The social and political events of the times are unsettling to many. But despite the regular dose of misery that comes from the news, there are great things happening. Between the various tech, research, and innovation hubs in the world, the beneficial application of cutting edge technology is flowing into the wider world. Three areas of particular importance are energy, information, and health.
Close to two-thirds of US adults are now gamers (Nielsen, 2015) – a finding shared by Peter Jonas at this year’s film music and technology festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas (March 11-20). The head of North American games and mobile app sales at Facebook told us the reason the number is so high is because it includes casual mobile gamers, who would not consider themselves to be in the same category as hardcore console players.
The number-one game genre on Facebook is slot machine games played by “mobile whales” (big spenders in-app) – of whom 73% are married with children. “Would these people identify themselves as gamers before they identify as parents, friends, executives?” asked Jonas. “The answer is no. [As a brand], are you breaking out of the stereotypes?”
Kym Nelson, senior vice-president of sales at live-streaming platform Twitch, agreed that games continue to offer huge opportunities for marketers: “[There are] 146 million women in the US who play casual games,” for example. And while mobile gaming is on the rise, it’s not cannibalising traditional console gaming: two out of three console gamers also play on mobile.
As an example of what’s possible when advertising and gaming meet, Nelson talked through the Chappie Challenge, a Twitch campaign promoting Sony’s sci-fi movie Chappie. Over a six-week period, Twitch players were able to challenge the eponymous robot to the game Evolve, with the chance to win $15,000 in prizes. The result was more than one million streams of Chappie content, 24 million impressions, and “incredible chat interaction and engagement” on Twitch.
Utility is the key for marketers when it comes to engaging gamers, according to Nelson: “Brands need to think about what value they’re offering the user playing the game.” She pointed to Covet Fashion, a fashion app that currently boasts more than three million users, as an example of a perfect symbiotic relationship between game and brand, as users “click to buy as they play the game”.
London Tech Week is a yearly gathering boasting hundreds of events and pitching opportunities for techies within and across many industries: retail, education, cyber security, marketing and advertising. Industry-specific offshoots of Tech Week have also emerged, the next being the world’s first Food Tech Week, running from 16 October 2015.
The week will bring together talent to collaborate and showcase technological trends disrupting the food and agricultural landscape. There’ll be events fronted by industry game-changers, a hackathon, a pitching event for food tech start-ups at the Google campus, and a Hackney TEDxTalk on the future of food.
Food and drink start-ups have enjoyed a significant boom of late. Incubators such as The Kitchenette and The Grocery are tickling London’s taste buds by helping start-ups grow, and pop-ups are finding spaces to succeed all over the city.
Food technology has particularly capitalised on this boom: delivery giants HungryHouse and Just Eat have become household names, Deliveroo are bringing the nation’s favourite restaurants straight to our doors for just £2 a pop, Graze are delivering personalised healthy snacks through our letterbox, and Hubbub are challenging tradition by offering home delivery from small businesses in efforts to triumph against the supermarket monopoly. In short, industry innovators are changing the way we buy, think about and consume food.
As the founders of Food Tech Week state, the week’s purpose is “to unite the food tech community for the first time, in a meaningful way, to forge vital food tech partnerships and foster collaboration for the good of all.”
In my opinion, it’s about time technology is put to good use in an industry so intrinsically linked to public health and wellbeing.