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One Small Step For iPhone, One Giant Leap For Mario

September 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Every September Apple announces big product news. This September continued that tradition with the much-anticipated iPhone7 announcement. The new iPhone7, AirPods and the updated Apple Watch, were all very cool and great steps forward for Apple. What was huge news was that Nintendo’s Mario is finally coming to iOS.

While the news of Nintendo’s beloved Mario coming to the iOS world is medium-sized news for Apple, it is huge news for Nintendo. The fact that Nintendo’s legendary Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on stage at the event to announce was a very clear sign at how big and important this news is for the company.

As prologue: While many in the marketplace have been focused on the overwhelming success of Pokémon Go as a Nintendo windfall — it isn’t. Nintendo owns the IP but doesn’t make the Pokémon Go game, and it has produced very little revenue for Nintendo. Pokémon Go is collaboration between The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs, the developer of the game. In fact, when the investors realized this, the sharp rise in Nintendo stock price saw an equal correction. In fact, Nintendo is in search for a big hit for the upcoming holiday season.

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Nintendo has been slow to develop games for third-party platforms since they have historically made their own consoles and handheld devices. But that business has struggled for several seasons. Putting their most famous and beloved character on iOS is a huge step for Nintendo and I’m betting they have very big revenue forecasts tied to Super Mario Run for Holiday 2016.

If you watched the closing ceremony at the Sumer Olympics, it’s clear how popular Mario is around the world. And by putting Mario into the hands of millions of fans and, hopefully, new users around the world, the Mario franchise will see downloads and revenue stream the likes of which Pokémon Go experienced earlier this year. Even a fraction of Pokémon Go’s revenue numbers will be a success.

A key theme to recognize in both games is to understand the classic “fish where the fish are” strategy. By limiting their investment in a lagging console business and instead writing game software for a third-party platform, Nintendo has the chance to rescue their gaming business and un-chain themselves from their expensive proprietary device bondage. Also, it will be much easier for Nintendo to create commerce opportunities in an app environment as well as easily deliver updates and new adventures for Mario in a bit-based world.

Lastly, this is big news for Nintendo because Japanese companies are historically better at building “things” vs. software. Doubt that? How many Sony Walkmans do you see today? Software eats the world and has gobbled up the days of simply building a better mousetrap. If Nintendo’s Super Mario Run is a hit, this will signify a big transformation for Nintendo’s legacy as a game and hardware maker and transition to being software driven.

As marketers grapple with how to better engage with their customers, Nintendo may be a company to emulate and take some pages from their updated play book. Here’s looking to a great holiday season for that little dude in red overalls!

The Story On Stories: Snapchat Vs. Instagram

August 16, 2016 Leave a comment

Blog Post-FB vs Twitter v2

I have written previous articles about how marketers should be testing, learning and quickly iterating on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to tell their brand stories. And recently, Mary Meeker helped drive home the point about the relevance of such social platform in her 2016 annual Internet Trends report. As a refresher:

The report showed how smartphones are increasingly used to combine several powerful storytelling tools via camera+storytelling+creativity+messaging, combined with social sharing network effect. Meeker mentioned that she and her team believe Snapchathas a “perfect trifecta” for this, especially given their daily video growth rate.

Marketers such as Wal-Mart, Sony Pictures, Ford and Dick’s Sporting Goods are just a few that have jumped into Snapchat to leverage massively engaged audiences with cool filters, storytelling and ads. An insight not to miss is that all these Snapchatters (and Instagrammers) are sending geo-specific signals each time they share. For brick-and-mortar retailers, this geo-location is a massively untapped opportunity to reach customers during a store visit and when purchase consideration is happening.

Given the combination of geo-location and marketers’ quest to reach customers in store, attribute traffic and conversion, it’s no wonder marketers are finally embracing Snapchat and Instagram in new ways. And also why Instagram’s launching of “Stories” should not surprise anyone.

Silicon Valley has a long history of companies copying each other. Steve Jobs famously saw GUI at Xerox Parc and that inspired the Mac. Many say he stole it. As Apple’s Bud Tribble is noted for saying: “If you take something and make it your own…it’s your design and that is the dividing line between copying and stealing.” That concept is part of Apple’s DNA and certainly many other tech companies in the valley. Kevin Systrom, Instagram CEO/founder, hasn’t run from the obvious copying of Snapchat. In fact, he said “they [Snapchat] deserve all the credit”. In my opinion Instagram has innovated by making the “Stories” feature much more seamless and intuitive vs. Snapchat. Snapchat will almost certainly refine their UX. But the Instagram feature and better UX is just the tip of the spear.

Instagram is owned by Facebook and has a uniquely strong capability to tap into mobile “storytelling” to augment data (especially geo-data) to fortify cross-device insights with Facebook Insights (think purchase data). This combination can be an incredibly powerful for tool for marketers. As marketers, we have become better at understanding our data streams and applying smart strategies and tactics to drive engagement and purchase. Search and social have been a proving ground for following intentions all the way to purchase. As search evolves outside of “traditional” search into platforms such as Instagram (note no search available on Snapchat), marketers will have more ammunition to target audiences and truly track path to purchase while giving attribution to the right events.

I love both Snapchat and Instagram, but the amazing cross-device, geo-targeting and massive network effect of Instagram+Facebook is why I’m betting on Instagram in the long game.

As marketers, you should already be well underway in testing and learning with these platforms and have deft understanding of your first-party data and how it can be combined with the ever increasing rich data set derived from helping consumers tell their stories. Holiday 2016 should be your best season ever with all the tools you have at your disposal. Are you ready?

Reposted from my published artciles on Mediapost and Medium

What Was Old Is New Again: Pokémon Is Back!

I never played Pokémon when I was young and never really understood what the craze was about. And while I’m not among the millions in the United States who have downloaded the Pokémon Go app, I love what Pokémon Go represents for the brand and enthusiasts. What started as a simple game from Nintendo over 20 years ago and gained a lot of followers among kids and tweens worldwide has now revived the brand with a location-based, augmented reality app. And unless you live under a rock, you will have no doubt seen the news across nearly every media outlet. Pokémon Go has made national headlines across the world in the last week.

For those who aren’t familiar with Pokemon Go is, here’s a short overview:

Once a user downloads Pokémon Go to their smartphone, they are prompted to turn on location services. Once location services are on, users will see a location-aware map with other players in the real world where they can go out and look for Pokémon characters. Once they get to a specified place, players point their phone camera to “find” Pokémon in the real world in an augmented reality-playing environment. Players then shoot a ball to capture the Pokémon and collect awards.

Why all the fuss over a “kids” game that now has a smartphone app? For starters, the app, which just launched a week ago has over 11 million daily active users. In the app world, that is rocket ship growth that any app or media property would love to have in a year, let alone a week! To provide some context, according to data from SensorTower, Pokémon Go is already bigger than the dating app Tinder, as big as Snapchat and Google Maps and about to overtake Twitter. And Pokémon Go players are spending an average of 43 minutes per day using the app. That daily usage rate outpaces WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and FB Messenger! The cherry on the top is that it’s not just kids and tweens playing this game, it’s a lot of adults and new users to the Pokémon franchise.

As any marketer that has launched an app will tell you, two of the biggest success metrics for apps are downloads and daily active users (DAUs) or monthly active users (MAUs). Achieving download goals are hard enough. Many marketers spend millions of dollars just to drive downloads; it’s not uncommon for costs to hit $20 per download. The bigger challenge is getting users to actually keep using an app after download and that is where the vast majority of apps fail unless they have a high utility value (e.g., Tinder, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.). Pokémon Go daily users are spending 40+ minutes each day!

Again, to provide some perspective, below is a chart from SensorTower showing Daily Usage Time of Pokémon Go vs. Social Media Apps.

Pokémon Go news stories have been making the nightly news across all the network and cable news channels about the craze and how app users are having fun in droves as well as some questionable issues arising from playing an augmented reality game in public spaces. I was nearly shamed for not playing the game by a fellow UberPool rider earlier this week, while she was looking to snag another Pokémon in the Uber. And while I’m not playing (yet), I can think of myriad ways marketers can engage and follow the lead of the Pokémon Go augmented reality app.

On a basic level, brands with location-based presence can engage with promotions. Outdoor apparel brands could leverage the location-based aspect to engage with players in parks and resorts around the globe. QSR brands could offer a limited-time experience to help drive short-term traffic and sales goals. Marketers looking for more ideas need only to listen to what Pokémon Go players are saying on across social channels about how they are engaging with the game and what types of experiences they are creating. Smart marketers will listen and respond from the plethora of ideas being shared in the community.

While I have never been a Pokémon fan, this augmented reality app has been a great way to re-introduce adults and kids to a great brand franchise in a smart and meaningful way with a technology (augmented reality) that the average consumer has had little experience with until last week. Perhaps we’re at a tipping point for the “general release” of augmented reality for the masses.

A Perfect Trifecta For Live-Streaming: Video, Image, Messaging

My latest Marketing:Entertainment post from @Mediapost

In the past week, I’ve been talking with a lot of my marketer and ad-tech friends across Silicon Valley and Madison Ave. Much of the conversation starts with, “Did you see Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report?” “What do you think?” Of course, I’ve seen it! My hunch is that nearly everyone reading this post has seen it, at least in some part. Meeker’s annual report is akin to everyone waiting eagerly to see if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow every year. Of course, Meeker’s report has much more accurate prognostications than the weather predictions of a furry rodent.

I typically ask friends, “What about the report did you find most interesting?” Several conversations have focused on mobile, media and entertainment, specifically with regard to trends and topics I’ve discussed here over the past 18 months. Here are a couple of areas from the report that get me excited and why I’m so bullish on the convergence of mobile, video, entertainment and how brands have only begun to engage.

The report showed how smartphones are increasingly used to combine several powerful storytelling tools via camera + storytelling + creativity + messaging across a social platform with network effect. Meeker mentioned that she and her team believe Snapchat has a “perfect trifecta” for this, (especially given their daily video growth rate). Snapchat has come a long way pretty fast, since starting with personal stories, then personal plus professional, and now curated live stories with Discover, which brands can sponsor.

While Snapchat may have the perfect trifecta, the other services highlighted in the report such as Instagram, Periscope and Facebook-Live all represent a similar theme of incredibly high user growth (daily) and the chance for brands to find unique ways to help users engage with consumers. For example, “Love at First Bite” from KFC, and “World AIDS Day – Join the Fight” from (RED) had tremendous lift and engagement for those respective brands.

Of course, the report also highlighted Candace Payne in the Chewbacca mask and how that user-generated content demonstrated a new order of magnitude to viewing and sharing. I have long mentioned these tools as great ways to help consumers engage with each other as well as with brands. But we are still only at the tip of the iceberg.

Meeker went on to talk about the impact of a paradigm shift for live broadcasting. The advent of Periscope, Facebook-Live and Twitter’s integration of near real-time replays (now real-time as well) is changing how consumers can engage with each other for live events as well as share. Again, we’ve seen this coming as I have pointed out in a few posts. And as frequent readers of my column know, I have been very bullish on the opportunities for live events + streaming + sharing.

As Meeker pointed out, “Live sports viewing has always been social. In many ways it’s just getting started.” I couldn’t agree more. She highlighted how viewers are able to watch live events from the sidelines, live-stream and wrap it all with social media tools and share in real-time. As brands get behind this for the upcoming sports and other big live event season, we start to see just how big an impact it will have.

The big platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram) will be rolling out new features in the coming months for the Fall sports season. The NFL will be broadcasting Thursday night games live on Twitter and functionality will include (not confirmed) live analysis, replays and notifications. Remember when I wrote about Twitter’s acquisition of SnappyTV to build out their replay services? Bundle those replay services with live broadcasts and more sharing tools, and this season’s social sharing for big games and other live events should be through the roof.

These are just two areas of real-time video, messaging and sharing that marketers should be very excited about testing in the second half of this year and certainly well beyond. We are still early in this space and there is a lot to be built and designed. The more brands get in early and test, the better chances they have for helping guide platform partners like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and many others. There are going to be a lot more tools for brands and their agencies to come up with cool and compelling ways to engage with consumers.

I encourage you to review “The 2016 Internet Trends Report” as a way to start thinking how you will engage in a rapidly growing marketing and entertainment realm.

A manifesto for small teams doing important work

February 18, 2016 Leave a comment

We are always under tight deadlines, because time is our most valuable asset.

If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.

If you set a date, meet it.

If you can’t make a date, tell us early and often. Plan B well prepared is a better strategy than hope.

Clean up your own mess.

Clean up other people’s messes.

Overcommunicate.

Question premises and strategy.

Don’t question goodwill, effort or intent.

“I’ll know it when I see it,” is not a professional thing to say. Describing and discussing in the abstract is what we do.

Big projects are not nearly as important as scary commitments.

If what you’re working on right now doesn’t matter to the mission, help someone else with their work.

Make mistakes, own them, fix them, share the learning.

Cheap, reliable, public software might be boring, but it’s usually better. Because it’s cheap and reliable.

Yesterday’s hierarchy is not nearly as important as today’s project structure.

Lock in the things that must be locked in, leave the implementation loose until you figure out how it can get done.

Mostly, we do things that haven’t been done before, so don’t be surprised when you’re surprised.

Care more.

If an outsider can do it faster and cheaper than we can, don’t hesitate.

Always be seeking outside resources. A better rolodex is better, even if we don’t have rolodexes any more.

Talk to everyone as if they were your boss, your customer, the founder, your employee. It’s all the same.

It works because it’s personal.

cribbed from @sethgodin because it’s great and this is how I operate, too!

Goooal! What We Can Learn From The Most-watched Soccer Match In U.S. History

My latest article from Mediapost – Marketing:Entertainment 

“Many people say I’m the best women’s soccer player in the world. I don’t think so. And because of that, someday I just might be.”

Mia Hamm, 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team

I like that quote from Mia Hamm, one of the standout players from the 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup champion team. Mia’s quote reflects a consistent theme of how the current U.S. women’s soccer team approaches playing — on and off the field. And just one of the many reason they are champions, in a sea of doubters.

Sunday’s Women’s World Cup championship’s stunning 5-2 win over Japan was a trill to watch. I was streaming in from my car en route from Seattle to San Francisco. It set records on and off the field. By the numbers, more than 26 million viewers tuned in to watch the match. Viewership peaked at 30.1 million from 8:30 to 8:45. Carli Lloyd’s impressive hat trick during the game was matched in the broadcast world with three amazing goals; the match bested the recent NBA Final viewership (13.9 million), the NHL Stanley Cup Final (7.6 million) and becoming the most-watched soccer event in the U.S. television history. The icing on the cake, for Fox Sports Go app, was a record-setting 232,000 concurrent streams. Very impressive numbers, to be sure.

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Given all the growth of U.S. youth soccer programs, especially girls leagues, women’s collegiate soccer, you would think the U.S. Women’s World Cup games would have been an attractive venue for marketers to reach their key audiences. Guess again.

Monday morning stats about the match should now silence the doubters about women’s sports being a big draw. Even the doubters should have seen this as an ideal entry point to test the waters with a minimal investment. So, I’m baffled that more marketers didn’t find ways to engage and reach what was certainly a key audience. Fox raked in an estimated $17 million on advertising revenue, a tiny number when you consider the $529 million ESPN made from advertising/sponsorship revenue from last year’s tournament in Brazil.

Granted, the men’s World Cup has been around longer. Fox aired 16 matches live (a new record for Women’s World Cup Soccer in the U.S.) and I counted ads from at least 15 brands, from QSR, auto, insurance, CPG and alcohol beverage companies. While there were more advertisers and revenue than in previous years, it was still a missed opportunity. Also puzzling was the noticeably absent traditional sports apparel brands that are typically sponsors. All day I dreamt about seeing them show up in the match somewhere. Hats off to non-traditional brands like Clorox and Tampax for stepping up. I think they will do well from their investment.

A lot of marketers rely on reports and historical data to help determine where to put their sponsorship dollars. Perhaps the brands that didn’t show up relied on these reports too much vs. considering market conditions, and the hyper growth of women’s soccer (even girls youth leagues). I’m guessing the reports suggested sticking with proven sports franchises for proven returns. Data is a great tool but it’s not the only one in the toolbox.

There have always been a lot of doubters about women’s sports, including the high-performance world of Women’s World Cup. And nearly every time, the women have something to prove and they do. Hopefully, this year was a wake-up call for brands that have been on the sidelines. As marketers, our goal is to connect with audiences in meaningful ways. The highly passionate women’s sports fans offer a great opportunity for many marketers to connect and tell their story in a meaningful way. How will you find a way to engage with this audience? I would love to hear your thoughts, feel free to comment on this article or find me @dougchavez on Twitter.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Whale vs. The Snail (and an ice cream cone)

March 12, 2014 9 comments

Earlier this week, Twitter went down for for some folks, including me. I couldn’t help notice that their design team updated the familiar “fail whale” with a new cartoon featuring a snail and ice cream cone. (there’s a making for a bad joke). Personally, I like the fail whale better, because, well, I’m used to it and like many I don’t always like change.

IMHO from a messaging perspective, the snail and ice cream cone do much better job conveying that Twitter is down or has a glitch vs. a while being suspended by struggling birds (read: we’re struggling over here).

Here’s to hoping we don’t see much of the snail and ice cream cone in 2014

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