Category Archives: Gaming

Trends To Watch in 2017

Technology is now essential to our daily lives. Accessibility and empowerment has transformed how we connect and communicate. This has led to new forms of user interaction that will usher in the business models of the future.

2017 will be comprised of new types of conversational experiences to connect with consumers. It will see the continued evolution of artificial intelligence and connected systems as well as the rapid rise of third-party ecosystems supporting virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

The following trend deck outlines the evolution of marketing in 2017 through the consumer centric filters of connection, cognition and immersion and is now available for download.

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  • CONNECTION – Trends that reimagine how we connect, enable and empower consumers.
    • Examples include: Simplified Conversational Experiences, Pervasive Voice-Based Interfaces, Search and Retrieval to 1:1 Prediction, Affective Datasets and eSports

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  • COGNITION – Trends where machine based intelligence will disrupt and redefine data assets and how we work.
    • Examples include: Machine Learning as a Service, Centaur Intelligence, Blockchain & AI

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  • IMMERSION – Trends that align technology and presence to evoke emotion, entertain and power commerce.
    • Examples include: Democratization of VR, VR Commerce, Social VR, (Re)Mixed Reality

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  • ZONE OF CONVERGENCE – Trends that align elements of connection, cognition and immersion that will redefine consumer engagement.
    • Examples include: Cars as the next Mobile Platform, Holographic Computing, Ambient Computing.

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How we consume and interact via digital channels is about to be absorbed and redefined. We believe that 2017 will begin the convergence of connection, cognition and immersion toward an ambient computing future built on new data types that will simplify complex tasks and predict need states vs reacting.

Download the 2017 Trend Predictions Today!

epsilon-top-trends-for-2017

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Pokemon Go: 15 Vital Marketing Insights

Pokemon Go mania has hit the US. The near perfect storm of timing, relevance, and word-of-mouth has momentarily captured the media spotlight and Pokemon fans new and old.

I recently provided iMedia with 15 Vital Marketing Insights that marketers should consider when building high engagement digital to physical programs.

Home 2016-07-17 21-45-02

Community, Common Cause, Competition, Gamification, Word of Mouth, Game Mechanics, Scarcity, Nostalgia and Mixing Reality are all elements that contributed to the run away success of Pokemon Go.

Photo Jul 15, 12 59 06 PM

There are many lessons to be learned by marketers. By aligning existing strengths of the brand with the passion of community and a compelling experience, it is possible to create a highly engaging consumer experience with similar attributes that make Pokemon Go a success.

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Connecting Gaming & Brands through Advergaming & Edutainment

Two of my passions are gaming and marketing. Whenever I have the opportunity for the two to intersect I am overjoyed. Previously, I have written on the topic of advergaming (imedia) and brand integrations (IEG). This article will highlight case studies of advergaming as well as introduce edutainment case studies.

Gaming is big business. According to Gartner, the projected worldwide video game market size in 2014 will surpass $100 billion dollars. In 2014, 58% of Americans have played a video game and 68% of gamers are 18 or older. With the fragmentation and shifts in media consumption, gaming provides significant dwell times with a hyper connected audience. Brands that create authentic and relevant value that empowers gamers will “unlock” value beyond impressions.

Let’s start with a terminology refresher. An Advergame is an electronic game – often low-cost or free – designed to promote a brand or product.

advergaming

ADVERGAMING – Advergaming is closely associated with above the line, through the line and below the line integration where the advertisements or brand integrations are either explicit and may be an integral part of the game or products are embedded seamlessly into the existing gameplay.

ABOVE THE LINE EXAMPLES

Burger King – Xbox 360 Licensed Games

Advergame - Burger King

Coca-Cola –  Mini Me

Coca-Cola Mini Me

Taco Bell – The Waiting Game

Taco Bell - The Waiting Game

Kellogg’s – Coco Pops

Advergame - Kelloggs

Skittles – Darkened Skye

Advergame - Skittles

Key points to consider are ATL executions are normally executed with the brand primarily in creative control of the project. As a start up or independent developer, this is where there is an opportunity to license your product to be distributed through the brands channels. This type of execution would take a brand partner willing to make a significant investment to cover development, distribution, promotional and non-development fees.

THROUGH THE LINE – Through the line examples are more commonly tied to alternate realty games (ARGs). This is when consumers interact with links, websites and promotional material outside the game. I have written about ARG integrations such as the Hanso Foundation ARG tied to the LOST television show. Other examples are:

The Dark Knight ARG

HALO – ilovebees

BELOW THE LINE – Authenticity and relevance are the keys to successfully executing below the line integrations. For additional insight and behind the scenes access to how partnerships are actually executed I turned to the reigning king of below the line integrations, Chris Erb. Formerly of Electronic Arts, Legendary Pictures and co-founder of the gaming agency TripleClix. Chris and I have served on boards together and have spent time over the years discussing this topic.

Chris is the architect of some of the most successful and authentic below the line integrations over the past few years. His partnerships with Coca-cola and Frito-Lay redefined how brand integrations can not only provide access to new audiences, but also drive business results such as aligning traditional CPG products into new areas within the retail setting.

According to Chris, “A number of prominent brands have or want to get into the gaming space. The issue is that publishers and brands don’t always speak the same language. It is less about selling ads in games and more about seamlessly connecting the brand and the game in an authentic way.”

Chris’ statement also align with existing consumer behavior. When I recently conducted primary research on motivations tied to consumer pre-order behavior, two key elements were consistent. Gamers want exclusive content or early access. Everything else was of secondary consideration. The goal of a brand integration should be to empower the gamers.

EA – Coca Cola = FIFA

Advergaming - Coca-Cola FIFA

EA – Doritos = 3D

Advergame - Doritos - Madden 3D

Rolls Royce – Forza

Advergame - Forza - Rolls Royce

By empowering gamers and creating opportunities for brands to seamlessly integrate into the gaming experience, brands that choose to implement below the line programs in an authentic way have the opportunity to increase brand perception as well as reach a highly coveted audience.

EDUTAINMENT – Edutainment is any content that is designed to educate as well as entertain. This is an example of consumers playing an ordinary game and product promotions are embedded into the game. There has been a rise of educational content that is also meant to entertain. There is also an opportunity for brands looking to extend the reach of an altruistic cause through education and awareness through the lens of branded entertainment.

Here are examples of edutainment:

Telefonica – Sponsored initiative to boost youth literacy in Brazil

Advergame - Telefonica

Limbs Alive – 3D game designed to aid recovering stroke victims

Advergame - Limbs Alive

SMARTeacher – One of my favorite examples, this is an educational game that uses biofeedback to enhance the experience

Edutainment - Prodigy

Here is a short video outlining the Prodigy Experience

Consumers will continue to seek gaming experiences across devices. There is a significant opportunity to break through to a highly engaged audience. This goes beyond simply running display ads in games. The key is to enhance the experience of the consumers in a very authentic and contextual way. It is also important that the essence of the brand aligns with the potential gaming properties. The brands that can leverage publisher partnerships to truly collaborate on enhancing the experience will reap the rewards of empowering gamers.

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Hero 5 Final

$500 Million and Destiny

Since the day Destiny hints were first discovered in HALO 3: ODST years ago, then sprinkled throughout numerous Bungie presentations, to the first public leaks in late 2012 I was hooked. The concept of a persistent open-world shooter by the makers of Halo was a dream come true. Having played both the Alpha & Beta versions and on the eve of the official release I wanted to take a look at the marketing efforts leading up to the worldwide release.

Destiny easter egg hidden in Halo 3: ODST highlighting the “traveler”

Destiny + ODST

Certain outlets are claiming there will be up to 10 million players day one and I will definitely be one. Every gamer I have talked to recently knows of the impending release. Over 4.5 million of us played the beta and there have been discussions about which of the 3 character classes they will align with, who has the best pre-order incents (Hint: It’s GameStop) and which gamemodes are going to occupy our time.

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One of the key areas of growth in gamer numbers is the fact that Destiny is rated T for Teen vs. M for Mature. This opens up the market and for parents like myself who are hesitant to let their kids play M rated titles, Activision will get double the revenue from my household this time around.

When I fire up my Xbox One I will think back to my beta experience and prepare for what lies ahead across uncharted planets. This is an exciting moment in next gen gaming as not since TitanFall launched in March of this year has there been a true AAA shooter release that was developed specifically to push the next gen hardware.

Ready to take the experience from beta to full release

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One of the key elements beyond word of mouth and the reputation of bungie has been the persistent presence of Destiny through the whopping $500 million in marketing spend that Activision had earmarked for the promotion of the game. This rivals the biggest of Hollywood blockbusters as game launches have taken on AAA treatment.

From the “Sharing” spot that launched around the time of the Titanfall launch


To the most recent live-action commercial shot by TRON: Legacy & Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski which has already garnered almost 6 million views at the time of this post.


The game is receiving a boost to attract mainstream and hard core fans alike with traditional and socially centric activations including a first of it’s kind collaboration with Google which allowed for Google Street view maps of the worlds in Destiny.


Destiny has also received a special collectors edition of Newsweek to celebrate the launch

Newsweek Destiny

Destiny is already trending on Twitter and tomorrow the hype will turn into action and I am predicting Destiny will break the previous sales records for a new franchise launch. And if any team can pull it off it’s Activision & their partner Step 3 PR.

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The last Call of Duty Black hit $1 billion in one day sales and at the time was the largest entertainment launch in history. I fully expect Destiny to break new franchise records ($500 Million) and foresee a healthy return for Activision on their 10 year relationship with Bungie.

Tomorrow it will be time to #Becomelegend. You will find me roaming the Xbox One galaxy as TheBlackFin.

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Creating Breakthrough Branded Content In Video Games

I recently had the opportunity to share my POV with the IEG sponsorship report on the keys to creating breakthrough branded content integrations in video games. The article also outlines five brands that are doing it well and why the integrations work.

Playing To Win: The Keys To Creating Breakthrough Branded Content In Video Games - IEG Sponsorship Report 2014-02-25 22-17-27

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Next Gen & Twitch.TV

With last weeks launch of the PS4 selling more than a million in the first 24 hours as well as the launch of the Xbox One this week we are being ushered into the next generation of consoles with a bang! Having pre-ordered an Xbox One months ago I am ready to make the transition.

xbox one

Ready to carry over my gamerscore to the new platform!

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One consistent element across both consoles is the integration of Twitch.TV into the experience. For the PS4 it is directly tied to the share button on the controller. What is Twitch.TV? Why does the average user spend 90 minutes on the site daily? And why as a brand would I care about extending my reach to this audience?

PS4

I was recently briefed by the Twitch.TV team and here is a brief overview before getting into how to leverage their community. Twitch.TV is a live video platform and community for gamers with more than 44 million unique viewers per month. Twitch.TV connects gamers globally by allowing them to broadcast, watch, and chat from everywhere they play.

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In addition to 44 million unique viewers per month, the Twitch.TV community is highly engaged with the average user watching an hour and a half of live stream content per day. Twitch is available as a mobile app that supports both iOS & Android and as I mentioned above will be integrated into both of the next generation consoles.

Twitch-Mobile

For brands interested in publishing, Twitch has a partner program with over 4,000 members and is build on an ad revenue share model with top content producers such as Machinima, Electronic Arts, Mojang, Major League Gaming.

For brands interested in reaching this audience there are three primary ways to engage & activate the Twitch.TV community.

1) Publishing – The Twitch.TV platform is predicated on live streaming content and the option exists to create a branded Twitch channel. This option represents the largest barrier of entry as the best practices for a channel call for unique & relevant content in addition to a broadcast programming guide and would require resources and time to build an audience, create compelling content & invest in media to further drive discovery of the content. Note that this is a Live Streaming platform so content curation is not an option.

Machinima

2) Advertising – Twitch offers multiple advertising opportunities in the form of traditional video (pre-roll) and display, event based advertising. custom event programming. This is the more traditional method of reaching the Twitch.TV community. When I spoke recently with the Twitch team there is a strong desire to create unique & compelling programs that can drive value for for brands beyond simply advertising.

Advertise on Twitch — Twitch Media Group - Ad Types

3) Custom Programs – The Twitch.TV team is very motivated to partner with brands to create unique and compelling programs. This can come in the form of “never been done” types of executions that incorporate both online & offline elements.

Twitch Media Group

With 44 million uniques and a 90 minute dwell time there is definite value to Twitch.TV as a media platform and the ability to create custom programs in partnership with Twitch.TV opens up unique possibilities to connect beyond traditional ad types. Be sure to keep an eye on the monthly uniques as I am projecting growth with the direct integration with the next gen consoles.

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IN FOCUS article 5 Brands Pushing the Envelope in Gaming

This morning my new article 5 brands pushing the envelope in gaming is the IN FOCUS cover story for iMedia Connection.

The article is an in-depth review of innovative campaigns from Jeep, Doritos, Oakley, Hyundai & Coca-Cola as well as quotes & commentary from Chris Erb, VP Brand Marketing for EA Sports.

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Mobile Gamings Potential For Brand Engagement via P4RC

Reaching mobile consumers is on the thoughts and minds of brand managers heading into 2012 and beyond. The challenge is to drive meaningful engagement across a highly fragmented landscape while providing a positive & relevant experience to the consumer.

Mobile gaming appears to be an ideal target for brand engagement as 70-80% of all mobile downloads are games with the average iPhone user spending 14.7 hours a month playing those games. Currently, 64.5 million people in the US played mobile casual games at least once a month. This will rise to 94.9 million in the US by 2014. Translation people are gaming via mobile.

Has anyone not played Angry Birds?

The issue at this point in time is that the current landscape is highly scattered with over 72,000 games in the Apple App store from thousands of developers and in-app advertising leaving many brands frustrated with their mobile engagement rates.

One newly launched service is looking to change the game by promising higher user engagement rates combined with positive brand associations. P4RC, Inc. is a new service that connects consumer brands to mobile users with a platform that converts user engagement in their favorite gaming apps into P4RC points, which can be redeemed for real-world rewards.

The basic premise is that players play games they are already playing and earn gift cards from top retailers just for playing.

The key for P4RC brand programs is the ability for brands to reach across multiple games and reward behaviors that users are already engaged in.

P4RC’s brand programs include sponsoring their “Race to Win” segments, which call for users to play and earn P4RC points within a period of time to redeem brand rewards as well as offers directly from brands.

Example of Race to Win

Example of Brand Offer

By sponsoring our Race 2 Win competitions, brands can be inserted into the mobile gaming experience in a manner that is actually relevant to that experience.  This makes the brand part of the fun rather than an unwanted intrusion, which is often the case with other forms of mobile advertising” said Jason Seldon, Founder & CEO of P4RC.

By integrating the achievement network completely within the game, the barrier of leaving the app for a mobile web experience is removed. The user is free to review current Race’s 2 win, redeem rewards and view their account all within the current app they are playing.

In the first week of launch, players have already redeemed their P4RC points for over $1,000 in rewards from brands such as Starbucks & Best Buy.

At launch, P4RC’s achievement network is currently tied to “Stop Those Fish“, which is currently featured by Apple as a New & Noteworthy app in the Apple App Store and announced a partnership with Eye Interactive to include the new P4RC rewards network in all Eye Interactive games.

P4RC is also forming key partnerships with mobile developers. “By adding the P4RC rewards network to their games, game developers benefit from a powerful marketing & customer retention engine that drives user engagement, resulting in an increase in game downloads and longer duration of game play.”

Services such as P4RC provide compelling incentives for brands and users alike by rewarding existing behaviors, socially enabling the experience and lowering the barrier of entry to participate across apps.

An Android friendly version of P4RC will be launching this Summer.

Thanks to Jason Seldon, Founder & CEO of P4RC for data included in this post.

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15 Examples of Gamification & Brands

Outside of the recent flurry associated with Google+, the one term that has been top of mind throughout the digital space recently is gamification. Gamification is a term used to describe organizations using game mechanics to drive engagement in traditionally non-gaming products. There are examples of gamification everywhere in our daily lives and many brands are integrating game mechanics in unique and compelling ways all with the purpose of driving user engagement.

Below are 15 examples of Gamification and how brands are capitalizing on the trend.

Xbox Live | Achievements, Leaderboards | Microsoft struck a chord with traditional gamers when they first rolled out achievement points. Users can earn a certain amount of gamerscore by completing specific tasks or actions in game.  This simple addition had a profound impact on the space as nothing to date had motivated behavior to play titles beyond ones taste for specific genres while also creating an aggregate & visible record of your gaming prowess. Brands took note of the trend and the loyalty that users developed in their pursuit of gamerscore & bragging rights. I attribute the current craze of achievement based gamification to the success of Xbox Live & achievement points.

E.g. Gamertag

Foursquare | Rewards, Badges | Location based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla & Facebook Places have redefined game mechanics in non-gaming products. Users and brands alike have taken notice and Foursquare stands out with 10 million users on a platform that was built around solid game mechanics. Users can claim mayorships, unlock badges, receive special offers & rewards such as discounts to specific retailers while also tracking against friends via a leaderboard.

Examples of Foursquare Badges

Example of Foursquare/NFL Super Bowl Rewards

Example of Foursquare/Pepsi Reward from SXSW 2011

Foursquare leaderboard sponsored by Pepsi

Gowalla | Virtual Goods, Badges, Rewards | Like Foursquare, Gowalla has had an impact on brands by incenting location based check-ins while incorporating virtual item reward programs that then translate into physical goods.

Example of Gowalla badges/pins

Example of Virtual Goods/Physical Goods

GetGlue | Badging, Rewards | The gamification of entertainment has been growing significantly over the past year. Similar to how individuals check into physical locations with services such as Foursquare & Gowalla, now it is possible to check into entertainment destinations such as your favorite TV Show, Movie, Music, Video Games, etc… With players such as GetGlue, Miso, Philo and Tunerfish all vying for your entertainment check-in, each platform offers different mechanics but each is built on the foundation of game mechanics such as badging & rewards through various brand partners.

Example of GetGlue Sticker tied to TRON

Example of a GetGlue Reward that offered 40% off of Mad Men on Blu-Ray or DVD

Linkedin |Progress Bar | Linkedin offers a small example of gamification by incenting users towards 100% profile completeness with a progress bar that is visible while on the edit profile page. By providing a visual representation of your profile completeness Linkedin hopes to trigger behavior that drives us towards completeness.

Example of Profile completeness

SalesForce | Leaderboard, Achievements, Leveling | Salesforce has taken gamification to another level with this addition to the popular CRM platform. With Engage, Salesforce users activities within the system are tied to various game mechanics and offers direct competition with other users within their organization. By incorporating this level of competitive visibility organizations can capitalize on surfacing different behaviors and hopefully drive additional engagement with their systems.

Example of SalesForce’s New Gamification Dashboard

Mint | Achievements, Progress Bar | As discussed on Mashable, Mint is offering a Financial Fitness Score that is based on core game mechanics associated with task completion, progression & achievements. By taking an ordinary exercise and creating a casual gaming experience, mint is creating an opportunity to drive new user acquisition in a creative way.

Example of Mint Gamification

Example of Mint Point Acquisition

CheckPoints | Virtual Currency, Rewards | CheckPoints incents users to engage in retail settings via compelling game mechanics. Users are incented to scan specific products in exchange for CheckPoints which can then be exchanged as a virtual currency for rewards such as gift cards. Brands can create compelling programs with CheckPoints to drive retail activation and product engagement all based on gamification of the shopping experience.

Example of CheckPoints Scan for Tyson Chicken

Example of CheckPoints Rewards

Shopkick | Virtual Currency, Rewards, Contests | Similar to CheckPoints, ShopKick also offers incentives and game mechanics for users to engage with specific products. By incenting users with specific offers prior to entering a retail location, ShopKick users can then interact with those products in store and earn points which translate to virtual currency. ShopKick also incorporates a hyper geo-targeted approach to driving engagement as shown below. By rewarding behavior by simply entering a participating retailer, ShopKick can influence behavior via a game mechanic.

Example Geo-Targeted Gamification associated with Target

Example of ShopKick Rewards

Hallmark | Facebook Credits, Virtual Goods, Gifting, Sharing | Facebook credits have become the default currency tied to Facebook’s ever popular social games. Beyond the social game mechanics brands are leveraging Facebook credits to incent users to interact with specific content. Hallmark incorporates many game mechanics into it’s Facebook application the Hallmark Social Calendar.

Example Hallmark Social Calendar and Facebook Credits

Example of Hallmark Social Calendar Gifting

Example of Incenting engagement via Points

Starbucks | Leveling, Rewards | Starbucks has incorporated game mechanics into it’s popular loyalty program. By incorporating multiple levels and associated rewards & perks per level with a progression tracker, users are incented to continually engage with the brand.

Example of MyStarbucks Rewards

Nike | Achievements, Badges, Challenges, Rewards | Nike has redefined running with Nike Plus. The ability to track, share, challenge and interact with like minded friends & runners across the world has been wildly successful. By incorporating game mechanics throughout the program Nike is able to create an engaging experience that transcends the real world activity.

Example of Nike Plus Goals & Challenges

Example of Nike Plus Progress bar & Leveling

Buffalo Wild Wings | Trivia, Challenges | Buffalo Wild Wings has been adept at carving out their place in the social ecosystem. By leveraging powerful platforms like Vitrue and partnering with Scvngr, they have created an engaging social persona that has served them well with over 5 million fans on Facebook. In terms of gamification they incorporate trivia regularly into their wall posts as well as incorporating online challenges tied to rewards.

Example of a Buffalo Wild Wings program that incorporates Scvngr

Microsoft | Achievements, Contests | Ribbon Hero is a creative game mechanic driven tutorial now in Microsoft Office. By completing specfic tasks and challenges you can then integrate Ribbon Hero with your Facebook account to compare how adept you are vs. your friends.

Example Ribbon Hero

Image via Geek.com

American Airlines | Progression Bar | A simple game mechanic is used by American Airlines to visually represent your current elite status qualification.

Example of American Airlines mobile app

As you can see many brands are capitalizing on the trend of integrating game mechanics into their non-gaming product offerings to drive engagement. What are some other examples of gamification by other brands?

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