Q&A with Adrian Watkins, Growth & Marketing Director, APAC at Ad Colony

Adrian Watkins, Growth & Marketing Director, APAC at AdColony, is a full-service digital sales and marketing veteran with expertise in strategy, innovation, transformation and growth across blue-chip companies and SMEs and in different continents. Adrian specializes in leading cross-functional teams, creating and executing strategic plans, building effective sales and marketing teams, forging partnerships and representing businesses both on stage and in the boardroom.

We’ve now reached the tipping point in the evolution of NFTs where you can no longer afford to misunderstand what is happening around you for fear of missing out on the defining opportunity of a generation.



MEDIA 7: What inspired you to build such a successful career in digital sales and marketing?
ADRIAN WATKINS:
Although these days I’m known for ‘growth & transformation’, sales and marketing to me are the two functions that can influence change across the entirety of a business. It touches most departments including strategy, sales, data intelligence, technology and even finance. As Sales & Marketers, we get to place ourselves at the heartbeat of a business, truly listening to what our customers and clients are saying, reacting to feedback and weaving stories and product roll-outs that address concerns excites new business and acquire new customers while being able to share this knowledge both internally and with the market.

I began my career as a writer before moving deeper into technology and partner management, before finding my sweet spot in commercial with Virgin. Fortunate to work at a senior level across multiple MNCs in different continents including two Virgin companies: News Corporation and ViacomCBS, I also helped grow the potential unicorn theAsianparent (as Chief Strategy Officer), and have built, sold and advised on various startups. Much of my focus has always been commercial strategy, sales, marketing and data analysis - all of which I loosely group under ‘growth’. I now lead Marketing and Growth in Asia-Pacific for AdColony - part of the Nasdaq AdTech darling Digital Turbine which is the largest independent platform that leverages unique on-device technology across major carriers and telcos with direct SDK supply, powering access to high-value consumers from their first & earliest device interaction, throughout their device journey, with a core focus on mobile and gaming marketing in Asia-Pacific.


M7: AdColony was once again named the Best Mobile Ad Network by 2021 Adweek Readers’ Choice: Best of Tech awards. What was the strategy behind achieving such prestigious recognition?
AW:
Adweek's Readers' Choice Awards are fast becoming one of the most important ones in North America, and growing internationally (Adweek's audience is mostly in NA, but they are growing!). Since it's voted on by Adweek readers, our strategy was simple: Raise awareness. It's a reflection of the work we do with brands and agencies throughout the year. Fortunately, the people think we're doing a great job, as AdColony won the award in its inaugural award in 2019, was runner up in 2020, and reclaimed the crown this year.


Be as prepared as possible, but take calculated risks.



M7: What are some of the benefits that AdColony offers its clients through its advertising and marketing platform?
AW:
AdColony has a unique reach for advertisers. Now that we're able to access both AdColony's direct inventory as well as Fyber's, our direct supply footprint eclipses everyone but Google when we look at the app environments Fortune 500 brands care about. There are other synergies we're working through that tap into the value of Digital Turbine's On-Device technologies (more exciting news to come on those in the future).


M7: According to you, which is your preferred marketing channel and why?
AW:
Gaming (especially via a mobile phone) is the most exciting and innovative marketing channel that exists today. Mobile gaming is on track to surpass $120B in spends globally. Based in Singapore, Asia-Pacific is home to 54% of the world's gamers & is the fastest growing market. Players have spent more than 1 trillion hours playing and an additional 25 billion hours watching gaming streams, which is more than the time spent on social media and watching television. Everyone is now a gamer. Global brands such as Unilever, Gucci and Mercedes are embracing gaming as they know that and can’t afford to ignore the genre. For instance, did you know that almost 80% of mobile gamers are female, more than 75% of mums are mobile gamers, and more than 80% of the high income segment audience are mobile gamers? The potential that gaming holds has also been identified by media giants like Netflix and Facebook, who are exploring gaming to further drive user engagement on their platform, with Netflix planning to introduce games on its platform, and Facebook using gaming as a pivot to its ��Metaverse’ ambitions.

Gaming as a marketing channel is constantly evolving at lightspeed. In fact, gaming marketing feels like the next monumental industry shift which hasn’t happened since the launch of Social Media or Search Marketing - this feels like the next big industry evolution.

Let’s explore just a few examples (and buzzwords!) of innovation that are happening right now which marketers can’t afford to miss:

The Metaverse: Simply put, the metaverse is the intersection of entertainment, gaming and communications, with its own ‘play economy’, and ignoring conventional business models. It's the experience of choosing a digital avatar, creating original work, finding a connection with virtual experiences to match those offline, and valuing digital goods on a par with the physical. We can game, shop, buy land, use digital items for real-world purposes, lend money, and more. Right now, businesses are considering their future roles in the metaverse. For example: Gucci sold a virtual bag for more dollars than the real thing in the platform Roblox, Nike dropped virtual Jordans in Fortnite, Coca-Cola launched avatar wearables in Decentraland, Sotheby’s has an art gallery your avatar can wander, and $191M was transacted on “play to earn” blockchain game Axie Infinity in its first 30 days.

The future of content, e-commerce, and engagement is in the metaverse. Our job as business leaders and marketers is to prepare for that future today for our own businesses but also to help facilitate this new channel for brands and their agencies.

NFTs & Collectibles: We’ve now reached the tipping point in the evolution of NFTs where you can no longer afford to misunderstand what is happening around you for fear of missing out on the defining opportunity of a generation. NFTs are innately valuable due to their constrained supply, and community drives much of the early value of projects. Digital collectibles are already a major part of the online gaming experience, creating longer-term value for the collector (e.g. Axie Infinity), and now real-world utility is next: imagine holding an NFT which gives you exclusive access to content, product launches, or events. This brings amazing opportunities for brands to innovate in their marketing strategies. Mobile advertising campaigns using NFTs can be distributed programmatically across digital platforms, offering personalised gifts or vouchers to customers. Brands can monetise ads multiple times by turning them into NFTs; increase equity via storytelling and collectibles; create buzz in the lead-up to events or product launches via early access tokens.

I expect to see more brands jump in and start to experiment with releasing digital collectibles. For brands, this is an opportunity to generate additional revenues and engage with a core fan base by creating exclusive experiences.

In-game adverts which simulate IRL advertising: The most wonderful thing about working in the digital ecosystem is that it nevers stands still, and this is true when it comes to gaming as a the leading innovative marketing channel. Outside of block chain, the most recent example is the emergence of adtech companies which enable brands to programmatically serve posters inside games (think ‘Virtual Digital Out Of Home’). The leading company in this sector is Anzu.io, which for the first time, enables ads in game to be fully programmatically targeted, safe, and verifiable.

However, as with all technology, there needs to be supply and demand: For supply, as free-to-play games continue to gain momentum and infiltrate all game genres, games studios will be forced to change their way of thinking to see in-game advertising as a sustainable business model if they want to continue making games relevant and accessible in this highly competitive landscape. For demand, this is where Marketing and innovation really comes to the fore because with any new product it takes time for brands and their agencies to truly wrap their heads around it. AdColony (which sells Anzu exclusively in Asia-Pacific) is already ahead of the curve as several international brands have already embraced this recent channel.

Education, ultimately leading to adoption, which is achieved through cohesive and often innovative marketing, is critical here: whether through thought-leadership articles, sharing infographics of latest case studies, discussing with like-minded people on panels, or just with peers in the pub! - a compelling narrative, backed with data, is critical for success.


I expect to see more brands jump in and start to experiment with releasing digital collectibles.



M7: What do you believe are the top three marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
AW:
In fact, there is one MASSIVE one. Marketing has evolved - brands and agencies need to embrace this change. COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we engage with content, shop, and hang out with our friends and family, with people now more glued to their screens than ever before - and this is again where gaming leads the charge for the ‘new normal. Gaming apps are even larger than the top entertainment apps. Across Asia-Pacific, the top gaming apps consistently take in at least 1.5X monthly active users (MAUs) compared to the top entertainment apps, and mobile gamers are prominent across all age groups and genres. This means a brand’s potential customers are already there, but more importantly, is the brand there yet? When benchmarking consumer behaviour since COVID-19, more than 90% of mobile gamers have bought luxury goods online in the last year, mobile games contributed to 77% of total app revenue in Asia-Pacific, and the top gaming apps across Asia-Pacific hold higher MAUs than the most popular OTT (over-the-top) apps.


M7: What is your advice to aspiring marketers stepping into such a dynamic market today?
AW:
Be as prepared as possible, but take calculated risks. How? Through as tried and tested framework of:

(1) Discovery is key: Read everything you can, talk to friends and colleagues, reach out to leaders in your industry and ask them for a Zoom or a coffee meeting - you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help when asked

(2)  Plan: Have a clear, orientated (and data driven) plan: marketing works best when it is layered, tracked, and optimised. 

(3) Iterate: just because you executed a plan, it doesn’t mean it was (i) right (ii) will be successful

(4) Data: data is truth. Ignore it at your peril. Learning to determine insights from it is crucial

(5) Upskill: there are so many free online courses available, if you aren’t dedicating at least 10% of your month to upskilling, then you should be!

(6)  Trust your instinct: if it feels wrong, it probably is!

(7) Learn: from your mistakes… and then go again! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, everyone does. Just control the fallout and use this knowledge to iterate better next time.

I can guarantee you that for every person who isn’t going through the above, there are many more that are; Competition is fierce, ensure you can stand out as the leading light as much as possible.

ABOUT ADCOLONY

AdColony, a fully-owned subsidiary of Digital Turbine, Inc., drives business outcomes that matter for brands & agencies expanding their reach with the power of mobile, and helping app publishers grow via monetization and user acquisition tools. AdColony has a reach of more than 1.5 billion monthly users across the globe and is known for its award-winning video creative, with cutting-edge ad engagement innovations like Instant-Play™, Aurora™ HD Video, Playables, and more.

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Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming are continuing their work in 2024 with direct support for victims, survivors, and at-risk youth, through the following programs: First Hospitality Brands to Globally Implement Twentyfour-Seven QR Code Created for trafficking survivors, by survivors at Twentyfour-Seven Inc., Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming are the first hospitality brands to implement the Twentyfour-Seven QR code sticker, which provides critical information and support to those who need it, while also deterring traffickers from targeting individuals on the properties. The Twentyfour-Seven QR code sticker, which has resulted in several law enforcement investigations being opened, is being implemented in 44 hotels and casinos across 13 countries. This QR code, which offers information in several different languages, is helping people at risk find a way to understand their situations and the resources available for protection. Expanding Youth Education in Mexico to Prevent Online Luring Building upon the success of the Hard Rock Social Identity Quest (SIQ), an education program that helps teens understand the risks of being lured online, Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming have now expanded the program into classrooms in Mexico following a well-received pilot in Quintana Roo last year that reached 35,000 students. The state's Governor has made the program a mandatory part of the educational curriculum. To effectively reach Mexican youth, the SIQ content was co-developed with experts from PACT- (Protect All Children from Trafficking; formerly ECPAT-USA), ECPAT-Mexico, and EduNetwork Partners. To date, the Hard Rock Social Identity Quest was adopted and taught by 60,000 teachers in 45 U.S. states, reaching 1.2 million high school students, eight percent of the student population. Nearly 2,000 Hard Rock team members also completed the Quest with a young person in their lives. Funding our Community Partners through Change for Change Through its Change for Change program, Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming will raise funds to combat human trafficking during January. Casino guests will have the opportunity to donate change from redeemed gaming vouchers to the Hard Rock Heals Foundation, where 100 percent of the funds will benefit our community partners: PACT, the first U.S. organization to focus on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and Twentyfour-Seven. In 2023, this program raised $100,000 for PACT and Covenant House New York. Youth Employment Program with FLITE Center Florida and Covenant House New York Offered initially in New York City and extended to South Florida last year, Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming's Youth Employment Program aims to help protect youth at risk and support survivors to escape a life of trafficking by helping them forge careers in hospitality. Partners include Covenant House New York City, the largest provider of runaway and homeless youth services in New York City, and FLITE Center, South Florida's leading agency for vulnerable youth and those aging out of foster care. FLITE Center provides support to vulnerable youth with guidance on education, employment, housing health and wellness, and care coordination. Setting a New Standard for Training in the Gaming Industry with the American Gaming Association Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming are driving the advancement of industry practices to combat human trafficking with the American Gaming Association's (AGA) Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force's first-ever free industry-developed training, designed to be the new standard in training for the gaming industry. Working with non-profit and law enforcement partners, the AGA Taskforce created this training based on trauma-informed care and the contributions of trafficking survivors. It will help set a standard for the gaming industry and ensure that guest-facing Team Members know how to recognize signs that trafficking may occur and what steps to take. Learn more about Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming's corporate social responsibility initiatives at www.hardrock.com/social-responsibility. About Hard Rock®: Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies with venues in over 70 countries spanning 309 locations that include owned/licensed or managed Hotels, Casinos, Rock Shops®, Live Performance Venues and Cafes. HRI also launched a joint venture named Hard Rock Digital in 2020, an online sportsbook, retail sportsbook and internet gaming platform. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world's largest and most valuable collection of authentic music memorabilia at more than 87,000 pieces, which are displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock Hotels has been honored by J.D. Power's North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study as the number one brand in Outstanding Guest Satisfaction for two consecutive years, and among the top Upper Upscale Hotels for four consecutive years. HRI became the first privately-owned gaming company designated a U.S. Best Managed Company by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal in 2021, and has since been honored threefold. Hard Rock was also honored by Forbes among the World's Best Employers, as well as Best Employers for Women, Diversity and New Grads and a Top Large Employer in the Travel & Leisure, Gaming, and Entertainment Industry. In the 2022 Global Gaming Awards, Hard Rock was named Land-Based Operator of the Year for the second time in four years. Hard Rock International currently holds investment grades from primary investment-grade rating agencies: S&P Global Ratings (BBB) and Fitch Ratings (BBB). For more information on Hard Rock International, visit www.hardrock.com or shop.hardrock.com. About Seminole Gaming: Seminole Gaming manages six Florida casino enterprises for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, including Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla. Seminole Gaming has long been recognized for its industry innovations and success. The Seminole Tribe was the first Indian Tribe in North America to open Ultimate Bingo, a high-stakes bingo hall and casino, which debuted in 1979 and became the forerunner of the Indian Gaming movement. Seminole Gaming is currently the only gaming company with investment grade ratings from all three primary investment-grade rating agencies: S&P Global Ratings (BBB), Moody's Corporation (Baa2) and Fitch Ratings (BBB).

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Applications

CORSAIR Launches K70 CORE, The New Standard for Mainstream Gaming Keyboards

Business Wire | October 25, 2023

CORSAIR, a world leader in high-performance gear for gamers and content creators, today announced the launch of a new keyboard that delivers premium play for every gamer: the K70 CORE. Debuting with CORSAIR MLX Red linear mechanical switches, the K70 CORE offers a refined playing and typing experience in a full-size profile. Whether you’re a casual player or an aspiring esports pro, your ambition starts with K70 CORE. K70 CORE introduces CORSAIR MLX Red linear switches, an ultra-responsive mechanical switch that offers smooth, satisfying keypresses ideally suited for keyboard enthusiasts and gamers. Factory pre-lubrication ensures that each keystroke exhibits silky-smooth travel, and switches are tightly constructed to reduce stem wobble. Along with CORSAIR OPX optical and MGX magnetic switches, CORSAIR Reds round out the lineup of original CORSAIR mechanical switches that give discerning players a trio of fantastic options. Surrounding the switches are two layers of premium sound dampening foam, eliminating annoying pings and clacks that take you out of the game. Instead, you’ll enjoy softened acoustics that make gaming sound as good as it feels. The K70 CORE makes it easy to personalize your play. More than just a volume knob, the keyboard’s multi-function rotary dial can adjust RGB brightness, scroll through webpages, and zoom. Next to the dial is a programmable button for controlling media with ease. CORSAIR iCUE software unlocks the keyboard’s full power, granting you the ability to customize per-key RGB backlighting, program macros, remap keys, and more. Beyond superior sound and feel, the K70 CORE delivers on high-caliber durability and design. CORSAIR Red switches reside in a robust aluminum top plate and topped by resilient double-shot keycaps. This bolstered construction provides you peace of mind to play freely, knowing your keyboard won’t quit. With such tremendous performance at a tidy price, the K70 CORE line empowers gamers to ambitiously play, win, and have fun. Availability, Warranty, and Pricing The CORSAIR K70 CORE gaming keyboard is available immediately from the CORSAIR webstore and the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized online retailers and distributors. The CORSAIR K70 CORE gaming keyboard is backed by a two-year warranty, alongside the CORSAIR worldwide customer service and technical support network. For up-to-date pricing of the CORSAIR K70 CORE gaming keyboard, please refer to the CORSAIR website or contact your local CORSAIR sales or PR representative.

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Solutions

Activity Stream and Project Admission Announce Strategic Partnership

PR Newswire | January 08, 2024

Activity Stream, the leading marketing platform for live entertainment, and Project Admission, the solution platform that makes buying, selling and distributing tickets for live events simple and intuitive, announced today that they have entered into a strategic partnership to further enhance their respective offerings for clients across the live event industry. "As we continue our journey to elevate every event, our focus on offering the very best data-centric products for live events is enhanced by strategic partnerships. Project Admission's transactional capabilities and innovative approach will empower our clients to better leverage their data in perfect harmony with our objectives." says Activity Stream CEO Einar Saevarsson. Adds Project Admission CEO Stephen Glicken, "From the moment we met Einar and the team behind Activity Stream, we knew there were tangible synergies between our companies. We are very bullish on the opportunities ahead for clients in being able to seamlessly leverage Activity Stream's marketing and segmentation tools that have been tactically developed to drive conversion in the live entertainment space." Activity Stream is a pioneer in data-driven solutions that increase profitability across every stage of the event lifecycle, servicing over 600 clients globally across more than 25 ticketing platforms. Activity Stream launched its Total Marketing Platform late 2021, an unparalleled industry-first marketing suite designed specifically for live entertainment. This groundbreaking platform empowers organizations to monitor sales and marketing effectiveness in real-time, gain deep insights into customer behavior, effectively segment audiences, and execute high-performance marketing campaigns with unmatched targeting precision and results. Project Admission, launched in 2018 and working with more than 50 professional sports teams across all the major North American sports leagues in addition to other key stakeholders in live entertainment, provides clients with unique monetizing features and opportunities around the life of the ticket, while also adding value and simplifying the commercialization of live events. From its customizable digital storefronts to its unrivaled bulk distribution tool to its season ticket management offerings, Project Admission addresses a breadth of ticketing needs from teams, venues and promoters' across live entertainment. "Ever since ticketing came online, there have been conversations about the opportunities to leverage data to better serve customers with customized, targeted ticketing offers," says Glicken. "We have finally arrived at the time where those conversations are a reality and it's at the nexus between Activity Stream and Project Admission." Both companies have shared a period of sustained growth. To date, Activity Stream is integrated with Ticketmaster, AXS, SeatGeek, Eventim, Tessitura, AudienceView, ShoWare and a host of others. In 2022, Activity Stream announced the acquisition of Yesplan, a venue management platform, and crowdEngage, a mobile and in-venue customer experience platform. Project Admission is integrated with SeatGeek and Tickets.com with a handful of notable integrations coming near term. The company also acquired Split Season Tickets in 2022 which is currently completing its integration with Ticketmaster as a Nexus Partner. Concludes Saevarsson, "We look forward to the year ahead with Project Admission as our partnership promises transformative experiences for our clients and their audiences, actioning data into material conversion." About Activity Stream Activity Stream envisions a world where live entertainment organizations have the power to create and deliver exceptional experiences for their audiences effortlessly. Drawing on our expertise in live entertainment and innovative technology, we've created a suite of solutions tailored to support live event organizers through every phase of the event lifecycle. From the initial conception of an event to the final settlement, our solutions help you manage your venue, build an audience, and deliver an unforgettable visitor experience. With 600+ clients across 20 countries, you will find Activity Stream solutions in many of the world's largest entertainment capitals. Learn more about our solutions and what we stand for here. About Project Admission With an extensive and flexible platform, Project Admission works directly with the live event industry to provide unique monetizing features and opportunities around the life of the ticket, adding value and simplifying the commercialization of live events. Project Admission's evolving suite of features currently provides clients across the NFL, NBA, MLS and NWSL with promotional tools to assist fans, brands, and influencers to sell tickets from custom branded storefronts. The company's current roster of clients includes the Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Pelicans, Florida Panthers, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota United FC and St. Louis City FC, among others.

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Spotlight

AdColony

AdColony, a fully-owned subsidiary of Digital Turbine, Inc., drives business outcomes that matter for brands & agencies expanding their reach with the power of mobile, and helping app publishers grow via monetization and user acquisition tools. AdColony has a reach of more than 1.5 billion monthly u...

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