Andrew Paradise On The State Of The Mobile Games Market

Q1 2020 was the largest quarter for mobile game downloads ever, with over 13 billion installs across Google Play and the App Store. That upward trajectory continued as the average weekly mobile game ad spend surged from about $700,000 in February to over $1.4 million in March and reached even higher levels in April at just under $2 million. 

But the industry didn’t need the pandemic to prosper; in 2019, Sensor Tower estimated that players spent about $61.7 billion on games. That represents a 12.8 percent increase from 2018 and its $54.7 billion total. Now where do mobile games go from here and what does that post-pandemic journey look like? Ahead of this week’s virtual Los Angeles Games Conference panel on the growth of mobile games, we spoke with Skillz Inc. CEO and founder Andrew Paradise about his thoughts on the changes affecting creativity in the arena, what role fundraising tournaments have played in COVID and the mobile game trends he foresees emerging.

What do you predict will be the changes that will affect creativity and innovation in the mobile games market during and post-COVID-19?

Since the pandemic began, the mobile gaming sector has fared better than most forms of entertainment because the majority of our content can be built remotely, whereas many other types of entertainment require large groups to work in studio or office settings. Recent months have shown how resilient mobile games are, both as an industry and a form of digital entertainment. As cities and economies have shut down around the world, Skillz players have turned to their favorite games as much needed entertainment, while our developer partners continued building and launching new games from their home offices. I think this pandemic is also showing us how powerful mobile gaming is as a way to stay connected to friends and family. After hours, I love to compete with my friends in some of our favorite games. It’s a fun new way to socialize after a long day of video calls.

What role have fundraising tournaments played in Skillz’s response to the pandemic?

Skillz has a proud history of leveraging the power of our platform to give back to important causes. During this pandemic, we mobilized the Skillz platform to fund Red Cross blood drives across the country and raise money for 170 children’s hospitals fighting COVID. We have long helped nonprofit partners like the World Wildlife Fund and American Cancer Society reach younger, mobile-first demographics, quickly launch large scale digital fundraisers, and engage new donors through fun, competitive games. The Skillz commitment to giving back is core to our company’s values, and we are honored to be part of the fight against this pandemic.

What area of the mobile games market do you feel has been most impacted by COVID? How is Skillz addressing this?

COVID-19 has tragically disrupted the global economy, but like all forms of digital media, mobile gaming has become an important form of comfort and entertainment during the pandemic. The Skillz business has remained strong, and we’ve seen increased interest from brands looking to leverage our platform as a new way to reach consumers now that stay-at-home orders have disrupted many traditional marketing models.

How is Skillz further bridging the gap between disruptive ads and a seamless player experience?

Skillz offers a new way to monetize mobile gaming content that’s proven to be 5-20x more effective than traditional models. Legacy monetization models like interruptive advertising and in-game purchases can put developers at odds with players. Skillz enables developers to focus solely on what they love and do best: building great games.  Skillz helps indie developers build multi-million dollar franchises by enabling social competitions in their games. We provide an easily integrated solution with patented technology to rate players’ skills, ensure fair player matching, and protect against fraud and cheating. 

What kind of creativity and innovation is required for the mobile games market to become more accessible and enjoy sustainable long-term growth post-COVID-19?

The great news about mobile games is you can take them anywhere! If people sheltering in place discover a Skillz game they love playing, in all likelihood they will continue playing that game when they are back on the go. Most importantly, games are not specific to the traditional stereotype of “gamers” – in reality, everyone plays games. Our developer partners continue to inspire us with creative game concepts that expand the popularity of our platform. For instance, a recent hit game on Skillz reimagined Bingo and shot to the Top 25 in the App Store. 

What We’re Reading–Week Of May 18th

We’re searching for the most pressing marketing insights this week. Updated daily.

Brand Insider: Skullcandy’s ‘Content-to-Commerce’ Model Was Ready For A Crisis

Media Post

Skullcandy chief marketing officer Jessica Klodnicki says that for the last two and a half years, the company was fine-tuning a program that connects the dots between the brand and commerce investments with more traditional product marketing and product launches, leaving Skullcandy well positioned to support the environment of people shopping online.

Why it matters: Skullcandy tailored its long-planned “Mood Boost” campaign slightly to fit COVID messaging and after the first month of launching, in April, saw 76 million impressions, 10 million video views and 162,000 engagements.

How A Data-Driven Marketing Approach Enables Effective And Efficient Media Strategies


In eMarketer’s Tech-Talk Webinar, Datorama global VP of product marketing and head of evangelism Nathan Barling and Ayzenberg’s Chris Strawser, VP of product and technology and Piotr Urbanksi, associate director of marketing science, discuss the need for a system of record that enables marketers to measure performance and to act quickly.

Why it matters: With the increasing importance of digital channels amid the pandemic, prior effective strategies may no longer be enough.

Adobe Study Suggests Consumers Have Grown Tired Of ‘We’re With You’ Ads

Ad Age

A new Adobe survey of more than 1,000 people found that brand marketers are almost 20 percent more likely to believe that consumers want ads showcasing how they’re engaging with communities in COVID than everyday consumers. 

Why it matters: Brands should consider focusing on everyday essentials and things that offer a much-needed reprieve from the pandemic.

Funding For Beauty, Personal Care Startups Drops


According to a new report from CB Insights, in Q1 2020, private market funding for young companies in the beauty and personal care space declined by over 50 percent compared to Q4. 

Why it matters: During the lockdown, verticals like fitness technology and the food and beverage industry have seen a burst in investor interest.

Skittles Goes Rainbow-Less For LGBTQ Pride Month


Skittles partnered with GLAAD to create colorless versions of its candies, retaining their original flavors and available for purchase in the US for the first time. One dollar from each pack will go to GLAAD.

Why it matters: The move to strip its rainbow coating is an inventive twist timed for Pride month when all large celebrations this year are canceled.

When Times Get Tough, Your Marketing Needs To Get Agile

The Drum

During COVID, marketers should take advantage of decreased levels of competition and lower ad costs by rolling out a micro-campaign to test hypotheses and collaborating with existing partners. Thereafter they should assemble and share data in real-time to inform future collaborative decisions.

Why it matters: In times of economic uncertainty, marketers are shifting from deliberate strategies to emergent ones.

Apple Buys Virtual Reality Content Startup NextVR

Mobile Marketer

Apple bought virtual reality (VR) startup NextVR, a deal reportedly worth $100 million. NextVR works with sports leagues and media outlets to offer programming that people watch while wearing a VR headset.

Why it matters: Acquiring NextVR is part of Apple’s plan to make advertising and user experiences more interactive.

Inside Sony Music’s Strategy To Amplify Songs Trending On TikTok Like ‘Break My Stride’

Business Insider

Matthew Wilder’s 1983 song “Break My Stride” recently became a popular video challenge on TikTok, which has recently become a major driver of music industry trends. When Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings, which manages the song, notices one of its songs trending on social media, it drops a note to the artist and works with them to create new video assets to help users track down the song. Legacy Recordings will also sometimes change a song’s name or track description so that it references the new context.  

Why it matters: Legacy Recordings has found that proactive campaigns are “far less effective” than user-generated challenges that make a song go viral.

Instagram Debuts Guides Feature With Initial Focus On Wellness, Mental Health


Instagram rolled out a new “Guides” feature that enables users to find recommendations, tips and other content from influencers, public figures, publishers and organizations. The feature will debut with a focus on wellness and mental health-related content, in partnership with organizations dedicated to wellness causes and publishers such as BuzzFeed, Refinery29, Shape and Parents Latina. Users can access the content by tapping the middle icon to view “Guides” on the profiles of participating organizations.

Why it matters: As social media usage surges amid the pandemic, Instagram and Facebook have overtaken traditional mediums for news consumption among millennials and Gen Z.

Opinion: What Happens When Live Sports Takes A Timeout?


The no-live sports brand playbook will require brands to engage with customers in a new way using social and/or connected television solutions, and build on the continuity of their brand. Core messages shouldn’t change, just the approach.

Why it matters: Live sports events are canceled but many brands have quickly adapted, reformatting in-person activations to digital and social channels.

Marketers Value Content But Aren’t Using Tech To Manage It

Seventy-two percent of marketers view content as a core business strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) report, “2020 Content Management & Strategy Survey,” fielded pre-pandemic in January and February. Yet the findings suggest that organizations are not using technology sufficiently to carry out strategic content management.

Just 23 percent of respondents say they’re extremely or very successful with strategically managing content across their business. Half of the respondents attributed the success of their content strategy to the ability to connect with their audience’s values, interests and/or pain points.

The two primary considerations while planning content include driving the brand’s value proposition (82 percent) followed by showing empathy with customers’ values, interests and/or pain points (78 percent).

Nearly half (43 percent) of respondents say they take a project-focused response to creating content.

Seventy-eight percent of marketers say their organization takes a strategic approach to managing content. When asked why their organization doesn’t take a strategic approach to content management, 63 percent of respondents named a lack of processes and 57 percent reported that leadership hasn’t made it a priority. A little over half (52 percent) cited a lack of financial investment in resources.

What’s more, 73 percent of respondents say they either don’t have the right technology to strategically manage content or they aren’t fully using the technology they have to its potential.

The top three cited content technologies in place include social media publishing and analytics (90 percent), email marketing software (84 percent) and content management systems (71 percent).

Other challenges to strategic content management include inadequate staff skilled in content strategy (63 percent) and communications between teams (60 percent).

The CMI’s findings are based on responses from 250 content marketing managers from organizations of over 50 employees.

Facebook Clarifies Guidelines Around Using Music In Videos, Livestreams

This week in social media news, Facebook clarifies guidelines surrounding the use of recorded music in videos and live streams on Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest rolls out a curated shopping tool, LinkedIn launches a new Glint integration to help managers lead more effectively during COVID, Facebook releases a report on COVID’s impact on small businesses and acquires GIPHY as part of Instagram, eMarketer predicts Instagram and Snapchat will outperform Facebook in terms of engagement growth and TikTok will present at the IAB NewFronts for the first time.

Facebook Updates Guidelines For Using Recorded Music In Videos

Facebook has clarified guidelines and product improvements around recorded music used in videos and live streams on Facebook and Instagram.

Why it matters: In respective company posts, Instagram and Facebook said that social distancing has “highlighted some confusion across the community — especially around the use of recorded music in Live on both Facebook and Instagram.”

The details: Facebook says there are no limits on things like music in Stories, or traditional musical performances and that the greater the number of full-length recorded tracks in a video, the more likely it may be limited; 
for that reason, it recommends shorter clips of music. It also notes, “There should always be a visual component to your video; recorded audio should not be the primary purpose of the video.”

To minimize stream interruptions caused by music, Facebook is improving in-product notifications that let a user know when a broadcast or uploaded video may include music that doesn’t adhere to its licensing agreements. If a video is muted or blocked, Facebook will share what actions the user can take to stop the interruption.

YouTube Announces New Ad Option To Reach Traditional Television Viewers 

YouTube will replace its upfront offering Google Preferred, which launched in 2014, with YouTube Select, which will include the ability to buy inventory on traditional television.

Why it matters: With less people out and more stuck at home watching television, traditional television is becoming a lucrative investment for YouTube.

The details: Unlike Google Preferred, YouTube Select will be available worldwide and introduce “emerging lineups” which enable advertisers to show ads on emerging channels or niche ones. Advertisers will also be able to choose from customized packages for YouTube kids and YouTube Originals.

Facebook Launches Shops On Facebook And Instagram Business Profiles

The platform announced that its new Shops feature allows businesses to set up an online store for free, accessible to customers on a business’ Facebook page, Instagram profile and in stories and ads.

Why it matters: The social commerce feature comes after Facebook published a report outlining the ways COVID-19 has negatively impacted small businesses.

The details: Businesses control what products to feature and can customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and brand colors. Through a business’ shop, customers can browse items, save products and place an order either on the business’ website or within the app, if the business has enabled “checkout” in the US. 

Via Shops, customers can also message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram direct message to ask about deliveries and get support. Facebook also plans to enable shopping right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram direct messages.

This summer, customers will also be able to discover and buy products from the Instagram Explore page through Instagram Shops. Facebook plans to add a new shop tab in the Instagram navigator bar later this year. It’s also testing a feature that would enable sellers, brands and influencers to tag products from their Facebook Shop before going live, with shoppable products appearing at the foot of the live video.

Facebook says it’s also working on a way to sync loyalty programs between local businesses and users’ Facebook accounts.

LinkedIn Launches New Glint Integration For Managers

LinkedIn’s Learning for Glint is a new integration that embeds over 100 expert-curated LinkedIn Learning videos directly into Glint, which LinkedIn acquired in November 2018, to help managers learn specific skills, support their teams and lead more effectively in the time of coronavirus.

Why it matters: Recent data from LinkedIn Learning reveals that since the pandemic started, managers have increased the time they spend watching online courses by 105 percent.

The details: LinkedIn Learning for Glint provides managers with bite-sized videos tailored to their individual survey results at the time they’re most receptive to learning more. Glint customers can access the new integration for free regardless of whether they have a LinkedIn Learning enterprise license.

Pinterest Rolls Out Curated Shopping Feature

Pinterest has launched a new feature called shopping spotlights that serves users recommendations of influencers and publishers based on current Pinterest trends.

Why it matters: In early April, Pinterest announced new ways to shop directly from pins, on boards and from the search bar after searches for “help small businesses” on the app tripled and searches for “care package ideas” doubled.

The details: Pinterest has partnered with former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth, fashion influencer Blair Eadie and interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel to launch the new shopping spotlights feature. Pinterest’s publishing partners include Refinery29, Domino, Who What Wear, InStyle, Nylon and Harper’s Bazaar.

Pinners will notice the shopping spotlights on the search tab with articles featuring product pins that directly link to a brand’s product pages, where Pinners can check out.

The shopping spotlights feature is available on Android and desktop now, and is coming to iOS soon.

Facebook Expands Mid-Roll Video Ads Test

Facebook is expanding its experiment with mid-roll ads in videos to all types of video content. In the new test, mid-roll ads will be non-skippable for the first five seconds, as reported by Adweek.

Why it matters: Last month, Search Engine Land reported that Facebook was testing three mid-roll ad formats in selected live-streams as a way to help streamers monetize their Facebook content.

The details: According to Adweek, Facebook’s new test includes ads of up to 15 seconds in length that users can skip after having played for five seconds.

Facebook Is Working On Artificial Intelligence-Powered Shopping Tools

Facebook is ramping up its artificial-intelligence efforts to create a shopping tool that recognizes various items in pictures.

Why it matters: Facebook’s new tool will identify clothing, which is generally challenging for AI given bodies have many shapes.

The details: Facebook says its research scientist Tamara Berg is prototyping an “intelligent digital closet” which lets people take photos of their outfits and instantly digitize each item. The closet would provide outfit suggestions based on planned activities or weather as well as recommended products to shop.

Meanwhile, research scientist Sean Bell is working on a new tool called GrokNet, which automatically suggests clothing attributes such as colors and materials, simplifying the process of posting a listing.

Facebook is also testing GrokNet with automatic product tagging suggestions on Facebook pages to make it easier for users to pinpoint exact items featured in content in their feed.

Lastly, Facebook is working on a 3D-like photo capability on Marketplace for iOS sellers called Rotating View, which lets people turn a regular 2D video into a 3D-like view using the camera on their phone.

Facebook Report Details COVID’s Impact On Small Businesses

In collaboration with Small Business Roundtable, Facebook released the first report of an ongoing series called “The State of Small Business Report,” which is based on a survey of 86,000 owners, managers and workers in US companies with fewer than 500 employees. The findings reveal that nearly a third of small businesses have shut down.

Why it matters: The report paints a dismal picture of the current scale of the crisis, which is particularly affecting female owners, who Facebook says lead the majority of these small businesses. 160 million businesses use Facebook’s apps every month.

The details: The series, which Facebook says were planned before the pandemic struck, suggests that the smallest businesses have been hit the hardest; more than half of those businesses run by the self-employed or for personal income are no longer operating. 

The two primary concerns of small business owners are cash flow and lack of demand. Supply challenges are also a concern; 40 percent of owner-managers reported facing supply challenges, including 67 percent of small businesses, 65 percent of personal businesses and 50 percent of hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Just 45 percent of owners and managers of closed business said they’d rehire the same workers when their businesses reopened and 19 percent said they were keeping their workers and still paying part of their wages.

Facebook says that despite these challenges, 57 percent of small business owners and managers are optimistic about their future as 51 percent have increased online interactions with their clients and 36 percent report that they’re now conducting all of their sales online. 

Fifty-nine percent of female-led businesses said at least half of their sales are digital compared to 54 percent of male-led businesses.

Facebook Acquires GIPHY For $400 Million

GIPHY is joining the Facebook company as part of the Instagram team following a deal reported to be worth nearly $400 million.  

Why it matters: Facebook reports that 50 percent of GIPHY’s traffic comes from Facebook apps, half of that from Instagram alone.

The details: For Instagram and Facebook story users, the acquisition means an expanded pool of GIFs to choose from. In addition, people will still be able to upload GIFs to GIPHY and developers and API partners will have the same access to GIPHY’s APIs.

Instagram, Snapchat Will See Higher Growth Than Facebook This Year

Instagram and Snapchat will outpace Facebook in engagement growth in 2020, according to a forecast from eMarketer shared with Mobile Marketer.

Why it matters: eMarketer predicts that US adult users of social media will spend an average of one hour and 22 minutes a day on the apps this year, seven minutes more than they did in 2019. As the pandemic continues affecting marketing budgets, knowing where customers are right now is crucial to pivoting.

The details: Instagram will grow the fastest with a nearly 14 percent surge from 2019 to an average of 30 minutes a day; this is significantly higher than eMarketer’s November estimate, which predicted Instagram’s 2020 usage would grow by 24 seconds a day.

Snapchat will see a 12 percent increase to an average of 29.5 minutes a day—a dramatic lift compared to eMarketer’s previous forecast of a gain of 30 seconds a day.

Facebook will see a 4.3 percent increase to about 34 minutes daily.

TikTok Will Pitch At IAB NewFronts For The First Time

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) will live-stream its yearly NewFronts this year, where, for the first time, TikTok will present.

Why it matters: TikTok’s appearance follows its recent milestone of 2 billion downloads. 

The details: The NewFronts will be streamed between June 22-26, with programming set to cover streaming video, lifestyle, news, audio, eSports and gaming. TikTok will present on June 25, the same day Xandr, TiVo, Samsung Ads and YouTube are scheduled to appear.

Ferrero USA Hires Michael Zacharias

This week in leadership updates, Ferrero USA appoints Michael Zacharias as vice president, trade marketing and category management, Google brings on Kelly Waldher as vice president of marketing for G Suite, Yum China chief marketing officer Steven Li steps down and the 4A’s hires Barry Wacksman as board chair and Abbey Klaassen as co-vice chair, as well as welcomes six new board members.

Ferrero USA Appoints Michael Zacharias As Vice President, Trade Marketing And Category Management

Michael Zacharias will lead trade marketing, category management and shopper marketing for Ferrero’s portfolio, which comprises Butterfinger, Nutella, Tic Tac, Kinder, Ferrero Rocher, Crunch and Baby Ruth.

Zacharias most recently served as VP of sales for Anheuser-Busch’s northeast region, overseeing its full profit and loss center.

Google Hires Kelly Waldher As Vice President Of Marketing For G Suite

Kelly Waldher has joined Google Cloud’s G Suite team as VP of marketing, according to GeekWire. Most recently Waldher served as EVP and general manager for Qualtrics. Prior to that, he held various roles at Office 365.

Yum China Chief Marketing Officer Steven Li Departed In November 2019

Steven Li, Yum China’s CMO for over eight years, stepped down in November 2019, as reported by Campaign. The company currently has no CMO.

Li joined Yum China in 2011 following his role as marketing director at Johnson & Johnson China.

4A’s Names Barry Wacksman As Board Chair

Today the 4A’s announced Barry Wacksman as the board chair and Abbey Klaassen as co-vice chair. Sharon Napier has also been re-elected as vice-chair.

In addition, six new members have joined the board. These include Devika Bulchandani, president, McCann North America; Chris Foster, president, North America, BCW; Jason Gaikowski, executive director, customer experience global lead, human-centered design, VMLY&R; Sarah Watson, global chief strategy officer and chairman, BBH New York; Jeff King, CEO, Barkley, as central region director and Angela Steele, CEO, Carat US as eastern region director.

Disney’s Kevin Mayer Resigns To Become TikTok Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Mayer is stepping down as head of Disney’s streaming efforts to become TikTok’s CEO and ByteDance’s COO, Disney announced today. Mayer led Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment since its founding in 2018 and oversaw the launches of ESPN+ and Disney+ and the integration of Hulu.

Rebecca Campbell will succeed Mayer as chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International.

Disney also named Josh D’Amaro as chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

Consumers Rank Amazon, Disney And Apple Highest On Brand Intimacy

Consumers ranked Amazon, Disney, Apple, Ford and Jeep as the top five brands they have a strong emotional connection with, according to the 10th annual MBLM Brand Intimacy 2020 Study. MBLM surveyed 6,200 consumers in the US, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates in November 2019 about their experiences with nearly 400 brands across 15 industries.

This year’s report features a new top brand, Amazon, with a narrow lead over Disney. Last year’s brand intimacy report included four media and entertainment brands in the top 10; this year, the report includes three.

Thirty-three percent of Amazon users said they can’t live without the brand. Amazon is the only brand to make the top five list across generations.

In terms of retail brands, Walmart comes closest to Amazon, earning the ninth spot on the brand intimacy list. Whereas 21 percent of consumers are willing to pay 20 percent more for Amazon, 14 percent of consumers are willing to do the same for Walmart products.

In second place is Disney; 27 percent of its consumers say they can’t live without the brand. Still, users of Netflix, which ranked sixth on the brand intimacy list, are more likely to pay 20 percent more for Netflix services than Disney consumers are likely to pay for Disney goods and services.

Apple ranked third on the list. Consumers are almost just as likely to pay 20 percent more for Apple products as they are for Samsung products (22 percent for Apple vs. 20 percent for Samsung).

The auto industry has improved its brand intimacy standing, with four auto brands landing the top 10 list, including Ford in fourth place. Jeep came in fifth; 18 percent of consumers are willing to pay 20 percent more for Jeep, whereas 15 percent of Ford consumers are willing to do the same for Ford cars.

The remaining brands in the top 10 list include Netflix in sixth, followed by BMW, Chevrolet, Walmart and PlayStation.

Gen Z respondents ranked Xbox and Spotify as the top two brands they feel a connection with. While Gen Zers agree that both brands have become ingrained in their daily life, more Xbox users (60 percent) felt an immediate connection with the brand compared to Spotify (50 percent).

There were no shared brands among income groups. Both groups ($35,000-$50,000 and $75,000-$100,000) selected retail brands as top performers (Amazon and Target), though the former favors media and entertainment brands more than the latter, which named various industries in its top five (Apple, North Face and Whole Foods).

In terms of consumer goods, people report feeling a close bond with Hershey’s; those with incomes both over and under $100,000 ranked Hershey’s as their favorite, ranking it the highest for inducing nostalgia. Hershey’s was also the top consumer goods brand among women and consumers over 35 years old.

Kellogg’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Nestle and Campbell’s comprise the remainder of the top five consumer goods brands.

Building on its brand intimacy findings in November 2019, MBLM analyzed the top five ranked consumer goods brands in early May to understand how their messaging has changed during the pandemic.

Hershey’s, though its new messaging doesn’t explicitly address the pandemic, has pulled spots of people socializing and has shifted to product advertising. The brand recently partnered with DC Comics to launch limited-time superhero-themed chocolate bars that were distributed to healthcare and emergency workers before being launched in stores.

Kellogg’s messaging focuses on its gratitude for its employees and other essential workers, while Ben & Jerry’s highlights racial and economic justice during the crisis.

MBLM research shows that intimate brands generate millions more dollars in revenue and profit annually and over the long run than the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 top brands. From 2009-2018, brands with a high intimacy ranking saw a 6.47 percent growth in revenue, compared with a 5.08 percent growth in revenue for Fortune 500 brands.

Brands with a high intimacy ranking also have double the number of consumers willing to pay 20 percent more for their goods and services.

Global Brands & Private Label With Kristof Neirynck At Walgreens Boots Alliance

During this 208th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Kristof Neirynck, chief marketing officer of global brands at Walgreens Boots Alliance.

On the show today, we talk about how Walgreens Boots Alliance has responded to COVID-19. We also talk about Neirynck’s portfolio of brands that he manages, store-owned brands, as well as their global CPG portfolio. We talk about the differences in various markets where they’re a leader in the U.K. and how they’ve entered the U.S. market and the Chinese market in recent history. Then we switch gears and talk about his background and career trajectory. We also talk about his love of plants.

Speaking how the Walgreens Boots Alliance has responded to COVID-19 in three stages, Neirynck advises, “These are times when we need to make sure that we bring the relevant products to the market.” He also encourages companies to “Show that you as a brand care and contribute to society.” Neirynck has a perspective on personalization and leveraging first-party data in a CPG environment. He says, “Good personalization is when you don’t know that you’re being personalized to.” As he reflects about the trajectory of his career, Neirynck suggests, “You need to set audacious goals and go for it.” This conversation is about staying relevant, driving growth through marketing, and delivering relevant content.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Growing up in Belgium. 01:37
  • Kristof’s career path and how he started as an electronics engineer. 02:33
  • The reasons Kristof landed at Walgreens Boots. 06:18
  • Walgreens Boots’ three-stage response to the COVID-19 crisis. 08:13
  • Kristof’s take on managing CPG brands as well as store-owned brands. 12:50
  • Managing No. 7 in different markets. 17:07
  • Capturing the opportunity to leverage first-party data in a CPG environment. 20:31
  • Launching your brand in a relevant way in different geographic markets. 26:15
  • Kristof’s advice for other marketers wanting to enter the Chinese market. 29:10
  • Is there an experience in his past that defines who he is today? 30:05
  • What is the advice Kristof would give to his younger self? 34:18
  • The most impactful purchase he has made in the last 6-12 months of $100 or less. 36:04
  • Are there any brands, companies, or causes that Kristof follows that he thinks other people should take notice of? 37:24
  • Kristof’s take on the top opportunities or threats facing marketers today. 39:00

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart

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.

Skincare Industry Ad Spend Spikes 38% Month-Over-Month

The skincare industry’s ad spend grew 38 percent month-over-month and hair removal product ad spend skyrocketed from $3.7 million to $10.6 million, according to the latest MediaRadar study.

By spend, the biggest advertisers in Q1 2020 were Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal, who collectively increased their ad spend on their skincare lines by over $10 million in March.

The anti-aging category saw a particularly strong increase in ad spend at the end of Q1 2020, jumping from $3.5 million in the first week of January to $6.8 million in the last week of March. Neutrogena, Olay and Plexaderm Skincare were the top spenders in this category, with Plexaderm accounting for one-fourth of all ad spots.

Spend on men’s skincare also saw a lift, with average weekly spend on the category up 22 percent in March, when compared to January and February. The biggest men’s skincare advertisers, by spend, include Dove Men+Care, Jack Black and direct-to-consumer brands, Hims and Geologie.

MediaRadar’s analysis also shows that hair removal products more than doubled ad spend by the end of Q1. Hair removal brands Finishing Touch Flawless, Gillette Razors, Trimmers & Blades, MicroTouch Solo, Gillette Venus and Bell + Howell Tac Shaver accounted for a jump in spend, from $3.7 million in January to $10.6 million in March.

The hair care category’s ad spend increased too, surging from $5 million in January to $16.7 million in the first week of February. As stay-at-home orders remain in place, however, hair product advertising tailed off as consumers spent less time on their hair.

Additionally, oral hygiene companies such as Colgate, Sensodyne and Parodontax spent the most on ads in Q1. By the start of Q2, Crest, Listerine and Colgate showed consistent spend on linear television ads.

Listen In: Chris Do Shares How To Start Over

The second episode of’s new weekly series Listen In, hosted by Ayzenberg principal and ECD Matt Bretz, features a conversation with the Founder and CEO of The Futur, Chris Do.

Chris talks about his experience with reinventing his business several times over his career. Whether a change to your product is motivated by a personal passion or a crisis like COVID-19, Chris and Matt discuss how to bring your new vision into focus and optimize it for the market.

About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg will interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

Report: Data Intelligent Businesses More Likely To Exceed Revenue Goals

Businesses that use data intelligence to drive their strategy are 58 percent more likely to exceed their revenue goals than non-data intelligent organizations, according to a survey of 906 global businesses conducted in January 2020 by Forrester Consulting, on behalf of Collibra. The study defines “data-intelligent organizations” as “those who agree they have the ability to connect the right data, insights and algorithms so people can drive business value through data.”

The Business Impact of Data Intelligent Management” found that companies respect data-centricity but inconsistently execute it. For example, 84 percent of business analysts in the study agreed that it’s important to prioritize data at the heart of their crucial business decisions and strategies, but only half are actually doing so.

Data intelligent businesses are more likely to reach their main business goals and are better at mitigating risk exposure, addressing privacy and improving consumer trust. These organizations saw an 8 percent advantage in improving customer trust, an 81 percent advantage in increasing revenue and a 173 percent advantage in better complying with regulations and requirements.

Sixty-six percent of Australian businesses are most likely to routinely or always leverage data for decisions, followed by the same 62 percent of US businesses and 52 percent of European businesses.

Nearly all data intelligent businesses rate themselves as capable or very capable of excelling across the seven pillars of data management including finding data efficiently, accessing it, understanding it, applying it cross-functionally, publishing it, ensuring its accuracy and using it to drive business outcomes.

Still, nearly half of businesses fail to always or even routinely leverage data at the core of their business decisions. Manual data management tasks rob analysts at non-data intelligent organizations of the ability to leverage data.

Respondents reported spending 14 percent of their workweek on performing the actual data analysis, 12 percent on validating the accuracy of the data and 11 percent on aggregating the data into a usable dataset and the same for finding the data they need. As a result, these businesses are 55 percent less likely to say their data management strategies positively contribute to drive favorable business decisions.

Six out of 10 respondents reported that tools that streamline the search process for analysis, data access and data quality management will make data analysis somewhat or much easier.

More mature data intelligent companies plan to increase their investment in data management technology. In fact, they’re 52 percent more likely to increase spend on these tools than non-data intelligent organizations.