Connect with us


PepsiCo’s strategies for marketing via online games and esports



PepsiCo's strategies for marketing via online games and esports

Marketers have never had more opportunities to break into in-game advertising, due to the growing number of users and the evolving technology for brand placements. PepsiCo has a vast portfolio of beverages and foods, and Paul Mascali, PepsiCo’s head of gaming and esports, has put together a multipronged marketing strategy to connect the right products with the right customers in the right game environments.

“In-game advertising is a highly-engaged instance,” said Mascali. “Attention is fully on the game and not passive, it’s a lived-in experience. The biggest thing is that it’s the right type of integration, and that’s why we’re working with premium publishers to maximize those eyeballs.”

Not every brand is a world-famous soft drink, however. Fortunately, there are many entry points for brands to tap into the highly-engaged gaming community.

Getting started with dynamic in-game advertising

One of the easiest low-cost ways to get started with in-game advertising is also one of the newest – dynamic in-game advertising.

Marketers don’t have to get in early when a video game is being developed in order to claim a spot for brand integration. Instead, game publishers create and sell inventory for advertisers after the game is released.

Think of all the advertising opportunities during a Formula One race or when you take a walk down a busy street in the real world. Well, in the virtual environment of a video game, those same billboards and car sponsorships can be made available to advertisers, and swapped in and out programmatically in real time.

Read next: How the gaming universe is preparing marketers for the metaverse to come


“Dynamic in-game advertising is more of a turnkey solution for brands who don’t have a strong foothold in games, don’t have bigger budgets and haven’t really leaned in,” said Mascali. “It’s a good way to test the waters.” 

This lets marketers new to gaming test and learn which game environments work best. And they don’t have to commit a lot of their ad budget or time, because adtech vendors like Anzu are making dynamic ads accessible across many game publishers.

Hard-coded in-game advertising

Brands with clout, and the budget to match, can get involved earlier in the development of a (hopefully) blockbuster game, creating a more integrated ad experience. A hard-coded in-game advertising placement means marketers collaborate closely with developers to make the brand an actual part of the game and not just a digital billboard.

In order to pull this off, marketers should already know some of the games and audiences that work for their product.

For instance, PepsiCo has had a long history in video game integrations, including the NBA 2K series developed by Visual Concepts and played on top consoles, PC and mobile.

In the NBA 2K22 update for the most recent basketball season, the game included the branded GatoradeTraining Facility. Far more than a fleeting ad during gameplay, players could go to this part of the game and consume drinks with their player avatars, thus improving their player’s performance level.

Cross-promotions in-game and on other channels

A popular game’s devoted audience will interact with other audiences, amplifying brand marketing.

That’s why Mascali’s team jumped on the opportunity to create The Dew Court in the NBA 2K game. It is modeled on the real-world three-point contest during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend, which is sponsored by PepsiCo’s MTN DEW.


Having the branded experience consistent between the actual sporting event and the in-game experience adds to the realism of the game for players. And it adds to the brand exposure for PepsiCo. In the game, players shoot three-pointers on the Dew Court and can earn in-game rewards, adding higher stakes and more perks for players.

Similarly, NBA 2K22 also included the 4-Point Ridge Tournament. This experience replicated the Ruffles “four-point line” from the celebrity game at All-Star Weekend. Ruffles is another PepsiCo brand.

“From our experience, hardcoding is more customized and dials deep into why these consumers play and how we can be additive to their experience,” said Mascali.

Growing e-commerce through games

Traditional retail channels for brands have been disrupted by e-commerce. Consumer packaged goods companies like PepsiCo have adapted by launching their own direct-to-consumer offerings.

When the company launched their first owned portal for a beverage in 2020, gaming was an integral part of the strategy, and continues to be. MTN DEW Game Fuel is a line of beverages designed for gamers. Some flavors are tied to specific games, such as Activision’s Call of Duty Warzone.

Instead of having to run off to the local 7-Eleven, gamers can go to the Game Fuel portal and order drinks. They can also earn rewards through purchasing drinks and other products, making Game Fuel a loyalty program and D2C play.

Game Fuel has also partnered with the Atlanta Faze esports team, bringing exposure to fans who follow esports online and watch broadcasts of league tournaments.

Gaming influencers get deeper in the community

Another of the company’s beverage brands, Rockstar Energy Drink, recently announced a multiyear partnership with gaming organization NRG.


NRG is a leader in gaming lifestyle content shown on YouTube, Twitch and other video and social hubs where gamers and esports fans can watch masters display their skills on Fortnite, Valorant and other popular game franchises. To give an idea of the scale, NRG-owned channels, which feature top esport figures, have 50 million monthly active users.

The first marketing initiative is a sponsored livestream music experience called SOUND SERIES.

“From our standpoint, these guys and girls are modern day celebrities for this generation,” said Mascali. “With the engagement they get, when we find the right influencer-brand fit, it’s great for us and their communities. When we find the right brand fit, we have them talk about them, and that becomes a powerful marketing avenue for us.”

According to Mascali, every game has its own culture and its own community. Top influencers know these communities the best, so it’s about giving them the creative independence to carry through brand values and enthusiasm to their audience.

Marketers should have a firm grasp of these brand values before approaching game developers, publishers or influencers. Once they do, marketers have a wide array of options to get in quick, say through dynamic in-game ads, or take a more studied and integrated approach through hard-coding, cross-promotion, influencers and e-commerce plays.

Get the daily newsletter digital marketers rely on.


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.


Source link



Follow This Purpose-Driven Path to Greater SEO Success



Follow This Purpose-Driven Path to Greater SEO Success

Historically, getting content to reach the top of a search engine results page usually hinged on your team’s ability to fulfill the rules of Google’s algorithm – no matter how complex, obscure, and sometimes unwritten.

However, that picture is changing now that AI has arrived behind the scenes of the top search engine, says Dale Bertrand, Fire and Spark’s content and SEO strategist. Its machine learning delivers more precise, adaptive, and contextual search results. It also gives marketers another approach to search result success – a purpose-driven strategy.

Develop a purpose-driven #SEO strategy that would please @Google’s #AI algorithm, says @joderama via @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

At the 2022 ContentTECH Summit and a recent Ask the CMWorld Community interview, Dale discussed what Google’s heavier reliance on an AI-controlled algorithm means and how a purpose-driven approach can help your brand compete with – and even beat – bigger fish in the SEO sea.

Search for greater SEO intelligence

In the early days of digital search, Google’s founders used the web’s link structure to rank the most relevant page results. “Basically, if you had the right links to your website and the right keywords on your pages, you would rank well,” Dale says.

But now, it’s more important to understand how that AI engine gets trained than to follow technical SEO rules. Dale says making this mindset change can help set your content on a path to increased visibility on search and stronger marketing performance overall.

It’s more important now to understand how that #AI engine gets trained than to follow technical #SEO rules, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet


Engineers set the technical quality guidelines

Human engineers are still involved in ranking content relevance. But instead of programming the algorithm, their role is to rate a site’s trustworthiness, content accuracy, authoritativeness, and connection to other relevant content providers on the topic at hand.

“That quality information is collected as a big dataset from websites that have been graded, which is part of what they feed into Google’s algorithm to train the AI,” says Dale. There’s a big, long document out there – the web quality raters guide. Any marketer can read it to see what the raters look for when building the training dataset for Google’s AI.”


Industry Link Building Guides

Start building authoritative links with our link-building guides, complete with proven tactics and best practices to get you the links you deserve. Choose from B2B, SaaS, YMYL, ecommerce, and hospitality & travel. Download now.

AI adds behavioral signals

From that point, Google’s AI engine takes over, tracking search behaviors, analyzing signals of intent, and correlating those insights with the quality rating data to determine the most relevant content to a search query.

But, Dale says, keep in mind: “Google’s AI engine doesn’t care about your content – it only cares about its own performance.” It’s looking for confirmation that the content it selects will deliver a satisfying experience for searchers. Your job is to make sure it sees your brand’s content as a likely win.

Prove your #content has what it takes for better search results. Build momentum through community and demonstrate multifactor authority, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

Shared purpose promotes multifactor authority

Dale discusses two ways brands can prove that their content has what it takes to deliver the AI’s desired results:

  • Build momentum through community. A community behind your brand frequently visits, engages with, and links to your website. They recommend your products and services and amplify your site. Dale says these actions demonstrate a high level of customer intimacy. Google’s AI uses the artifacts of success from this content – high engagement, low bounce rate, and a high click-through rate – to confirm your site and content are loved.
  • Demonstrate multifactor authority. Part of AI’s investigation of brands that resonate with online consumers is the company you keep, Dale says. Authoritative individuals, organizations, and influencers can contribute to your brand’s authority by linking to, citing, and amplifying your content across their channels and platforms.

Prove your #content has what it takes for better search results. Build momentum through community and demonstrate multifactor authority, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet


How to use purpose to build SEO power

Dale describes an SEO strategy that can help build authority and momentum by focusing on a purpose your brand believes in: “Hopefully, your brand stands for something. But [for SEO], it’s even better if your brand is actively promoting a change that you want to see in your industry.”


By using your content to build valuable conversations around that change, you give the tools to those with an established interest to spread your brand messages. This data around this reciprocal relationship demonstrates the brand traction Google’s AI sees as proof your content is a solid search bet.

Dale shares a client example:

I worked with one brand that was selling handmade children’s products. The US government was about to pass a law that would have made it so [small businesses like this] would have had to do $100,000 worth of testing before being allowed to sell a single product. We were able to lead the movement against that law and turn that into an SEO campaign that generated authority, backlinks, and website engagement – all the things that Google’s AI is looking for.

He explains the process he used to achieve those results:

Step 1: Find high-profile groups and learn about the causes they support

Find potential partners – influencers, non-profits, advocacy organizations, and others who are working towards a purpose in which your business might have a stake. It could be an organization that’s written about helping previously incarcerated people find jobs, influencers promoting veteran-run businesses, or an event that supports disadvantaged youth in your local community.

When you’ve identified viable candidates, research their positions and how they communicate about them in their online conversations. “You need to understand what issues these influencers care about, what they’re writing about, what’s going on in their social conversations. All of those things are targets for your purpose-driven SEO campaign,” Dale says.

Step 2: Choose a mission your content will support

Once you find an area with enough grassroots supporters, craft a mission statement around it for your brand’s SEO campaign. It should be something your brand can speak to authentically; otherwise, audiences will see right through it. “It has to be based on your organization’s values because you’re going to get behind it. At the end of the day, if you don’t care about feeding hungry children, that just can’t be the mission,” Dale says.

If you’re on the B2B side or operate in a crowded market, it may be worthwhile to adopt a unique or even slightly controversial mission to differentiate your brand. “[You might think] sustainability is a good [purpose to build on], but so many companies have taken this topic on that it doesn’t move the needle from a search marketing perspective,” Dale says.

Rather than just choosing a hot topic, he suggests looking for a niche, such as a critical change affecting the supply chain for your industry or a regulatory issue that impacts product costs, to rally around. Doing so can help insert your brand name into relevant conversations that your bigger, higher-profile competitors may not be associated with.


Step 3: Create “citable” content aligned with your mission

The goal isn’t to promote your brand’s involvement with the chosen cause; it’s to create content your partner organizations can cite when making their case for the cause. “The content is fuel for their advocacy – it gives them credible, authoritative information they can use in their arguments,” Dale says.

For example, Dale says, interview someone personally affected by the mission, write an opinion piece about the change your business is advocating, or publish an original research report. “This is the type of content that [they] would organically mention and link to while trying to get their point across in their own content conversations. That’s how you’re going to get the deeper engagement and increased backlinks that Google’s AI can see,” says Dale.

Step 4: Reach out to other like-minded influencers

With a body of purpose-focused content cited and linked to, you can increase your content’s authority and reach by sharing the outcomes with other influencers who care about the topic. But rather than conducting a blast email campaign, contact them individually by email or personal message on social channels.

In this outreach, focus your messages on furthering the mission. “We’re not promoting our business, our products, and services, or our content. We’re saying, ‘Hey, I saw that you’re a big advocate for helping previously incarcerated youth find jobs. We’ve got an interview your audience would be interested in … would you help us promote it?’” Dale explains.

Not only are influencers more likely to respond to this type of outreach, but they may be more willing to promote your content without compensation because it helps them create content in an area that they’re passionate about, Dale says.

Fuel a shared purpose and find greater search success

In a crowded landscape, where reaching a top spot on SERPs is harder to achieve than ever, it’s time for marketers to stop trying to outsmart the search algorithm. By putting a shared human purpose at the center of your SEO strategy, your content will broadcast all the signals of authority, relevance, and value Google’s AI is looking for.


 Register to attend Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute


Source link

Continue Reading

Subscribe To our Newsletter
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address