What Marketers Need To Know About Amazon Influencer Storefronts

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by a.network. To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

In its ongoing attempt to join the likes of the Google and Facebook digital duopoly, Amazon rolled out personalized online storefronts for social media influencers. An extension to the influencer program it launched in 2017, the move could help marketers better tie influencer activity to hard product sales, in addition to amplifying reach and engagement. Here we explore the steps marketers should take to stay in front of the new platform and how to make the most out of Amazon storefronts right now.

The central difference between Amazon affiliate links and the Amazon influencer storefront is that the storefront houses links to products recommended by influencers. The storefront provides influencers with their own page and a URL to showcase their recommendations which is helpful where hyperlinking isn’t possible—for example, on Instagram captions and videos. 

Influencers must have a YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account to qualify for an Amazon storefront. Amazon doesn’t provide much detail on how follower size impacts qualifications beyond noting that it “looks at the number of followers and other engagement metrics of the influencers’ social media presence.” Influencers who become verified on Amazon have a verified badge and link on their storefront as well as access to Amazon social experiences, called bounties, and forthcoming new benefits that Amazon has yet to disclose. Once set up, virtual storefronts can be customized through photos and a bio. The influencer program is currently available in the US, UK, Canada and India.

The move helps consumers, too, letting them easily follow storefronts to they can stay up-to-date on products their favorite influencers suggest. From there, shoppers will receive updates via email and push notifications whenever the influencer contributes new content to the site, including reviews and the creation of new “Idea Lists” on the storefront’s page.

According to Liane Mullin, COO of WhatsUpMoms, a parenting network with 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube, sales commission depends on the product category. Marketing Land reported that Amazon approached Mullin’s team about setting up their own storefront. “Our community has always asked for our product recommendations, but we didn’t really have a great solution to aggregate all of our favorite products. Amazon is a trusted site for a lot of parents, so it was an easy decision to partner with them for our first online store,” Mullin told Marketing Land

As for commission rates, they vary from one percent to 10 percent, as Business Insider noted. The storefront is equipped with a reporting tab within Amazon that tracks the sales of products and bounties. In addition to tapping major influencers, Amazon is also targeting micro-influencers who have small but highly engaged audiences.

In addition to Amazon influencer storefronts, there is Storr and Like To Know It, two retail concept platforms that allow users to curate collections and shopping experiences much in the same way that Amazon storefronts work. San Francisco-based Storr, which launched earlier this year, allows anyone to open their own store via their phone. Storr owners can make up to 15-25 percent on commission. Similarly, Like To Know It was created in 2017, and by the end of its first year, had over 1.3 million registered users on the mobile app and over $300 million in sales coming from its shoppers. The platform is driving influencer sales at scale, as research mentioned on Forbes noted that four of five of Nordstrom web visits came from influencer-driven referral traffic, 79 percent of which came from Like To Know It and its parent brand, rewardStyle, in 2017.

With Amazon influencer storefronts, Storr and Like To Know It, influencers are crafting experiences that are more shoppable for followers on platforms where it’s not easy to link out to a product. For example, to shop on Instagram, one must remain in the app. Custom links to storefronts simplify the user experience and expose followers to new products they potentially wouldn’t search for on their own.

While the storefronts provide influencers a new way to monetize their popularity, it’s not clear yet to what extent Amazon’s initiative will benefit marketers. The program is in its early stages and marketers currently have no access to influencers’ storefront metrics. In the beginning stages, brands will have to rely on influencers to provide traffic data, making the storefront retail concept not entirely immune to fraud.

The storefronts will, however, move marketers one step closer to understanding the value of influencer marketing beyond awareness raising. After storefronts become more established, marketers will have better insights into the conversion rates of each influencer and that data will help them navigate those relationships accordingly. The question that remains for marketers is whether or not they can retarget influencers’ audiences beyond their storefront and incorporate those consumers into their larger brand strategy. 

“The Face’s” Jason Gonsalves: “I Feel Like Advertising Needs To Earn Its Right To Take People’s Attention”

Jason Gonzalves is one of the brave bunch who decided to revive an iconic brand. He is responsible for the comeback of The Face, a British music, fashion and culture publication that ruled the newsstands from 1980 to 2004, and relaunched in April 2019 in an online format by Wasted Talent.

“It’s always really lovely when you hear [personal stories about The Face], the warmth and affection from people who remember it. And people who weren’t really old enough to remember it the first time around, but have found old copies or archives. Just touching,” Gonzalves said about the magazine’s recent renaissance.

He also chatted with AList about other things, like the phenomenon of “the feed culture,” the difficulties of repositioning a brand, his decision to leave an agency career and more.

How did you make a decision to leave the agency you built to recreate The Face?

The truth is, I ended up at an advertising agency because I couldn’t get a job at The Face. I was a graduate who decided to please my Asian parents. I got [a] science [degree] when I wanted to be a fashion journalist and write for The Face. I came out of university with a degree in quantum physics and realized I was never going to be a scientist. I wanted to do something creative. And I was like, “All right, I’m going to end up in the agency world.” Weirdly, the fact  that advertising was always my second choice, it was a really brilliant driving force for my career. I never wanted to make ads. I wanted to make things that were about culture. I brought that mindset to my career in advertising, It was a deep sense that I was going to try and do the closest thing that I could do to achieve my dream, and do it in the world of advertising. And that has been a big part of why I’ve been able to do so much [effective work] over the years. In truth, it’s like my destiny fulfilled.

I was the chief strategy officer and led BBH for 10 years. I tried to see if it was possible for BBH to buy The Face. My partner now, Dan Flower, [and I] looked to see if we could buy The Face through BBH because I feel like advertising needs to earn its right to take people’s attention. So many agencies say, “We create culture.” But they don’t, really. If you could take a publishing spirit and have a really strategic point of view about marketing, that is something really powerful.

When I heard that Wasted Talent bought The Face, I went back to that plan and said to [Wasted Talent CEO] Jerry [Perkins], “Look. I think I’ve got a good idea about how a publisher needs to operate right now, how it needs to show up in the digital world and how to make money out of it. And I’ve got [the] strong point of view about how The Face needs to work and I’d like to come and do that for you.” It was middle-aged wish fulfillment. It was a creative person’s dream come true for me. But also, I feel like I’ve developed this point of view about where the world is going, what audiences want and what probably advertisers want.

One of my clients for many years was The Guardian newspaper. I think what The Guardian‘s doing, and what The New York Times is doing in the world of news, is so important right now. I feel some of that zeal, that sense of purpose, should be brought to the areas of style, culture and music journalism. Some of that sense of purpose and the role that those things have in culture can be a galvanizing force in the world. That’s especially true for a generation of young people who are hugely motivated, critically creative, questioning, socially aware, politically active, but  also want to party, want to look great, want to discover new types of culture—those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I think there’s a really exciting place to bring some of that sense of purpose and mission to the world of style and culture.

What are the beginning efforts of bringing the magazine back to life? How did you decide that you were going to use the old logo?

The big question that me and Dan Flower, the managing director, talked about before a single person was spoken to was, “Why does it need to exist? Why should it come back?” We have a lot of affection for it. I grew up [with] my eyes opened to a world of creativity through The Face, but [that was in the ’80s]. There were hardly any magazines on the newspaper rack. The newspapers really didn’t cover culture in the way they do now. There was very little in the way of television, certainly no internet.

We also spent a lot of time asking ourselves, “Does this need to exist and why?” And for us, [we feel culture] has become absolutely and utterly dominated by what we call “the feed culture.” The Facebook algorithm, the [chronology]. The whole way the social web works, you have to feed it, you have to keep giving it to people. And [when you think about audiences] you think about traffic through the feed.

What I think that means [is] that you’ve got a group over here who are all white, a group over here who are liberals, you’ve got a group over here interested in fashion, and [none of those little bubbles communicate with each other]. We thought, “That’s really interesting, but it feels like at a human level that’s not what people really want.” And The Face was always something that was incredibly multifaceted. It would talk about music, it would talk about entertainment, about sports, it would talk about political issues. And we thought, “Wow! That’s really exciting.”

In 1980, when it launched, Britain was in really fucked up place It had [a terrible economic meltdown in 1976]. There where worker strikes. There was rioting. There was racial tension. There was a government that was trying to destroy society, and [culture] is something that connects all of these themes and expresses it through music and attitude, look and identity. And that’s called style. Not style as a “this is what you wear” and “this is what you buy,” which is what it has become. Style is about attitude. I want a magazine that does that and that’s what The Face is doing. We just felt [that] almost 40 years later [it was] so much a mirror image of that time. We want to tap into some of that spirit, that sense of purpose and start a new conversation around style. A conversation around style that is positive and not just about consumption, it’s about how you express yourself. It is about identity. It’s about belonging. It is about unity.

And then we thought that if we could deliver it in a way that felt like it tapped into human needs, if there was a real sense of purpose there, that could galvanize it. What we also think is missing is  a commitment to journalism in a contemporary way, asking the questions that matter. There is also a sense of positivity that is missing right now.

Also, repositioning a brand is like archaeology. You’re finding things, fragments, hidden in the history and heritage of the brand, uncovering them, dusting them off. And then you find a way to combine them in a completely new and fresh way. And to put them together but do that in a way that doesn’t just hark back to the past, but is a springboard to something new. And that’s what we wanted to do. Take the foundation and use all the things that weren’t available to the amazing journalists who were at The Face [at the time] to create a new expression of the original spirt. Today’s version is more dynamic with more voices, using video and engaging with the audience in interactive ways.

We liked the idea of keeping the masthead. We just felt like it was an incredibly simple, striking and iconic foundation. We wanted to respect the past in our fonts We wanted to pay a nod of respect to the foundations that were laid by the people who’d come before us. Incredible people, like Nick Logan, the founding editor, and Sheryl Garratt, probably the best editor that The Face ever had. Incredible designers, like Neville Brody and so many brilliant journalists and image-makers.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to them but every one of those people would have said to us, “Don’t go back. Go forward.” Interestingly, one of the toughest things to think about, in terms of design refresh, was use of the typography. Because what Neville did was so iconic. What  we designed was a nod to that. It was our way to take it forward.

We thought long and hard about how we’d do that. Who could we hire, who’s the new Neville Brody? The person we are most excited about working with in the world was Mirko Borsche, who runs a design studio called Bureau Borsche in Munich. We like his craft ethics, the range of his work, his point of view, culture and his punk ethic. And we started working with him.

You have a quantum physics degree so you’re at least a little bit analytical. How did you organize the relaunch on paper?

There were lots of moments where we thought we can’t write anything down. The old guard wouldn’t have written anything down. We wanted it to arrive organically. [Part of the evolution] was to keep questioning. Always asking not just what’s cool or what’s interesting, [but why has it got style]? Why does it matter? We are joining the dots between all the different parts of culture. Overall, it feels more like a movement than a magazine.

We were very focused on trying to get something out, and do it quickly. Basically, there was one person employed last year before Christmas and we went from that, to having a product that was out in the world in April. That involved hiring a team, staffing up, finding an office, building a website, designing, writing stories, philosophy, commercial deals and operations. We did all of that in about four months.

At advertising agencies, you spend so long planning that a lot of the magic is lost. And all that lightning in the bottle comes from that creative leap that happens in the moment. At agencies, the layers of process and approval and second-guessing a client who’s second-guessing their boss and all the rounds of approvals—that kills that magic. It’s rare that magic in a bottle gets any better over time. When you’ve got no time at all, that’s when amazing things happen. And when you’ve got people who operate in that way, it’s amazing.

Did you look at other publishers and what they were doing with brands and advertising? Have you been looking at that as you’ve been creating The Face‘s value proposition and partnering with brands?

We’ve looked at [ideas and strategies and actually spent many years at agencies looking at publishers and trying to understand what they’re doing well, and what they’re not]. One of the really fascinating learnings was seeing how the record industry fucked up. Which is business 101, isn’t it? An example of how not to drive off a cliff. The record industry got itself into trouble because it believed it was in the industry of making records. It believed it was a mass industrialized business, churning out pieces of vinyl. In reality, the high-value proposition was always about this magical relationship between artists and fans. The records happened to be one of the conduits, and so they were really focused on how they could commercialize an object. [It was a record and then it was a CD]. But the really high-value proposition was the incredible relationship. And in a way, publishing did that, too.

Publishing is the means, the medium, for creating a relationship between creative people and audiences. Both are connecting audiences to what’s happening in culture. And I think for me, that’s the proposition. What we do is create value in cultural relevance. Some of that comes through our own publishing and some of that we monetize through advertising. For us, that looks less like conventional ads and more about co-creating with brands. But right now, that’s what we’re about [having an incredible operation that understands cultural relevance], and then thinking about different ways to turn that into brand value. Over time we see ourselves developing our own products, our own life experiences and our own IP, and becoming a go-to production house for commissioning from the big platforms.

Do you think that the UK publishing is uniquely capable of sustaining a comeback of this sort?

Comebacks are always hard. One of our massive advantages is this incredible brand. For example, Alessandro Michele, the creative director at Gucci, called us up and said, “I want to do a collection and [I want to incorporate The Face into my collection].” His pre-fall ’19 collection has 20 pieces from The Face, using The Face logo in the collection. That’s because of the strength of the brand. It’s so powerful even after 16 years of being away that people like Michele want to have the Gucci brand associated with it.

But the brand has no legacy infrastructure. [It] hasn’t existed for 16 years. So we don’t have all the problems of transforming an infrastructure and all the pain that comes with that. We can take this incredible brand, and with a completely blank piece of paper, build a business that’s right, right now. That is a unique opportunity. If you can do that and there are people who want to be part of it, that [speaks to the fact] that some of these incredible magazines are just incredible culture brands.

More than ever young people especially look at brands like that as an extension of themselves as well.

That’s an incredibly smart thing to say. They think about brands in an incredibly fluid way. It’s a generational thing to think about brands like that. It’s actually a very postmodern thought that a brand isn’t really just a descriptor of a product. It is actually about [an idea, a set of ideas or a set of values]. It’s a point of view of the world. How that is expressed can be quite fluid. I think the audience is very comfortable with that. I’ve heard a few [old school publishers] going, “Oh, e-comm. That feels like you’re de-valuing the editorial.” I think that’s quite an old-fashioned way of thinking about it. A brand that is about culture and thinks about how to create something interesting in the retail space is a different form of storytelling.

A lot of the really interesting publishers right now are actually e-comm businesses, for example, Farfetch. They’re basically an e-comm platform but they really [are] publishers. As long as you approach these things with integrity and a point of view rather than thinking about it as a platform (which is really only about the technology and scaling), then I think you can succeed. Of course, you have to scale, but you have to have integrity [while doing it]. You’ve got to have value. You’ve got to have a product and you need to create a voice. It’s an incredibly exciting time.

“It’s always really lovely when you hear [personal stories about The Face], the warmth and affection from people who remember it. And people who weren’t really old enough to remember it the first time around, but have found old copies or archives. Just touching,” Gonzalves said about the magazine’s recent renaissance.

He also chatted with AList about other things, like the phenomenon of “the feed culture,” the difficulties of repositioning a brand, his decision to leave an agency career and more.

How did you make a decision to leave an agency career that you’d built to re-create The Face?

TThe truth is, I ended up at an advertising agency because I couldn’t get a job at The Face.I was a graduate who had decided to please my Asian parents that I would get [a] science [degree] when I wanted to be a fashion journalist and write for The Face. I came out with my degree in quantum physics and realized I was never going to be a scientist. I wanted to do something creative. And I was like, “All right, I’m going to end up in the agency world.” Weirdly, the fact that in a way, advertising was always my second choice, it was a really brilliant driving force for my career in advertising. I never wanted to make ads. I wanted to make things that were about culture. That brought to my career in advertising a deep sense that I was going to try and do the closest thing that I could do to my dream in the world of advertising. And that has stood me very well and probably has been a big part of why I’ve been able to do so much [effective work] over the years. In truth, it’s like my destiny fulfilled. I’ve tried to get agencies like BBH and McGarryBowen to do work that is reflective of culture, that talks to the culture, engages people in the way that art and entertainment does. I’ve always done that. 

I was the chief strategy officer and led the BBH for 10 years, I tried to see if it was possible for BBH to buy The Face. My partner now, Dan Flower, [and I] looked to see if we could buy The Face through BBH because I feel like advertising needs to earn its right to take people’s attention. So many agencies say that: “We create culture.” But they don’t really. If you could take a publishing spirit and fold and have a really strategic point of view about marketing, that was something really powerful. 

When I heard that Wasted Talent had bought The Face, I went back to that plan and said to [Wasted Talent CEO] Jerry [Perkins], “Look. I think I’ve got a good idea about how a publisher needs to operate right now and how it needs to show up in the digital world; and how to make money out of it. And I’ve got [the] strong point of view about how The Face needs to work and I’d like to come and do that for you.” It was middle-aged wish fulfillment. It was a creative person’s dream come true for me. But also, I feel like I’ve developed this point of view about where the world is going. What audiences want and what probably advertisers want. 

One of my clients for many years was The Guardian newspaper, and I think what The Guardian‘s doing, what The New York Times is doing in the world of news, is so important right now. I feel some of that zeal, that sense of purpose should be brought to the areas of style and culture, and music journalism. Some of that sense of purpose and the role that those things have in culture to be a galvanizing force in the world for a generation of young people who are hugely motivated, critically creative, questioning, socially aware, politically active, but actually also want to party, want to look great, want to discover new types of culture—those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I think there’s a really exciting place to bring some of that sense of purpose and mission to the world of style and culture.

What are the beginning efforts of bringing the magazine back to life? How did you decide that you were going to use the old logo?

The big question that me and Dan Flower, the managing director, talked about a lot before a single person was spoken to was: “Why does it need to exist? Why should it come back?” Because, actually, yes, we have a lot of affection for it. I grew up [with] my eyes opened to the whole world of creativity through The Face, but [that was in the ’80s]. There were hardly any magazines on the newspaper rack. The newspapers really didn’t cover culture in the way they do now. There was very little in the way of television, certainly no internet. 

We also spent a lot of time asking ourselves, “Does this need to exist? Why does it need to exist?” And for us, what we felt was so important is right now culture has become absolutely and utterly dominated by what we call “the feed culture.” The Facebook algorithm, the [chronology]. The whole way the social web works, you have to feed it, you have to keep giving it to people. And [when you think about audiences] you think about traffic through the feed.

I feel what that all means [is] that you’ve got a group over here who are all white, a group over here who are liberals, you’ve got a group over here with the fashion, and [none of those little bubbles communicate with each other]. They’re all in these tiny little bubbles and we just thought, “That’s really interesting but it feels like at a human level that’s not what people really want.” And The Face was always something that was incredibly multifaceted. It would talk about music, it would talk about entertainment, about sports, it would talk about political issues. And we thought, “Wow! That’s really, really exciting.”

In 1980, when it launched, Britain was in really fucked up place It had [a terrible economic meltdown in 1976]. There was striking. There was rioting. There was racial tension. There was a government that was trying to destroy society, and [culture] is something that connects all of these themes and expresses it through music and attitude, look and identity. And he called it style. He said, “Style. I call that style.” Not style as a “this is what you wear” and “this is what you buy,” which is what it has become–a very commoditized sense of style. He said, “Style is about attitude, and attitude and bands have style and themes have style and I’m going to talk about that. I want a magazine that does that and that’s what The Face is doing.” We just felt [that] almost 40 years later [it was] so much a mirror image of that time. If we can tap into some of that spirit, that sense of purpose and say, “Right now we need a new conversation around style. A conversation around style that is positive. It is all-encompassing. It’s not just about consumption, it’s about how you express yourself. It is about identity. It’s about belonging. It is about the descent. It is about unity.” We just thought that was really rather exciting. And then if we could deliver it in a way that felt like it tapped into some human needs, there was a real sense of purpose there that could galvanize it. So that was something that we got fired out [about] and we went, “Hang on a second. It’s amazing looking at all the publishers around. There are so many wonderful magazines. But we think there’s a sense of purpose and an underlying sense of that [it] won’t expire in the world that’s missing. And a commitment to journalism in a contemporary way asking the questions that matter. Asking who are you? And a sense of positivity that is missing right now. When I say them out loud, they sound like simple things, but we just feel that there’s a real role for that. Some of the responses we’re getting from audiences which have been absolutely overwhelming is backing it up. And in many ways, some of those notes, like any great brand, any brand at a time when you’re repositioning a brand what you’re always doing is sometimes, it’s like archaeology: you’re finding things, fragments, hidden in the history and heritage of the brand, uncovering them, dusting them off. And then you find the way to combine them in a completely new and fresh way. And to put them together but do that in a way that doesn’t just hark back to the past but is a springboard to something new. And that’s what we try to do. Take those little notes and then try and use all the things that weren’t available to the amazing journalists who were at The Face to create a new expression of that. Something that was much more open. That was able to be more dynamic, that was able to see people, hear voices, use video, engage with the audience in interactive ways. That felt really, really exciting. So our trick was always really to do something that felt like it was true to the absolute essential soul of The Face. This provocative, more progressive, muscular optimism of The Face but felt like it took it forward. We liked the idea of keeping the masthead. It’s such an iconic masthead. It’s funny, you really think about things like Supreme and you actually think about that masthead was way before all of that kind of stuff. We just felt like it was an incredibly simple, striking, iconic foundation to nod and respect the past in our fonts and the way that we did that. I’ll tell you a little bit more about that. We wanted to pay a nod of respect to the foundations that were laid by the people who’d come before us. Incredible people, like Nick Logan, the founding editor, and Sheryl Garratt, probably the best editor that The Face ever had. Incredible designers, like Neville Brody and so many brilliant journalists and image-makers. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to them but every one of those people would have said to us, “Don’t go back. Go forward.” So we wanted to nod to that and then take it forward. Interestingly, one of the toughest things to think about what you refresh is the design, use of the typography. Because what Neville did was so iconic. What we’ve designed and what we wanted to do was have a nod to that. Our respect to taking it forward. And we thought long and hard about how we’d do that. Who could we hire and who’s the new Neville Brody and should it be Neville himself? And I think again we just felt all of that generation were an iconoclast. They would respect us for trying to take it forward. And we looked for someone who we thought we would want to work with who had really exciting takeaway things. The person we are most excited about working with in the world, was Mirko Borsche, who runs a design studio, called Bureau Borsche in Munich. And we’ve had some correspondence. We spoke to him. We actually loved what he was doing. The craft ethics, the range of his work, his point of view and culture and his punk ethic that went through, this brilliant irreverence that he had, which is what he is just so great. And we started working with him. We were working impossible timelines that most people would have thought [were] completely crazy. Mirko just laughed. And he’s just like, “Yeah bring it on.” I love him. I love his studio work and like what looks like an apartment in Munich. And they all work around the kitchen table and it’s just really how we felt about ourselves. They weren’t these big egos. They were just great, talented people who wanted to get together and put their egos to one side and just do something great together. Our [brilliant young art director], Alex O’Brien, was like, “I think these are the guys,” and we backed him and it worked brilliantly. What they came back with is they said, “From a typography point of view, we should take the look, start with some of the original Brody-type faces but evolve them,” and that’s what we’ve done is taken those and created a new set of fonts that basically are based on [Neville’s work in the past], it’s just taken forward. Trying to think about your iconic design system that is ordered and considered but feels like it has a dynamism and agility to it that feels like it’s going to really come alive when it starts to move. Animation and video, all of those things were big thoughts for us about how we take it forward. And interestingly, the thing that we absolutely said from the start, we said we wanted to start in the digital world and build up to the magazine. Because that would really enable us to test how we’re going to take this thing forward and so we did that first of all. And we were just incredibly excited. I had this thought about how not to think of it as a site, but think about the entire “Face” experience, as a series of conversations almost. And therefore, how could we bring that audio, the conversation and the sound of the human voice into the entire digital experience of The Face. From people going, “Do you need podcasts?” it could be audio notes or little fragments of soundtracks or performances or arguments, or interviews. So weaving that into our whole digital experience. And that was an interesting part of thinking about the design and the way that we wanted to express The Face. That really has helped to liberate us.

You have a quantum physics degree do you’re at least a little bit analytical. How did you organize it on paper? Was it a stream of consciousness kind of organization?

There were lots of moments where we thought we can’t write anything down. The old guard wouldn’t have written anything down. We can’t write anything down. It’s just got to arrive. [I’ve heard from somebody] who’s quite comfortable flipping it from the analytical to the instinctive, but I think because what we needed to do is get a lot of people very quickly pointing in the same direction. And not just writers, but designers, developers, commercial people and brands. We wanted co-design a little bit. And we just got something very, very simple. We said, “We think we want to create a new conversation around style and we express that.” We went very simple. Incredibly simple manifesto and it just says there are two or three things that we want to do. Which is, we said we were going to create this new conversation of style. We want to base it around always asking why. Keep questioning. Always asking not just what’s cool or what’s interesting, [but why has it got style]? Why does it matter? We are joining the dots between all the different parts of culture: from sports and entertainment to politics and fashion. Being irreverent, positive and fun which is in the world of style is something that’s gone. And feeling more like a movement than a magazine.

[We played with it,] we wrote into it and we discussed it. And we kicked that around and shaped that bit together and people got excited by it and adding to it and it just felt really powerful. And timely. So many fashion brands at the moment struggling to understand how to be relevant because they’re struggling with issues like race, equality and sustainability. It feels like all of their headaches are actually a great opportunity for people like us who can create that conversation and dialogue between consumers and creators. So we brought that and in a way, we had the luxury of no time. And when you have the luxury of no time you don’t spend that much time worrying about being perfect. You are very focused on trying to get something out. But basically, there was one person employed last year before Christmas and we went from that to having a product that was out in the world in April, hiring a team, staffing up, finding an office, building a website, designing, writing stories, philosophy, commercial deals, operations. Doing all of that in just probably about four months.

At advertising agencies, you spend so long that actually a lot of the drawing, the magic is lost. And all that lightning in the bottle comes from that creative leap and that moment, where you’re sparking off something in the culture that you feel instinctively gets ground down by layers of process and approval and second-guessing a client who’s second-guessing their boss and then the next round of stakeholders and more approvals and more amendments that over time actually rarely does the magic in the bottle get any better over time. When you’ve got no time at all, it’s amazing what happens. And when you’ve got people who operate in that way, it’s amazing. Isn’t it amazing how many times, [you have a story? You think you’ve got it down and then for whatever reason you’ve got to bend that story. In the moment of adversity, you make something happen and there’s a fall back plan that you’ve uncovered something that’s absolutely genius]. It’s that magic, that spontaneity and it’s just so powerful. I find it so exciting. Years of having creators telling me how awful it is that they don’t have time, and I’m like, “Wow. We created an entire brand from scratch in four months.” It’s crazy what you can do. And really inspiring. It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to operate at this kind of speed. But ultimately, the reasoning works at this pace and because I’m not second-guessing somebody else’s decision. We have great creative people and they make calls. And we used to say when talking about clients saying to us, “We want lower costs, and we want higher quality but lower costs.” The cost is in the control. If you can allow the creative people to be in control, you can do extraordinary things at a completely different economy. It’s the endless list of stakeholders that is going to drive up costs and time and decrease quality.

Did you look at other publishers and what they were doing with brands and advertising? Have you been looking at that as you’ve been creating The Face‘s value proposition and partnering with brands?

We’ve looked at [ideas and strategies and actually spent many of those years looking at publishers and trying to understand what they’re doing well, and what they’re not]. One of the really fascinating learnings was seeing how the record industry fucked up. Which is Business Case 101, isn’t it? For how to learn how to make sure that you don’t drive off a cliff. The record industry got itself into trouble because it believed it was in the industry of making records. It was a mass industrialized business, churning out pieces of vinyl, whereas actually, the high-value proposition was always about this magical relationship between artists and fans. And that was really exciting. The records happened to be one of the conduits there and so they were really focused on how they could commercialize an object. [It was a record and then it was a CD]. But the really high-value proposition was the incredible relationship. And in a way, publishing did it like that. Publishing is the means, the medium, for creating a relationship between creative people and audiences. Both are connecting audiences to what’s happening in culture. Cultural relevance. And I think for me that’s the proposition. What we do is create value in cultural relevance. Some of that comes through our own publishing and some of that we monetize through advertising of different sorts. Probably things that look less like conventional ads and more like us co-creating with brands. But at the time, it’s actually what we’re about [ having an incredible operation that understands cultural relevance], and then thinking about different ways to turn that into brand value. [Sometimes brands] like e-comm are doing interesting things with experience and are operating increasingly like an agency. But increasingly over time developing our own products, our own life experiences, our own IP. Becoming a go-to production house for commissioning from the big platforms. And actually trying to think about a more evolved model, which is basically built around this incredible relationship that we saw and really [are] understanding the culture. In the long term, we should absolutely be able to create products that are designed to be relevant and useful and desirable from the start because we just understand the culture.

Do you think that the UK publishing is uniquely capable of sustaining a comeback of this sort? 

Comebacks are always hard. One of the massive advantages we’ve got is we’ve got this incredible brand. For example, Alessandro Michele, the creative director at Gucci, called us up and said, “I want to do a collection and [I want to incorporate The Face into my collection.]” His pre-fall ’19 collection has 20 pieces from The Face, using The Face logo in the collection. That’s because of the strength of the brand. It’s so powerful even after 16 years of being away that people like Alessandro Michele want to have Gucci brand associated with it. Virgil Abloh who’s obviously a phenomenon at the moment, what he’s doing with Vuitton… What he represents right now, but he’s doing an interview with our (31:29). What’s so exciting is the power of the brand. But the brand has no legacy infrastructure. [It] hasn’t existed for 16 years. So all the problems that encumbered tasks of transforming an infrastructure, all the pain that comes with that–we don’t have. We can build. We can take this incredible brand and with a completely blank piece of paper build a business that’s right, right now. And that is a unique opportunity. If you can do that and there are people who are cottoning on to that–that actually some of these incredible magazines are just incredible culture brands. They’re cottoning on to the fact that you can do that. And look at whatComplexhas done. It’s really interesting. It’s fascinating what Complexhas done. And the publishers’ live events and products. That’s fascinating. This is just the start of where this could go.

Comebacks are always hard. One of the massive advantages we’ve got is we’ve got this incredible brand. For example, Alessandro Michele, the creative director at Gucci, called us up and said, “I want to do a collection and [I want to incorporate The Face into my collection.]” His pre-fall ’19 collection has 20 pieces from The Face, using The Face logo in the collection. That’s because of the strength of the brand. It’s so powerful even after 16 years of being away that people like Alessandro Michele want to have Gucci brand associated with it. Virgil Abloh who’s obviously a phenomenon at the moment, what he’s doing with Vuitton… What he represents right now, but he’s doing an interview with our (31:29). What’s so exciting is the power of the brand. But the brand has no legacy infrastructure. [It] hasn’t existed for 16 years. So all the problems that encumbered tasks of transforming an infrastructure, all the pain that comes with that–we don’t have. We can build. We can take this incredible brand and with a completely blank piece of paper build a business that’s right, right now. And that is a unique opportunity. If you can do that and there are people who are cottoning on to that–that actually some of these incredible magazines are just incredible culture brands. They’re cottoning on to the fact that you can do that. And look at whatComplexhas done. It’s really interesting. It’s fascinating what Complexhas done. And the publishers’ live events and products. That’s fascinating. This is just the start of where this could go. 

More than ever young people especially look at brands like that as an extension of themselves as well.

That’s an incredibly smart thing to say. They think about brands in an incredibly fluid way. It’s a generational thing to think about brands like they have been very rooted in categories. But it’s much [easier] for a younger generation. It’s actually a very post-modern thought that a brand isn’t really just a descriptor of a product. It is actually about [an idea, a set of ideas or a set of values]. A point of view of the world. How that is expressed can be quite fluid. I think the audience is very comfortable with that. In fact, I find it exciting. I’ve heard a few [old school publishers] going, “Oh, e-comm. That feels like you’re de-valuing the editorial.” I think that’s quite an old-fashioned way of thinking about it. A brand that is about culture trying to think about how to create something interesting in the retail space is a different form of storytelling. A lot of the really interesting publishers right now are actually e-comm businesses and you get someone [like] Farfetch. They’re really interesting–they’re basically e-comm platforms but really [are] publishers. I just think that’s a really interesting way the world’s going. As long as you approach these things with integrity and a point of view rather than with just a very different mentality to the logic of platforms, which is just thinking about technology, scaling. It’s all about the idea of scaling and of course, you have to scale but you have to have integrity. You got to have value. You got to have a product, to create a voice and you can do that. It’s an incredibly exciting time. 

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

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

INDUSTRY SPEAKERS & THEME

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

WORKSHOPS

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

ROUNDTABLES

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

NETWORKING & EVENTS

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

2018 D.I.C.E. AWARDS

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

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

Casual Connect USA Coming To California’s Disneyland Hotel This January

There’s roughly a month and a half left before Casual Connect USA 2018 comes stateside – this time taking up residency at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. The game development conference, taking place January 16-18, is expected to host over 200 speakers, 2,000 professionals, 100 exhibitors and sponsors, and 60 Indie Prize Showcase teams.

SPEAKERS & TOPICS

The conference is looking to be its most jam-packed and informative yet – with 15 tracks of workshops, lectures, roundtables, panels, and 1-on-1 mentoring spread across six session halls and three days. Licensing is set to be a major topic, taking advantage of the fact that California is ripe with Hollywood intellectual property and big-name brands. Other topics include game design, business development, studio growth, markets and industries, leadership and management, esports, casino gaming, kids games, monetization, and emerging technologies.

There will also be special tracks put on in conjunction with Casual Connect USA 2018 partners. LiveOps Connect with PlayFab will bring together some of the top liveops practitioners in the industry to share their stories and hard-won knowledge. United in Diversity with Contagious Creativity will explore topics in diversity, leadership, and professional growth in the video game and digital media industries.

Featured speakers include experts and executives from Disney Consumer Products & Interactive Media, Netmarble US, Insomniac Games, Xbox, HitPoint Studios, Jam City, Atari S.A., Mattel, Product Madness, Blizzard Entertainment, Twitch, DoubleDown Interactive, Skydance Interactive, Zynga and more.

INDIE PRIZE & EXHIBITORS

If it’s the latest in innovation or new partnerships you’re looking for, Casual Connect USA 2018’s exhibition area has you covered. Sixty Indie Prize teams, cultivated from hundreds of entries, will showcase the latest in independent game design and innovation on the showroom floor and compete for great prizes and Indie Prize’s iconic crystal trophies at the 21st Indie Prize Awards on January 18. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of exhibitors who can help budding and established game developers alike take their games and businesses to the next level – as well as exhibitors looking to recruit new talent into their own ranks.

NETWORKING & FUN

Alongside the conference itself, Casual Connect USA 2018 will also host three major networking parties. The fun will kick off with the Badge Pickup Party at the Disneyland ® Hotel on January 15, the day before the conference begins. On January 16 attendees can get their game on at the ESPN Zone and on January 17 attendees can enjoy a fiesta-style celebration at Tortilla Jo’s. All the parties are located very close to the conference venue and partnered hotel – making it easy to come to and from everything and make it to the conference the next day well-rested. In addition to its networking parties, Casual Connect USA 2018 also includes exclusive and unlimited access to its Pitch & Match meeting system which attendees can use to search for and connect with each other based on their needs and interests.

ADDED EXTRAS

All in all, Casual Connect USA 2018 is shaping up to be an event filled with educational insights, networking, new friendships, and much more. In addition to enjoying all these things, Casual Connect USA 2018 attendees will also get access to substantial discounts on the Disneyland ® Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier® Hotel – as well as discounts on Disneyland ® Resort Theme Park tickets. Those interested in learning more about the event should head over to the official Casual Connect USA 2018 website at http://usa.casualconnect.org/.

 

EA Commissioner Explains Rise of FIFA Esports

This weekend, the best FIFA 17 players from around the globe are in Berlin competing for a piece of the $400,000 cash prize, including $160,000 first place purse. Over six million players competed in the FIFA FUT Champions Weekend League since the launch of FIFA 17, to secure one of the 192 live qualifications for the Season 1 and Season 2 Regional Finals. After six regional events, the top 32 players flew to Germany to crown a champion in the inaugural FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series. Overall, $1.3 million will have been awarded through this series by this weekend.

The competition has been broadcast on YouTubeTwitch and Facebook, but the Finals will be broadcast across top sports networks around the world including ESPN, BT Sport, Movistar, MTG, and SPORT1, bringing competitive FIFA to more than 70 countries and millions of living rooms around the world. In the U.S., ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will air the competition live on May 20 at 11 am EST. ESPN2 will air an exclusive pregame show at 10:30 am EST.

Brent Koning, FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner, told AListDaily that this new competition is the evolution of EA Sports’ FIFA franchise as an esport.

“Competitive FIFA has existed years before the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series was created, but it was very fragmented with concurrent tournaments, multiple winners, rule differences between tournaments,” Koning explained. “With the EA Competitive Gaming Division, along with the valuable support of FIFA, we’ve been able to consolidate tournaments, optimize the organizational structure and cultivate rapid growth. Competitive FIFA today is now mainstream entertainment – we’re talking millions of competitors, millions of spectators, mainstream sports broadcasts and more. It is amazing.”

Koning added that the ultimate goal for this competition was to move competitive FIFA into the mainstream across the globe. The FIFA Ultimate Team Championship will be watchable on mainstream sports broadcasts in roughly 70 percent of the FIFA player base’s home markets.

“We’re attracting not only millions of players, but millions of spectators as well,” Koning said. “To make competitive FIFA mainstream, you must capture a large, casual fan base who are already familiar with the sport of soccer’s rule sets. The best way to do this is to bring competitive FIFA to top-tier sports television – ESPN, BT Sport and more. We’re accomplishing this with the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship.”

More than six million players have competed in FUT Champions and thousands have played in the live events to get down to the top 32 video gamers. Konig said this inaugural series has taught him that community is king.

“They have been very supportive of competitive FIFA, and we are always looking for better ways to integrate content, showcase players, and make competitive FIFA more fun to watch and play,” Koning said.

Koning said the upcoming season of competitive FIFA will add brands and sponsors to the competition.

“With the goal of making stars of all of our players, we know we need to give them opportunities to compete, and that happens when you bring endemic and non-endemic brands into the fold,” Koning said. “Our goal is to make sure that we maintain a high level of competition, production quality, and create enough opportunity to support aspiring pros, our current pros, and drive the eco-system forward into the future.”

While the majority of esports games appeal to a global audience, FIFA crosses over with mainstream soccer (or football) fans worldwide. It’s easy to follow, and translates well to television broadcasts.

The extensive history of FIFA esports, coupled with the learnings of the EA Competitive Gaming Division with other titles, has helped in building out this new competitive series.

“Sharing best practices is important for any new team, be it at a large company like EA or a startup,” Koning explained. “I work with the central teams and other Commissioners at EA (for Madden and Battlefield) to make sure we are learning from each other, sharing successes and locating areas for improvement. We are lucky at EA to have a dedicated central team focused on implementing best practices across teams who speak to each other regularly. I don’t think you have the opportunity for collaboration as easily accessible in most companies.”

EA also has a longstanding relationship with FIFA. Koning said that organization sees the importance of esports and competitive gaming in soccer culture and it allows EA to work together with FIFA towards the common goal of spreading the love of soccer and competition worldwide.

Established soccer clubs like Manchester City, West Ham United and VFL Wolfsburg have invested in FIFA esports players, while Valencia launched a Rocket League team and Schalke bought a League of Legends roster.

“The level of integration varies by club, but is undoubtedly a way for them to engage with a younger, digitally-native demographic in a clean and low barrier of entry way,” Koning said. “At the end of the day, you put a ball in a net. That is universal.”

‘The Martian VR Experience’ Is One Big Leap For Twentieth Century Fox

After multiple delays, Fox Innovation Lab launched The Martian VR Experience for PlayStation VR and HTC Vive on November 15. The $20 experience was created by RSA Films and The Virtual Reality Company, executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Robert Stromberg. The interactive experience was built using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 technology and marks the first public release from the Fox Innovation Lab.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Innovation Lab president, Mike Dunn, told [a]listdaily that The Martian VR Experience blurs the line between games and movies. “Games are bringing more emotion to gameplay and we’re bringing some interactivity to our film VR experiences,” Dunn said.

Following the plot of Scott’s Oscar-nominated film, users can interact with the surface of Mars, steer at zero gravity through space, drive a rover across the red planet and play basketball with potatoes in a variety of mini-games as a virtual Mark Watney. The experience uses footage from the film starring Matt Damon to connect these interactive elements.

Dunn said the Fox Innovation Lab first explored virtual reality with a Wild 360-degree experience from Felix and Paul Studios featuring Reese Witherspoon. “We did a test shoot on Wild and proved to our studio and creative execs that VR can be a narrative emotional experience,” Dunn said. “The Martian matched the target early adopter VR audience and we felt we could take them to Mars in a new way.”

Robert Stromberg, co-founder and chief creative officer of The Virtual Reality Company, explained to [a]listdaily that multiple companies were involved in the development of this experience. “It’s still a new frontier of where everybody is jostling for all of these answers on how to make VR work,” he said. “We worked with the Q Department for sound and The Third Floor for the game controls. You have to have the right companies and specialties in a specific order, just as you would put together production on a film.”

Stromberg said additional mini-games were added to the experience after the positive reception they received. Dunn also added that the team targeted a 25-30 minute experience that is broken up into interactive segments, which can be replayed. “We weren’t sure if consumers would be comfortable in headsets more than 25-30 minutes at that time,” Dunn said.

The goal was always to create a VR experience that could be sold directly to consumers. “Some of the other studios are focused on the marketing angle of VR, but we wanted to create a commercial experience and help to shape the marketplace,” Dunn said.

The Martian VR Experience, which debuted at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was accepted into the prestigious New Frontier Program at Sundance and is the recipient of the Cannes Silver Lion in Digital Craft as well as the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Next VR Award. The VR experience missed the theatrical window as well as two home entertainment windows, in part, because the hardware wasn’t ready. Now that PS VR has launched, The Martian VR Experience is available across two platforms.

The Fox Innovation Lab did release a non-interactive teaser of The Martian VR Experience on Samsung Gear VR, which became one of the most-watched VR experiences on that platform.

“For future products, we’d like to have a mobile experience that could be played untethered,” Dunn said. “We’re very bullish on the expansion of mobile VR.”

The Fox Innovation Lab was established to drive the advancement of groundbreaking technology and new consumer experiences across all platforms and distribution models. The Lab works closely with production, marketing and distribution across all Twentieth Century Fox divisions as well as key external partners to advance next generation technologies including 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range, mobile content experiences, and virtual, augmented and mixed reality, all featuring immersive audio.

The Fox Innovation Lab also serves as a research hub, demonstrating and testing technologies with consumers throughout the development process to obtain qualitative data and hands-on feedback in order to bring innovative and premium products to market. Dunn said that all current VR, AR and mixed reality platforms, as well as some future platforms, are tested inside the lab.

“The idea behind the lab is to get out in front of media on the horizon and actually partake in those media,” Dunn said. “We started very early with VR, and we hope that we’ll be out in front of that media in terms of knowledge and production capabilities, and also introduce established and upcoming filmmakers in that media.”

Dunn believes the key filmmakers participating in VR today are going to try to push the emotional boundaries of storytelling. “At first, entering VR as more like a video game, but talking with Stromberg and Felix and Paul, they’re going to bring emotion to this medium. It’s an art form, nevertheless, and these guys have game.”

Additionally, the lab is working with filmmakers across North America, Europe and China. “There are a lot of filmmakers very interested in this medium,” Dunn said.

Zeality Founder Discusses Opportunities For Brands Through 360-Degree Content

Zeality is a new social engagement and delivery platform for 360-degree video content. The company is already working with brands such as the San Francisco 49ers, Visa, RYOT News, and Reebok to leverage this new medium. Zeality is also open to content creators and producers interested in telling 360-degree stories and monetizing their content. The platform is currently available for iOS and Android virtual reality devices, including Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR.

The company has been formed with a team of veterans from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the ad business. And its advisory board is filled with executives from these three industries, as well. Zeality co-founder and CEO Dipak M. Patel explains how his company can help brands navigate the new 360-degree waters in this exclusive interview.

What separates Zeality from Wistia 360, Facebook 360, YouTube 360, and other platforms?

We see content and media becoming increasingly instrumental in the way we teach, entertain and discover. As a result, user experiences need to evolve, with relevant content being presented in a more intelligent way. Over time, we’re looking to differentiate how a user experiences 360 content, not just deliver it to them. We have a lot coming down the road, however what’s available now is the ability for creators to gate access to their content with customized access levels. For example, for episodic content, let’s say a user can’t access Episode 2 unless they watch Episode 1, and they can’t watch Episode 3 unless they recommend four friends. We can, and will, work with partners to customize how their fans and audiences activate content.

How are you working with early clients like Visa, the San Francisco 49ers, RYOT News, and Reebok with 360-degree video content?

Beyond simply hosting and delivering content, we’re playing an active role in programming our experience and marketing partner content to specific communities. Our goal is to work with our partners to develop marketing campaigns for their content to drive activation, as we want to help create awareness for campaigns versus just being a big bucket in the sky. For example, we have worked with Visa, RYOT, and the San Francisco 49ers to develop social campaigns to drive their fans and audiences to their respective channels on Zeality.

What kind of engagement do you see for 360-degree content versus traditional video?

Zeality only carries 360-degree content, but in comparing 360-degree versus traditional video, we’ve observed both amazement and frustration when users consume 360-degree content. The amazement comes from the fact that it’s new and cool, and then users start genuinely wondering how it’s done. It quickly becomes frustrating because consumers have been trained to be “directed,” versus going on self-guided tours of videos. We see this new type of content disrupting the art of storytelling and the mode of consuming. Both need to learn from each other, and it’s going to take time for 360-degree video to become interesting enough to hold the attention of consumers versus traditional video.

Will your platform support PC and PlayStation VR headsets beyond the Android and iOS mobile VR?

We’re big fans of 360-degree video, VR, and AR. And yes, our roadmap will eventually support a variety of HMDs (head-mounted displays). We feel there’s a lot of work still left to do in creating awareness for 360-degree experiences and how to create them, so one of our directives is to increase education and discovery, and also help build a strong community of content creators.

Most people are still viewing 360-degree content on tablets and 2D devices. How do you see that evolving over time?

When my 7-year-old daughter was 2, she would walk up to our television and try to swipe as if it were an iPad. Now my 2-year-old son holds my phone and moves it around as if every video is a window to another place. Without a doubt, I do see this evolving over time. I think adoption will occur over generations and be influenced by technology innovation. This is why we’re so focused on the art of storytelling and engagement in this new medium.

What are the opportunities in 360-degree video today?

We think there is a tremendous opportunity for 360-degree video today. Education, entertainment, sports media, travel, social impact, and news to start, but more categories will most certainly appear. These are all opportunities to explore the medium as an art form and build a deeper relationship between the stories and communities. And of course, some folks will focus on videos of cats, or the current version of them.

What are the challenges, especially with editing this content?

There are two new elements to the workflow: data management/syncing and stitching. This adds a tremendous burden on quick turnaround projects not only from a time and cost perspective, but also a go-to-market perspective. Luckily, there are a handful of companies—Nokia, Orah, and Sphericam are a few great examples—that are solving these issues by consolidating features in new cameras. I believe that over time, possibly as early as the next few months, these tools will get better.

How is your company bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and Hollywood?

I believe that we’re experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime disruption, and we have an opportunity to create a whole new type of company. Many would agree that over the years, Silicon Valley and Hollywood have been at odds with each other, essentially because one values technology and innovation while the other values content and creativity. Furthermore, the fundamental investment vehicles and ecosystems that support both are completely different. For example, Silicon Valley invests in stock and increasing the value of that stock. Hollywood invests in rights and distribution, and creates companies to capture revenue from licensing and other means. For Zeality, we want to bring these forces together to create the ultimate collaboration between creative/content and tech/innovation in terms of culture, product development and go-to-market.

How will the new wave of both professional and consumer 360 cameras impact this ecosystem?

The new wave of professional and consumer 360-degree cameras are going to have an incredible impact on the ecosystem, but ultimately, the medium requires the storytellers to start from the ground up. They’re not filming in a frame and they have to re-imagine the role of the protagonist in these stories. From a professional storytelling perspective, I’m a big fan of what Sphericam, Orah, and Nokia are doing. For the more user-generated stuff, I think you’re going to see a larger variety of options out there, but regardless of what sort of equipment they use, it will be great to see what sort of content is created when the creator is unencumbered by existing film-making norms. Whatever happens, it’s great to have all these options available to aspiring and professional content creators.

 

GameStop CEO Discusses Nintendo NX, New Consoles And VR

GameStop is undergoing a retail transition as it expands its ThinkGeek footprint, doubles down on independent game publishing through GameTrust, and continues to develop original mobile and social games through Kongregate. But the retailer remains focused on its core business of selling new and used games, as is evident with its new TV and online push for pre-owned games through its “Goat” campaign.

At the recent GameStop Investors Day in Dallas, we sat down with GameStop CEO Paul Raines to talk about new game consoles, Nintendo’s mobile play, and how important retail is for virtual reality platforms in this exclusive interview.

What role do you see new consoles from Sony and Microsoft playing for GameStop?

We expect to be pretty dominant on new consoles, and the reason we’re dominant is because we have the PowerUp Rewards program with 46 million members around the world. We have those people on file, and we know how much trade credit they have at home that they bought from us. So it’s easy to market to them and say, “Hey Mr. Gaudiosi, you’ve got $48. Why don’t you bring that in and trade it against the new Xbox or PlayStation?” So we anticipate that we’ll see some new consoles in the next few years. We don’t like to talk about that because our partners get upset if we jump ahead, so we’ll let them disclose that. Consoles are good for us any way you slice it.

Are you seeing excitement through PowerUp Rewards members around the Nintendo NX?

There is some excitement around NX. Lately here, we’ve been hearing a lot more buzz than we have in the past. Nintendo is interesting in that they really are able to keep things as quiet as they can for a while. And then they just lost their leader, so they’ve gone through a mourning period and so forth. NX sounds exciting. We’re looking forward to it. They’re very innovative in everything that they do. I hope that they come out with something exciting and innovative. I think we’ll be dominant distributor of that platform.

Even though the Wii U didn’t repeat the Wii’s success?

Wii U was disappointing to everybody, including them. They made some bold bets, and maybe some of them didn’t work out. But they have a lot of creativity there. They’re a very innovative group of people, so we never count out Nintendo. Even now it’s incredible how strong some of their IP is—Pokémon, for example. We could have a Pokémon weekend this weekend at GameStop and we would break sales records just because every time they put out a new game they have a very loyal fan base. Super Mario, Zelda, all those IPs have a huge, loyal fan base.

That fan base is going to potentially get bigger with their mobile reach. Do you think Nintendo mobile games will get new fans interested in other Nintendo products?

Yeah, there are a lot of people who have never played a Super Mario game on a DS. A lot of the kids today have grown up only playing small games on their phones. As you introduce that exciting Nintendo IP and those characters, they’re going to want more of that. We think that will push them into our stores to see the big games. They’ll go, “Wow, there’s actually a game I can play for months and months instead of a few days.” That will be good for us. It will be very good for Nintendo, and we’re very positive on it.

Virtual reality is hot right now with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. What role do you feel VR will play with your business moving forward?

VR is exciting from just the pure gameplay experience. It fulfills a lot of your dreams and fantasies about gameplay because you no longer have to stare at the screen. You can look anywhere. You can see who’s behind you. You can see who’s above you. So it’s exciting technology. It will require higher processing power. That’s why Oculus and HTC require these high-end PCs that are going to process and render all those graphics. Sony is able to use their PS4, so that’s good.

We’ve seen all of the VR players and a few that haven’t come out yet. We’re excited about it. The other thing is VR has applications that go beyond gaming. I’ve seen some sports applications that are unbelievable, travel applications. I even saw an augmented reality Microsoft display, which was a medical thing where you train people on how to diagnose the heart.

With HoloLens?

Yeah, HoloLens. So we’re excited about all of it. We believe Sony, specifically, will be the dominant player because they have the most titles. One thing about gaming is you have to have great technology and also great IP that people know about. I’m a guy who loves Uncharted. So if you tell me: “Come in and buy our VR headset,” I’ll want to test it first and think about it. But if you said” Come in for the Uncharted 5 game in VR,” that’s a whole different story. Sony has the IP advantage. They also have the install base advantage with the millions of PlayStations out there.

Having said all of that, Oculus is a fantastic technology, as is HTC Vive. So we’re excited about all of it. We think it’s all going to work. Some may work faster than others, and some may be more of a leading edge product, while others may be more of a mainstream product. We have to wait and see how all that plays out.

What roles do you see demos playing for these VR devices?

We’re doing a lot of work on that right now. There are a lot of ideas floating around. First of all, we have a significant part of our footprint that’s big enough for us to do VR demos in. A lot of people say, “Well, you’ve only got 1,500 square foot stores,” but that is the average. We have hundreds of stores that are well over 2,000 square feet, so we can demo in hundreds of stores in the U.S. We can also do some events around the U.S. and different markets working in tandem with Sony—as we’ve done with Nintendo in the past. We could also do traveling exhibits in cooperation with Sony, where you go to malls and demo in cooperation with GameStop.

We’re working hard on a lot of exciting ways to demo the product. I don’t think that will be a barrier to us dominating our competitors. The big boxes always want to demo everything in their store, and we like getting the hands on the product. We also think that our associates are very knowledgeable. They really are the secret weapon for us to teach people how to play, how to use the VR, how to set it up, etc.

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Marketing Jobs for January 21st From DC Entertainment, Netflix, And More

[a]listdaily is your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Having trouble focusing Consider these five handy routines to declutter your train of thought.

  • DC Entertainment – Vice President, Marketing (Universal City, Calif.)
  • NBC Universal – Marketing Manager (Burbank, Calif.)
  • Netflix – Manager, Social Media (Los Gatos, Calif.)
  • Yelp – Senior Account Executive: Brand Solutions, Display and Mobile (New York, NY)

For last week’s [a]list jobs postings, click here. Have a position you’d like to place with us Email us at pr@ayzenberg.com.