How to Leverage Content Marketing for PR

Developing a consistent and useful content campaign is time-consuming, but it’s a non-negotiable for today’s marketers that want to amp up search results and engage potential customers with thoughtful blogs, webinars and whitepapers.

To make the most of this hard work, marketers can “double-dip” by leveraging the content development process for another element of the marketing mix: PR.  Continue reading How to Leverage Content Marketing for PR

Video Killed the Game Review Star

Digital media is changing the process of selling and buying in almost every industry. With reviews, peer ratings, articles, social media, special deals and more, there is a growing wealth of content for consumers to peruse before making a purchase. Video games are no different, and across the board we’re finding that video content has a rising stake in the process, boasting the most engaged and influential audience compared to other media.

In the past two or three years, we’ve seen explosive growth in a number of video content providers for video games, and it makes sense. The best way to decide if you want to play a game is not to read a review about it, but to watch someone play it, and importantly, to be entertained along the way.  Sure, I could read a few reviews, average the scores, take some journalists’ opinions into account, but at the end of the day I want to see if Contrast is fun before picking up the PS4 copy.

The explosion of is one example of the rise in appetites for showcasing games with video content. The game streaming website’s unique monthly viewership doubled from about 929,000 in October 2012 to more than 2 million today (via data from

The movers and shakers in the gaming industry are acknowledging how important it is to give gamers a place to share and watch their experiences. PlayStation 4 launched with seamless Twitch streaming as a major selling point, and though Xbox One missed the feature at launch, it will come with a software update soon. Not only are traditional gaming media outlets taking advantage of this feature, journalists are building their own individual audiences to compete with seriously popular Twitch channels like NorthernLion and Cry.

The number, quality, and fans of gaming YouTubers are also on the rise. When I was at PAX this year chatting with a YouTuber, fan after fan kept coming up to him to tell him how much they loved his show and to take a picture. More so, Microsoft’s Xbox One launch event debacle with controversial YouTuber KSI, shows just how much influence these guys and gals have to shape news from the industry. It’s a new world. TotalBiscuit can have just as much sway as top gaming writers.

Beyond the views, engagement numbers are insane on many of these YouTube videos. For example, PewDiePie’s hilarious playthrough of Outlast, an indie horror game by TriplePoint client Red Barrels, has racked up more than 7 million views, 200,000 likes and 63,000 comments. For comparison, IGN has just over 5 million unique visitors a month according to, and its highly anticipated PlayStation 4 review has 9,706 comments. Consumers are often going directly to YouTubers for gaming entertainment and news, or linking to them from the increasingly important gaming sub-Reddit. As a result, developers and PR agencies are paying more attention to these folks. TriplePoint client Spearhead Games even named an achievement in upcoming PS4 game Tiny Brains after half-uber fan, half-YouTube star The Completionist.

PewDiePie plays through horror game Outlast with more than 7 million YouTube views.

My emphasis on the rising influence of video content makers is not to say traditional gaming websites are losing their importance. They still cater to folks that buy lots of games, and they are amping up their own video offerings with video reviews and regularly programmed Twitch channels. Perhaps more importantly, these respected publications’ editorial decisions drive YouTube content, as YouTubers likely choose what games to play and feature based on what’s being talked about on IGN, Kotaku, GameSpot, Polygon and the like. After all, direct outreach from game makers to YouTubers is still relatively limited.

Whether the gaming media can beat YouTubers and Twitch prodigies at entertaining and informative video content is yet to be seen, but it’s clear that the medium is hard to surpass when evaluating games. Watching a video playthrough is by far the closest experience to playing a game itself. As such, the reach and adoption of Twitch and YouTube will only continue to grow – begging the next challenge for studios and marketers: how to address fragmented video audiences.

What are your favorite Twitch and YouTube channels? Let us know in the comments below or share your thoughts on Twitter @DianaHSmith and @TriplePoint.


5 Takeaways from The Battle for the Marketing Cloud Event

On Tuesday we helped our friends at DoubleDutch put on a panel discussing what’s next in marketing technology and how startups can capitalize on the skyrocketing CMO tech budget. The event was called “The Battle for the Marketing Cloud,” and it was a hit! CEOs from DoubleDutch (social events platform), KISSmetrics (data analytics), Traackr (influencer marketing) and (marketing automation) spoke to a packed house of startup founders with insightful moderator Mike Maples, one of the valley’s top notch VC’s and managing partner at FLOODGATE.

Reflecting on the discussion, I’d like to share my top takeaways from the event:

1) The “shift” in budget from the CIO to the CMO is not really a shift.

Since Gartner predicted that the CMO’s tech budget will eclipse the CIO’s by 2017, there has been a lot of hullabaloo about these two positions competing for cash. In reality, that’s not the case. CIO’s aren’t losing money for tech to their colleagues in marketing; CMOs are just rapidly gaining budget because new digital tools are making it easier for them to prove ROI on their spends. A classic marketing problem used to be, “I know half of my advertising budget is working, I just don’t know which half.” Trackable, data-driven tools are increasing transparency into what channels and messages work. Hence, the boom in enterprise marketing-focused startups. (Credit: Mike Maples, @m2jr).

2) Cloud software is democratizing the marketing vendor space.

Cloud software is making it easier for startups to quickly deploy solutions, and therefore, it’s very easy for in-house marketers to try many different tools and evaluate them. While this helps create an even playing field to edge out software incumbents like SAP and Oracle, it also means that your solution could be booted as quickly as it was installed. The bottom line: you can get in relatively simply, but your product must be rock solid to keep its place in a CMO’s tech mix. (Credit: Lawrence Coburn, @lawrencecoburn)

3) Complex marketing sales require buy-in from the CIO.

Even though the cloud makes it easier to sell to the CMO, marketing software sales that span a large enterprise usually require buy-in from the IT department as well. In the case of data analytics platform KISSmetrics, penetrating an organization usually starts with a lower level developer or marketing manager. Then, as the product gains advocates, the KISSmetrics sales team can move up the food chain, eventually working with both the CIO and the CMO to develop the most productive, long-term customer relationships. (Credit: Hiten Shah, @hnshah)

4) Integrating point-based marketing solutions is the next big opportunity.

Because the cloud has created a boom in point-based solutions that focus on solving one marketing problem elegantly, marketers are usually dealing with a number of tools that don’t talk to each other. The next wave of truly “disruptive” solutions will integrate data from all tools – social, automation, email, events and more – into one easy-to-understand platform. This new solution would empower marketers to understand how their channels work together with powerful data visualization. (Credit: Pierre-Loic Assayag, @pierreloic and Sam Weber, @SamWeber).

5) The best companies don’t compete.

Mike Maples had so many insights about what makes a startup remarkable, it was hard to choose just one to highlight. However, my top takeaway from Mike is that the best companies don’t compete at all. They are not trying to be the best in their category; they create categories. In this position, a company should develop a provocative point of view that repels those “villains” who you would rather not have as customers and attracts others that share your spirit. For example, Salesforce ran with the “no software” perspective that drove away slow-moving traditional sales departments and excited those looking for a less clunky CRM service.

In Mike’s opinion, capitalism isn’t about competition, it’s quite literally about gaining capital, and those who are the only force in their particular market segment usually win this battle. (Credit: Mike Maples, @m2jr)

A big thank you to DoubleDutch for sponsoring the event and to Mike Maples, Lawrence Coburn, Hiten Shah, Pierre-Loic Assayag and Sam Weber for participating. You can continue the discussion by downloading the DoubleDutch event app here or tweeting me @DianaHSmith.

Think Again: Mobile Will Not Kill Console Games

For the past two years, media, publishers and players have been talking about the shift in the gaming industry from console to mobile. Console revenues are starkly declining as mobile revenues and players inversely increase. I think they are missing the point.

Sure, mobile is shaping up to be a goliath $9 billion industry and is broadening what it means to be a gamer. My mom doesn’t shoot down zombies in The Last of Us, but she is definitely addicted to solitaire on her phone, and now she is a gamer — along with 125.9 million people (39.8% of the population) in the US alone.

These mobile gamers are also getting more sophisticated. They require stories, characters, high-def graphics, polished art, balanced monetization tactics, and games-as-a-service upkeep to maintain their attention and spending.

I’m not saying this will slow down, but the idea that mobile games will cannibalize console game spending is an oversimplification. One market does not directly influence the other.

The reality is that mobile and console games offer different experiences, not mutually exclusive ones, and people will pay for both in different contexts. Gamers that want immersive, deep play sessions are not abandoning consoles all together and filling the void with Angry Birds, they are just waiting.

You know what they are waiting for — the much anticipated, much criticized next generation of consoles and games which have shaped up in the PS4 and XBox One. (Sorry, Wii U, you under-delivered.)

Unlike console games, people play mobile games for a short distraction while they are bored, waiting, or have nothing else to do. Short and sporadic sessions characterize their play. If a game is particularly compelling, maybe a player will shell out a few bucks for an extra crack at that Candy Crush level or another chance to sprint past the leaderboard in Temple Run.

A few minutes of a mobile game here or there does not replace what game lovers prefer: plopping down on the couch after school or work, and diving into two hours of Bioshock Infinite or their game of choice. The “hardcore gamers” aren’t sick of gaming, they just don’t want to buy games for consoles that are seven years old when new software and hardware will arrive with Santa in a few short months. And, though a few of these guys and gals play games on their phones, a lot of them don’t do so regularly, as mobile gaming caters to a broader (though also lucrative) market.

Right now, it’s too early to tell from pre-orders what the reception will be for the next-gen and if mobile will kill the console industry. It’s important to note that, PC gaming – a more synonymous experience – is better positioned to do so. We’ll also have to wait a bit longer for the first price-drop and the second round of software, since many a gamer evaluates these developments before paying up for new platforms.

Until then, I say halt your judgments on whether or not mobile will truly eat up the console industry. I suspect the bite will not live up to its hype.

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