Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

YouTube

TikTok has another challenger. As we’ve blogged, apps like Snapchat are creating their own short-video-making platforms in a bid to carve out space in an increasingly crowded field. Now Google’s YouTube has joined the party with YouTube Shorts. Read on to learn more about Shorts and what they bring to the table—for users, and for brands.

What Are YouTube Shorts, and How Do They Stand Out?

If you are familiar with TikTok or Instagram Reels, you’ll get the basic premise of YouTube Shorts: using the YouTube app, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once you open one short, you essentially access the motherlode in that videos start playing one after the other. Just swipe vertically to get from one to the next.

Shorts, much like TikTok, provides editing tools you can use to flex creative muscle. Users can string clips together. Adjust playback speed. Add music and text. And as YouTube has blogged, creators can play off of existing content: “[Y]ou can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience—whether it’s reacting to your favorite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits.” (Notably, creators are in control of their material; they can opt out of having their long-form videos remixed in this way.)

Shorts comes to the U.S. in beta after a beta launch in India last fall. The platform enjoyed success in India, finding a comfortable niche in the wake of the TikTok ban there. Now Shorts brings its opportunities to the States.

Why Did YouTube Launch Shorts?

Shorts is YouTube’s response to the huge popularity of short-form video. Who wouldn’t want in on that action? But Shorts is also meant to be the answer to a problem faced by new creators: it’s hard to break into the video-making world. According to YouTube, “Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel. But we know there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high. That’s why we’re working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.”

Think of it as users being able to dip a toe in creative waters without having to film and edit a full video. And because Shorts are counted like regular video views, creators hoping to make money from YouTube by getting accepted into the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) can use Shorts to do so. Users must accrue 4,000 valid public watch hours in the previous 12 months to quality for YPP, and Shorts are an accessible way to meet that threshold. YouTube has also blogged that they are taking a “fresh look at what it means to monetize YouTube Shorts and reward creators for their content,” hinting at additional opportunities to come.

Why Do YouTube Shorts Matter to Brands?

The opportunity YouTube Shorts represents for creators is good news for brands, too. Why? For one thing, creators are potentially powerful sources of great user-generated content that can benefit brands – for a recent example, consider the incredible visibility that skateboarder Nathan Apodaca created for Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac with a TikTok video.

It’s worth mentioning that apps like YouTube Shorts are of particular interest if your target market is Gen Z or Millennials. As noted by iabuk.com last fall, short-form video is surging in popularity, particularly with these generations.

What Brands Should Do

  • Stay abreast of new apps like YouTube Shorts. Knowing what’s out there informs decision-making about where and how you want to make your brand known.
  • Understand how your target audience communicates. Are you courting Gen Z or Millennials? Go where they are. And as noted above, platforms for short-form video are a logical place to be.
  • Consider whether creating your own shorts makes sense. As Social Media Examiner notes, brands that create their own Shorts stand to get some attention: “for businesses, the strategy right now with Shorts is to get exposure and hopefully subscribers to your channel so people will see some of your content outside of the short shelf.” Meanwhile, this post from HubSpot will help you think through how to get started with YouTube Shorts.
  • Look at the big picture: YouTube Shorts is yet another example of the proliferation of short-form video. If you have not done so already, adapt your video content strategy for both brief snippets (e.g., teaser content) and longer-form content (e.g., educational tutorials).

Contact True Interactive

How can short-form video elevate your brand? Contact us. We can advise.

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

Social media

When Snapchat launched in-app feature Spotlight in November 2020, the company opted to flex its muscles — and take on short-video-making app TikTok—by making daily disbursements of cash to participating Snapchatters. The rationale: to spark public creativity, incentivize public sharing amongst influencers, and build a following. Their efforts were successful: by January, the platform had grown to more than 100 million monthly active users. Curious to learn more about Spotlight and why it matters to your brand? Read on.

What Is Snapchat Spotlight?

Spotlight is a space within Snapchat where users can watch a vertically scrolled feed of short, engaging videos (up to 60 seconds long) backed by music. Rather than the day-in-the-life content traditionally associated with Snap, Spotlight offers content with a meme-like, jokey feel.

Why did Snapchat launch Spotlight?

Spotlight’s raison d’être may go beyond the obvious move to take on behemoth TikTok. It is also the place where Snapchat can branch off from the strategies that made the app a household name in the first place. Snap’s mandate since its inception in 2011, of course, has been privacy first, with photos and videos simply disappearing in 24 hours. It was a successful formula, and one that completely reimagined what online sharing could be. But the app seems to be acknowledging that some permanence can be a positive: with Spotlight, viewers can tap on favorite videos and save them.

Why Is Spotlight Popular?

Although comparisons to TikTok are inevitable, users claim the two are in fact different beasts. As Ad Age reports, CJ OperAmericano, who goes by her online name, explains that “Snapchat and TikTok have pretty different users and I am seeing higher rewards for originality and creativity on Snapchat Spotlight. You’re more likely to pop off on an original idea [on Spotlight] than just following along with a cookie cutter trend like you are on TikTok.”

Another difference: unlike TikTok, Spotlight does not have a function allowing public like counts or comments. But right now contributors are being rewarded another way. Based on a formula which includes number of views and length of views, among other factors, Snap is recognizing Spotlight contributors by awarding cash to the most popular creators. Users might make a minimum of $250 per Snap, but if someone has an extremely viral video, they could take home a big chunk of the pot. The approach has gotten attention because it’s not just existing influencers and TikTok stars who are benefitting. Average users are also making a profit after their videos go viral.

Consider Andrea Romo, who works at a Lowe’s in Albuquerque. Romo was shocked to find out that her Spotlight video—her sister deep-frying a turkey at Thanksgiving—was so popular it had earned her approximately half a million dollars. “You don’t have to ask to be paid, you don’t have to join any program, you just post a video and if it does well you get paid,” 19-year-old Dax Newman, a ceramist who has made about $30,000 on Snapchat, tells The New York Times.

What Should Brands Know?

Spotlight doesn’t show ads yet — with the operative term being “yet.” While Snapchat is, for the time being, simply giving Spotlight space to become a habit with users, the early surge of creators are exactly the people brands partner with and sponsor online. And it could be argued that Spotlight’s egalitarian approach — the fact that you don’t have to be a celebrity or have famous parents to get a leg up — is bringing attention to a new crop of budding influencers. Influencers that brands can look forward to partnering with down the line: according to Ad Age, “advertisers expect to be able to tie into the program and its creators in the future.”

Contact True Interactive

While Spotlight may not be open to advertising yet, digital opportunities for brands abound. Eager to learn more? Contact us. We can help.

Why the Honk Messaging App Matters

Why the Honk Messaging App Matters

Mobile

There’s a newcomer in the messaging world, and it’s aimed squarely at Gen Z. Honk, which describes itself as the “all-new way to chat with your friends in real time,” comes from app publisher/software company Los Feliz Engineering (LFE), and is determined to make messaging a “present” experience for a younger generation. Why does Honk matter? Read on to learn more.

What Is Honk?

There’s no send button. There’s no saved chat history. With Honk, conversations take place in real time: when someone types a message on Honk, the recipient of the message can see the sender’s content unfold in real time, warts and all, including revisions that the sender makes. (Honk calls this interface a live typing experience.) The app notifies recipients immediately if someone has left a chat. To get someone’s attention, you can send a “Honk,” described by TechCrunch as “a hard-to-miss notification to join your chat.” Users can even press the Honk button repeatedly to up the ante; the spamming sends notifications to the recipient’s phone if they’re off the app, or a cascade of emoji if their Honk app is open.

Honk accommodates 160 characters, and because the conversation is real time, no messaging is saved. Users who have maxed out their character count simply tap a double arrow “refresh” button to clear the screen and continue the communications. Users can send emoji, which display as huge images temporarily filling the screen. And photos can be accessed from a user’s camera roll to illustrate the chat.

Honk’s Target Audience: Gen Z

If giant emoji and repeated honks sound off-putting, you might not be Honk’s target audience. The app is unapologetically targeting Gen Z: though of course anyone can use Honk, when you set it up, the app asks for your age, and there are exact numbers to answer that question — 18, 19, etc. — up to a point. The last option available is “21+,” a sort of “and the rest” acknowledgement of who Honk is really courting.

Gen Z, of course, has been attracting the interest of brands because of its growing influence. It’s a sizable demographic: as reported by Brookings, more than half of the United States population are part of the Millennial generation or younger. Moreover, Gen Z is poised to overtake Baby Boomers to become the second largest generation in the nation.

Savvy brands also understand that this is a generation shaped by digital. According to the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of teens either own or have access to a smartphone, and 45 percent say they are online “almost constantly.” That’s significant to note because an app like Honk would come naturally to the Gen Z demographic.

All the Rage

Honk is also significant because messaging apps are all the rage, period. Most of the major tech firms have invested heavily into messaging apps because messaging is considered an authentic, immediate form of communication appropriate for the digital age. As we have blogged, behemoths like Facebook acknowledge the value of messaging, having already developed their own messaging app, Facebook Messenger, which brands use to communicate and even share ads.

Messaging features have also cropped up in apps like Google Maps. Social Media Today reports that Google has added new message options to its Maps and Search to make it easier for potential customers to reach out to businesses and ask questions. As Google notes, while business profiles can easily answer the frequently asked questions — the hours a business is open, for example — messaging takes things a step further. Messaging allows users to ask specific questions — for example, do you make vegan baked goods? — and in the process strengthen the bond between business and customer.

What Businesses Should Do

Honk. Gen Z. Messaging. What are the takeaways for your brand? We recommend that you:

  • Keep an eye on Honk and apps like it. For now, Honk does not offer any opportunities for advertising — but that day may come soon!
  • If Gen Z is a target market for your business, make sure you understand the way this generation communicates so that you know how to reach them in an authentic, meaningful way. Think of Honk as a way to learn, and be open to adapting your own approach =
  • Take a closer look at how well you are integrating messaging into your marketing and communications strategies.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Twitch Is Hot: Here’s Why

Twitch Is Hot: Here’s Why

Marketing

As the COVID-19 pandemic roared across the globe in 2o2o, social distancing guidelines closed down stadiums and theaters everywhere. Suddenly Amazon-owned Twitch, already popular, took on an even greater resonance: the streaming platform represented a way to connect and experience, virtually, events and the sense of community that had been eradicated by the virus. Savvy brands understand the opportunities inherent in Twitch—a platform that’s currently filling a need, even as it continues to grow. Curious? Read on to learn more.

What Is Twitch?

Twitch is an online platform for livestreams, on which users can broadcast a livestream or watch other streamers. The platform was introduced in 2011, and while the focus has traditionally been on video games, Twitch is constantly evolving. It currently features music and lifestyle content, as well: Twitch users can watch anything from video gaming to music festivals, cooking shows, live tutorials of artists drawing (a la Bob Ross!) or professional sports. According to Ad Age, Twitch’s Just Chatting channel—essentially streamers chatting with the audience—has been the platform’s most-watched category in the second quarter. Sean Horvath, the chief revenue officer at StreamElements, notes, “We are starting to see a rise of streaming stars who don’t game at all . . . [T]hink of it like any talk show you watch on TV, but the difference is viewers can also make comments directly to the hosts.”

That’s right. Twitch’s interactive nature is supported by chat features; spectators can interact with one another and with the broadcasters (streamers), too. The platform has been described as a sort of virtual return to the social experience of arcade gaming. In the arcades, crowds would form around someone playing a certain game well, and people would talk about the game while they waited for their turn—and possibly pick up some tips and tricks from the player. Livestreaming on Twitch brings this interactive experience online, regardless of whether the point of discussion is a game—or a new recipe for chili.

Who Uses Twitch?

As Ad Age recently reported, Twitch hit a new milestone in spring 2020: Twitch exceeded 3 billion streaming hours in the first quarter of the year.

The audience skews younger. Kayla Carmicheal’s recent post on the Hubspot blog identifies users as teen gamers, with the largest group (22 percent) coming from the United States. Of the 28 million unique users per month in the U.S., she says, 80 percent are teen males. According to brand24.com, Millennial gamers also make up a significant portion of the Twitch audience. To be specific, Twitch reaches 50 percent of Millennial males in America.

Furthermore, Twitch users have been described as socially conscious and passionate about important causes. This year, the platform made headlines when it became a hub for social activism, with users creating Twitch channels for the express purpose of livestreaming Black Lives Matter protests. As Brielle Villablanca, a Twitch spokeswoman, told the New York Times, “[W]e’ve seen creators livestreaming content from the protests and engaging their communities in open conversations around race, inequality and how to effect change.”

And the platform attracts an audience open to advertising. According to brand24.com, 82 percent of Twitch users believe sponsorships benefit gaming. And 80 percent are receptive to brands sponsoring gamers and teams.

Advertising Options on Twitch

In short, the platform provides fertile ground for advertisers who want to connect with passionate, driven consumers. Marketing exposure on Twitch can take several forms, including:

  • Partnering with an influencer. A streamer might include a brand in a sponsored stream title or on a tile on their channel page.
  • Brand placement on the stream itself, or behind the streamer on their webcam.
  • Branded emotes, like the “DoritoChip,” which between November 2, 2017, and January 8, 2018, was used by viewers an average of 17,330 times a day.
  • Pre-roll ads, which can run before a stream.

What Brands Use Twitch?

Some savvy brands have already recognized the potential Twitch offers to connect with a young, engaged audience. And they’ve done so in creative ways. For example:

  • Totino’s Pizza Rolls created an attention-grabbing game within the game during a sponsored stream. After each win, streamers rewarded themselves by eating pizza rolls live.
  • Monster Energy Drinks sponsored Jaryd “Summit1G” Lazar, who streams with a stocked Monster mini fridge situated right behind him. During streams, viewers have asked him about his favorite drink flavors, and new flavor releases, calling even more attention to the brand.
  • 1,000 Dreams Fund (1DF), a non-profit dedicated to providing 1,000 university women with grants, partnered with Twitch to give financial assistance to female streamers currently attending college. The aid could be applied to conventions like TwitchCon, or even new hardware, and the campaign introduced the non-profit to a completely new audience (the campaign also highlighted that Twitch doesn’t exclusively draw a male demographic).
  • Nissin Foods partnered with influencer Pokimane, who demonstrated how noodles are a clear fit to the gaming lifestyle when she made Nissin instant noodles during a stream. Pokimane, who draws more than four million followers to her channel, added a layer of whimsy by incorporating a “Slurp Meter” graphic onscreen to measure how loudly she ate her meal.
  • Career search engine Indeed used a pre-roll ad to demonstrate how a Twitch streamer and a digital artist used Indeed to connect—and ultimately collaborate.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to reach out to a Millennials audience? Interested in incorporating Twitch into your next campaign? Contact us. We can help.

8 Digital Advertising Predictions for 2020

8 Digital Advertising Predictions for 2020

Advertising

Google takes control of advertising. More businesses feel the heat over consumer privacy. Voice search gets smarter. These are among the trends influencing digital advertising in 2020, according to True Interactive. Here’s a sample of what’s on our minds:

1 Google Takes Control of Advertising

Google is taking away manual control of Google Advertising with the removal of the average position metric and by continuing to implement automated bidding tools and metrics such as top impression share that make measuring search ranking less transparent. As a result, CPCs are going up.

Going forward, Google will continue to push automated bidding strategies. Google’s rationale is that its algorithms are smarter, making it possible for Google to adjust bids per auction. But smarter bids are not necessarily less costly ones in the short term, and there is still much trepidation by marketers in handing total control over to Google, who stand stands to profit from an increase in CPCs and overall spend. Bottom line: as Google continues to make manual bidding more challenging, advertisers will be forced to buy into automated bidding with less transparency.  Expect CPCs to increase at least in the short term as businesses hand more control over to Google.

— Beth Bauch, senior manager

2 The CCPA Throws Down the Hammer on Big Tech

By July 2020, we will see the first major lawsuit against one of the big technology firms – likely Facebook or Google – over a violation of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA, which goes into effect January 1, is evolving. Businesses are still figuring out its vagaries and requirements. Google and Facebook are in interesting and vulnerable position because they touch so much audience data for businesses, increasing their risk level. And we know Facebook’s track record for privacy violations, don’t we? Watch for it: a major lawsuit will happen that forces businesses to come to terms with the CCPA.

— Tim Colucci, vice president

3 Netflix Adopts Advertising

Netflix will need to adopt some form of advertising. Netflix has achieved phenomenal growth, to be sure. But the entertainment company also faces unprecedented threats with Disney+ and, eventually, Apple+ once Apple figures out a long-term strategy that works. (Apple has a lot of cash and time to get Apple+ right. Just wait.)

In addition, the cost of creating content is putting Netflix in an interesting bind: when Netflix has a hit show, it has to spend more money to accommodate audience demand, creating even more costs. On top of all that, for the first time in a long time, Netflix has reported drops in membership levels.

Netflix will likely introduce a less-expensive ad-based model, but the company will also do something it has avoided pursuing: product placements in shows like Stranger Things, which popularized brands such as Kellogg’s Eggos without earning Netflix a dime in return. Those days will come to an end as Netflix responds to pressure from investors to cover its costs and respond to the threat of Disney.

— Héctor Ariza, manager

4 Voice Search Gets Smarter and More Useful

I’ve written often about the rise of voice search, and I continue to see more people using their voices to find things with their smart speakers, phones, and in-car devices. But what’s changing is that people are getting more comfortable buying things, not just searching for things, with their voices. That’s happening because as we get accustomed to the ease of using our voices to manage our lives, we are gradually becoming more comfortable accomplishing more complex tasks. In addition, thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence, voice-enabled devices are getting smarter and more capable of managing purchases and product orders. Frankly, the market got flooded with smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home before AI was adequately advanced to make a voice-activated speaker as smart as we’d like them to be. Those days are rapidly drawing to a close.

— Taylor Murphy, manager

5 Google Monetizes Maps and Google My Business

We recently blogged about the fact that half of searches on Google stay on Google properties such as Google Maps, YouTube, and a business’s Google My Business (GMB) listing. In other words, half of searches are not resulting in clicks on a business’s website. In addition, Google My Business is the most important local search signal according to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors. These data points mean that businesses need to invest more time and energy maximizing the value of their presence on Google. Google knows this reality and is getting more aggressive about offering advertising products for businesses on these sites. Earlier in 2019, Bloomberg discussed how Google is evolving Google Maps with more advertising tools. Especially as more cars integrate mapping technology, Google is going to place even more advertising emphasis here. I also expect Google to provide more advertising options for businesses to promote themselves on their GMB listings. I also would not be surprised If Google introduces a premium version of GMB in which businesses will enjoy more features for a cost.

— Mark Smith, co-founder

6 Cause Marketing Faces a Reckoning

Cause marketing has been around for years. Businesses have learned they can create stronger emotional ties with customers and job seekers by associating themselves with a topical issue such as sustainability. In 2019, businesses were falling all over themselves to promote a position on sustainability as the topic reached all-time levels of public awareness. But there’s just one hitch: we’re seeing a glut of cause marketing campaigns, and they’re not necessarily connecting with consumers. I was reading a recent report from DoSomething Strategic that discusses how businesses have struggled to make their cause marketing connect with young people. Gen Z definitely wants to associate with purpose-driven companies. But businesses still have a lot of work to do in order to convince them that they’re aligned with Gen Z values. Businesses are going to become more careful about how they do cause marketing. I believe we’ll see fewer online ads and a more thoughtful use of content marketing, PR, social media, and native advertising in which a business can spend more time having a longer-term discussion about issues it cares about. Businesses will humanize these conversations by sharing their position through the voices of their people.

— Kurt Anagnostopoulos, co-founder

7 Agile Advertising Takes Hold

We all know about real-time marketing, in which a brand uses social media to turn a news event into a marketing opportunity. Agile advertising occurs when a business acts on a recent event and creates a connected marketing experience that endures well beyond a single tweet, Facebook post, or other digital impression. We saw Bud Light exercise agile advertising during the World Series when it capitalized on the fact that a fan in the stands stopped a home run ball with his chest while holding two Bud Lights in his hands. Bud Light created a series of marketing moments including creating a branded T shirt depicting the fan stopping the home run ball. Bud Light paid the fan to attend another World Series game sporting the Bud Light attire. We also saw agile advertising in action when Aviation Gin created a slick ad online that gently made light of the controversial Pelton cycling ad. I see more businesses adopting this practice because the digital production tools have evolved to the point where talented storytellers can quickly conceive of an idea and get it into market with an ad that taps into current events and endures for days and weeks.

— Max Petungaro, associate

8 Hispanic Marketing Hits Its Stride

In the United States, 69 counties are majority Hispanic, doubling from 34 in 2010. Hispanics have increased their economic power, reflecting a growingly diverse U.S. population. In 2020, Hispanics will possess $1.7 trillion in buying power. The United States continues to reflect Hispanic tastes in all aspects of our culture (including and beyond the Hispanic community, ranging from movies to popular music). We’re going to see businesses apply research and targeting to do more effective, sophisticated Hispanic marketing that recognizes the diversity and tastes that reside among Hispanics. Brands are already capitalizing on this growing market. (For more insight about marketing to Hispanics, check out our blog post.) And tech companies such as Google are responding to a more multicultural world in general by making their platforms more open to people who speak languages other than English, an example being how the Google Assistant voice software can interpret 44 languages on smart phones. These types of developments will help bridge the world between businesses and Hispanics in 2020.

— Amanda Cortese, associate

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising in 2020, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash

Gaming: a Golden Marketing Frontier

Gaming: a Golden Marketing Frontier

Marketing

As reported by VentureBeat, a new Consumer Technology Association (CTA) study indicates 70 percent of Americans aged 13 to 64 play games. That’s a whopping 192 million U.S. consumers, a number that reflects the way gaming has been informed in recent years by social phenomena like increased smartphone use. Brands who understand this demographic shift can only benefit.

Gamers: Who Are They?

The 2019 Future of Gaming study defines gamers as anyone who played video games for at least one hour in the past three months. And according to the study, the aforementioned 192 million gamers—playing on consoles like Xbox One or PlayStation 4; smartphones or tablets; and PCs—embrace gameplay as entertainment, but also as an active social channel. Perhaps because of this, the classic stereotype of the typical gamer—young male—no longer applies. Games are drawing a much bigger demographic.

“Not only is the classic teenage-boy-gamer stereotype untrue today, but it’s even less accurate when it comes to mobile games,” notes Tom Simpson, vice president, brand and exchange, APAC, AdColony. “More than one billion Asian consumers of all ages and genders play games every day on their smartphones. In fact, across many markets in APAC we see a larger number of female gamers than male.” Consider games like Candy Crush and its successor, Candy Crush Soda Saga: the archetypal player is a woman aged 25 to 45.

What Gaming Means to You

Because the gaming demographic is so large and varied, gaming represents a golden opportunity for brands. According to The Drum, projections indicate the global mobile gaming market will be worth $174 billion by 2021, for example. Advertisers can target a niche audience in that market, or deliver brand awareness at scale. It’s ultimately up to the brand, its budget, and advertising objectives.

Examples of Brands Killing It with Gamers

So who’s already doing it right? Look no further than Coca-Cola, which rolled out a mobile game app targeting teens and young adults. In the Crabs & Penguins game, developed by Coca-Cola’s Content Factory in partnership with McDonald’s, users guide a crab character through races and dangers, coming into contact with other animals, such as polar bears, along the way. The ultimate goal? Returning a soccer ball to a cast of penguin characters. The stated goal of the game is to “spread happiness,” which also happens to be Coke’s tag line; characters and products in the game are also branded with the Coca-Cola logo. Bottom line: the Coke brand is on the user’s mind as they play the game.

Meanwhile, brands like Gatorade and Asos are succeeding by matching product to game. In a digital recreation of how the sports drink fuels real-life activity, Gatorade offered players a digital “electrolyte boost” via energy refills in EA’s Madden NFL Mobile; gamers could then play longer. Clothing brand Asos, in turn, paired with The Sims Mobile game, introducing branded clothing and timed quests to Sims players. The real-world experience of shopping for clothing online proved a good match to the customization options within the game.

Three Key Takeaways

So what does this mean for your brand? Consider these takeaways:

  1. Gamers are a diverse audience. Identify your demographic; chances are that group plays games in some form. What games does your target market like to play? Understanding what games your customers enjoy helps you know where (and how) to reach them. Are you targeting busy moms who relax over a game of Candy Crush? Teens likely to be snacking (or craving a snack) while playing Fruit Ninja?
  2. Consider what games might be a good one-on-one match for your actual product. Are there games that digitally recreate the universe your product occupies in real life?
  3. Finally, consider whether your brand (and budget) are best served by targeted outreach, or more of a universal awareness blitz.

Contact True Interactive

Need help navigating the opportunities afforded by the gaming market? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Advertising

Like gamers, sneakerheads constitute a passionate fan base. Much more than a passive audience, sneakerheads—who collect, trade, and/or develop an exhaustive knowledge of sneakers as a hobby—represent a culture that dates back decades. Sneakerhead culture can in fact be traced back to the 1980s, when the popularity of Michael Jordan and his line of Air Jordan shoes, as well as the explosion of hip hop music, made the idea of collecting shoes not only possible, but cool.

Sneakerhead culture overlaps with other cultures such as hip hop and fashion, making sneakerheads as an audience especially culturally relevant. Even if they are not your audience, understanding how brands court sneakerheads can be instructive to you. That’s because understanding the innovative ways brands have reached out to this group can inspire you as you reach out to your own market—and tap into a culture to make your brand more relevant.

Here are a few interesting and effective ways in which brands have recently reached out to sneakerhead culture:

Empowering Consumers to Be Retailers

In August 2019, Adidas announced a partnership with the social commerce app Storr. Storr, which allows consumers to open a store from their phone in three clicks, is now part of a campaign in which individuals who are part of the Adidas Creators Club can literally become “social sellers” of Adidas goods. The Creators Club membership program was launched in 2018 as a way for the most passionate Adidas fan base to enjoy early access to products and special events.

Now about 10,000 Creators Club members will have an opportunity to become sellers and share their love of Adidas product. Sellers will receive a six percent commission from each sale, with an option to donate to Girls on the Run, an Adidas partner organization dedicated to helping young women reach their full potential. Chris Murphy, Adidas’ senior director of digital activation, said to Fast Company, “If you think about where our consumers go to get advice or ideas, it’s their friends, it’s sneakerheads, it’s people in their social sphere already, so why not let those people sell on our behalf?”

Celebrating the Culture

Also in August, Foot Locker announced a “We Live Sneakers” digital campaign in conjunction with the launch of Nike’s “Evolution of the Swoosh” shoe and apparel collection. Content for “We Live Sneakers,” which rolled out online and on Foot Locker social platforms, is meant to resonate with die-hard sneaker fans of all ages. As Patrick Walsh, Foot Locker’s vice president of marketing, North America, explained to Total Retail, “We want to authentically connect with those who have made Foot Locker a part of their sneaker-obsessed journey. ‘We Live Sneakers’ is a glimpse at what it means to be a sneakerhead, and the ways in which it impacts the most meaningful moments of everyday life.”

The campaign underlines the fundamental respect Foot Locker holds for its sneaker fans. As Walsh notes, “Sneakerheads are . . . very well-informed consumers and have a variety of interests, including art, music, photography, sports, etc. . . . Foot Locker strives to be that intersection between sneakers and all of their other passion points, as well as serve and empower sneaker culture and all of its members.” By partnering with Nike, Foot Locker hopes to create a win/win scenario in which both brands attract attention and engagement.

Providing an Experience

This isn’t the first time Foot Locker and Nike have teamed up. In 2018, sneakerheads joined Foot Locker’s first “The Hunt” augmented reality (AR) scavenger hunt. Players ranged across Los Angeles, smartphones in hand, unlocking geo-targeted AR clues in a bid to be among the first to acquire Nike’s limited-edition LeBron 16 King “Court Purple” sneakers. The game, which involved the “collection” of objects in AR, and completion of three game levels, began at 11:00 p.m. local time after the end of the Los Angeles Lakers’s first home game of the NBA season. Completing all three game levels unlocked an access card to acquire the shoes. The treasure hunt, which imparted a fresh, fun vibe to the sneaker release, underscored a key role that an experience can play in the consumer process. As Ron Faris, GM of Nike’s NYC digital studio and the SNKRS app, shared with Highsnobiety, “For many of the most fanatical sneakerheads, how they cop the shoe is almost as important as the shoe itself.”

What Advertisers Should Do

The lessons here are clear. When reaching out to your ideal demographic, don’t forget to:

  • Tap into a group’s passion and make it work for you—even as you empower individuals to benefit financially or, as in the case of the Girls on the Run donations, do good. It’s especially instructive that Adidas empowered sneakerheads to become social sellers. You don’t need to use a native app to do so; consider platforms such as Instagram depending on where your audience likes to hang out.
  • Respect and celebrate your audience. Tell their story and connect with their passion points in authentic ways. When you do those things, you turn customers into loyal tribes.
  • Leverage technology to provide an experience that will resonate along with your brand. The Foot Locker AR experience tapped into sneakerheads’ love of sports and play. Foot Locker did not apply AR just because it’s a cool technology; Foot Locker understood that AR when used as a game would engage sneakerheads specifically.

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Photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash