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Activision Blizzard Knows the Video Game Industry Hasn’t Done Enough to Cater to Big Brands, But Jonathan Stringfield is Working to Change That

June 10, 2020



Activision Blizzard’s Jonathan Stringfield breaks down why marketers have been so slow to embrace video games and how he thinks the prolonged stay-at-home lockdowns are opening many brands eyes to the medium’s power. Stringfield also discusses the various options available to brands, from traditional ads in mobile gaming to rewarding gamers with virtual goods – as well as how most marketers are funding big game initiatives.



Mike (19s):
Hey guys, this is Mike Shields and this week on Next in Marketing, I got to talk to Activision Blizzard, Jonathan Stringfield. We discussed the state of video games in the advertising business, why he believes the COVID-19 crisis may open more brand’s eyes to the medium and what he sees to the future of eSports Now that most major sports leagues are on hold. Let’s get into it. Jonathan, give me your title and then maybe, can you talk about what this division is? I don’t know if everyone in the world knows that big game publishers have another group like this.

Jonathan (47s):
Yeah, for sure. So Jonathan Stringfield, vice president of global business marketing measurement and insights across two business units at Activision blizzard. One of which is our media business, which is a say advertising and the other being our eSports business. So the differentiation between the two is that the media team, as you might suspect, essentially works with advertisers to put in game ad placements and sponsorships within the actual game properties with an emphasis on mobile games, but something that we’re, we’re evolving as a function of time, the eSports team does more traditional sponsorships adjacent to our eSports content.

Jonathan (1m 23s):
So integrations within the matches and the streams and what have you. So between the two, I lead a team that works with the advertising community to demonstrate the unique power of gaming and gaming enthusiasts via research analytics, and in general industry outreach.

Mike (1m 38s):
Game publishers in general have varying levels of interest in advertising. Is it unusual that you have the standalone business that’s separate from the publishing division?

Jonathan (1m 47s):
I don’t know if it’s, I don’t think it’s necessarily unusual to have a standalone team, a fully functioning business unit, possibly, which I think on the one hand, you could look at that in two ways. One of which is that, okay, are we arbitrarily setting a bit of a division between advertising and what have you through game production, which, I don’t think is the spirit of what we’re doing. It’s more symbolic that Activision blizzard has multiple publishing houses within it.

Jonathan (2m 17s):
Obviously Activision publishing being one blizzard or entertainment, King digital entertainment. What have you. So by being an independent entity and allows us to kind of weave between all of the publishers in a way that’s, that’s rather fluid and therefore work with them in a way that’s kind of a step back a little bit and consultative, but also with a priority on what makes sense for Activision blizzard at large, right? What makes sense for our overall community of gamers? So in that respect, it’s a little unique, but I think it embodies that, that fine balance between finding these opportunities that are potentially interesting for advertisers while also preserving our core business, which is of course making games.

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Meet our host, Mike Shields

Mike Shields is the founder of Shields Strategic Consulting. Shields covered the ad business for over 15 years at top publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Adweek and Digiday.

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