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Twofivesix: Gaming and Marketing

Twofivesix: Gaming and Marketing

By Twofivesix
Twofivesix is a strategic consultancy that helps brands engage with gamers. Founder and CEO Jamin Warren speaks to experts at the intersection of games and marketing about how video games and other forms of interactive entertainment are more relevant than ever—in culture but also in business. We cover how marketers, agencies, and brands can dive into the world of esports, and video games.

Follow us on Twitter: @twofivesix
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What you can learn from Tumblr about marketing to gamers

Twofivesix: Gaming and Marketing

Roundtable: How Fortnite's Brand Partnerships Are Building the Metaverse
From Travis Scott to Marvel's Avengers, Fortnite has built a macrocosm of events containing some of the biggest names in entertainment today. Its continued development beyond a 1 vs. 99 shooter game into a destination for IP crossover has media analysts speculating: can Fortnite build the Metaverse? This episode, CEO Jamin Warren speaks with content strategist Paolo Yumol and junior audience strategist Lyn Rafil to discuss the Metaverse, the extent to which Fortnite's brand partnerships build it, and how brands can participate in its development
December 21, 2020
How Games Marketing Affects Social Change with Ad Council's Rebecca Mir
We spoke with Rebecca, Director of Digital Product Management at Ad Council, about the inherent potential of technology, games, and digital media for creating social change; the differences between traditional marketing and PSA development; and how Guild Wars 2 proved to be the perfect place to Seize the Awkward.
November 13, 2020
Roundtable: Why and How to Market to Gamers on YouTube
This episode, Twofivesix CEO Jamin Warren spoke with content strategist Paolo Yumol and junior audience strategist Lyn Rafil to discuss how YouTube fits into the larger online media ecosystem, why people actually watch gaming on YouTube, and the hurdles that brands face when trying to break into the space.
November 6, 2020
How Brands Can Leverage Advertising in Mobile Games With Tapjoy's Sarah Chafer
While marketers turn their heads towards high-profile partnerships in esports, Fortnite, and Twitch, it becomes easy to forget a major portion of the gaming audience: the mobile gamer. The global mobile gaming market is estimated to reach over $77 billion in revenue by the end of 2020. There are many reasons for the persistent growth and player retention in the space, and to learn more, we spoke to Sarah Chafer, EVP of global ad sales at Tapjoy. Tapjoy connects game publishers and advertisers, enabling brands to advertise and monetize on a wide breadth of mobile platforms. “A lot of what we do is around user choice,” Sarah told us. “We offer them a wide variety of things that they can do in order to transact for currency. If you think about being a user or consumer yourself, how often is it that you get to decide which advertiser you’re going to transact with versus having some unwanted messaging that maybe doesn’t apply to you personally?” We spoke with Sarah about monetization practices in mobile games, and learned about the special, mutually beneficial dynamic between players, games, and advertised brands.
October 29, 2020
How Video Game Fundraisers Create Big Opportunity for Charities w/ Twitch's Alyssa Sweetman
One of the biggest success stories from the world of games has been charity fundraisers. While public perception of "gamers" doesn't include philanthropy, the reality couldn't be further from the truth. More than $42 million has been pledged to charity over the last decade—all from gamers supporting their favorite causes. "I don't think it has anything to do with video games, to be honest," Alyssa Sweetman, diversity and charity platform manager at Twitch says about the success of fundraisers. "I think that it has everything to do with instant feedback loop." Alyssa has helped lead some amazing activities in her role. When COVID first hit, she worked with brands like Verizon and P&G too put together an amazing 12-hour event that featured live music from Ellie Goulding and Diplo alongside competitions in Fortnite and UNO. All proceeds went to the United Nations Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. She also helped to raise over $300,000 for The Trevor Project. We spoke with Alyssa about how to pick the right streamers for your fundraiser, why videogame charity events aren't any different from walk-a-thons, and why you should let influencers just be themselves. For more insights, visit us at Twofivesix.
September 9, 2020
The future of content production belongs to video game streamers
Our guest this episode is Doron Nir, CEO, and co-founder of StreamElements.  With over a decade of experience in the games’ world, Doron brings together his expertise in digital game design, software development, and teaching in the development of StreamElements. It’s pretty clear that a new generation of celebrities has risen from the world of game streaming and live content creation, but achieving this level of success doesn’t come without intensive work. The title “content creator” combines the roles of performer, producer, editor, marketing, and community management all at once. Doron starts us off by describing the StreamElements platform and how it enables content creators, big or small, to do the work more easily. Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
July 14, 2020
What you can learn from Tumblr about marketing to gamers
Our guest this episode is Siena Nahl, head of Gaming and Esports Partnerships at Tumblr.  The platform has grown into a robust and diverse social network for art, entertainment, and, perhaps most notably, fandom. As an ecosystem of microblogs, Tumblr offers users the opportunity to develop close-knit communities around the games, characters, and stories they love--and Siena’s role at Tumblr places her right at the forefront. Siena works alongside esports competitors, voice actors, indie game developers, cosplayers, streamers, and more, touching almost every area of the gaming world. Having joined in 2018, she helps partners navigate Tumblr, developing campaigns, blogs, content, and events to connect with gaming communities. Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
July 8, 2020
How music drives social experiences in virtual reality
As the director of strategic business development at Sansar, Sam Distaso has scaled the platform into the premier social VR live events company. With Twofivesix’s help, he also identified, negotiated, and executed industry-first partnerships with leading EDM record label, Monstercat. We spoke to him about the challenges of social VR, the potential of the technology, and targeting the elusive gamer audience. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Here are highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. The biggest challenge with live social VR events “Ironically, one of the challenges in social VR is actually just feeling a heightened sense of energy. And I think this is something that's a social norm that changes. So if you and I go to a concert live, everybody in the audience is going to be chatting or talking with somebody, right? If you go to it virtually, people might have more social anxiety to start talking to random people, and you don't have exactly the exact same sense of awareness.” How to reach the gamers in your audience “Twofivesix has a great grasp on how to authentically speak to a really difficult demographic - the gamer. For Sansar, who are we appealing to? Is it a creator? Is it somebody that's really into fashion? Is that somebody that's into esports, comedy, or EDM? Because all of that is in Sansar, so how do you focus and craft the right messaging and think strategically. How do you actually position yourself for longterm success in this ever-changing landscape, which is really difficult? And I think the insights that you really brought to the table and helped us glean were invaluable.” Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
March 3, 2020
How augmented reality is changing the face of the beauty industry
Berkly Foster is the creative director at ModiFace, a technology company recently acquired by L’Oréal Group that focuses on augmented reality and artificial intelligence technologies. For close to a decade she has been at the forefront of the beauty tech industry, leading the design of AR and AI innovations for industry-leading beauty brands. Her work has been recognized by the Clio Awards and featured by Apple. She is an expert UX/UI and has a passion for the convergence of design, beauty, and technology. We spoke to her about what kind of brands could benefit from AR technology, challenges in AR adoption, and what’s on the horizon for the beauty space. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Here are highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. L’Oreal’s goal for augmented reality “I think my goal is to just make things as seamless as possible. I can't give away all my secrets, but we're on the right track to making beauty more accessible and personalized for everyone. One of L'Oreal's sayings is “beauty for all,” and that really ties into what we're trying to do [with AR].” The beauty community’s receptiveness to AR “Beauty is inherently a very visual thing. Consumers have always been able to try a product on, see it in a mirror, and get those results. AR feels like a very natural next step for visualizing product results in a virtual mirror anytime, anywhere.” Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
February 25, 2020
What arcades can teach us about the future of esports
GameWorks is a chain of location-based entertainment venues featuring a wide array of video game arcades in addition to full-service bars and restaurants. There are currently seven GameWorks venues throughout the U.S, with the re-opening of the chains' flagship store in Las Vegas, NV. They also have GameWorks’ esports Lounges fully furnished with the newest games, the biggest titles and the best tech to maximize your gameplay experience. The company recognizes the importance of esports and has also helped make Las Vegas a gaming and esports mecca. So we were excited to speak with Philip N. Kaplan, CEO of GameWorks. He recognizes that as an established leader in gaming and entertainment, GameWorks is well-positioned to capitalize on this burgeoning space.Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Here are highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. The truth behind esports current phase of growth “It's interesting when markets have phases. And when a product is mature, everyone knows what the product is. Esports is a very early-stage market. You've got a huge audience of people that have been playing, but you've got a much larger audience that is saying, ‘What is it?’ We are at the market education phase so a lot of our approach has been to say, ‘Hey, come and play,’ and make it friendly. And as I'm out telling the company's story, I'm really trying to be inviting and tell people what esports is and really be an advocate for the category.” GameWorks’ main competition isn’t who you think it is “There’s this entertainment industry problem in general. You've got this model of a lot of options for how consumers can spend their time on entertainment. So when we think about marketing, we're not thinking about competing in the sports category. We're thinking about why is the consumer coming to GameWorks versus going to a movie, bowling, taking a walk in the park, or going to the beach. We tried to create events and promotions and then just make them compelling as specifically as possible around an esports event, an audience, or an arcade.” Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
February 13, 2020
Are video game companies missing the mark on diversity?
Danielle aka EbonixSims makes custom designs for other black gamers who don't always see themselves (or “simselves”) represented. She’s bringing more change, representation, and diversity into games through her custom content. In fact, T-Pain has actually used her content to find dreads for his Sim. But that wasn’t her most memorable moment as a content creator for Simmers of color. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Here are highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. The interaction that moved EbonixSims the most “The one interaction that moved me the most was when a lady messaged me and said that her niece absolutely hated how she looked. She didn't like her hair and her skin tone, and she played The Sims but never would ever make a character that looks like her. So she asked me if I could make this particular hair that they'd seen on Tumblr. And I said, ‘Okay, that's doable.’ It was a cute little girl's hair with the bubbles, which a lot of black girls have had. So it was the perfect hair to recreate and push back into the community. “After I made that, she messaged me and said, ‘Ebonix, I don't think you know how much you've changed my niece's life.’ She saw and made the hair [in The Sims], which was her hair at the time and absolutely fell in love with her ‘Simself.’ And since then, her self confidence and how she's seen herself has changed for the better. It hit home because there was no content for me to make a Sim of myself, and it did have an effect on how I saw myself. Other things in society also didn’t make little black girls feel loved and appreciated and feel self-conscious about how they looked. For me to be able to change how that little girl saw herself just through the Sims, that is something that will always stick with me and always keep me motivated to keep going.” EbonixSims’s advice to gaming companies “Think ‘everyone, everywhere.’ Because everyone, everywhere, plays a game. When they create a character, people are looking to make themselves, not just trying to make a character that fits in with your game and aesthetic. If it's a game that has just a main character, you're perfectly fine to make whatever character you want. But if you're giving us the option to edit and make the character look as different as possible, then you're going to need some outside input. I'm your girl but there are also so many people that would love to get involved in those early stages of what they'd like to see within the game, especially when it comes to character creation. It's about reaching out.” Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
February 6, 2020
Esports host Frankie Ward offers her insight into the esports audience
Not all gamers are esports fans, but it’s worth paying attention to this particular segment of gaming fandom. Here are just a few reasons why: – 2019 was a milestone year for global esports. The global esports economy surpassed $1 billion this past year, a year-over-year growth of +26.7%, notes Newzoo’s 2019 Global Esports Market Report. – The total esports audience is staggering. Comprised of both esports enthusiasts and occasional viewers, the esports audience currently totals 454 million and is projected to grow to 645 million by 2022, according to Newzoo. – Investment in esports is surging. According to the 2019 Esports Survey of esports and traditional sports professionals, nearly half of respondents (47%) expect an increase in esports investment over the next year. To gain insight into the esports audience, we spoke to esports host and presenter Frankie Ward. She has hosted and covered events such as the ESL Hearthstone Premiership Final, the PC Gaming Show at E3, and the ESL Intel Extreme Masters CS:GO Major Championship. Previously, she was a producer at Twitch and now streams on the platform as a Twitch partner. But her talents don’t stop there: In her spare time, Frankie streams on her Twitch channel and produces and presents the interview podcast My Life in Pixels. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Here are highlights from the conversation, edited for clarity. Esports are more welcoming than you’d think “As esports fans, we're kind of responsible for educating others and getting them involved. We should be trying to make our community bigger. There is a ring-fencing aspect to it. Sometimes it's a bit like when you have your favorite band and suddenly everyone else discovers them, and you're just like, ‘No, you're not a real fan. I am.’ There is that problem, which is why I was terrified of starting Counter-Strike in the first place. But then I got in, and it became a dream. So we do need to be more welcoming to new people and show them what it's all about, which is why I'm always trying to encourage people to go to live events.” Esports spectatorship is different than traditional sports fandom “The audience wants to emulate their heroes because they're the same age as them. I was interviewing a 17-year-old onstage, and he went to the same tournament in 2016 and watched in the audience. These kids actually watch these sports knowing that they could one day be up there playing alongside or against their heroes. And I don't think that's the same in football. In football, if you don't start when you're six years old and get spotted by a talent scout early, you're not going to do it. So the best you can do is eat a Pukka Pie and drink some beer on the sidelines. And there is nothing wrong with that. But with esports, there is so much aspiration and hope. You're so much closer to the players than you are in traditional sports, and that's really exciting.”
January 24, 2020
Twofivesix Senior Strategist Mindy Lee gives a primer on in-game advertising and IP collaborations
As an agency that works exclusively in the gaming industry, we always get asked about how companies should connect with an audience who loves games. With an average of 25 video games being released a day, new services being added every year, and 2.2 million streamers on Twitch, the world of gaming is always expanding, making marketing in those spaces often overwhelming. We scoured the internet to find a good primer on what marketing in gaming looks like, but we couldn’t find one. So we decided to make it ourselves. Senior Strategist Mindy Lee led the creation of our first report in the Twofivesix Gaming Marketing 101 series, where we give you a lay of the land of what’s possible at the intersection of games and marketing. In this episode, she gives you a brief rundown of the Twofivesix Levels of Play framework along with some industry examples to solidify your understanding of each level. Lee highlights the first level of our model: Play, which represents everything that happens in-game. As she explains, everything from banner ads to Fortnite collaborations falls under this type of marketing activation and advertising. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Here are highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. THE REASONS WHY BRANDS SHOULD CONSIDER ADVERTISING IN VIDEO GAMES “The first is just the proportion of people who play games is increasing year over year. So it's likely that if you're a brand, that's probably where your audience is going to be found. The second reason is that video games are not like other advertising spaces—TV or the internet—and they require a lot of focus. The audience is not just possibly blowing past your ad. They're actually actively engaged...Some reports estimate that players are in-game for an average of seven to 12 hours a week. As a point of comparison, Americans age 18 to 34 they only watch an average of two and a half hours of TV [a day].” FOR IP COLLABORATIONS, IT’S ALL ABOUT EXECUTION “How brands execute and how well comes down to the match between the brand and the game itself. A lot of IP collaborations over the past year have been with Fortnite—they had Nike and the Marshmello concert. Those brands came off pretty well because they played an active part in the game.” Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
January 17, 2020
Wall Street Journal reporter Sarah E. Needleman on the year in video games and what 2020 holds for the industry
In our year in review, we speak to Sarah E. Needleman, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who writes about the video game industry. Over the last few months, she has covered everything from Google Stadia to KFC’s dating sim. Needleman has been at the paper since 2001, and prior to her current beat, she covered small business and careers. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Needleman joined the Twofivesix: Gaming and Marketing Podcast to talk about 2019’s major moments in video games, her predictions for 2020, and trends in interactive entertainment. Here are highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. The nature of loot boxes will change “As far as loot boxes themselves go, I think we're going to see less of them or they won’t give you some sort of competitive advantage. It'll just be cosmetic. And then I do think that will die down. But the broader issue surrounding loot boxes also ties to this concept of game addiction. And I don't think that's going to go away.” Apex Legends owes its success to Fortnite “What [the surprise Apex Legends launch] showed to me is that the influence streamers have on consumers is significant. But let's also keep in mind is that Apex Legends is free-to-play, just like Fortnite. And what made Fortnite so special is the fact that it is free-to-play and very easy to learn in short sessions. So, we've learned a lot about gaming behavior from Fortnite.” Streaming games isn’t going to take off anytime soon “It's gonna take a while for [game] streaming to become, anywhere near mainstream. Unlike other forms of media, video games are interactive, and if you're playing competitively, even like the slightest delay is going to be a problem. And we know that online multiplayer gaming is very popular. So in the near term, I can't see people giving up dedicated land devices for gaming. Streaming will be more like a bonus option that you would consider for certain situations, like when you're out of storage or when you're traveling. I don't think it'll end up being the primary way people game anytime soon.” Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast for more compelling insights.
December 19, 2019
Netflix’s narrative designer on making interactive stories more accessible
Juan Vaca, Netflix’s first narrative designer, gives us his thoughts on why interactive content is taking off lately. He also details how his gaming background influences his storytelling, why he thinks of his audience as players instead of viewers, and what exactly goes into making an interactive movie or TV show at Netflix. Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our newsletter.
September 6, 2019
Behind the billion-dollar success of Kickstarter board games
When people talk about games, video games usually get all the attention. But tabletop games shouldn’t be ignored, especially since Kickstarter game projects have brought in one billion dollars with tabletop games making up 69 percent of pledges. We speak to Luke Crane, Head of Games at Kickstarter, to discuss the appeal of tabletop gaming and the popularity of Kickstarter board games. Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our newsletter.
September 6, 2019
Should brands bet big on virtual influencers?
Virtual influencers like Lil Miquela are here, and brands are betting big on them. We speak to Peter Rojas, co-founder of Gizmodo and Engadget and an investor in synthetic reality at Betaworks Ventures, about these virtual characters and the future of how we engage with them. Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our newsletter.
September 6, 2019
How do you market fashion to gamers?
Gamers aren’t exactly known for their style, but our guests, Rachel Feinberg and Breanne Harrison-Pollock, are looking to change that. They co-founded the esports and gaming apparel company Ateyo, the first company to offer technically designed apparel that is custom-built for gaming. Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our newsletter.
September 6, 2019
Why Alexis Ohanian thanks games for founding Reddit
As the co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital, Alexis Ohanian has lots of thoughts on online communities. In this interview, he goes into how he started programming thanks to games, connections made through social media, and the changing definition of who gamers are. Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our newsletter.
September 6, 2019
Why is The New York Times making games?
Did you know The New York Times makes games? Our first guest is Sam Von Ehren, a game designer at The New York Times. We speak with him about why The New York Times makes games, how his game fits in with the rest of The Times’ news coverage, common misconceptions about what a New York Times game looks like, and who he’s trying to reach. Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our newsletter.
September 6, 2019
Twofivesix: Gaming and Marketing Trailer
Introducing Twofivesix: Gaming and Marketing, a new podcast from Twofivesix. Available wherever you get your podcasts. Want to hear more from us? Sign up for our newsletter.
September 4, 2019