Building A Gaming Social Brand 2012


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The complete 'Building A Gaming Social Brand' whitepaper. This publication explores content across the three key phases of the consumer decision journey:

1) Initial Consideration – Trigger
2) Active Evaluation – Information Gathering, Shopping and Buying
3) Post Purchase Experience and Advocacy

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Building A Gaming Social Brand 2012

  1. 1. BUILDING A GAMING SOCIAL BRAND What you need to know as you plan for 2013 21 case studies 13 vital questions to ASK your business 7 GAMING AND ENTERTAINMENT brands benchmarked 17 trends identified By Julius Duncan – Marketing Director | Headstream and Tom Chapman – Head of Innovation | Lawton Communications Group www . h e ads t r e am . com | O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2
  2. 2. contents Executive Summary Gaming sector background Entertainment & gaming sector – Social Brand 100 insights Gaming sector – Current challenges and case studies Gaming sector – Future of social media Conclusion and getting started How can Headstream help? Sources 3 5 7 11 21 26 27 29 C on t e n t s www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2
  3. 3. 1 • Executive Summary This white paper has been created by Headstream to assist gaming sector marketers as they plan their strategies and budgets for 2013. It provides timely information, case studies, insights, trend predictions, and practical advice to assist gaming brands as they consider how social media can support their business goals. The paper has five main sections: • an overview of the broader backdrop within the gaming industry, • what we can learn about the current social media performance of gaming and other entertainment brands from Headstream’s 2012 Social Brands 100 ranking, • current consumer behaviour and case studies illustrating how gaming brands are responding to the challenges and opportunities presented by social media, • five future trends that the gaming sector should be aware of and planning for, and • conclusions and how to ‘Get Started’ with the planning process. Look out for our ‘Key Questions’ sections throughout. These summarise the questions marketing teams should pose as they integrate social into their strategy, and how Headstream can help. The summary below identifies the key findings and insights from the white paper. • Gaming on smartphones and tablets and within social networks (e.g. Farmville on Facebook) have created major shifts in the industry • New business models are being created in the gaming industry. Physical software sales (or complete paid for download) are giving way to freemium models where free versions of games are monetised through advertising, or via in-game micro payments • While entertainment brands are creating interaction on Facebook through high value content based on their strong franchises, the reluctance to engage in genuine dialogue has held the overall Facebook performance back • Gaming and entertainment brands have rich format content that creates high social engagement through its exclusivity or entertainment value • Gaming and entertainment brands are at the forefront of video content strategies, giving them a social performance edge over many other brands e x e c u t i v e s u m m a r y www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 3 Gaming and entertainment brands have rich format content that creates high social engagement through its exclusivity or entertainment value
  4. 4. • The customer journey has moved on from the traditional, linear ‘funnel model’, to a more complex ‘customer decision journey’ where consumers are influenced by multiple touch points. Digital, and particularly social media, has driven this change • Games publishers are merging digital and physical spaces more frequently to achieve visibility amongst potential customers • An ‘Always on’ approach to the marketing of gaming franchises can reduce the amount of budget dedicated to paid media and grabbing attention prior to a launch e x e c u t i v e s u m m a r y www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 4
  5. 5. 2 • GAMING sector background The list of industries disrupted by the Internet and the ready access it gives to content is a long one, think music and newspapers for a start. For the gaming sector this disruption has come later as gaming on smartphones and tablets and within social networks (e.g. Facebook and Farmville) have created major shifts in the industry. This shift in consumer behaviour driven by device development and the social aspect of gaming is the major challenge facing the games publishers and console manufacturers that have traditionally controlled the flow of inventory, and release cycles. The industry remains in growth mode with technology consultancy Gartner predicting global sales to increase to $112bln in 2015, from around $74bln in 2011. But the mix of those sales is changing rapidly with mobile the fastest growth category and the purchase of physical game software declining as consumers move toward digital format content (full game download, add-on content downloads, subscriptions) and mobile and social games on Facebook. The games publishers are evolving in response, including the largest players in the industry. Entertainment Arts (EA) is one such games publisher that is moving toward ‘pure-play digital entertainment’. This is supported by CEO John Riccitiello’s announcement in May 2012 that “EA has gone from 67 packaged goods in 2009 to about 14 today, while increasing to 25 different online offerings”. This evolution of the industry and how consumers expect to access and interact with content has also affected the hardware market significantly. Sales of traditional console hardware such as Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 in the US have slumped by a third in 2012 and data from NPD Group revealed that hardware revenues fell by 39% year on year in August 2012. The decline has largely been due to market saturation and no new hardware being introduced for several years. Industry rumours that both Sony and Microsoft will unveil new consoles in 2013 remain unconfirmed. Whatever new consoles emerge the way that consumers use them in a connected and social world is very different to in the past. G A M I N G s e c t or bac k ground www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 5 The rise in smartphone and tablet adoption has had the biggest effect on the hardware market.
  6. 6. The positioning of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 device illustrates this shift. It is now being used more for watching movies, TV shows and listening to music than actually playing video games. The console may be seen as a ‘trojan’ horse, using video games as a way to become the digital entertainment hub in a family’s living room. Microsoft’s surface tablet, which is compatible with Xbox, further underpins Xbox’s positioning as an entertainment device allowing for dual screen activity and the opportunity to act as a portable device. The rise in smartphone and tablet adoption has had the biggest effect on the hardware market. Many of the Android powered devices have focused on gaming, and as a result are directly competing with Sony’s handheld Vita and the Nintendo 3DS. With screened devices such as smartphones, consumers have the option to not only play games on a single device but use the device for other applications and functionality. This rapidly changing product landscape driven by the demand from consumers to access gaming on their terms on the device of their choice is a disruption that no games publisher or hardware manufacturer can ignore in order to remain competitive. But disruption brings opportunity as well as threat, and there are exciting new business models that are unleashed by these changes. Physical software sales (or complete paid for download) are giving way to freemium models where free versions of games are monetised through advertising, or via in-game micro payments as players purchase value added services or virtual goods. These developments create new revenue models for the industry and also expand the potential market opportunity into new physical and demographic markets. The industry players that can adapt most successfully to this changing marketplace will be at the top of the games industry leader board in the years ahead. G A M I N G s e c t or bac k ground www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 6
  7. 7. 3 • ENTERTAINMENT GAMING sector – Social Brands 100 insights In order to understand how gaming and other entertainment brands are currently performing in social media relative to other sectors, we have taken an in-depth look into the performance of these brands in Headstream’s Social Brands 100 report. Social Brands 100 (SB100) is a global ranking of those brands that are leading the way in social media. Brands do not pay, or apply, to be considered in the ranking. The only way to participate is through a crowd-sourced nomination process on Twitter that establishes a long list of brands. Analysing the intensity of interactions between these brands and individuals on social and digital platforms, and giving each one a Data Score establishes a shortlist of 100 brands. The final ranking from one to one hundred is then established by adding a score for each brand from an expert panel of judges. The sectors featuring in the SB100 are: Automotive, Charity, Entertainment, Fashion Beauty, Financial Services, FMCG, Manufactured Goods, Media, Retail, Services, Technology, Telecoms, Travel Leisure. The following section outlines the Entertainment sector’s performance by aggregating the Data Score from the seven entertainment brands that were nominated for the long list (including the three brands that went forward to appear in the final Social Brands 100). These brands are: Skins (Channel 4 programme), Music for Baby, Topman CTRL, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, WWE, Trailer Junkies and Xbox. SB100 ranked entertainment brands There was a limited representation from entertainment brands in this year’s Social Brands 100. The ranked entertainment brands were: The Ellen DeGeneres Show (#9) Xbox (#13) WWE (#19) The Social Brands 100 analysed the social performance of over 300 brands in the period from January to March 2012. The full methodology can be found here ( methodology-in-detail/) and the report can be downloaded here (http://www. E N T E RTAI N M E N T G AMI N G se c t o r – s o c i a l b r a n d s 1 0 0 i ns i g h t s www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 7 For the full SB100 report:
  8. 8. facebook Somewhat surprisingly Entertainment was one of the lowest scoring sectors on Facebook. Digging in to the reasons for this below average overall performance a stark contrast can be seen between metrics that measure engagement with content, compared to those measuring conversation with fans. The Entertainment brands scored better than any other sector for ‘Brand Post Engagement’, a measure of how much interaction there is from the community when the brand posts content. This indicates that Entertainment brand content is providing high value to the Facebook community. The high level of fan engagement is also reflected in a top- ranking score for the high number of fan posts on the brands’ Facebook pages compared to the brand’s own posts. This indicates a passionate and engaged community. However, when it comes to how good these brands are at then conversing with these engaged fans it’s a very different picture. For this we measure ‘Fan posts interacted with by brand’, and on this measure entertainment brands put in the worst performance of any sector. So, while entertainment brands are creating interaction through high value content based on their strong franchises, the reluctance to engage in genuine dialogue has held the overall Facebook performance back. twitter While Entertainment brands may not be conversing consistently with fans on Facebook, on Twitter the sector performs better than any other for the number of times it tweets back to followers. Xbox and WWE lead the way on this, both appearing in the SB100 overall top ten for this measure. Another stand-out metric for these brands on Twitter is for the number of retweets their content commands. Again the Entertainment sector is better than any other with the Ellen DeGeneres show coming first amongst the entire SB100 for retweets generated, and WWE third. (Note these scores are normalised for size of community meaning these brands were not advantaged by their significant Twitter Follower numbers.) E N T E RTAI N M E N T G AMI N G se c t o r – s o c i a l b r a n d s 1 0 0 i ns i g h t s www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 8
  9. 9. youtube Entertainment brands have taken advantage of their often screen based products and content to score well on YouTube, coming in fourth of all sectors with only the Automotive, Technology and Manufactured Goods scoring better. The Ellen DeGeneres show featured as the third best performing brand on YouTube across the entire SB100 using exclusive behind the scenes footage and added value content to drive interaction. Google+ Entertainment has lived up to its reputation as a typically early adopter by embracing Google+ and coming third on this platform across all sectors. Only Automotive and Technology brands score more highly, and WWE is the eighth highest scoring brand on Google+ across the whole SB100. foursquare Amongst all the SB100 sectors Entertainment’s performance was significantly ahead of any other, and over three times better than the average across the whole SB100. This reflects a more consistent use of foursquare by these brands, and creative approach to the ‘tips’ that can be left for foursquare users. This proves that location can be used by a wide variety and type of company and brand, not just those that have physical locations for people to check in to e.g. retail chains. E N T E RTAI N M E N T G AMI N G se c t o r – s o c i a l b r a n d s 1 0 0 i ns i g h t s www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 9
  10. 10. summary The Entertainment sector was the best performing of all our SB100 sectors, beating the Charity sector into second place by a comfortable margin. This success was based on the sector’s ability to score consistently across all of the social platforms that are analysed for the SB100, which compensated for slightly weaker scores on Facebook and Twitter. A clear example of this is YouTube where Entertainment brands picked up points against a sector like Retail that has a better Facebook performance, but scores poorly for content and interaction on YouTube. Looking for areas for improvement Facebook is the most obvious place that Entertainment brands can pick up their performance by responding to fan posts more consistently. As noted in the SB100 report of May 2012 Entertainment brands appear to be relying on the strength and high value of their content (e.g. exclusive footage) to gain interaction, and placing less emphasis on community management. If this conversational effort was increased the combined effect with valuable content would be significant. The situation on Twitter again indicates that the content placed into the community is well received; the extremely good retweet score is a marker of this. Here though the importance of conversation has also been embraced by the Entertainment brands, and only timeliness is slightly below average. With video, an increasingly popular format amongst Internet users (particularly on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets), Entertainment brands are in an already strong position because of their expertise in producing video based content. The example being set by these brands is one that other sectors need to aspire to in order to challenge the Entertainment sector’s top spot. E N T E RTAI N M E N T G AMI N G se c t o r – s o c i a l b r a n d s 1 0 0 i ns i g h t s www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 0 The Entertainment sector was the best performing of all our SB100 sectors, beating the Charity sector into second place by a comfortable margin.
  11. 11. KEY QUESTIONS • Are you clear how social media fits into your customers’ online repertoire and behaviour? • What proportion of your content is video or photography based? • Do you have monitoring in place to assess what content receives the highest level of interaction? • What is your track record on responding to fan posts on Facebook? • Are you able to benchmark social performance regularly and use this knowledge to optimise activity? HOW HEADSTREAM CAN HELP • Providing regular social media performance benchmarking using the Social Brands 100 methodology • Audits and social analytics • Content, channel and community strategies and execution E N T E RTAI N M E N T G AMI N G se c t o r – s o c i a l b r a n d s 1 0 0 i ns i g h t s www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 1 ? !
  12. 12. 4 • GAMING sector – CURRENT CHALLENGES AND CASE STUDIES To put the current challenges for gaming brands in context we have examined two areas: • the changes in the way that consumers make buying decisions, created by the influence of the social web, and, • the trends and case studies demonstrating current best practice, and an effective response to these changes. how gaming brands are evolving to use social media within the consumer decision journey In classic marketing, the customer acquisition process is thought of as a purchase funnel. Cold prospects are dumped at the top of the funnel through awareness campaigns and squeezed down via qualifying actions e.g. product brochures, sales calls, product demonstrations, and emails. Those prospects that were hot for your product went on to purchase, becoming a customer and then added to the CRM database. If the process was successful, marketers placed it on a rinse and repeat cycle. It was relatively straightforward. Unfortunately the purchase funnel no longer applies. In today’s world, media fragmentation and the proliferation of digital has resulted in an increase in the number of brands under consideration for consumers. As a result, the entire purchasing cycle has shifted. To respond to this shift, the funnel has been replaced by what McKinsey has termed the ‘consumer decision journey’. G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 2 In today’s world, media fragmentation and the proliferation of digital has resulted in an increase in the number of brands under consideration for consumers. Source: Consumer Decision Journey. McKinsey Solution 2010. AWARENESS FAMILIARITY CONSIDERATION PURCHASE LOYALTY THEN: THE PURCHASE FUNNEL NOW: THE CONSUMER DECISION JOURNEY EVALUATE COMMIT EXPERIENCE INTEREST TRIGGER DECISION TRIGGER CONSIDER BUY
  13. 13. The consumer decision journey as illustrated on page XX [Number to be added] is largely influenced by digital – more specifically the social web – underpinned by social media. Social media has fundamentally affected the gaming purchasing landscape and buying behaviour as consumers look toward reviews and recommendations rather than a brand’s own messages. In response to these changes, successful gaming brands have re-aligned their marketing to adapt to the new consumer decision journey. Brands are frequently using social media to create more targeted and contextualised experiences when consumers are researching gaming products and services, not only to remain competitive in the marketplace, but also to ensure they are delivering the right experiences at the right time for consumers. We have examined the social media marketing communication activity of gaming brands globally over the past 12 months. To provide structure to the gaming social media activity explored, we have segmented the examples featured into three key phases of the consumer decision journey: • Initial consideration – Trigger • Active evaluation – Information gathering, shopping and buying • Post purchase experience and advocacy g a m i ng se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 3
  14. 14. Initial Consideration – Trigger Social media plays an important role in the initial consideration stage. Here marketers have an opportunity to deliver value in the form of information, and entertainment. The purpose of valuable content or ‘social currency’ during this phase is to generate earned media for a brand, achieving cut through in a crowded marketplace, thus reaching as wide an audience as possible. TEASER TRAILERs Game trailers are one of, if not the most important part of a game launch when it comes to initial consideration of a game. The trailer itself not only creates anticipation amongst core fans, but also fuels the sharing of content amongst social and interest networks, generating valuable earned media. With a trailer that successfully ‘goes viral’, it automatically helps a publisher to tap into a wider audience influencing pre-order purchasing decisions and ultimately sales. • Dead Island’s first trailer was a huge viral success in 2011, clocking up 1 million views in 24 hours alone. The story, told in reverse, focused on the death of a young girl, through a zombie attack, and her parents’ attempt to save her life. The trailer was jaw dropping, raw with emotion and immediately achieved viral success. The original video to date has over 9 million views and inspired the studio to create a series of similar videos and set up the game as a triple-A title. ( images/screen shots In support of teaser trailers, games publishers also rely on assets such as screen shots that provide core fans with content to help fuel their anticipation for the game. Many publishers deliberately release select images so as not to spoil the narrative and deliver more surprises to the audience. For games such as first-person shooters and fantasy, rich in weapons and objects, there is an opportunity to drip out images to key influencers on a regular basis, providing more opportunities for earned media. • EA for Battlefield 3 set up an Instagram feed acting as a repository for supporting images, including screen art and behind the scenes studio shots. In addition, images used in support of Twitter status updates were provided via the Instagram API. G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 4 casestudiescasestudies
  15. 15. experiential More frequently games publishers are merging the digital and physical spaces to achieve visibility amongst potential consumers. Through experiential activity including digital out of home, marketers are creating opportunities for engagement and interactivity by facilitating an experience that is both personable and shareable across social media, helping to boost the potential of earned media. • 2K games rolled out the Duke Nukem ‘Come Get Some’ European tour that visited large footfall shopping centres in each territory. In the UK, the tour took over Westfield shopping centre where members of the public with ‘balls of steel’ took part in Duke’s ‘Hall of Hotness’, having their picture taken which could be shared across their social networks. ( • With an average of 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook every day, capturing and uploading photos taken in cool situations makes for great social currency. For the launch of Modern Warfare 3, Activision set up photo booths within Game retail stores, encouraging fans to dress up and replicate the MW3 cover art. The images could then be tagged and uploaded for fans to share across their social networks. active evaluation – information gathering, shopping and buying Many gamers make up their mind to pre-order a title following the official game play trailer. For those still in the pre-order consideration phase it is vital that more creative content is released regularly to further entice, excite and engage. This content is equally important for those who have already pre- ordered a title, further validating their purchase decision. If the content produced by publishers is of value it will generate earned media increasing share of voice in comparison to competitors. If the earned media is positive in terms of sentiment it can lead to increased pre-orders and sales amongst those searching for information on whether or not to purchase a title. Multi-platform storytelling As a result of media fragmentation, publishers are creating content that engages both the target and casual audience, with the goal to permeate a consumer’s daily media consumption. To achieve engagement, stories in the form of content can be delivered over multiple channels (mobile, real-world, television, and web). The content is not only linked (subtly or overtly), but can also be in narrative synchronisation with each other. G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 5 casestudies
  16. 16. • In support of the pre-launch stage for Fable III: Kingmaker, Microsoft Xbox produced an immersive multi-platform storytelling campaign. Centred on a mobile phone app (, users could join one of two factions competing to capture as much territory as possible. Via the app, players use the mobile GPS device to tag their location with a flag. Players were rewarded with virtual gold, which could then be transferred as in-game currency. • To introduce newcomers to the pre-existing Halo franchise and engage core fans, Microsoft has invested in a live-action prologue web series ‘Forward Unto Dawn’ ( for the release of Halo 4. The mini-series supported by YouTube TV channel Machinima is running for four weeks prior to game launch and allows fans to engage with the narrative before the game is made public. There will be an opportunity to encourage social TV participation using hashtags in support of the series, encouraging earned media to be generated around the title pre-launch. • EA produced a mini-series in conjunction with Spike TV to support the pre-launch phase of Battlefield 3. ‘Operation Grid Iron’ ( featured NFL superstars who experienced the ultimate in combat training by some of the world’s elite special forces. Following the training, the stars had to accomplish a live simulated operation inspired by Battlefield 3. The series generated a large amount of earned media using the hashtag #battlefield3. influencers Games marketers are heavily reliant on the production studio to produce high quality content, which can then be used to engage both new and existing fans. This control of content by studios has led to marketers coming up with creative ways of generating word of mouth for their IP, without having to rely on new content from the studio. One such method is to leverage influencers and encourage them to produce bespoke content. • Microsoft Xbox Live regularly hosts celebrity Twitter takeovers featuring musicians and sports personalities. This tactic allows Xbox to tap into the celebrity’s social network, whilst providing engaging content to Xbox Twitter followers. • Savvy game publishers target YouTube super users, tapping into their audience by sending them exclusive info to feature on video blog. More commonly influencers are invited to visit the game studio and produce video blog content based on the game and forthcoming release dates. G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 6 casestudiescasestudies
  17. 17. Facebook applications/brand entertainment With daily active users of around 500 million, Facebook brand pages provide an effective platform for games publishers to both attract and build a community around their IP. To boost engagement with the community whilst attempting to positively affect ‘people talking about this’ Facebook metric, branded entertainment in the form of Facebook applications are a common way of tapping into a user’s social graph encouraging the sharing of content. • For the promotion of Twisted Metal, Sony produced ‘Shoot My Truck’, a campaign allowing gamers to fire a real machine gun at a set of targets in the desert after logging in via Facebook or Twitter. The shooting event was live streamed with social media used as the method to engage with the campaign via Facebook Connect. ( • To drive pre-orders of Assassins Creed: Revelations amongst core fans, publisher Ubisoft produced a series of innovative ‘Legacy’ videos ( The videos leveraged Facebook’s Open Graph API and allowed users to create their own personalised video by pulling in data such as age, gender, religion as well as identifying best friends. Using narrative from Assassins Creed: Revelations the videos appeared to come alive in a user’s own family tree. 175,000 user-generated videos were created and shared amongst 450,000 friends over a three-week period. • To challenge the perception that video games are a solitary pursuit, Karaoke game Xbox Lips challenged creating content that shared the joy of singing loud and proud. Via a bespoke Facebook application (, users could make their friends’ photos sing by slapping a pair of singing lips in place of their mouth, which sang classic hits that you could choose from similar to Karaoke. In two weeks 200,000 people had created a karaoke lips film, and half of those who viewed a film went onto create their own. • For the promotion of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, publisher Activision collaborated with Lucas Arts to produce a mini retro Facebook social game. The game ‘Escape from Kamino’ was built upon the core character ‘Star Killer’ escaping from the planet Kamino. Users had to sign in via Facebook, connect and jump obstacles to complete the fastest time. Completed times could then be shared on Facebook or Twitter, and friends could then challenge the time by connecting via Facebook and playing as Boba Fett. Completing the same course, challengers playing as Boba Fett had to catch up with Star Killer. Within the first 24 hours of launch ‘Escape from Kamino’ had over 100,000 unique game plays with 80,000 repeat plays. (Disclaimer: Activision is a Headstream client.) G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 7 casestudies
  18. 18. Beta testing crowd sourcing Beta testing for the majority of games publishers is an important part of game development strategy. For studios, beta testing represents a great opportunity to develop closer relationships with core fans (centralised and de-centralised communities) by crowd sourcing feedback and engaging in a two-way dialogue with fans. For marketers, beta testing provides an opportunity to start conversations with the target audience and build pre-launch buzz for a game. • EA for Battlefield 3 released an open beta by allowing those who have pre-ordered the game to play its ‘Operation Metro’ map. Awareness for the beta was generated via network and borrowed media, increasing Battlefield 3’s share of voice at the time in comparison to its closest competitor, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Community Management Building and maintaining a community on borrowed media platforms such as Facebook requires considerable resource and planning. Facebook fan page success is primarily down to joining conversations and having a brand presence, which are the key tenants of community management. More importantly is the focus on producing valuable brand content that can be shared amongst the community, helping to boost the ‘people talking about this’ metric tapping into a fan’s social graph. • 505 Games ‘Naughty Bear’ ( Facebook community management strategy is focused on producing regular bespoke content to start conversations and generate earned media. Adopting the persona of Naughty Bear, the 505 community management team has a character strategy that uses meme jacking to produce contextually relevant content. For example, Naughty Bear parodies popular films such as Batman and Spiderman simply through bespoke artwork seeded into the community. (Disclaimer: 505 Games is a Headstream client.) social commerce Social Commerce delivers the opportunity for marketers to look beyond the transaction and focus on both customer experience and transaction. The majority of gamers spend time consuming content via social networks, interest networks, blogs and forums. This game related content influences purchasing decisions, therefore social commerce is a tool for marketers to maximise social media programs at the same time increasing revenue. G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 8 casestudiescasestudies
  19. 19. • EA launched a pop-up fan store on its official Facebook page to boost pre-order sales of Battlefield 3. Fans who pre-ordered via Facebook received exclusive content such as the ‘physical warfare pack, play4 free beret and gun’. Fans could log in to the pop-up store via their existing EA account and share their purchase via Facebook. FACEBOOK ADS Popular games titles with associated Facebook brand pages have seen their communities swell to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of fans. Savvy marketers are using Facebook social ads to showcase video content simply by targeting the fan pages of competitor titles, creating awareness of content in an attempt to grow their own communities. • Electronic Arts spent $2.75 million on Facebook ads to promote its Battlefield 3 title to compete with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. They attributed $12.1 million of their sales to these ads, translating to a 4:1 return on their Facebook marketing spend. Live event activity One method of producing great content that engages both new and existing communities is live streaming of events and activities. Live streaming provides contextually relevant content to an audience that favours transparency. This activity provides the brand with a platform to engage in two-way conversation in real-time, in an attempt to create valuable earned media. • For the launch of Halo: Reach, Microsoft wanted to excite core fans of the genre and capture imagination of new recruits worldwide. To achieve this they brought players together to create a live monument on a dedicated website ( honouring fallen heroes of the game. For 20 days, visitors selected coordinates from a 3D virtual monument and tagged themselves with the monument being revealed over time. Over 1 million people visited the site with the campaign going viral across online social networks. Halo: Reach launched with record sales generating $200million within first 24 hours. • For the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Activision developed a bespoke Facebook tab and Call of Duty MW3 launch YouTube page (, allowing viewers from all over the world to participate in their UK launch event. Fans could watch a live stream of the launch event and join in the online conversation via Livestream and Twitter. The game grossed more than $1billion in just 16 days. With 2,267,171 total streams and 5,210,753 total viewer minutes worldwide, the continuous YouTube stream managed to beat 2010’s viewing figures by 193% and was part of the largest digital launch of all time. (Disclaimer: Activision is a Headstream client.) G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 1 9 casestudiescasestudies
  20. 20. post purchase experience and advocacy Once a game is released, if the title delivers on its promise and meets the expectations of both game critic and consumer, the positive sentiment around the title will have a knock on effect leading to increased sales. Positive word of mouth activity following purchase will feed back into the previous stage for future information gathering by prospective customers. Marketers can use this earned media to understand the successes, and challenges, of content to optimise future marketing activity. Post purchase, marketers need to further increase the customer experience via additional content and support to deepen relationships and build a community of both existing and prospective customers, vital for future titles and marketing activity. Branded Utility To add value for the customer, games publishers have developed branded utility as a way of showing commitment to customer relationships. Branded utility provides an opportunity to form closer and stronger relationships with customers, playing a daily role in a customer’s life. • Call of Duty: Elite (, from games publisher Activision, is an in-game and out-of-game social network for the Call of Duty franchise. The platform expands the value of the game allowing users to study their game play statistics in comparison with other players within their network. The utility is fully integrated with Facebook and smartphone platforms allowing for the sharing of content amongst social networks. crowdsourcing Social media has empowered brands to engage in two-way conversations with their customers. From a fan’s perspective they do not want to be told about the game they want to discover, ask questions and gain deeper insights into a product or franchise that they not only commit their hard earned money to, but a considerable amount of personal time. G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 0 casestudies
  21. 21. • The most common and effective way of engaging in conversation with existing and prospective customers is via crowdsourcing questions to be put forward to developers and senior executives within game studios. • Game publishers such as Microsoft, Activision and EA within Facebook communities proactively crowd source fans to generate content in the form of fan art and videos. This content is then showcased to the entire community giving kudos to the originator of the content at the same time enabling brands to form closer relationships with its advocates. Publisher Ubisoft for its Assassins Creed Facebook fan page each week hosts ‘fans appreciation Friday’ dedicating its status updates to fan art and videos. Social good Game publishers have adopted social media for social good initiatives to reach global audiences with brand messaging. Forming part of their corporate social responsibility activity, marketers have encouraged players/fans to do social good, at the same time generating earned media for both brand and marketing campaign. • Activision pledged £1 million to charity War Child if 1 million people played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox Live within a 24-hour period. To support the initiative and encourage earned media, a Facebook application in the form of branded utility was produced, enabling players to form clans with friends, book an event to their timeline and share gamer tags. In excess of 1.3 million players took part in the charity weekend and War Child received the donation. G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 1 casestudiescasestudies
  22. 22. summary The complexity of the consumer decision journey forces brands to adopt new ways of marketing and this in turn will influence marketing expenditure. Rather than focus purely on the awareness phase, consideration now needs to be given to the whole process, ensuring that everything from information gathering, to post-purchase experiences and support are of consideration. key questions • Does your social strategy deliver the right content, at the right time, in the right format for customers? • Does your marketing provide value of different kinds to customers e.g. utility, monetary, exclusive information, rather than simply pushing messages? • Do you monitor social media effectively, with the intention of joining conversations at appropriate times? • Are you listening to your customers’ post-purchase conversations, and facilitating sharing and customer care where appropriate? how headstream can help • Content, channel and community strategy development • Insights from social media monitoring • Creative campaigns • Community management • Social media training to up-skill in house teams G AMI N G se c t o r – c u r r en t c h a l l enges a n d c a se s t u d i es www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 2 ? !
  23. 23. 5 • GAMING sector – The future of social media Research included in this white paper has highlighted recent social media activity from the games/entertainment sector executed within the framework of the consumer decision journey. As highlighted by the aforementioned analysis, the complexity of the consumer decision journey forces brands to adopt new ways of marketing and this in turn will influence marketing expenditure. Rather than focus purely on the awareness phase, consideration now needs to be given to the whole process and ensuring that everything from information gathering, to post-purchase experiences and support are of consideration. areas for further study and consideration To further continue the evolution of social media in gaming and create even greater value for brands, we at Headstream are looking into future developments within social media and the games industry. The following areas of research represent more promising possibilities: always on: Rarely do marketers have the necessary game assets to hand from the studios to create an engaging marketing story. To overcome this, game marketing follows a formulaic approach of teaser trailer, screen shots, full trailer, ad campaign and launch, followed up by post-launch DLC (Downloadable Content). A tried and tested method that is textbook games marketing amongst all publishers. Social media monitoring activity for game launches (http://www.slideshare. net/brandwatchsocial/social-media-in-the-videogames-industry), highlights the period between announcement and launch is where word-of-mouth and social media anticipation is largely absent. For games marketers to achieve a high volume of word of mouth activity pre-launch to drown out competitor activity can require another huge investment of marketing expenditure. This type of investment, to boost pre-launch earned media via paid media, can be significantly reduced by adopting an ‘always on’ approach to marketing communications. The always-on approach is focused on generating valuable pieces of content over an extended period of time to engage with core fans allowing brands to tap into the social and interest graphs persistently, as a result recruiting a larger audience. G AMI N G se c t o r – t h e f u t u r e o f s o c i a l m e d i a www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 3
  24. 24. Content that forms an always-on strategy is not as reliant on assets from the games studio. Games by their very nature are rich in storytelling therefore marketers can look to extend the story world by developing multi-platform content used to create dialogue with the target audience, ensuring that the game remains front of mind. This always on approach allows publishers to commit early, generates earned media, anticipation and ultimately pre-orders. BIG DATA: Providing entertainment is the primary objective of game studios. However with many games being played in multiplayer mode via internet connectivity, the opportunity for game developers to extract data to help shape and influence the game experience thus immediately delighting the customer is a huge advantage. Both social and mobile games will benefit from this real-time data, further enhancing monetisation of the product. Outside of game play data, is social data produced in huge quantities, which can be used by marketers to analyse sentiment around both product and marketing activity. As marketing moves into an always-on approach, the need for timely and accurate data to influence both creative and strategy in real-time will be ever more important. Activision is one such publisher that is intelligently listening into social data and adjusting its marketing activity in response to the findings. More frequently social media users are making their social profile ‘open’, providing brands with the opportunity to understand more precisely the target audience of the product and discover who their influencers are to assist with distributing always-on content to a wider audience. Interactive technology and mobile: With smartphone adoption increasing globally, marketers now have the opportunity to leverage smartphone functionality and deliver touch, voice and gesture control as part of campaign creative. The second screen (mobile, tablet) can be used to complement the first screen (TV) and deliver new possibilities for marketers. Audio watermarking embedded within applications will allow viewers to receive content such as promotional discounts, exclusive invitations to VIP events etc... via audio triggers within the application. G AMI N G se c t o r – t h e f u t u r e o f s o c i a l m e d i a www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 4
  25. 25. For example as opposed to producing a TV spot with call to action to Facebook or website, audio watermarking technology such as Shazam ( can be used to trigger the download of contextually relevant content (entertainment, coupons, information) direct to smartphone when viewing the ad. This content can then be shared immediately to both interest and social networks. The content could also be immersive by taking the user deeper into the story world of the game delivering transmedia storytelling experiences. influencers and the interest graph: Social network Pinterest’s success has thrown the subject of ‘interest networks’ into the spotlight. Going forward we will see even more interest based networks springing up around specific titles. The lifeblood running through them all will be Facebook/Twitter, so that users can achieve ‘look at me’, showing off to their social network, when they discover ‘this is me’ content via their interest graph. Planning and creating content taking into account the interest graph and influencers should be at the forefront of game marketers’ activity. This is to ensure that the right content reaches the right consumer at the right time rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. G AMI N G se c t o r – t h e f u t u r e o f s o c i a l m e d i a www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 5 key questions • How informed, and agile, is your social media team to respond to new opportunities? • How does each marketing activity fit into a compelling ‘LONG idea’ for your brand? • How are your digital world and real world customer experiences being coordinated to create a cohesive experience for the customer? • Do you have a landscape of the relevant interest graphs for your brand? how headstream can help • Education and training to keep ahead of latest trends • Content, channel and community strategy and execution • Insights from social media monitoring ? !
  26. 26. conclusion The gaming industry has a bright future. The human desire to play remains as strong as ever, and digital, social and hardware developments mean that desire can be met in more places, more flexibly and when connected to a social network. The challenge for the industry, particularly the major publishers and hardware players, is to keep up. For the publishers the traditional launch cycle of teaser trailer, screen shots, full trailer, ad campaign and launch, followed up by post-launch DLC (downloadable content), is no longer sufficient, and creates marketing wastage. Instead an ‘always-on’ approach to content and community management to keep the franchise in the mind of the target community, and to mobilise that community as advocates, will bring superior results. This approach demands new skills within the marketing teams at games publishers. The opportunity is there for these brands to act as publishers with a commitment to flexing the content created in line with broader cultural themes, and to reflect what they hear from the enthusiastic communities around the franchises. In the connected and social world we now live in these enthusiastic and fanatical communities are now potentially the most valuable assets that games IP owners have. getting started To make the most of these opportunities brands should consider: • making social media an integral and leading part of the marketing strategy, not an afterthought, • co-ordinating social media strategy and activity across departments that may traditionally have been separate e.g. marketing, customer services, technology, • introducing real-time social media monitoring, • creating a 24/7 capability to social engagement via content creation and community management. While these developments require significant time investment they will create a socially enabled retail organisation that is ready to face into the dynamic, highly informed and smart consumer of the social age. Talk to Headstream Twitter: @headstream Web: conclusion and g e t t ing s t ar t e d www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 6 The early adopters are already gaining advantage over competitors and will be best placed when economic recovery kicks-in.
  27. 27. how can headstream help? Headstream is helping marketers across diverse sectors move beyond funnel-inspired push marketing towards engagement, and building win-win relationships with prospects and customers. We can help in the following ways: education We offer a broad range of training options, from simple best practice papers and briefing sessions to in-depth bespoke education programmes. We have experience of working with senior management on a 1to1 basis through to sales, marketing, customer service and HR teams. benchmarking Using our leading Social Brands 100 methodology we can provide regular social media performance benchmarking against your key competitors. planning We can help you get your thinking straight and work out how you’ll prove ROI. This is valuable before embarking on any activity or developing your social media strategy • audits and social analytics • insights from social media monitoring • content , channel and community strategy • influencer identification execution With seven years experience of rolling out successful social activity for national and global brands we know how to get cut through and build lasting communities: • creative campaigns • influencer outreach • community management • content calendars h e ads t r e am www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 7
  28. 28. about headstream Headstream is a specialist social agency and part of the Lawton Communications Group. For the past six years we’ve been helping brands like the BBC, Activision, and McLaren Automotive become more successful by embedding social into their marketing communications. Headstream is also the agency behind the influential Social Brands 100 ranking of high performing social brands. Find out more at we believe • Social is making marketing exciting again • Social brings brands closer to customers • Social should be simple • When we have fun with our clients, we do better work., or follow us on Twitter @headstream h e ads t r e am www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 8
  29. 29. sources major-growth-gartner-says/ circles-around-us-economy/ entertainment-gaming-hbo-go-comcast-xfinity-mlb.html extinct-after-next-gen-says-jaffe the authors Julius Duncan – Tom Chapman – for more information Andrea Catt +44 (0)23 8082 8520 S ourc e s | au t h ors | f or mor e in f orma t ion www . h e ads t r e am . com p ag e 2 9