Birkenstock Is Baring It All In ‘Ugly For A Reason’ Campaign

The latest campaign for Birkenstock—in collaboration with The New York Times’ T Brand Studios—is taking cues it appears from Adidas’ recent campaign when it comes to baring skin and highlighting body diversity.

Only, of course, instead of an array of bare breasts to sell sports bras, Birkenstock is showing us feet. Called “Ugly For A Reason,” Birkenstock’s campaign includes a three-part documentary, How Feet Made Us Human, on the NY Times site as well as their own which explores the evolution of our feet and how they are frequently put to the test through dancing, running and more. 

With the goal to highlight the importance of foot care and how the over two-centuries-old footwear brand has made it the heart of its mission to do that, the campaign seems to be part of a larger trend of shedding light on body parts that are frequently hidden and have, for some reason, carried the weight of a culture of shame. 

The response for Adidas’ “Support Is Everything” campaign has been especially polarizing, with many users taking offense to the images of breasts and causing quite a stir in the comment section. 

“​​So what’s next? Butts need support too! Men’s testicles don’t all hang the same way as well! Adidas bares all!” reads one reaction to the campaign, while a majority of the comments centered around the double standard of why its taboo to see breasts of one gender but not the other, or why Adidas still had to blur out nipples to meet Instagram’s community guidelines.

Are feet just as taboo? They are certainly not used to being in the limelight but (so far) not subject to the whims of Instagram censorship. But unpacking the so-called “ugliness” of the nature of our bodies is certainly a step forward.

Deloitte 2022 Sports Industry Outlook

By the end of 2021, most professional sports leagues and college athletics returned to a relative sense of normalcy with full seasons and live fans, at which time organizations needed to find fresh new revenue streams and ways to deeply connect with fans.

This year, new emerging areas are poised to diversify sports. According to Deloitte, the sports industry continues to see an influx of money from new sources, increased adoption of emerging technologies, shifting power dynamics in college sports and a greater focus on broader societal issues.

With the abundance of options, fragmentation and overload could become more significant near-term challenges but the fundamentals of sports will remain the same, with fan experiences at the center.  

Deloitte’s 2022 sports industry outlook explores how these trends could create new opportunities and challenges for everyone involved: sports organizations, leagues, owners, teams, players and fans.

Among the report’s key takeaways include:

  • The blending of the real and digital worlds accelerate, with growing markets for data capture and analytics, esports, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and immersive technologies.
  • Blockchain-enabled innovations have a chance to open entirely new markets and options for fans beyond simple collectibles.
  • College athletics will see some of its biggest changes ever as student-athletes exercise more self-determination.
  • Sports betting has entered the mainstream and companies will continue their relentless pursuit of new customers.

The Accelerated Merging Of The Physical And Virtual

As augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies further develop, sports gaming and betting platforms are trying to imbue the energy, immediacy and excitement of in-person experiences into the digital realm. Deloitte sees this blending accelerate next year as new AR applications for training, simulation and broadcasting increase as well as the deployment of 5G and its low-latency benefits grow.

For example, Deloitte and the USGA collaborated on an AR app to enhance the fan experience, with near-real-time shot tracking and 3D course models. AT&T and the WNBA launched the Game View app to visualize game statistics in AR. And the NHL, together with Verizon and, is bringing together player- and puck-tracking, along with new ways to consume real-time statistics for a more interactive in-game experience.

Another major trend accelerating the creation of the “phygital” world is the rapid growth of sports-related NFTs. Deloitte Global predicts there will be more than $2 billion in sports-related NFT transactions in 2022. In addition, all the major leagues now have NFT partners—for example, the NBA and WNBA with Dapper Labs and their Top Shot platform. The NFL recently announced a partnership with Dapper Labs (NFL All Day) and the MLB is working with Candy Digital. Deloitte has also seen a rise in the popularity of fantasy sports games—like Sorare—that blend fantasy sports, NFTs and real-world soccer into a new way for fans to engage.

Strategic questions to consider:

  • What’s the long-term sustainability of the sports NFT market? What can be done to drive more demand and engage as many fans as possible?
  • Will AR move beyond simply fun and interesting fan experiences to something more pervasive and essential?
  • How will these technologies shape other notable emerging business areas, such as ticketing and sports betting?
  • What new sports experiences blending the physical and virtual, sport and esport, will emerge?

Moving Beyond NFTs

With the rising use of cryptocurrency and associated exchange platforms, Deloitte predicts a nexus will form around sports collectibles, ticketing, betting and gaming. But it’s important to note that crypto has been playing at the margins of the sports industry for a few years now. Not only have some players been paid in crypto but a few teams in the MLB, NBA and NHL are accepting it for season tickets and other merchandise.

In an effort to drum up greater brand awareness, legitimacy and customer acquisition, crypto players have been betting big on sports sponsorships. The crypto exchange FTX inked a five-year deal with MLB and bought the naming rights to the arena for the NBA’s Miami Heat. Coinbase partnered with the NBA and WNBA in the hopes of educating fans, and the Staples Center was recently renamed Arena.

In the next few years, Deloitte expects to see more experimentation in linking individual and season tickets to blockchains, at first with the bundling of tickets with NFTs to reward fans. In the future, with proper smart contract capabilities, fractional ownership of season tickets and suites and a reinvention of the ticket resale process could be viable. 

This activity could increase the use of dynamic ticket pricing and portions of ticket resales going back to teams or leagues, creating a new revenue source. Before this practice becomes widespread, Deloitte says standards should be established, robust consumer protections should be enacted, fans must be educated and compliance and tax implications should be considered.

Strategic questions to consider:

  • What ultimate role will crypto play in sports betting?
  • Will potential US regulation of the crypto market have a significant impact on its growing connections with sports?
  • Will we eventually see universal wallets that will work across sports so that fans can have a simple and easy user experience?

Shifting Powers In College Athletics

Several events of 2021 foreshadowed the dramatic power shifts set to unfold in college athletics over the next decade. As Deloitte notes, the NCAA expanded the one-time transfer exception to all Division I sports, which means student-athletes in more popular sports don’t have to sit out for a season if they transfer schools.

Next, some states passed legislation allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL), which prompted the NCAA to release interim policies so all student-athletes can take advantage of the opportunities that result. 

Finally, several schools announced they’d be changing athletic conferences over the next few years.

With student-athletes free to pursue financial opportunities across social and traditional media, ecosystems of agents, consultants and digital services are quickly being built to capitalize on the opportunity. Some athletes are seeing more than $1 million in opportunities for their NIL efforts. As the power between student-athletes and coaches shifts, Deloitte expects positive and negative consequences: potential recruiting advantages, changes in gender disparity, newfound attention to niche sports and more empowered student-athletes.

Strategic questions to consider:

  • Will federal action take place regarding NIL? Will these changes exacerbate or improve gender disparity issues in college athletics?
  • How will the proposed changes to the NCAA constitution, which gives more power to the divisions, impact these issues?
  • What will be the implications of these issues to smaller schools and the vitality of their sports programs?

A Tipping Point In The Sports Betting Market

Sports betting—which brought in about $1.5 billion in revenue in 2020—is legal and active in 29 states as of November 2021. As the activity continues to grow—it’s anticipated to reach $6 billion by 2023)—three major players are leading the way: DraftKings, BetMGM and FanDuel.

In a frenzy for customer acquisition, they’re shelling out big bucks on advertising and sponsorships to build brand awareness and expand their traditional base. But in doing so, Deloitte says they run the risk of overwhelming the nascent marketing or alienating fans. That’s why the NFL has limits on the number of TV spots they sell to sports betting companies and similarly, the NBA isn’t allowing sportsbooks to advertise on jerseys.

Deloitte sees this tipping point as an accelerant for market consolidation. In developing their infrastructure and portfolios, companies are seeking to acquire strategic technologies to bring in-house and expand their user base. 

They’re also looking to integrate fantasy sports, sports betting and iGaming. Case in point: Caesars Entertainment’s acquisition of William Hill for $4 billion, Bally’s merger with Gamesys Group for $2.7 billion and the failed merger of DraftKings and Entain for $20 billion.

Strategic questions to consider:

  • Will the sports betting spending boom on advertising convert to new customers and will it lead to sustainable growth?
  • How much regulatory and fan pushback will we see, especially with regard to underage gambling?
  • What innovations will we see as sports betting blends into the overall fan experience, including in-venue, broadcasting and streaming?
  • As the market consolidates, what common attributes will the most successful betting operators have?

Video Streaming Has Reached A Tipping Point—Here’s How Marketers Can Respond

Today’s media landscape is vast, with the volume of streaming content continuously expanding as over-the-top (OTT) platforms add more content. In the US as of February 2022, consumers had 817,000 unique video titles across traditional TV and streaming services to choose from—a jump from 646,000 in December 2019 according to Gracenote.

This breadth has overwhelmed audiences, resulting in a shift in how consumers engage with video content and altering TV viewing. Nielsen’s first State of Play report gives marketers insight into why the video streaming landscape has reached a tipping point and how they can deliver on streaming’s bright future.

The report highlights two critical takeaways from the shift in how consumers interact with video and content: one, streaming is here to stay, and two, amid the explosion of new platforms, services and channels, there’s no blueprint for companies to secure their long-term loyalty or their own business growth.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Consumers want the convenience of bundling (despite wanting to cut the cord from bundled cable not too long ago).
  • 93 percent of consumers plan to keep or increase their video streaming services.
  • 72 percent of consumers say “I love my user experience with video streaming services.”
  • Marketers will need to have audience-first mindsets and leverage TV and streaming-specific segments to ensure they’re reaching and engaging their desired audiences.
  • Buyers and sellers can tap into streaming-rich media planning tools to identify the incremental reach that streaming audiences bring to cross-platform campaigns to understand the full picture of who they are targeting.
  • Three factors will drive future success: content, convenience and cost.

Nielsen says media companies will need to understand consumer behavior and sentiment to deliver what audiences are looking for—and keep them engaged as their choices increase. The audience will steer the future of the streaming landscape, and the media industry can help consumers in their media journeys by leveraging data to ensure they never get lost along the way.

Here’s a breakdown of the 817,000 unique program titles across linear TV and streaming services, according to Nielsen:

  • Transactional VOD services (53 percent): A program example would be Yellowstone and platform examples would be Amazon, Apple TV and Google Play.
  • SVOD non-exclusively (41 percent): A program example would be Friends and platform examples include HBO Max and syndicated TV.
  • Free ad-supported VOD services (36 percent): A program example would be Revenge and a platform example would be The Roku Channel.
  • Linear TV non-exclusively (24 percent): A program example would be Blue Bloods, and examples include CBS and many OTT platforms.
  • Linear TV exclusively (16 percent): A program example would be Wheel of Fortune and a platform example would be ABC.
  • SVOD exclusively (15 percent): A program example would be Stranger Things and a platform example would be Netflix.

To meet consumer behavior, streaming-first mindsets have become table stakes for content creators and distributors, notes the report. In the fall of last year, more than 81 percent of US homes had at least one TV-connected device, up from 72 percent back in 2019. And late last year, Americans two and older spent 32 percent of their total TV time with TV-connected devices (68 percent with traditional TV). Among kids 2-17, the percentage was 64 percent.

Audiences are loving the growing expanse. Last year, Americans watched nearly 15 million years’ worth of streaming video content, and streaming providers are steadily increasing their share of consumers’ total TV time. In February of this year, content from streaming platforms accounted for just under 29 percent of consumers’ total time with TV, ahead of broadcast programming (26.4 percent) for the fourth straight month.

While the TV set is still the dominant device for reach, the phrase “watching TV” has evolved over time. Today, it offers consumers a way to engage with any and all content, including audio. As Nielsen found, smart TVs are as popular for streaming music as smart speakers.

Devices consumers use for their paid audio streaming services:

  • Smartphone (80 percent)
  • Smart speaker (41 percent)
  • Smart TV (41 percent)
  • Computer (39 percent)
  • Internet-connected device (37 percent)
  • Tablet (31 percent)
  • Connected car system (24 percent)

This growth and variety have inspired consumers to adopt more than two options as platforms emerge. Nielsen’s data shows the number of paid streaming services among paid video subscribers is:

  • One service: 18 percent in 2022 vs. 35 percent in 2019
  • Two services: 24 percent in 2022 vs. 33 percent in 2019
  • Three services: 23 percent in 2022 vs. 21 percent in 2019
  • Four services: 18 percent in 2022 vs. 8 percent in 2019
  • Five services: 10 perfect in 2022 vs. 3 percent in 2019
  • Six or more services: 7 percent in 2022 vs. none in 2019

Across age groups, consumers 35-49 spend the most money on streaming services, as 24 percent pay for five or more, Nielsen found. Consumers aren’t just replacing their traditional TV options with OTT options. In many cases, consumers continue adding to their media options when content appeals to them. Nielsen’s research shows they do this to a degree, largely because of cost: 56 percent of survey respondents say cost is the primary reason why they don’t subscribe to more services.

Nevertheless, the abundance of choices has survey respondents feeling overwhelmed. Nearly half (50 percent) say that the increase in options makes it hard to find what they’re looking for, which represents another consideration for marketers looking to acquire new customers.

This frustration has made 64 percent say they want streaming bundles, while only 9 percent disagree that there’s a need for bundled services.

Bundling traditional and streaming offerings, such as Xfinity and Apple TV, has become one solution to the industry’s growing awareness of consumers’ fatigue. Verizon plans to join soon as it announced its +play platform, which includes partnerships with Netflix, Peloton, Disney+ and other streamers. The service will allow customers to find, purchase and manage their go-to subscriptions at no extra cost.

But as Nielsen notes, bundling is just one way to help consumers find the content they’re looking for. Nielsen suggests applying hyper-detailed video descriptors to content catalogs as they crystalize the storylines and contextualize the essence of a show or movie. 

Says the report:

“This data enables nuanced discovery paths and offers fresh and relevant program recommendations that are aligned with a viewer’s individual tastes and viewing history. In the streaming realm, the video carousel is the storefront. Visitors aren’t logging in to read. They’re logging in for visual experiences. And that’s where personalized images can enhance a platform’s visual merchandising.”

Across the streaming landscape, streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) options remain the biggest appeal, but ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD), multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and virtual MVPDs (vMVPDs) accounted for a combined 36 percent of total streaming minutes between July and December 2021.

vMVPDs—which enable consumers to access an array of VOD streaming content—live broadcast programming and cable sources have become increasingly popular as consumers tap into digital channels to access new content options. Over the past three years, vMVPD adoption has grown from 7.1 percent of all TV households to 12.5 percent, with YouTube TV, Hulu+ Live, DirecTV Stream and Sling TV steering much of the growth.

Ad-supported streaming options are also attracting more diverse audiences than traditional TV and SVOD options. For example, Pluto TV, Paramount’s ad-supported video service owned, attracts about twice as many black viewers as traditional linear TV (36 percent vs. 17 percent), according to Nielsen. Similarly, black audiences account for 39 percent of Tubi’s viewership (Tubi is Fox’s ad-supported streamer).

Pandemic-Fueled Spending On Mobile Games Winds Down

According to the latest NPD Group US video game sales report, consumer spending on video game hardware, content and accessories fell to $4.4 billion in February 2022, a 6 percent decrease from the previous year. That’s compared to the two percent dip YOY in consumer spending NPD recorded for January. 

Hardware experienced the largest year-on-year (YOY) percentage decline and all major categories of video game spending were down. Year-to-date (YTD) spending decreased by four percent compared to the same period in 2021, totaling $9.1 billion.

Video Game Hardware

Compared to February 2021, video game hardware dollar sales dropped by 27 percent to $295 million. Amid the hardware market’s low supply issue, YTD dollar sales dropped to $685 million, a 5 percent decrease compared to the same period last year. 

Among the hardware platforms, Switch was the best-selling in February 2022, followed by Xbox Series. As for video game hardware, PlayStation 5 has been leading dollar sales YTD while Switch earned the highest unit sales in the same period, found NPD.

Premium Game Tracked Dollar Sales 

February 2022’s best-selling game was Elden Ring, which has also remained the best-selling game of the year so far. Additionally, launch month sales of the title were the second-highest for any tracked game released in the last 12 months – in the first place is Call of Duty: Vanguard, which launched in November of last year. 

At the end of its first month on the market, Elden Ring ranked as the fifth best-selling game of the 12-month period ending February 2022. The game ranked first on Steam and Xbox, and second on PlayStation in February.

Horizon II: Forbidden West was the second best-selling game and ranked first on PlayStation. The title’s dollar sales for PlayStation 5 set a new launch month record for the platform.

Debuting as part of the PC Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription services, Total War: Warhammer III launched as the fifth best-selling game of February 2022 and ranked as Steam’s second best-selling title.

Mobile Games

With a decrease of 2.5 percent and for the first time since the start of the pandemic, mobile game spending was down YOY in February, based on data provided by Sensor Tower.

This signals the pandemic-fueled spending spree in mobile titles is subsiding but Sensor Tower notes there has been a sizable influx of successful launches and new top-earning titles despite the overall reduction in sales.

The highest-earning mobile titles in the US for February 2022 were Candy Crush Saga, Roblox, Coin Master, Genshin Impact and Pokémon GO.

Video Game Accessories

At $180 million, spending on video game accessories dropped 7 percent as compared to the same period last year. YTD sales have also fallen to $365 million, an 11 percent reduction compared to the same period last year. 

The Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller was the best-selling accessory of February and of 2022 YTD.

FaZe Clan’s Rebrand From Esports Org To Youth Culture Brand

FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink spoke with Axios media reporter Sara Fischer about why the brand is more than just an esports organization—and why it’s uniquely positioned to reach Gen Z on their preferred platform.

FaZe Clan, which added Snoop Dogg to its board of directors just a week ago, is about to become the world’s first publicly traded esports organization.

But the description of esports organization is only part of legacy gaming brand’s twelve-year existence.

“We’re a youth culture brand, overall,” said Trink at Tuesday’s featured SXSW 2022 session, ‘Reimagining Media And Entertainment For Gen Z.’

Noting the overlap between gaming culture and Gen Z, Trink said, “at one point gaming lifestyle became synonymous with youth culture. I’d like to think we played an important part in that.”

Recent figures show that gaming is Gen Z’s preferred social platform, with brands reaching them through Roblox and Fortnite. Ninety percent of Gen Zers identify as gamers, making youth culture statistically synonymous with gamer culture.

While there’s an obvious reverence for competitive gaming and esports, Trink notes that it’s more about the creators than the competition. But it doesn’t hurt to be endemic to gaming culture.

“We’re currently champions of two of the most popular esports out there: Call of Duty and Counterstrike. We have 12 esports teams,” said Trink. “But the thing that’s surprising for some people is, while esports is vibrant and growing, it’s gaming as an entertainment platform that is more popular.”

The pandemic has only made gaming more popular with a valuation of the global gaming market at $198.4 billion in 2021 and projected $339.95 billion by 2027.

“In this world, in gaming—the Harlem Globetrotters are more popular than the Lakers,” said Trink. “We derive our massive fanbase and our cultural significance from the content creator-side.”

The bulk of FaZe Clan’s revenue, most through bluechip sponsors like McDonald’s, Nissan, and Beatz, is also diversifying into limited licensing arrangements like the X-Shot at Target and of course, apparel. But FaZe really has its sights set on CPG brands and partnering around events.

“The brand is a mature brand. The business is a […] recent business,” said Trink.

“We’ve been spending the last couple of years really introducing ourselves to the more traditional world, the less-tapped-in world—we’re a legacy brand in the gaming space.”

Paramount+ Deploys 400 Drones At SXSW To Promote “Halo” Series

A cacophony of 400 drones. A colossal, scannable QR code in the sky. No, these aren’t signs of the apocalypse but rather an example of how brands are leveraging tech to bridge their marketing across the digital and physical worlds.

Paramount+ pulled out all the stops during South by Southwest (SXSW) to promote Halo, its upcoming sci-fi series based on the cult-favorite Xbox franchise, which has sold more than 82 million copies worldwide and grossed over $6 billion in lifetime total sales revenue.

Downtown Austin, Texas was aglow with Paramount’s hovering display, which measured 300 feet tall and 600 feet wide. In addition to a scannable QR code, the swarm of drones spelled out in neon purple “#HaloTheSeries Streams Mar 24” as well as the Paramount+ logo, as seen in photos captured by Dennis Hegstad.

To gauge the reaction of locals and online spectators alike, one need only skim through the Austin subreddit. One user likened the Halo ad to “some creepy black mirror shit” while another said it was a “smart idea” to spread the message to anyone who normally wouldn’t be interested in attending SXSW.

Another Redditor expressed their privacy concerns: “For now I’m not too worried (yearly event with new trendy ad tech in place), but there will need to be new laws put in place in 15-20 years to prevent a bombardment of floating ads when they become the norm.”

While thrilling, a marketing stunt of this kind isn’t entirely new, as one Twitter user pointed out. In April last year, China’s largest anime streaming site Bilibili launched 1,500 drones at night over The Bund in Shanghai. They formed a scannable QR code enabling players to download the Japanese role-playing game Princess Connect! Re: Dive.

Once viewed as gimmicky by US consumers, QR codes took on new meaning during the pandemic as they streamlined shopping experiences and helped people learn more about products, services and activations.

According to a study from The Drum/YouGov conducted in June 2021, 75 percent of US respondents said they plan on using QR codes moving forward. And when asked if they had used a QR code related to a marketing or promotional offer, 45 percent said they had and 46 percent said they hadn’t.

The QR code-enabled Halo ad will appear several times again at SXSW Monday night starting around 8 p.m., according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Halo will debut exclusively on Paramount+ – which had 32.8 million subscribers worldwide at the end of its most recent quarter – on March 24. The series has already been renewed for a second season, the company announced.

How Players’ Perception Of The Mobile Ecosystem Has Changed Over The Last Five Years

Today, mobile games account for a huge chunk of the video game industry, with consumers spending $93.2 billion globally on them in 2021. And by 2027, the global mobile gaming market is projected to reach $153.5 billion

Over the past five years, Tapjoy has surveyed tens of thousands of mobile gamers to get a holistic view of their gaming habits, brand and ad preferences, demographics and more. Its latest report, “The Modern Mobile Gamer 2022: Game Dev. Edition,” compares the current state of mobile gaming – with findings based on a survey it conducted among 9,000 mobile gamers in February 2022 – to the findings of its first report published in 2017. 

For its current report, Tapjoy released several surveys via its Offerwall in February 2022 and reached a total of 9,352 mobile gamers aged 18 and older. Each respondent opted in to participate in exchange for in-game rewards or premium content native to each game’s virtual economy.

Who’s Playing

According to the survey, 72 percent of Tapjoy gamers are women, 35 percent are Gen Z, 27 percent are millennials, 21 percent are Gen X and 86 percent live in North America.

What They Play

First up, Tapjoy found that 57 percent of respondents play more mobile games now than they did five years ago. Roughly one-third of these gamers said they have between four and seven mobile games on their phone. For Gen Z gamers, that figure rises to eight or more. Among the genres studied, puzzles are the top category in every age group but are particularly appreciated by Gen X (65 percent) and parents (58 percent). 

The action/adventure, strategy, and simulation categories tied for the second most popular at 33 percent. Tapjoy also found that action/adventure is more popular among men than the puzzle category; strategy is more popular among Gen X gamers and simulation is appealing to Gen Z, millennial and female gamers. Role-playing games (RPG) are popular among Gen Z and non-binary gamers, the report shows. 

Why They Play

More than anything else, respondents said they play mobile games to be entertained (73 percent) and to relax (60 percent). 

According to Tapjoy, 84 percent of users play mobile games, 36 percent play console or handheld games and 30 percent play on PC.  When asked why they prefer mobile games to other platforms, 67 percent cited the convenience, noting “I always have my phone on me.”

Twenty-two percent think that mobile games are now higher quality than they were before. Most mobile gamers discover new titles via ads in other games and only remove mobile games from regular rotation if they’ve grown bored or frustrated (39 percent), finished the story or mission (24 percent) or the publisher stops adding new content (12 percent). 

When They Play

Across generations, 49 percent of gamers play on mobile multiple times a day, with parents being the cohort most likely to do so at 58 percent, followed by Gen X at 54 percent. 

As much as 50 percent of gamers play more than 10 hours per week, which is similar to the average amount played on console and PC. As for what time of day gamers play, 47 percent play during work or school breaks, 44 percent during the evening or just before bed and 38 percent play after getting home from work or school.

What They Spend

Forty-eight percent of parents reported making occasional purchases compared to 40 percent who never do so. Forty-five percent of Gen X gamers make occasional purchases while 40 percent do not. 

More Gen Xers make occasional purchases (45 percent) than never make purchases (40 percent) while for millennials it’s split – 44 percent never make purchases in FTP games but 44 percent spend occasionally. 

About one-quarter of all respondents claimed to wait months before making in-game purchases while parents, Tapjoy found, are willing to spend much more quickly, waiting just a few days after downloading the game.

As for why they make in-app purchases in mobile games, 27 percent said it’s due to a lack of time to earn rewards while another 27 percent said it’s a small price to pay for the promise of continued entertainment. Fifteen percent said they make in-app purchases to reward developers and publishers.


With Google’s plans to scrap third-party cookies and Apple’s IDFA changes, publisher trust has become a major concern in the world of mobile gaming. As Tapjoy found, 43 percent of mobile users are open to app tracking with 29 percent saying the top reason they opt-in is because they trust the developer or publisher. On the other hand, 39 percent reported never opting into data tracking on iOS while the remaining 18 percent said they weren’t sure.


Then Vs. Now

To recap, here’s how players’ perception of the mobile ecosystem has changed since Tapjoy first started measuring these metrics in 2017:




Twenty-one percent of mobile gamers reported favoring ad-supported mobile games while 55 percent would have rather had free apps with in-app purchases.

Fifty percent of mobile gamers now favor ad-supported mobile games while 9 percent prefer paid apps.

Video ads were the most favored rewarded ad type with app installation rewards coming in second.

Video ads are still the most favored rewarded ad type though gamers are more accepting of survey ads and playables.

Forty-four percent of respondents noted that humorous video ads would be most likely to grab their attention.

Humor remains important to 57 percent of respondents who claim that there’s a greater chance of interaction with a video if it’s involved.

YouTube Reportedly Paying Podcasters To Film Their Shows

YouTube is offering podcasters up to $300,000 to film their podcast shows, according to Bloomberg and as reported by The Verge.

Host to several popular podcasts itself, like the H3 Podcast and Full Send Podcast, YouTube is offering individual podcast shows $50,000 and podcast networks up to $300,000 to potentially fund video episodes and other video-based content.

YouTube has been leaning into its podcast business for a while now. From 2018 to 2019, popular YouTubers like Emma Chamberlain and Logan Paul launched podcasts, some of which the creators turned into video versions on their dedicated channels.

In September 2021, YouTube hired Kai Chuk as director of podcasting and next-gen media partnerships. Around the same time, YouTube launched its own podcast called The Upload: The Rise of the Creator Economy,” to spotlight creators and behind-the-scenes moments of their thriving businesses.

Shortly after, it started letting all Canadian users listen to audio without having the app open, a feature only YouTube Premium subscribers could access previously.

Couple these efforts with the growing popularity of music video streaming on YouTube. As of November 2020, YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen said that more than 2 billion people visit YouTube each month to experience music and that YouTube Music has more than 70 million official tracks — more than any other music service.

According to a study from Futuri Media and the University of Florida, YouTube is ahead of major podcast players in certain markets, with 43 percent of monthly podcast listeners saying they went to YouTube for podcasts from 2018 to 2019, ahead of both Apple (34 percent) and Spotify (23 percent). 

As podcast usage in the US grows, YouTube could be looking to capture more of this audio-only audience in a new way. In 2021, eMarketer predicted 40 percent of US internet users would listen to a podcast at least once per month. And last year, for the first time, more than half of all digital audio listeners in the US would become podcast listeners, the firm forecasted.

Game Industry Insights That Matter To Marketers

Video games transcend race, gender, age and political affiliation—something we’re more aware of now than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic enticed individuals from all walks of life into the world of gaming as a form of comfort, stress relief and joy, creating a world they might not have experienced since childhood. 

Now, there are roughly 227 million American video game players with an ever-increasing portion of them turning to gaming for connection. More than 75 percent of gamers play video games with others at least once per week whereas last year that figure was closer to 66 percent. Additionally, 74 percent of parents actually play games with their children at least once per week, up from 55 percent in 2020.

The Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) 2021 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry includes insights about the playing habits and attitudes of 4,000 American gamers ages 18 and over based on a survey it conducted in February 2021. Here are the report’s key takeaways.

Video Game Player Community

Sixty-seven percent of Americans over the age of 18 and 76 percent under 18 play video games. The average age for a gamer is 31 years old as 80 percent of players are over 18. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

  • 20 percent under 18
  • 38 percent between 18 and 34
  • 14 percent between 35 and 44
  • 12 percent between 45 and 54
  • Nine percent between 55 and 64
  • Seven percent 65 and up

Across all players and ages, 55 percent are male and 45 percent are female. As for ethnicity, 73 percent are white, 9 percent are Hispanic, 8 percent are black and six percent are Asian or Pacific Islander. These stats aren’t completely out of line with the overall demographic of the US. Of those the ESA surveyed, 87 percent agree that gamers are a diverse group of people.

Video Games And COVID

Video games provided Americans with a welcome respite from the struggles brought on by COVID-19. Here are some statistics the ESA found in the intersection between video games and the pandemic:

  • 55 percent of players played more during the pandemic
  • 90 percent reported being likely to continue playing after social distancing is no longer required
  • 55 percent reported video games having provided them with stress relief during the pandemic
  • 48 percent reported video games having provided them with a distraction during the pandemic
  • 71 percent of parents said that video games have provided them with a “much-needed” break from their child
  • 66 percent of parents agreed that video games made the transition to distance learning easier
  • 70 percent of parents reported allowing their children to do more when it comes to video games during the pandemic
  • 59 percent of parents said their child used education games—especially math—during the pandemic with 63 percent of them labeling those games very or extremely effective

Benefits Of Play

Americans weren’t only using video games to reduce stress during the pandemic, but also turned to them as a way to connect and be entertained. Of the reasons studied, unwinding, relaxing and decompressing was the one option cited most frequently (66 percent); followed by filling time while taking a break, waiting or commuting (52 percent); to escape and be highly entertained (51 percent) and to spend time alone (48 percent).

Eighty-nine percent of respondents said that video games have the ability to bring together people from different walks of life—whether that be culture, race, age, political affiliation or physical abilities. Additionally, the same percentage of people stated that video games create accessible experiences for people with different abilities.

Overall, the study points to the contention that video gameplay has a positive impact on gamers’ lives:

  • 90 percent of players experience joy through video games
  • 87 percent of players experience mental stimulation through video games
  • 87 percent of players experience stress-relief through video games
  • 81 percent of players develop teamwork and collaboration skills through video games

Seventy-seven percent of gamers play with others online or in-person at least once per week – up from 65 percent in 2020. On average, players spend 7.5 hours per week playing online and 4.5 hours per week playing in-person with others. Of those that share in the game-playing experience, 53 percent play with friends, 31 percent with partners, 31 percent with other family members, 23 percent with a team or “online-only” friends and 6 percent with parents.

One of the main benefits of video gameplay is its ability to introduce us to new friendships or relationships, as 78 percent of survey respondents reported. Fifty-four percent of gamers have actually met people they wouldn’t have otherwise met as 42 percent have made a good friend, spouse or significant other through video games. Additionally, 53 percent said that video games have helped them stay connected to friends and family.

Player Habits And Preferences

  • Devices used for video gameplay:
    • 57 percent smartphone
    • 46 percent game console
    • 42 percent PC
  • Hours spent playing per week:
    • 29 percent 1-3 hours
    • 77 percent 3+ hours
    • 51 percent 7+ hours
  • Most popular genres played regularly:
    • 63 percent casual (e.g., Tetris, Solitaire)
    • 39 percent action (e.g., GTA, Super Mario Odyssey)
    • 39 percent shooter (e.g., COD, Fortnite)
    • 37 percent racing (e.g., Need for Speed, Forza)
    • 33 percent family (e.g., Super Mario Party, Just Dance)
    • 31 percent adventure (e.g., Uncharted, Resident Evil)

Parents, Families And Video Games

For the majority of American families, video games are a family affair. Parents employ a combination of household rules, parental controls and ratings to determine the right balance for their children. Among parents with children who play regularly, 86 percent are aware of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) ratings, 76 percent use them regularly and 82 percent use parental control settings on at least one of their child’s gaming devices. 

Most parents have household rules for video games:

  • 90 percent require their children to ask for permission before making any purchase with real money within a game
  • 83 percent require their children to ask for permission before playing
  • 78 percent have screen time rules relating either to time of day or duration of play
  • 77 percent require their children to ask for permission before communicating with others online

As much as 74 percent of parents play games with their children at least weekly in 2021 – up from 55 percent in 2020. Of the reasons cited for playing with their children, the top three were for fun (57 percent), to socialize (54 percent) and to spend time together (53 percent). 

Video games provide families with more than just fun; Americans believe that they can be educational (80 percent), improve cognitive skills (75 percent), improve creative skills (68 percent) and teach children how to win and lose in a healthy way (53 percent).

Profiles Of Players

Men and women between ages 18 and 34 play video games to escape and to be entertained (56 percent) as more women than men report playing for the purpose of unwinding. The majority of this demographic play on console (58 percent), with others (89 percent) and play for more than 3 hours per week (80 percent). Additionally, 53 percent play casual games, 53 percent play shooter games and 51 percent play action games.

Men and women between ages 35 and 44 most commonly play with their children (56 percent) and friends (45 percent). The majority of this demographic play on their smartphones (64 percent), with others (81 percent) and play for more than 3 hours per week (76 percent). Additionally, 66 percent play casual games, 48 percent play racing games and 47 percent play action games.

On average, men between ages 45 and 54 spend over 10 hours per week playing with others or online while women in this age group spend over 11 hours per week doing so. 

The majority of this demographic play on their smartphones (59 percent), with others (68 percent) and play for more than 3 hours per week (75 percent). Additionally, 72 percent play casual games, 36 percent play arcade games like Pac-Man and Pinball FX3 and 31 percent play action games.

Consumers Spent 22% More On Video Game Hardware In January

Consumers spent less on the video game industry overall in January when compared to a year ago but only by 2 percent to $4.7 billion, according to The NPD Group’s latest analysis.

Hardware spending grew 22 percent year-over-year (YOY) to $390 million—the highest total for a January month since 2009, at which time the total reached $447 million.

Hardware’s double-digit percentage gain was driven by PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles however it wasn’t enough to offset declines in content and accessories spending.

In both units and dollars, PlayStation 5 was January’s best-selling hardware platform while Xbox ranked second across both measures.

The best-selling game in January was Pokemon Legends: Arceus, joining Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl (#11) on the month’s best-selling titles chart. 

Monster Hunter: Rise (#3 in January and up from #94 in December) and God of War (#5 in January and #146 a month ago) both featured Steam launches during January, which boosted their respective rankings. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was the sixth best-selling game of January and placed second on PlayStation platforms. The game now trails only Marvel’s Spider-Man, and God of War (2018) in lifetime dollar sales for Sony-published titles since 1995, NPD found.

Based on data from Sensor Tower, mobile game spending in the US declined 6.8 percent YOY last month. The dip signals a return to pre-pandemic revenue trends after the spending surge witnessed in 2020 and 2021.

As NPD video game industry analyst Mat Piscatella notes:

“Prior to spring 2020, January usually saw negative month-over-month growth, as was the case last month. In fact, January revenue generation saw a decline when compared to December for six consecutive years leading up to 2020. This is all to say that the Y/Y and M/M cooldown in spending experienced in January shouldn’t be taken as a sign of an overall downward trend, but rather the return of typical seasonality to the market.”

Spend on video game accessories declined 15 percent to $185 million when compared to a year ago. Xbox’s Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller was the top-selling accessory of the month.

For a refresher on NPD’s 2021 US games industry report, click here.