmetic rewards.

Because of this, the 2019 International will have the largest prize pool of any esports event ever, at $30 million.

4. CS:GO Major Circuit

A first-person shooter placing players in the roles of either counter-terrorists or terrorists, Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the latest installment in the popular Counter-Strike franchise. Although played worldwide, CS:GO is arguably most popular in the US. In the US, CS:GO outranks all other esports for sheer number of teams.

Also organized by Valve, the CS:GO championships are similarly formatted into a circuit of Major and Minor tournaments. However, CS:GO does not have its own version of the International. Tournaments are held internationally.

What makes it unique: CS:GO is one of the more “American” esports, so if brands want to orient themselves around an American identity, sponsoring the CS:GO major circuit is something to consider. However, brand safety is a concern. CS:GO is graphically violent, and violence is its core focus. Brands have to be wary of this going into any conversation.

5. Hearthstone Masters

Having experienced a slight decline since its massive Twitch popularity of several years ago–no longer the trend it used to be –Hearthstone is a digital card game set in the Warcraft universe. Hearthstone nevertheless maintains a strong audience and competitive scene.

This year, Blizzard announced the Hearthstone Masters, its attempt to make the Hearthstone esports scene more “sustainable, entertaining, and accessible” for players. The new system is divided into Masters Qualifiers, a Masters Tour and the Grandmasters. The Masters Tour consists of select marquee live events and moves players around the world, starting in Las Vegas, moving to Seoul, and then concluding in Bucharest.

What makes it unique: Like OWL, the Hearthstone Masters is organized by Blizzard, a company making strong strides in the esports industry, aiming to legitimize it alongside other sports.

As far as brand safe esports, Hearthstone and other online card games are probably among the best, given that controversy is really not present in the gameplay itself.

Looking Ahead

With a successful brand strategy, sponsoring an established league, like those listed above, offers brands a large audience, more stability, and a strong community. However, a smaller brands might have difficulty reaching budget minimums with organizers for major competitive events to make a meaningful impact throughout the year.

A good brand strategy involves careful research, specifically regarding accurate and precise metrics with historical precedent and parallels. Considering the future of the esports industry, as well as what fits a brand’s image and product positioning, is vital to long-term success. Due to the novelty of the industry, a lot of figures may be exaggerated, and infrastructure is still developing.

The audiences for esports and competitions are vast, and within each community lies different types of untapped potential. Really connecting with audiences may be challenging, and it’s important to be genuine – to find honest connections between your brand and the audience.

This concludes our look into major esports competitions around the world. We’ve looked into how brands can form careful strategies around esports and make quality long-term decisions, both for themselves and for the health of the esports industry.

Part two will focus on competitions that, while popular, are still developing. Part three will look at newer and other notable esports competitions.

(This article originally appeared on Simplepixel)

Telegram Moves Forward With ‘Gram’; YouTube Drops Follower Count

This week wraps up with the news about Telegram moving forward with its cryptocurrency initiative, Instagram testing syndicating IGTV videos to Facebook, TikTok working on a way for advertisers to target users in other apps and YouTube announcing the elimination of exact follower count.


Telegram To Roll Out Cryptocurrency By End Of October

The New York Times reports that Telegram might launch “Gram,” its own cryptocurrency, in the next couple of months. 

Why it matters: With its own coins, Telegram will allow in-app money transactions, adding more value to the platform and its users by creating its own closed ecosystem. 

The details: According to legal documents reviewed by The New York Times, October 31 is the deadline for the launch. The coins will be stored in a Gram digital wallet, which will be offered to all 200+ million Telegram users worldwide.


TikTok Rolls Out A Native Audience Network For Advertisers 

TikTok had reportedly rolled out a native audience network for advertisers who are trying to reach the video sharing app’s nearly 260 million collective users in China and Japan. 

Why it matters: The move will provide an opportunity for advertisers to target users in other apps. 

The details: Per AdWeek, full-page video ads and video ads that appear in most free-to-play games are now available for media buyers to choose from. 

Two media buyers confirmed to AdWeek that the network’s test run in the East Asian market could be a signal of things to come in the U.S.


YouTube To Stop Displaying Exact Follower Counts In September

YouTube confirmed in a tweet that the company will change the way it displays how many people are following an account. 

Why it matters: The initiative is YouTube’s attempt to take the pressure off creators and shift the focus from popularity to quality content. 

The details: Only accounts with more than 1,000 followers will have their subscriber count abbreviated. However, the change will also apply to the YouTube Data API Service, used by platforms like Social Blade, which tracks follower counts across YouTube, Twitch, Instagram and Twitter. In the recent update YouTube explained, “While we know not everyone will agree with this update, we hope it’s a positive step for the community, both those viewing and creating content.”


Instagram Will Let Creators Syndicate IGTV Videos To Facebook

Instagram was spotted developing a feature that would allow users to post their IGTV content to both Instagram as a preview and to Facebook and Watch. Reverse engineering pro, Jane Wong, also found that the videos could be part of an ongoing, episodic series. 

Why it matters: Since IGTV hasn’t yet proved to be very popular, the move might encourage more video creators to use it by boosting their videos’ distribution to also include Facebook. 

The details: In addition, IGTV will auto-populate Instagram handles and tags on IGTV titles and descriptions, and support the ability to upload longer video from mobile. Also, IGTV increased the minimum threshold to upload on mobile to one minute and is allowing mobile uploads up to 15 minutes.


Facebook Rolls Out Messenger Lead Generation Globally

Facebook announced the global rollout of lead generation in Messenger, allowing businesses to configure an “automated question experience” with the intent of simplifying the customer acquisition flow between click-to-Messenger ads and Messenger itself.

Why it matters: Facebook’s announcement includes a key statistic relevant to marketers: 61 percent of people surveyed across the US, UK, Brazil and India agree that messaging is the easiest way to contact a business. The press release also includes cursory statistics on acquisition from RIFT Tax, a UK-based financial services company.

“RIFT Tax used lead generation in Messenger to increase its customer base of Armed Forces members—increasing qualified leads by 42 percent. By following up with leads in Messenger, [they were] able to respond in less than 10 minutes and achieved an 18 percent higher lead resolve rate versus phone.”

The details: With the option to automate initial questions with customers, businesses can follow up with leads faster and create custom questions to prioritize leads based on intent and “qualifying signals you learn in conversation,” according to Facebook’s one sheet on the new feature.


Facebook’s Hidden Messenger Screen Sharing Option

Social Media Today reports the finding of an unreleased Messenger option that effectively lets you share the screen of your mobile device instead of utilizing your device’s camera.

Why it matters: Allowing screen sharing within Messenger creates new opportunities for sharing different types of content.

But as Andrew Hutchinson notes in Social Media Today’s coverage of the newly discovered option, the potential for communal, in-screen walkthroughs and video/photo sharing extends to the potential for exploiting the feature, including the sharing of potentially pirated or sensitive material.

The details: Discovered by the “notorious” Jane Manchun Wong, who describes the unreleased feature as “like Watch together […] beyond contents available on Facebook,” the Messenger option allows users to switch to a screen share of their mobile devices, allowing in-app experiences and more.

Read Wong’s full blog entry detailing her findings here.


Facebook Rolls Out Updates To Political Ads

Facebook is getting ready for the US 2020 election by adding more updates to its policies for advertisements about social issues, elections and politics.

The updates include strengthening the authorization process for US advertisers, showing people more information about each advertiser and updating the list of social issues in the US to better reflect the public discourse on and off Facebook, the company says. 

Why it matters: As explained by Facebook, “People should know who is trying to influence their vote and advertisers shouldn’t be able to cover up who is paying for ads. That’s why over the past few years, we’ve made important changes to help ensure more transparency and authenticity in ads about social issues, elections or politics.”

The details: From now on, besides providing their US street address, phone number, business email and a business website matching the email, advertisers must also provide tax-registered organization identification number; a government website domain that matches an email ending in .gov or .mil and Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number. 


Facebook is Testing a New Listing of Post Reactions 

Also, this week Facebook was spotted toying with a new way to highlight Reactions to posts. 

Why it matters: The ability to highlight reactions to posts on Facebook can help boost engagement and response to the posts. 

The details: With the new format, Notifications listing would display a small portion of the post, with respective reactions overlaid. 


YouTube’s CEO On Why “Controversial Or Even Offensive” Videos Still Live On The Platform 

In her quarterly letter to creators, YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, explains why YouTube must leave up some videos that are “controversial or even offensive.” 

Why it matters: The problem of policing and eliminating the spread of troubling videos has been a long-time struggle for YouTube, so it is crucial that the company’s CEO addresses it head-on and provide a clear statement on where the company stands. 

The details: Wojcicki wrote, “Problematic content represents a fraction of one percent of the content on YouTube and we’re constantly working to reduce this even further. This very small amount has a hugely outsized impact, both in the potential harm for our users, as well as the loss of faith in the open model that has enabled the rise of your creative community. One assumption we’ve heard is that we hesitate to take action on problematic content because it benefits our business. This is simply not true—in fact, the cost of not taking sufficient action over the long term results in lack of trust from our users, advertisers, and you, our creators. We want to earn that trust.” 


Facebook Is Developing A New Messaging App For Instagram 

The Verge reported that Facebook is working on developing a new messaging app for instant, intimate sharing between users on Instagram. 

Why it matters: Considering that a lot of communication is now happening in instant messengers, the app might help marketers spark conversations about products and encourage Instagram users to share the buzz with their close friends on the platform. 

The details: The app, called “Threads,” is a companion app to Instagram. It invites users to automatically share their location, speed and battery life with friends, with an option for sharing more typical text, photo and video messages using Instagram’s creative tools. 

Per The Verge, if a user opts in to automatic sharing, Threads will regularly update that user’s status, providing a real-time view of information about the user’s location, speed and more. At the moment, however, real-time location is not yet displayed in Threads. There is also an option to manually update status, with statuses appearing in the main feed along with messages. 


YouTube Is Labeling Videos Uploaded By State 

YouTube rolled out “State-Funded” label in Hong Kong for videos uploaded by publishers that receive funding from the government or public. 

Why it matters: Per YouTube, “This information panel providing publisher context is meant to give you additional information to help you better understand the sources of news content that you watch on YouTube. Inclusion of the information panel providing publisher context is based on information about the news publisher made available by Wikipedia and other independent third-party sources. It is not a comment by YouTube on the publisher’s or video’s editorial direction, or on a government’s editorial influence.”

The details: The labels display statements about how the publisher is funded along with links to a Wikipedia entry about the publisher. 

The feature is already in use in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and now, in Hong Kong. 

Note: the panels will not be displayed in YouTube search results, nor will they affect the video’s features or eligibility for monetization.


Twitter Is Testing A New, Larger Image Carousel Ad Format 

Twitter started testing a new carousel ad format back in March, and this week, the social media company is expanding the initiative. 

Why it matters: The initiative aims to give advertisers the capacity to add multiple, larger images to their collections.

The details: Twitter confirmed the test expansion to Social Media Today, saying, “We are constantly experimenting with new creative capabilities to deliver the best experience for people on Twitter while delivering value for marketers.” 

The new ad format launch date is yet to be revealed. 


Snapchat Rolls Out New Tools For Developers

Snapchat is reportedly launching a new tool for developers that will enable them to create filters that can change hair color and try on curated makeup in AR.  

Why it matters: The tools will make AR-filters easier for beginners and open more creative opportunities for marketers. 

The details: Starting on Tuesday, a wide range of new templates and features on Snapchat’s desktop app, Lens Studio, becomes available. 

Also, as part of the new initiative, Snap is adding new “Landmarkers,” including:

  • Arc de Triomphe – Paris, France
  • Astronomical Clock – Prague, Czech Republic
  • Brandenburg Gate – Berlin, Germany
  • El Castillo – Chichen Itza, Mexico
  • Galata Tower – Istanbul, Turkey
  • Gateway of India – Mumbai, India
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa – Pisa, Italy
  • Natural History Museum – London, UK
  • Neues Rathaus – Munich, Germany
  • Qasr Al-Farid – Mada’in Saleh, Saudi Arabia
  • Great Sphinx of Giza – Giza, Egypt
  • Statue of Liberty – New York, US 
  • Taj Mahal – Agra, India
  • Tower Bridge – London, UK

Study: Social Commerce Sees Highest Adoption Among Retail Technologies

A new study by Bizrate Insights found that social commerce was named the most popular new retail technology among U.S. internet users, leaving behind visual search, AR, VR and voice commerce. 

Why it matters: The growing popularity of social shopping can be explained by the fact that social media platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Snap invest a lot of resources into boosting direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales on their platforms with digital transactions. 

The details: According to the study, 34 percent of U.S. adults said they had made a purchase through social media, which is up from 29 percent last year. Another 27 percent said they were interested in social shopping. 

Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer, explained, “The reality is that social commerce took a full decade to catch its stride, and new technologies like visual search, AR and VR are still very early in their adoption curve. As these visual enhancements get introduced into social media environments, they will eventually find useful applications for shopping—but will take some time before becoming mainstream.”


Facebook Wins Appeal Against Data-Collection Ban In Germany 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the social media giant won the case against Germany’s Federal Cartel Office’s order that would prohibit the company from collecting data across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp without user consent. 

Why it matters: While the successful blocking of the antitrust edict is a major win for Facebook, it’s also a major loss for data-privacy regulations in Europe. 

In a statement for TechCrunch, FCO president Andreas Mundt said: “Data and data handling are decisive factors for competition in the digital economy. The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf has today responded differently than the Bundeskartellamt to key legal issues. These legal issues are highly significant for the future state of competition in the digital economy. We are convinced that we can act in this area based on the existing antitrust law. For this reason, we are going to appeal on points of law to the Federal Court of Justice to clarify these issues.” 

The details: The FCO is given a month to appeal the decision. A spokeswoman confirmed to TechCrunch that the appeal will be filed. 


YouTube Refuses To Negotiate With YouTubers Union

According to The Verge, today YouTube announced that the company won’t cooperate with the YouTubers Union–an organization formed last year to support creators. 

Why it matters: The YouTubers Union is calling for monetization for smaller channels; the right to speak with a real person in case a channel is being suspended on the platform; more transparent moderation decisions and more transparent rules around content moderation; ending demonetization and the suspension of Google Preferred. The details: A YouTube spokesperson said in an emailed statement to The Verge: “We explained to the union in great detail what YouTube is doing in terms of transparency and support for YouTubers. But we have also made clear that we are not going to negotiate their demands.”


Facebook Rolls Out More Badges For Pages And Page Interactions 

Facebook’s group badges, launched back in November 2018, have been updated with new options. 

Why it matters: The main idea behind the initiative is to celebrate the most active Page contributors, boosting engagement in Pages through social recognition. 

The details: The complete set of badges now includes: “Admin,” “Moderator,” “Rising Star,” “New Member,” “Visual Storyteller,” “Conversation Starter” and “Founding Member.” Additionally, badges were added into Page interactions, with an option to highlight the most engaged group members. The social media giant also made it possible for users to have two badges at the same time. And the new “Anniversary Follower” and “Milestone Follower” badges allow Facebook group admins to track and celebrate certain milestones reached by a community. 


Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, August 30th. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

Disney Lays Off Two Senior Marketing Executives

This week’s marketing moves include the exit of two senior marketing executives at Disney, the promotion of Tender Greens VP Jack Oh to chief marketing officer, the selection of Viacom veteran Julia Phelps as executive vice president, chief communications and corporate marketing officer in the anticipated ViacomCBS merger, the promotion of both Chobani and Arby’s chief marketers to company presidents and finally, the appointment of GE CMO Linda Boff as president of the GE Foundation and more.


Disney Drops Two Senior Marketing Execs

Disney has laid off two senior marketing executives, including 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment marketing EVP Greg Drebin and marketing VP Jennifer Chai, The Drum reports.

The latest layoffs hit as Disney restructures roles in the wake of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. It’s anticipated that up to 4,000 staff could be let go, while 60 media distribution employees have already lost their jobs at both Disney and Fox.


Jack Oh Named Tender Greens CMO

QSR Magazine reports the promotion of Tender Greens VP Jack Oh to the position of chief marketing officer.

Before joining the modern cafeteria-style restaurant chain with a focus on locally-sourced dishes, Oh cut his teeth in a number of brand marketing roles focused on technology, entertainment and gaming at companies like Activision, Microsoft and others.

Most recently, he served as senior director of branding communications for adidas.


Julia Phelps Moves Up In Midst Of ViacomCBS Merger

Viacom and CBS jointly announced today that Julia Phelps will serve as EVP, chief communications and corporate marketing officer at ViacomCBS, pending closure of their expected merger.

Phelps has been with Viacom since April 2017 and has been operating under the title of EVP of communications, culture and marketing.

Her ambit outlined within the press release includes leading “the combined company’s corporate communications, corporate marketing, corporate responsibility, special events and internal creative teams.” She will report to Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom, who is slated to become president and CEO of ViacomCBS.


NerdWallet Promotes Kelly Gillease To Newly Created CMO Position

NerdWallet’s VP of marketing is getting an upgrade, reports Campaign. Kelly Gillease is stepping into the newly created role of chief marketing officer at the finance platform. She has been with NerdWallet since August 2018.


Chobani’s CMO Promoted To President

Chobani announced a string of internal promotions today, leading with the appointment of their chief marketing officer, Peter McGuinness, to the role of president.

The announcement from Chobani, which is the second-largest overall yogurt manufacturer in the United States, lauded McGuinness’ six years of leadership at the company. 

McGuinness’ promotion comes as the brand situates itself as the only major US yogurt brand to grow in dollar sales and market share this year.


Linda Boff Named GE Foundation Board President

Linda Boff, chief marketing officer at GE, announced via LinkedIn today that she’ll be taking on an expanded role as president of the GE Foundation. She has served on the board since January 1.

The GE Foundation, a philanthropic organization with the mission statement of “transforming our communities and shaping the diverse workforce of tomorrow by leveraging the power of GE,” has created initiatives to advance STEM education in Boston Public Schools, provide improved access to healthcare across the developing world and supports disaster and humanitarian relief efforts globally.

Boff will be replacing Ann Klee who takes her leave at GE in September.


Shryne Group Hires CMO

Los Angeles-based Cannabis holding company Shryne Group has hired Elisabeth Baron as chief marketing officer.

Baron joins the company after leading marketing at Diageo and LVHM, working with brands such as Crown Royal, Johnnie Walker and Grand Marnier. Most recently, she led marketing for Stillhouse Spirits and Canndescent, a cannabis flower brand.

She will report to Brian Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of Shryne Group.


Arby’s Promotes CMO Jim Taylor To President

Arby’s CMO Jim Taylor has been promoted to president of the fast food chain, reports Biz Journals. He will replace Rob Lynch who vacated the role earlier this month to take up the position of CEO at Papa John’s.

Previous to serving as chief marketing officer, Taylor was the SVP of brand advertising and activation for Arby’s.


SVP, CMO Of Gemological Institute Of America To Retire

Kathryn Kimmel, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the Gemological Institute of America, will retire August 30 after 29 years with the independent nonprofit.

Tom Moses, GIA’s EVP and chief laboratory and research officer, noted in the statement announcing the departure that “Kathryn’s expertise, guidance and unerring dedication to GIA’s mission helped to make our Institute what it is today.”


Check out our careers section for executive job openings and to post your own staffing needs.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, August 30th. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.


Job Vacancies 

Chief Marketing OfficerBumbleAustin, TX
Vice President, Film MarketingNew York UniversityBrooklyn, NY
Chief, Marketing And Communications OfficerSCRRA/MetrolinkLos Angeles, CA
Senior Vice President of MarketingClear Channel OutdoorNew York, NY
Vice President of Marketing, InternationalRokuSan Jose, CA
Chief Marketing OfficerFounders Brewing Co.Grand Rapids, MI

Make sure to check back for updates on our Careers page.

Build-A-Bear Teams With Walmart For National Teddy Bear Day

Build-A-Bear is partnering with Walmart to extend its bear making workshops to 2,000 US Walmart stores, in honor of National Teddy Bear Day.

For three days from September 7-9, guests can participate in in-store, interactive activities at Walmart. In honor of the holiday, Build-A-Bear is also launching a limited-edition bear, with a price tag of $6.50, available at its own stores worldwide as well as US Walmart stores.

The brand’s mascot, Bearemy, will be visiting landmarks and local communities around the world. For every photo fans snap with him using the hashtag #nationalteddybearday, from September 2-9, Build-A-Bear will donate a teddy bear to charitable organizations in the US and UK to help children in need. Up to 50,000 teddy bears globally will be donated.

Build-A-Bear’s purpose-driven campaign is based on the finding that the hug of a teddy bear can help children build self-confidence and act as a therapeutic tool.

Earlier this year, Build-A-Bear launched a dating app called “Build-A-Bae” inspired by the brand’s Make Your Own Furry Friend process. The app uses a proprietary algorithm to match adult singles based on a deeper understanding of what they’re looking for in a perfect match. Build-A-Bear was inspired to create the app after many fans said via social media that they’d like to see the customizable experience of creating stuffed animals applied to making real-life connections

In another campaign in April, Build-A-Bear announced its third annual partnership with American Red Cross to donate teddy bears to families amid disaster.

PUMA Opens Tech-Driven, Fully Immersive Flagship Store In New York

PUMA opened the doors to its first North American flagship store in New York City, with a focus on fully immersive experiences via tech-driven sports engagement zones, a customization studio and digitally connected activations.

At the store’s PUMA x YOU customization studio, consumers can personalize PUMA footwear, apparel and accessories with patchwork, dips, dyes, 3D-knitting, laser printing, embroidery and material upcycling. Renowned artists and designers will hold residencies every two weeks to help bring customers’ visions to life.

Even more customization options will be available with the store’s launch of Chinatown Market University this Labor Day weekend. Sneaker fans will be able to customize their purchases using the fashion label Chinatown Market’s state-of-the-art printing technology. Creatives can also source inspiration from the DIY and customization classes that Chinatown Market will be teaching.

PUMA has something in store for sports junkies too. Visitors can virtually race down the streets of New York City in professional-grade F1 racing simulators, the same ones PUMA brand ambassadors Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen use to train when they’re not on the track. Soccer fans can also test the latest PUMA boots via an in-store simulator that mimics the pitch of San Siro Stadium while PUMA brand ambassadors and professional footballers virtually coach them. A basketball zone will feature a large screen gaming experience with PlayStation game NBA 2K and quick release (QR) codes placed on all products.

Through iMirror by NOBAL, an interactive mirror, customers can view products in alternate colors and styles then shop alternative selections based on items they try on.

The 18,000 square foot store spans two floors and will carry the full range of PUMA products. 

In recent years, the brand has upped its spend on experiential marketing. In 2018, PUMA signed Korean pop group BTS as global ambassadors and announced its re-entry into the basketball sneaker market for the first time in 20 years. The brand announced Jay Z as the creative director for PUMA Basketball. This year, PUMA used an augmented reality (AR)-enabled mobile app to promote its LQD Cell Open Air sneakers. The app gave users access to an AR running game and additional AR filters.

Poor Quality Data, Fraud In GPS Signals Undermine Geotargeted Ad Campaigns

Geotargeted ads are helping brands engage and influence consumers with contextually relevant messages. Or are they? It turns out nearly two-thirds of spend on location targeting advertising is inefficient due to poor quality data and mistargeted location impressions, according to a study from Location Sciences. 

The success of location-based marketing is dependent on the accuracy and quality of location signals brands use. Yet “The State of Location Advertising” found that 65 percent of spend on location advertising is outside of the targeted area or based on signals of insufficient quality to deliver targeting requirements. For every $100,000 spent on geotargeted ads, $29,000 delivered impressions missed the targeted area and $36,000 “was possibly wasted” as a result of insufficient location signals.

Without high-quality location signals, the performance of targeted ad campaigns is undermined. Mobile IP addresses are generally inaccurate for mobile location, making GPS data the top choice for advertisers in quick-service restaurants (QSR) and retail. While GPS is the most precise form of location data, the study shows that some app developers create fake GPS signals to increase ad revenues, with 36 percent of GPS-enabled apps found to display location fraud. 

In order to improve the performance and transparency of location-based digital marketing, advertisers should understand what they’ve purchased and the method used to deploy geotargeted ads. For example, knowing whether the ads are being delivered near the desired location, assessing the quality of the location data being used and determining if the location is actually improving the performance of an ad campaign are factors to keep in mind.

“As with all data, the key to improvement is transparency. Location quality improves significantly with transparency, enabling brands to ensure that the correct quality signals are being used to deliver targeting. Brands can enhance their ability to realize much better performance from location advertising by using the right vendor for them and understanding the data that is being used,” said Jason Smith, chief business officer, US Location Sciences. 

The analysis is based on 500 million digital location-targeted impressions delivered in the UK and US between January and June 2019. Data was collected via a tag embedded in digital creative directly from suppliers.

DTC Brands See Higher Click-Through On Mobile Versus Desktop, Study Finds

Email marketing platform LiveIntent analyzed ad campaigns from a number of the world’s leading direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, finding that these brands are experiencing higher click-through and conversion rates on mobile, compared to desktop.

Within the study, LiveIntent was able to determine that the click-through rate (CTR) for DTC brands was three times higher on mobile than on desktop and that the conversion rate for DTC brands was 50 percent higher on mobile devices than on PCs. The iPhone outperformed Android with three times more clicks and conversions.

“We’ve seen enormous growth from DTC brands over the past several years. DTCs are known for being obsessed with driving acquisition, subscriptions and purchases and the data shows that mobile is the best channel to do that. DTCs would be wise to optimize the entire sales funnel for this reality,” Kerel Cooper, SVP global marketing at LiveIntent noted.

The good news for DTC marketers doesn’t end there, as advertising on mobile also helps to reduce ad spend costs. In fact, the study found that cost per conversion (CPC) for DTC brands was 25 percent lower on mobile devices, compared to desktops. 

Among other interesting findings, LiveIntent reported that DTC campaigns perform with more efficiency in 2019 versus 2018, as the participating brands are seeing 25 percent more clicks and 35 percent more conversions this year. Also, per LiveIntent, women tend to respond to mobile ads with two times more clicks and conversions, compared to men. And DTCs for shoes and beauty perform the best, while DTCs for alcohol and education perform the worst. 

Finally, when it comes to content, according to the researchers, consumer-focused publications showed the most impressive results in terms of content placement. These include newsletters containing shopping tips, travel and general news. Ads placed within these content outlets drove five times higher conversions and clicks for DTC brands. 

“DTC audiences are real people, with interests like anyone else. True outreach to them requires real people-based marketing, meaning being able to connect with a known person with consistent messaging irrespective of device, channel and platform. DTC consumers tend to be present and engaged with lifestyle and consumer publications,” Cooper concluded.

Twitch, Subway Bring Back Half-Off Subscriptions For SUBtember Campaign

Twitch has announced the third annual SUBtember, a month-long marketing campaign where members of the Twitch community can show love for their favorite streamers through discounted subscriptions. In partnership with Subway, the activation offers Twitch users a 50 percent discount on Tier 1 subscriptions made on a web browser or the Twitch desktop app.

Subscribers who sign up for SUBtember between September 3 through September 24 will receive access to ad-free viewing, subscriber badges and exclusive subscriber content with the added benefit that they can subscribe to an unlimited number of channels using the half-off promotion. Twitch creators will continue to receive the full subscription value during SUBtember.

This year, in addition to its regular SUBtember offerings, Subway will gift subscriptions in various channels throughout September as well as throw in 10 percent more Bits—Twitch currency—when subscribers Cheer, or tip streamers, 10 or more in any affiliate or partner channel. 

Subway and Twitch launched the first SUBtember campaign in 2017.

Gears Of War 5 To Ink Fans At Global Pop-Up Events

In a nod to its extreme fans, Gears of War is treating players of the Xbox game to pop-up events around the world where dedicated fans will receive bespoke tattoos from some of the best tattoo artists. The promotion is part of the kickoff of its fifth series, Gears of War 5. The events will take place for one night in Los Angeles, Berlin, Melbourne, London, Paris and Mexico City between September 4 and 6.

Gears Ink events are inspired by the culture of permanent art that the game’s fans have created over the years since its inception in 2006. Ahead of the game’s fourth drop in 2016, Xbox launched a four-minute video spot showing passionate players getting tattoos inspired by their experience with the game. The video shows each fan getting inked by acclaimed tattoo artist Steve Soto as they shared the backstory behind the family, friendships and memories they’ve associated with the game.

To further create hype around the game’s fifth launch, Gears of War partnered with clothing brand AAPE by A Bathing Ape to create a limited edition capsule collection, available at the brand’s Los Angeles and New York stores. The pieces include a hoodie, T-shirts and a hat that fans can also purchase on Xbox’s digital store starting September 3. Gears of War is also introducing an in-game customization pack for players’ avatars featuring a camo hoodie and weapon set designed by AAPE.

Additionally, gaming hardware brand Razer launched a peripheral line in honor of Gears of War 5 including a headset, mousepad and wireless mouse for PC and Xbox users. The game also announced an exclusive Gears of War Horde Lager via Instagram which it unveiled at the Xbox Open Doors event in Germany.

Anas Ghazi From Kantar On WPP, Growth And Data Initiatives

During this episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Anas Ghazi, growth officer at Kantar. Ghazi’s path to Kantar stems from his background in computer programming, his work in data analysis at TransUnion and then data analytics and digital marketing roles at American Express. He then headed to WPP, working on their data alliance initiative, where he eventually became CEO, before moving to his current role of driving growth and partnerships at Kantar. 

Ghazi discusses growing up in Wembley outside of London, watching a lot of Sylvester Stallone movies and initially becoming an actor. He also talks about transitioning to a data engineer at TransUnion in Chicago and working on portfolio reviews for customer banks. Ghazi also opens up about his move to New York with American Express, as well as his early days of digital data at WPP working on the company’s data alliance initiative. We also talk about the current state of WPP’s proposed sale of a majority stake in Kantar and how Kantar is transforming and consolidating under the parent brand.

What did Ghazi do when he went from Chicago at TransUnion over to New York City, the center of the world’s financial markets, to work for American Express? “I was a part of the analytics and capabilities group, and for about four weeks, my role was to oversee the relationships with the credit bureaus.” But his role changed quickly, as he was immediately tapped to help the company’s digital transformation efforts for risk management and card management units and bring in data partnerships. Anas then made another leap over to WPP, “I started off as a director, moved to work on partnerships, then began doing expansion and then moved my way up from director to global director to managing director, and then to CEO in about three and a half-ish years.” Anas on his latest role at Kantar, “We are in really exciting times at Kantar. We are a data, insight and consultancy firm. We do all three, and we do them well.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Anas Ghazi introduces himself and his experience once pursuing a career in acting. (01:24)
  • Anas talks about his business experience at TransUnion. (04:33)
  • What was the prompt for Anas to go from TransUnion to American Express? (11:13)
  • Has data been the common thread for his career? (14:52)
  • Anas talks about his transition into WPP. (17:00)
  • What was it that brought Anas over to Kantar? (23:34) 
  • Multi-skilled people that think outside of the box are often overlooked in the business world. (30:30)
  • What types of thoughtful and meaningful work is Kantar doing? (33:02)
  • What does the recapitalization of WPP mean? (35:35)
  • How can businesses effectively apply diversity reports? (37:26)
  • Is there an experience in Anas’s life that has defined who he is today? (38:00)
  • What advice would he give to his younger self? (45:15)
  • What fuels Anas to keep going in his career and life? (46:08)
  • Are there brands that we should pay attention to? (46:56)
  • Where does Anas see the future of marketing going? (50:48)

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.