Building A Brand From The Inside With Stephanie McCarty, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer At Taylor Morrison

With a background in journalism and a career in communications, Stephanie McCarty may not be the typical CMO, but that is exactly what makes her perfect for the job. She is leading a marketing revolution in homebuilding by reimagining the marketplace and digital shopping experience at Taylor Morrison.

In this episode, Stephanie and I discuss how to get your entire organization rowing in the same direction by understanding that culture building is the groundwork for success and why having a consistent, compelling message is essential no matter who you are talking to.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The importance of pushing for innovations in established industries
  • Benefits of building the brand reputation from the inside out rather than trying to shape external opinions
  • Why CMOs need to focus on the employee experience as well as the customer experience

Key Highlights

  • [02:00] How experiencing loss at an early age motivates Stephanie today
  • [05:20] The nontraditional path that led Stephanie to the CMO role
  • [16:00] The rapid pace of change in the marketing industry
  • [17:50] Who is Taylor Morrison?
  • [19:30] What marketing and communications look like at Taylor Morrison
  • [25:30] How to stay close to the customer journey
  • [28:00] Collecting and using data to understand how customers think
  • [33:00] Advice for CMO’s thinking on the employee experience
  • [35:20] What is TMLiving?
  • [38:50] Defining moments in Stephanie’s life
  • [41:00] The power of “radical candor”
  • [42:50] Advice for her younger self
  • [43:20] Focusing on customer effort
  • [44:00] Brands that have nailed the customer experience
  • [45:45] The opportunity associated with rapid change

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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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Cultivating A Community Of Brand Advocates With Traeger CMO Todd Smith

Todd Smith developed a deep respect for brands and brand managers early in his career. After years of working across several different industries, Todd has been CMO at Traeger for the past three years, where he spends most of his time working with the sales, product, and technology teams to drive innovation in every step of the customer journey.

In this episode, Todd and I discuss how no matter what you’re selling, it’s all about understanding who you are trying to reach and working to build a connection. Todd is passionate about cultivating a community of advocates and is always trying to adapt and develop new ways to engage.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Traeger is cultivating a community of passionate advocates
  • The benefits of leveraging collaborations in product and marketing
  • The importance of valuing relationships

Key Highlights

  • [03:30] How Todd became CMO at Traeger
  • [07:00] Marketing across different industries
  • [07:35] How is the role of CMO defined at Traeger
  • [08:20] what is the Traegerhood?
  • [11:20] Marketings role in fostering community
  • [14:45] How Traeger is building a long-lasting customer journey
  • [16:40] Transitioning distribution channels
  • [17:50] Leveraging collaborations in product and marketing
  • [20:00] Product innovation as a growth driver
  • [23:00] The “coaching tree” and how it guides Todds decision making
  • [24:50] The importance of valuing relationships
  • [25:55] Staying up to speed by being close to the consumers
  • [27:00] Companies to watch
  • [29:30] Evolving the way you reach your consumer

Resources Mentioned:

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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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

FIFA And Friends? How Marketers Can Navigate Controversy And Brand Risk

Some of the world’s most iconic brands are also the most openly supportive of LGBTQ equality. However, some brands’ recent sponsorship of the 2022 World Cup held in Qatar has put the authenticity of their commitment into doubt, adding an extra burden to marketers seeking to promote their brands as the real thing.

Friends of FIFA? How Qatar changed the game for marketers

You wouldn’t guess it from the current controversy, but Qatar was chosen as the site of the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, competing against Japan, Australia, and The United States of America. Back then, the US State Department report about Qatar stated that while it was not a democracy, it didn’t see evidence of rampant torture or prisoner maltreatment – with the asterisk that citizens were likely to be “hesitant” to make complaints. The US has an embassy in Qatar and the nation has been a regional strategic ally of the US for decades, so brands snapping up sponsorships for the 2022 World Cup back in the day should not be surprising. In the US, the Defense of Marriage Act—which allowed same-gender marriages to be outlawed by states—would not meet a successful challenge in the courts until 2011, so brands are unlikely to have been thinking about Qatar’s LGBTQ rights status as an element of brand risk. Hyundai jumped in as an official sponsor through FIFA in 2010.

Back then, Hyundai stated in a press release:

“Since our first association with FIFA in 1999, our commitment and support for FIFA has been unrivaled,” said Mong-Koo Chung, Chairman and CEO of the Hyundai Motor Group. “FIFA has set a benchmark for us, pushing our brand value and exposure to the highest levels. We are confident that this renewal will further enhance our business values and corporate vision.”

Today, ESG is a key component of brand risk assessment and social media’s immediacy means that audiences in the millions have access to reports about human rights and other issues in Qatar. That means that being a friend to FIFA via sponsorship can comingle brand reputations with regions or nations that have policies that contradict brand values. Despite the State Department’s ongoing partnership with Qatar—the country even sits on the UN Human Rights Council—the country outlaws premarital sex, adultery, and same-sex intercourse and has a range of punishments ranging from flogging to years of imprisonment to death by stoning, according to Human Rights Watch.

That has led to some media analysts questioning just how brand marketers can navigate a landscape that demands authenticity in its social commitments but practicality when it comes to audience reach (the last World Cup Final was watched by 1.12 billion people) and return on investment for sponsor dollars. In “The Money Behind The Most Expensive World Cup in History”, Forbes’ Matt Craig details just how much cash is on the line:

$277 million, the amount David Beckham was reportedly paid by Qatar to serve as an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup, delivered in installments over ten years.

$4.7 billion: FIFA’s predicted revenue from the World Cup, encompassing TV broadcast rights account for $2.64 billion and marketing rights $1.35 billion, with ticket sales and hospitality rights adding $500 million.

That places marketers and their agencies right in the middle: forced to somehow navigate the brand risks involved in a done deal while ensuring that brand messaging stays visible.

3 ways brands can recover from co-mingled controversy with a little help from marketers

Not every brand can quickly disconnect from brand partnerships or sponsorships that present ethical concerns. Whether jumping ship or staying the course despite all, here are three tips for reaffirming brand values when circumstances make their expression challenging:

Let the audience do the talking

Audiences who feel passionately about social issues and who connect with brand values can be powerful ambassadors for a business and ideas. Leveraging social media and user-generated content campaigns to empower fans to speak their truths and support brand values can be a meaningful act of support (or resistance).

Make a list and check it twice

Review ESG achievements and make sure that they delivered on their promises before tooting the proverbial horn about commitment to values. When positive change is authentic and sustained, it can speak louder than words—even when temporary alliances are problematic.

Build an acceleration map for good

Aligning with human rights issues during a designated month can be seen as a marketing ploy no different than a holiday-themed store window unless those values are connected to a plan to do good more efficiently and faster than before. Create a clear map as to what your brand will attempt to do to support your values, even if it is a small, local effort.

New IAB Report: Ad Spend Will Rise Unevenly In 2023

As advertisers reevaluate their budgets and their new priorities in the face of potentially ongoing inflation, they are still growing their ad spend. A new report by the IAB reveals that while advertisers will increase their spend in 2023, the growth will be focused on a few key areas.

Where advertisers will be spending the most

Next year’s overall ad spend growth will drop meaningfully from 2022’s nine percent rise in ad spend over 2021, estimated to reach only 5.9 percent. Advertisers’ biggest increase in spending will focus on four key segments. B2B ad spend will rise by 20.8 percent, travel by 20.6 percent, restaurants/beer/liquor/wine by 17.1 percent and financial services by 11.1 percent.  Not surprisingly, these are among the business sectors most vulnerable to inflation, making the competition for consumer dollars more intense. The report states that other sectors will face only single-digit growth. Digital channels will see positive ad spend growth, with CTV seeing the highest level, at 14.4 percent, while spending on traditional channels will decline. 

Advertisers will focus on customer acquisition and brand equity in 2023

Sixty-one percent of consumers will focus on customer acquisition in their 2023 marketing strategy and ad spend, with brand equity (43 percent) and improving the efficiency of their media efficiency (35 percent). According to the report, between 52-55 percent of advertisers will focus on measurement, marketing mix and modeling (MMM), as well as the use of 1st party data, and investment in creators in 2023. Yet that may change: Sixty-three percent of ad buyers stated that they anticipate changing their media plans more frequently in 2023 than they did in 2022—at least once per month. 

Retail media networks and the metaverse take center stage

The IAB report reveals that sixty-one percent of ad buyers have invested or will invest in retail media networks (RMN) advertising, and investment in 2023 will rise by 28.4 percent. Key areas of advertisers’ ad investment include onsite owned and operated, (91 percent), aggregated marketplaces (82 percent), retailer-owned (75 percent), and e-commerce owned (64 percent). 

The report also showed that 56 percent of ad buyers have invested or will invest in metaverse advertising/marketing, with many focused on building brand awareness (52 percent), engaging existing customers (48 percent), and reaching hard-to-find audiences (42 percent).

Read the entire report here

1. Rugabear, Christopher. How inflation spread across different sectors, making it harder to tame. October 2022. Accessed November 2022.

Trend Set: Brands Go All Out For The World Cup

Ayzenberg trendsetter Ashley Otah examines some of the ways brands are leaning on nostalgia, going global and trending on our timelines ahead of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.


Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, McDonald’s launches its latest campaign, “Wanna Go To McDonald’s?” in over 75 countries. Win or lose, rain or shine, McDonald’s seems to be the common thread and the only answer for those going through the ups and downs of the worldwide championship. The campaign shows the connection between places near and far and how they share one thing in common at the root of it all. Although difficult to pull off, the brand’s largest campaign shows unity goes a long way. Whatever you call the Golden Arches, the campaign highlights that going global isn’t just a hot trend, it’s the way of the future.

Ted Lasso

The fictional soccer coach from the hit Apple TV+ show takes to the big leagues to show support for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team with a slew of billboards showing words of support in the hometowns of players and coaches. Written in Ted Lasso’s voice, the out-of-home campaign appears more than fitting. The endeavor is an excellent example of leaning into your audience and niche while staying true to the product and industry.


Footballverse,” Nike’s newest campaign, brings together the past and present like no other. The star-studded four-minute spot features a cast of world-class footballers plucked from different points in time going head-to-head duking it out on the pitch. In addition, the ad cultivates a space for new beginnings—an attribute that goes beyond the world of goals, fans and flags. With a nod to the future of football, Nike shows that anything is limitless. Takes Home Six Clio Awards For Xbox, Minecraft, Apex Legends And Rocket League Work

Nightcap and Ayzenberg Group, as part of, won in multiple categories at this year’s Clio Entertainment Awards. The organization took home one gold, two silver and three bronze Clio Entertainment awards, given in recognition of excellence, creativity and innovation in advertising, design and communications across a variety of mediums. This is the second year in a row that the network has been honored with multiple Clio awards.

Co-Chief Creative Officers at Matt Bretz and Gary Goodman pointed to a dedication to using data to understand trends and fandom—as well as the support of longtime partners—as underlying factors behind this year’s winning entries.

“For the first half of my career, I did pretty well going with my gut because that was all we had,” Goodman said. “I see the even higher rate of success we’ve had at this year’s Clios as a reflection of the power of our data science to tell us what’s on trend, in combination with great clients like Xbox.”

Ayzenberg Group won gold and silver in the voiceover and gameplay trailer categories, respectively, for the Minecraft on PC Game Pass campaign. And in the visual identity category, Ayzenberg Group took home the silver for the Xbox Design Lab campaign and bronze for Xbox’s 20th anniversary promotion.

“One of our strengths is integrated storytelling which, of course, demands excellence at every touchpoint where fans meet brands,” Bretz said. “So it’s especially gratifying to have wins across the visual identity, social media and trailer categories for Xbox.”

Nightcap, whose tagline is “Work That Thinks,” took home bronze Clios for social media and CG work on game titles Apex Legends Mobile and Rocket League Sideswipe.

“I’m so proud of our team at Nightcap for these two Clio wins,” said Scott Cookson, EVP and executive creative director at Ayzenberg Group. “Their endless passion for the work and tireless drive to be the best in the industry is inspiring.”

Nightcap Director of Strategy Rebecca Baroukh also spoke on the announcement. “These wins are not only a testament to our strong collaborative relationship with our partners but also our incredible team,” Baroukh said. “They have worked tirelessly over the last year to create thoughtful work that clearly resonates with our audiences and Clio’s judges alike!”

Those partners and key people include, but are not limited, to Mojang Studios, Xbox Marcom and the PC Game Pass team, Psyonix, Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Fergus Lynch, Sam Brody, Craig McNary, Abhi Shah, Jessica Freeman, Omar Smith, Egil Gloersen, Lauren Schuur, Emily Orrson, Tom Stone, Maggie Adams, Ryan Zhao, Tim Coombs, Coco Luk, Josh Munsee and Tripleclix.




Shaping The Future Of Engineering And Technology With NI CMO Ana Villegas

Ana Villegas knew early on that she wanted to be a CMO and achieved that goal by staying focused on gaining the skills necessary to do so. As the recent CMO at NI, she oversaw everything from “brand to demand,” including corporate communication, ESG strategy, and ensuring NI’s values manifested in the marketplace.

In this episode, Ana and I talk about how her experience as a successful female business leader informs the way NI is increasing diversity in its engineering talent. We also discuss what she is doing to help modernize the company’s purpose and impact strategy and how the company is being intentional in shaping the future of the industry. At the time of this recording, Ana was with NI and has recently become the new CMO at Affinipay.

In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • How Ana is helping to modernize and rebrand an established company
  • The three pillars NI has established to drive its corporate impact strategy
  • Ways to directly impact the pipeline of talent and improve diversity in technology

Key Highlights 

  • [04:20] Ana’s path from being an engineering student in Peru to CMO at NI 
  • [09:35] How is the CMO role defined at NI
  • [10:55] Why does NI classify ESG under the marketing umbrella
  • [12:30] The way corporate impact manifests in the marketplace
  • [14:30] The unique position NI is in to shape the future of engineering 
  • [18:15] What NI is doing to “change the faces of engineering”
  • [23:15] The important role women play in business leadership
  • [24:50] Practical ways Ana is focusing on diversifying the workforce
  • [26:30] The importance of being mindful of leadership succession plans  
  • [30:00] The impact Ana’s grandmother had on who she is today
  • [33:15] Shifts in marketing towards being more multidimensional 
  • [35:00] Which companies are leading efforts to get more women into STEM
  • [37:45] The benefits of being agile in the way we engage customers

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*Note: at the time of this recording, Ana was with NI and is now the CMO at Affinipay*

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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Twitter’s Day Of Reckoning: Why Earned Media Value Matters More Than Ever

As some of the world’s biggest companies—like General Motors and Dyson—halted their advertising campaigns citing concerns about brand safety, other brands and influencers, like Balenciaga and Gigi Hadid, have left altogether. With 92% of Twitter’s 2022 revenue derived from advertising, new owner Elon Musk has warned employees that the company could face bankruptcy. What’s a social media-focused marketer to do when a client or agency hits pause or delete on a specific social media platform? Look at earned media value.

What is earned media value – and why should it guide marketing decisions?

Earned media value is a metric that adds context and quantifiable value to social media content. It’s key to making decisions about what platform to use or abandon. Earned media value looks at more than clicks—it also examines results—the performance of content within the context of marketing and revenue goals. Earned media value’s data is exceptionally relevant because it looks at opt-in engagement, users voluntarily interacting with content in multiple ways beyond a simple click or a passive scroll-through. When looking at engagement rates on one social media platform or another, it can be helpful to have data-driven insights—or a tool like an earned media benchmarking index that can deliver real-time contextual data—around the clicks and comments that delivered the best results.

Each user interaction is assigned a value based on external, real-world insights through an earned media benchmarking index. This information can be used to guide short-term ad spend strategy pivots as well as long-term social media marketing plans.

Graph displaying values in fluctuation from’s Earned Media Value index. Source: Unmetric

Why earned media value matters more now

Despite Elon Musk’s recent efforts to calm skittish advertisers during a town hall, marketers have been vocal about their concerns about brand safety and Twitter’s future. That makes access to deep audience insights about social engagement performance critical to decisions about campaigns on new platforms and choices about pausing or ending Twitter media spending.

We spoke with the VP of Insights and Analytics at Ayzenberg’s marketing science division, Jocelyn Harjes, about the Twitter debacle.

“At Ayzenberg, we’ve believed in the power of social since the beginning,” stated Harjes. “As a practitioner, key moments in time have stuck out to me – Shoes (Kelly Song), Planking in 2012, and the Harlem Shake in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg testifying to congress explaining what Facebook was, and most recently Corn Kid + The Gregory Brothers bringing us the 2022 song of the year. Social media is a force that can be used to drive good or malice.”

The change in Twitter has been stunning, according to Harjes, and something that begs scrutiny.

 “As Elon took over Twitter, we’ve seen the platform quickly succumb to trolls, as anyone could buy Twitter Blue and impersonate brands. Sure it was funny as the meme-makers utilized the Captain Phillips meme where the hijacker tells the captain that he’s Tom Hanks now. Still, it quickly became something to watch as an impersonator handle of Eli Lilly announced that insulin was going to be free.”

Twitter’s rollercoaster is now no laughing matter for brands and their marketers, according to Harjes. “Through this one tweet, we now have a quantifiable impact that social can have on the value of a company. Additionally, Eli Lilly lost billions of dollars in market cap due to one Tweet, only further supporting the need to understand your Earned Media Value and optimize your marketing efforts through its application.”

For marketers seeking to alter or pause a Twitter campaign, we’re sharing four tips to keep in mind below.

Focus on people, not platforms

Brands on Twitter or any other social media platform are looking for ways to connect with consumers when they are talking about or searching for information that might lead to a conversion. Since consumers search and discuss products and services on multiple platforms, marketers looking to reallocate budgets can look to platforms that deliver content or immersive experiences that spark these social conversations or searches. Platforms like Twitch, for example, can provide new opportunities to engage consumers through influencer content and high-impact video ads and present valuable social listening data that can inform future strategies. While social media platforms may evolve or disappear, social content will still be the most powerful way to create brand ambassadors and build brand awareness.

Deliver utility, not just content

Twitter’s core utility for consumers and brands is connected to its announcement functions—it can broadcast to millions, opens up conversations to a global audience, and provides real-time engagement data in a way that’s hard to duplicate. When it goes wrong—such as the recent faux free insulin announcement by a blue-check account that was not connected to the Eli Lilly company, results can be catastrophic for brands and marketers. Regardless of the future of Twitter—consumers will go where their digital experiences deliver a specific utility that they can’t get elsewhere. For marketers, that means a shift from “Here is what we want to tell you” to “Here is something you can use.” That engagement offer may take the form of a live stream with live comments or a metaverse event that delivers access to reusable downloadable content.

Rethink old ideas about audience segments

As Twitter’s ongoing challenges are causing marketers to rethink social media as a marketing channel, the audience may also merit a rethink. Consumers interact with Twitter for conversation and news, and creative brand marketers can deliver the same type of utility wherever there is an opportunity to engage with them; that means finding audiences wherever they are and learning how to connect with them in more efficient and enduring ways—beyond limited audience segments tied to a single platform. This may entail gleaning insights from new platforms and looking beyond traditional audience segments to broader cultural shifts, such as gaming.

Successful brand messages are really about values

Consumers are not leaving social media, even if its old format has evolved well beyond what it looks like today. Audiences congregate, interact and shop based on values—in every sense of the word. Marketers know how to craft messages to match what consumers care about on a heart level and a wallet level. Decoupling that skill from a single social media channel means translating that expertise into a new model of what social media is and may become. A consumer may be on Twitch while scrolling TikTok on their phone—they may voice search a product from Alexa and they won’t care where the content that delights and surprises them comes from. Marketers who understand the need for balance in messaging, frequency, and context will be able to find them and engage with them based on their old-school skills: wrangling data, creativity, and a deep understanding of their brand to connect—with or without that pesky blue check on their brand profile.

CMO Moves: John Boris Joins Tripadvisor

This week we’re covering new marketing leadership moves at Tripadvisor, Weedmaps, BlueBet, Better Bath and Beyond and more.

Tripadvisor Appoints John Boris As Chief Marketing Officer

Veteran marketer John Boris has been appointed by Tripadvisor as CMO. Boris, who previously served as CMO for Shutterfly, has more than 26 years of professional work experience and will lead customer acquisition and engagement, marketing efficiency, brand reach and resonance, as well as partnerships.  

“I’m excited to have John join Tripadvisor as our Chief Marketing Officer, knowing he will put the needs of travelers and our partners at the heart of everything we do. John has a demonstrated track record building global brands, and this company will benefit from his deep experience in e-commerce, travel, and hospitality,” said Matt Goldberg, CEO of Tripadvisor, Inc, in a press statement.

WM Technology Names New CMO

WM Technology, Inc—more commonly known as Weedmaps—has named Randa McMinn as its new CMO. McMinn, who has more than 28 years of professional work experience, was previously CMO at Reali.

“Randa brings an immense wealth of experience to Weedmaps, and her leadership will be critical as we work to further enhance our marketplace experience for consumers while also building innovative and critical technology solutions for our retail and brand partners,” stated Doug Francis, co-founder and Executive Chair of WM Technology in a press release

Sage Appoints Former CMO As Non-Executive Director

Sage has appointed Maggie Chan, founder of Tenshey and veteran tech marketer, as the company’s non-executive director. Chan, who has more than 17 years of professional work experience, was previously the CMO of SAP. 

Andrew Duff, chair, stated: “I am delighted to welcome Maggie to the Sage board. She brings with her deep international marketing and brand experience gained from her time spent at some of the world’s largest technology companies and will highly complement the skills we already have on the board. Maggie also brings a passion for creating diverse and inclusive cultures, and I look forward to the valuable contribution she will make in board discussions as we build an inclusive, high-performing and accountable culture at Sage.”

BlueBet Adds CMO

BlueBet has named Tony Thomas as its new CMO. Thomas, who has more than 20 years of professional work experience, will manage strategic marketing processes and strategies.

“Tony is a world-class marketer that thinks differently, and we’re delighted to be bringing his expertise, drive, and track record of supporting growth to BlueBet.“

Stated Bill Richmond, CEO at BlueBet, in a press statement.

Bed, Bath And Beyond Names New EVP

Bed, Bath and Beyond has named Bart Sichel as EVP, Chief Marketing & Customer Officer. Sichel, previously of Mckinsey and Company, will lead will fully integrated marketing and customer strategies for Bed Bath & Beyond, buybuy BABY and Harmon. Sichel has more than 35 years of professional work experience.

“I’m joining Bed Bath & Beyond at an important moment for the company and look forward to partnering with the entire leadership team to build on the power of each concept and strengthen relationships with our partners,” stated Bart Sichel in press release.

Reaching Today’s Consumers Means Understanding Twitch

Much like film, television and social media, gaming has transformed culture and become part of consumers’ lifestyles. With most adults and youth gaming at least once per week, brand marketers are waking up to the potential of reaching consumers on the gaming platforms they love, like Twitch. However, matching brand messaging to the moment and developing the right long-term strategy to connect with consumers can be complex, even for seasoned marketers. For game publishers, a long-term Twitch marketing strategy is essential—long before a game moves from ideation to development. As a game develops, publishers need access to granular insights on shifts in consumer preferences and gameplay behaviors—insights that can be difficult to glean without access to a powerful analytics suite.

Helixa, an audience intelligence platform, has partnered with Ayzenberg to deliver a webinar on Nov. 16 on how to understand what motivates audiences on and off Twitch, as well as how to build a powerful marketing strategy—or game—that engages consumers and meets their expectations.

Ahead of the meeting, we sat down with Laia Pescetto, VP of global marketing at Helixa, and Alex Lawson, senior research analyst, to hear some of their thoughts on why Twitch is central to audience engagement for brands and game publishers.

Gaming is not just a pastime anymore—it is as essential to our lives as texting or social media. So how did gaming shift from a pastime to a cultural force and lifestyle?

Laia Pescetto: Film, TV and music all had a way of reaching large audiences almost from conception, and with the rise of streaming platforms, we’ve seen an insane increase in content consumption and creation, providing pockets of niche interest to the most passionate audience segments.

Gaming has had the direct inverse journey, starting with a smaller niche and siloed audiences, with no way to easily connect with other gamers at scale. Not to mention the various gaming categories drew extremely loyal fanbases, people identified via the types of games they play, whether first-person shooter or fantasy, etc. The expansion of the gaming universe into online gaming and streaming platforms provided the scale that made it possible to connect with other gamers from anywhere in the world.

Platforms like YouTube and Twitch also allowed gamers to make themselves part of the cultural zeitgeist by playing games for an audience. Combining that with the ability to host esports and game tournaments in a public space like a stadium has made gaming a true cultural force by making it easier for like-minded individuals to connect and share their passion. Now brands have caught up and are creating relevant experiences via partnerships or their own products to connect with this audience that is growing in influence by the day.

What can brands and marketers learn from looking at gaming insights, and what might those insights tell us about how people will relate to media and/or advertising in the future?

Alex Lawson: Product placement has been popular in film, television and advertising for a long time now. For example, many of us remember the iPod commercials and how the songs featured in them would often reach the top of the charts. So if you look at another massive cultural phenomenon in the FIFA games, you can use insights to know what genres of music that audience loves, and if you’re managing talent that would resonate with this audience, it would be a great platform to be included in next year’s game.

The same approach is true for the gamers that stream on Twitch and YouTube as well as the esports teams that play in front of crowds of thousands. Esports teams like FaZe Clan are rebranding themselves as creators and doing brand partnerships that live outside the constraints of digital gaming. We can now do this with everything ranging from what clothing brands our characters could be wearing to what beer should be on the tap heads in a game’s bar to furniture brands in home-building games. The options are nearly limitless for partnerships between game developers and brands/marketers.

We can use those insights to inform campaigns relevant to the passion of every segment under the gaming umbrella. Deeper audience intelligence can also inform game design and marketing to develop new gaming experiences.

The Nov. 16 webinar will cover:

  • Who are Twitch users?
  • Twitch users’ interests, lifestyles and favorite videos games
  • How Helixa can assist with game design and development

Click here to learn more and register for the webinar.