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How to launch one of the biggest games in the world with Matt Webster of Activision

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In this episode of Scratch, we had the pleasure of talking to Matthew Webster, the Vice President of Global Marketing for Activision and Call of Duty, about the launch of one of the biggest games in the world, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. With a career spanning over 15 years, Matthew has led global marketing at Twitch, Spotify, PlayStation, SoundCloud, and Ticketmaster, and has a wealth of experience in transforming challenger brands into industry giants.  He shares his insights on understanding and connecting with your audience through testing, research, and community engagement, and also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a strong in-game experience.

Additionally, the conversation touches on the value of strategic partnerships and collaborations within the gaming industry, including working with franchises like World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch. Matthew highlights the benefits of learning from successful brands and leveraging their expertise to drive innovation and growth. The episode also explores regionalization strategies, influencer marketing, and the importance of staying agile and open to emerging opportunities in the ever-changing landscape of the gaming industry.

Watch the video version of this Podcast on YouTube.

[If you’re a brand-side marketer and want to join the AMP community, check out the application form here}

Chapters:

[03:20] Intro

[04:20] What challenger brand are you most passionate about?

[08:20] How do you balance between being relevant and driving scale for a game like Call of Duty?

[13:30] What process did you go through when you were new to this role?

[24:00] What are the ways that you find to stay on top of all the changes happening in the MarTech Ecosystem?

[27:20] A billion-dollar revenue in 10 days, what's next? Where do we go from here?

[32:05] What lessons have you learned from COD's launch that can apply to other marketers?

[33:40] What is the flywheel for my business?

[34:40] Lightning Round

"Scratch" is a production of Rival, a marketing consultancy and technology company that builds challenger brands, strategies, and capabilities to change categories. 

In every episode Eric interviews the CMO of some of the world’s biggest or fastest-growing brands, exploring their innovative marketing strategies that challenge established incumbents. Immerse yourself in the world of challenger brands and learn valuable marketing lessons from industry experts, as you discover their secrets to success. 

Find Matthew on Linkedin.

Find Rival online at www.wearerival.com, LinkedIn, and Twitter

Find Eric on LinkedIn and tweet him @efulwiler

Say hi at media@wearerival.com, we’d love to hear from you.

Transcript

Eric: Hey everyone. Before we get to today's episode, I wanted to share what I think is a pretty exciting announcement, we are opening up our rival amp community. So some of you listening have been part of AMP. From the beginning of the company. It has been our small, very small friends and family community around rival where we post updates asked for feedback, kind of share what's going on in the business. But actually, we think there's a lot more potential as we've grown as our community has grown, as we've met more of you to actually build and scale a proper community within rival amps. So what rival amp is going to be is it's going to be a community for challenger marketers on WhatsApp, we're going to share ideas and observations from the Challenger marketing world that we see and ask everyone to contribute to that share about challenger brands, marketing, news, industry events, job opportunities, ask for feedback, and input use each other as a sounding board, we think it's going to be really great. So if you are interested in joining in or not already a member, please either reach out to me, if you know me, or go on over to our website, wearerival.com. And you can apply from there, this is free. But we do want to make sure that we're adding people that are really interested and can really add value. That's it onto the episode. I imagine most your listeners will be that it's the landscape, I would say that it's a very, very different world for us to be operating as marketers than it was two years ago. So being as astute and diligent as possible, and how you go to market and how you build campaigns and how you're frugal and using those finite resources is probably the biggest challenge that would go Misha.

I'm Eric Fulwiler. And this is scratch, bringing you marketing lessons from the leading brands and brains rewriting the rulebook from scratch for the world of today.

Everyone My guest today is Matthew Webster, the VP of global consumer marketing for Activision and Call of Duty. Obviously heard of Activision, it's a collection of game studios behind some of the world's most successful video game franchises, including Call of Duty, of course, Crash Bandicoot Tony Hawk Pro Skater, and unless you've been completely disconnected from the gaming world, you've probably heard that they just launched Call of Duty Modern Warfare two breaking all previously held records for an opening weekend of a game generating over $800 million worldwide in the opening weekend. And Matt talks about and gives a couple other numbers to quantify just the sheer scale of Call of Duty gaming overall and the success of this launch campaign. Matt joins us fresh on the heels of this major milestone for the company. And in the midst of his mission to take the brand and franchise to the next level. He has a wealth of experience in transforming challenger brands to giants of the industry through his global marketing strategies and over a 50 plus markets, and has won countless awards in the process. He has a career spanning over 15 years. Those included marketing leadership roles at the likes of Twitch, Spotify, PlayStation, SoundCloud, and Ticketmaster. So much good stuff in here. I love this conversation loved having Matt on. I think that's it. Please enjoy my conversation with Matt Webster.

Matt, thank you so much for joining us. I know things are crazy in your world, which we will get into to the extent you're able to share, but I really appreciate you making the time

Matt: Pleaser are all mine Eric. Thanks for the time and yeah, great. We finally what's on the books?

Eric: Yeah, we've been talking about it for so long. I mean, it's been, I think it's, it's been a year because when I was in LA last summer, we started talking about it. And then obviously, we started doing some work together. And you know, I know stuff has just been, well, you've been on fire and the business has been on fire. So in a good way, by the way, I mean, like on fire in terms of crushing it. But yeah, I'm really I'm really looking forward to the conversation.

Matt: Likewise, I think it will kicked off about a year or so ago didn't know when I was listening to this podcast and was so inspired by your eloquence related to marketing strategy. I have to help. So yeah, we're long overdue. Thanks again.

Eric: Appreciate that. All right. Well, let's get into it. So icebreaker question we ask our guests as you know, as a longtime listener, what is one challenger brand or a safe jotted down a couple here in the show notes? What are a couple challenger brands that you're very passionate about right now and why?

Matt: One challenger brand I'm particularly passionate about at the moment is athletic brewing their sparkling hot water company. You know, the non alcoholic beer industry has boomed over the last five years. I'm particularly passionate about it being an expectant father and being off alcohol for the last seven, eight months does go away. But what they're doing in this space, the growth that they've seen the product positioning, the aesthetics of the can the pricing is a perfect storm for me in terms of how they're showing up in the market and I find them really impressive. You know, multiple What are the I was thinking about historical challenger brands that have turned my head and I always go back to Duolingo. And they're amazing what they do good friends with a man who also heads up the team over there, where they had culture, the way they've differentiated themselves against the likes of Jeff Bezos. So Babel historically, I think, immense, really smart, the way they turn up on tick tock as well, it seems to be the case study across the whole industry of how you can come up in an authentic way of the brand. So that's pretty cool. And then the other one that was just sitting around in my head, as I was thinking about this was, was Airbnb, I love everything they do from an org strategy approach, how they align with their teams towards multiple goals throughout the year, and just a high degree of art. I think if you look at the brand work that they put out and have done consistently over the years, there are a few brands globally that sort of meet that high bar such a consistent basis. So there are a couple of the ones that are front of mind at the moment

Eric: Made hard question to answer. And then you throw out three great ones there and three, three very different ones, right, because like Atlantic brewing, I haven't heard of them. But you know, I'm not in the US. So I'm definitely gonna go check them out. I think that that category, it's crazy to think about even five years ago, just how much that has changed. And having worked with Anheuser Busch InBev, as a client on the advertising side, just knowing how they were thinking about trying to understand how that category was being disrupted by all these challenger brands coming into it, I think that's a great one Duolingo. So my favourite branded tic tock account, although I'll be honest, I haven't looked really at the rest of what they're doing. And so I do need to go check that out. And then Airbnb is great. We use it as an example all the time of like a classic, what we would call rival brands, a challenger that actually succeeded in changing the category that they're in, and in many ways, becoming a new incumbent to other challengers in the space. But also, they've been very public about how they're doing that. From a marketing standpoint, they published a case study of how they developed a new belong anywhere, positioning, and a couple of things that you mentioned, I think that that is definitely something that I want to check out. And I would encourage other people to truly go startle study how they've done, what they've done. So I think those are all great answers.

Matt: Absolutely. I mean, even beyond their old planning and creative approach to even look at their media, I think, you know, all industries, across the board within marketing, I think, race to the bottom with performance marketing 510 years ago. And they seem to be one of the first that have swung the pendulum that way. And then got very much in reverse in terms of brand building up their call, supplemented by performance, as opposed to, you know, roll us every term, which is also very forward thinking.

Eric: So Matt, I know your role has shifted a little bit within Activision, I don't know how much you can share on that front. But obviously, when we started working together, you were the Vice President of Global Marketing. So when we wrote this brief together, that's what we wanted to focus on. And I think there's so much to unpack from your time at Activision. How long have you been in Activision now?

Matt: just just over a year now. So I relocated from London to LA, last April,

Eric: Just over a year. But you know, I always like to say it's not about years of experience, it's experience, the years and knowing how much you've done in a year, not to mention everything else you've done in past roles. I can't wait to hear what you have to say about some of these questions. So starting with, of course, Call of Duty, its biggest video game franchise in the world, this challenge and opportunity of balancing scale, and relevancy, I really want to get into how, how you're able to do that. So Call of Duty is massive. You know, it's kind of an understatement. But where do you even start when you're talking about a product launch, like the one that you've done recently, and maybe you can explain a little bit just give a kind of quick overview on what you did in the campaign that supported it. But what you know, when you when you got dropped in, and were like, great, here's what we need to go do? Where do you even start when you're talking about something that's that big? And how do you make sure that you know, every successful brands, but particularly within gaming, there's such a community around that brand? How do you make sure that you're staying relevant while driving the scale that the business is actually looking for?

Matt: Good question. I mean, as you can imagine, it's incredibly tall task. You know, coming in to this position. Initially, I was focusing on the live ops side of the business, which is that never repeated every 10 weeks or so seasonal updates, the live game will have and you're constantly pivoting and changing direction, refreshing with new content to accept the community which has been amazing journey. More recently, the focus has been on the premium launch title. So that will probably be the product that most your listeners will be most familiar with. That will be the annual big game release that you see every single year, usually in q4, related to the modern warfare or Black Ops franchise and like you say Call of Duty is massive. I think it's been a bit of a trope of the last five years or so, to say that gaming is the biggest entertainment industry and absolutely is. It's always referenced that it's bigger than the music and film combined. But the sheer volume of call Duty within that space is is humbling to say the least coming into this role. So we're closing in on half a billion, which is insane. You know, we've got 125 million players plus they've been in the life services product, pushing on, you know, six 50 million mobile app downloads for call down. So astronomical in terms of the scale that we're talking to here. And somewhat anxiety inducing governments. As you can imagine, looking at last year, we had the biggest year that we've had in history, so we crossed the $1 billion sell to mark within 10 days, and couldn't get contextualise that against other players in the space that's more on the first weekend and talk on Maverick and dr. strange in the multiverse of madness combined to that video, the scale is out of this world. So to answer your question around how have you been approached that? It's it's very, very nuanced, I would say the learnings that have from prior roles, you can't directly apply to launch your video game because there's such a playbook associated with that. It's so tried and tested. And there are so many components that you need to be considering simultaneously that you can't just sort of slap in some of your learnings and prior tech or music companies that I've worked with. You're consistently reconciling previous strategies, I would say so looking at everything that's happened over the past 20 years, what has worked, what hasn't? And just to contextualise that beat by beat that could be when you reveal the game, the name of the game the art of the game, when you turn on preorders, the betta when you galvanise the community, these different points and that of amalgamating all those learnings whilst trying to apply best practice year after year, whether that's around credit development, media attribution and so on. If somebody you're constantly finessing do, and you're out. I think the biggest success we had last year was around community orientation, we positioned this new frontier as Call of Duty to point out so we had a fantastic triple A blockbuster releasing in the modern warfare game, which is outstanding. You know, we're launching simultaneously and mobile products that has cross play with that, which is launching shortly the you know, there's a new interface working within that. So it does look at a new frontier for the franchise. And as we're coming into that and trying to exceed that year after year, which as you can imagine, is challenging. Now, how do you follow that Act this year, you're constantly taking this really well defined, well oiled, hopefully very player centric playbook, and then just plussing it up with these the new iterative learnings that's within the marketing space currently, and that can be across all different channel mixes, or different areas for business. So it's a big ask, but it's an exciting one, as you can imagine,

Eric: I'd be curious to know, this isn't a question that we aligned on ahead of time, but just, I mean, the scale, like I jotted down a couple of those notes. And I just had, you know, I'm not a gamer. As you know, when I've asked the pot, like, what is this acronym, but what is that acronym and I know Jenna DuBose always cringe because they are in that world and understand it much better than I do. But every time people rattle off some of the stats about gaming, eSports, etc, it just continues to blow my mind because maybe it's just me and my world, but like people don't talk about it, they kind of view it as something kind of, you know, not as central to Modern Culture, Media Entertainment, life, as it actually is. And I just think it's so cool to be at what is very much in many ways, you know, the centre of that with with what you're doing. But I'd be curious, you know, you stepping into this role, and you bid in high growth, scale ups technology businesses in the past, but, you know, back to kind of what I know, I glossed over and my initial question, but how did you even it must have been like drinking from a firehose starting in that role, like, where do you even start with something like this, like you mentioned, looking at what had been done in the past, but of course, you need to bring your own way of doing things, but it's not the playbook that you've done before. What was the process that you went through? Did you have like a, hey, the first 90 days, I'm just gonna listen? Did you kind of, you know, what it what it? What did you focus on in the early days to try to get up to speed on things?

Matt: Yes, great question. The first few months of in prior roles as well, in the summer, this role will tend to come in. So all of that information, and then there'll be some sort of pitch back to leadership in terms of these are the observations I've made. And this is how we're going to address some of those, those opportunities that are presented. So I went through that same press process that I've done in prior position. I think the key thing to call of duty that I managed to get under the hood off was, firstly, the product itself and the community. I'd worked in gaming and prior roles. So I was at Twitch for a couple of years prior to this and a VP of global strategy roll over to PlayStation prior to that. But actually, I think when you're working published aside for a specific title, understanding the nuance of that community comparative to broader gaming or broader live streaming is very, very different, so avidly following social channels, social commentary, seeing where the community of that and how you can address some of their frustrations or desires in the work that we're doing. I think having that as a backbone and understanding the product intrinsically is probably something that's applicable to any marketing role. Outside of that, you know, I think one of the main lenses that I apply I'd coming from London and coming from regional or new market roles historically, this was the first time I'd been in a global position in a US hub, sort of running all markets concurrently. So being able to apply a regional or local centric mindset to global thinking and a franchise that historically has probably been, what US centric allowed us at all unlock ways that we can plus up regional thinking, cultural context, local nuance and activation to be able to, I guess, take those big blockbuster beats that we do every year that are global in inverted commas, and allow us to unlock some those regional activations to show up in a more coherent way. So I think there's a lot there and so much in the background, obviously, in terms of understanding the existing playbook, but most of those two things in particular, were key areas I focused initially.

Eric: And did you find that, you know, because you mentioned twitch your experience at Spotify, those are obviously at scale businesses and Twitch being part of Amazon is, you know, within, I guess, enterprise, but did you find that coming from these kind of challengers, and going to an incumbent, because oftentimes, particularly on the show, and it's in the name, you know, we talk about challenger brands versus incumbents as this kind of, you know, separate thing. But of course, there's some similarities to some differences, did you find that there were a lot of differences coming from a quote unquote, challenger to an incumbent, albeit in a different category,

Matt: I think come in the trials have been in fairly fortunate and that actually, there hasn't been the Challenger perspective quite as much in those protocols, because they've been made into large sized companies that have worked in, you know, when I was at Spotify, that was all related to new market launches. So you could argue in that instance, there, you're growing this new territories, and you are a challenge of some degree. But you always had the backing of the biggest audio platform in the world. It's one of the top brands to play with, and revered by customers and artists alike, because it's such an incredible product. So I wouldn't have very fortunate in that regard, I would send the main difference between the those roles in this role isn't necessarily the challenge of the incumbent pace, it's probably more just the operational rhythm of the organisation. So if you take a typical publisher like Activision, and I imagine it's probably fairly similar on the film or entertainment side, there is that sort of, I guess, long term planning to content production that's required you think about Call of Duty game requires to three years production that you need to work with maximise on finesse over time, compared to something my picture of Spotify, which is based on products, it will be a product update that you could be mapping out three, six months in advance. So that says a different sort of cadence to the way that you go to market there. What I will say is with the latter, and those tech companies that I work for, the mantra that I sort of built up when I was at Twitch was related to this approach of speed, scale, and efficiency. How do you take, you know, this open space that we have here, and how to operationalize campaigns or community initiatives as quickly as possible in an impactful as possible way. So it said, as I'm working now with Activision, what I'm trying to do is think, speed and go to market, being able to execute, learn, apply those learnings, and iterate on that more in the way that perhaps a tech company might be thinking about those problems within marketing.

Eric: And on that note, because one of the things I wanted to get your thoughts on, is just the role of data within the job that you do. And within the Activision marketing function overall, because of course, you know, creativity data, it's finding the balance between those two things. But what have you seen is the difference coming from I don't know as much about Spotify, but I would imagine, and I know a lot about Amazon and how they function being so data driven. I would imagine being publisher side with gaming, a big part of it is creative lead, as well. But what does that look like in terms of how you use data to understand the community, the audience you're trying to reach? You know, I'm guessing it probably influences the product development process and how you need to market that from a product marketing standpoint as well. What does that look like if we can dig into the data side of your role right now? A bit?

Matt: Yes, of course. And he totally whatever Twitch Yeah, Amazon, I've been told that salmon shirt. So in their interview processes, I think they won't get there a bit grilling on their ability to rank and beta. So that's, that's always a fun one. Prior to that, you know, even since the days PlayStation when I was there another fairly data centric in the decision making when I was building other digital marketing capabilities, and Spotify, I would say it's almost one of the poster child's really of using data to form the work and actually to activate the work when you think about Spotify wrapped, you know, their biggest campaign that they have every single year. One of the most recognisable and love campaigns in the world. There's so many ways a day to infuse within that. I mean, probably in defining the opportunity originally, I would say the data points that are actually conveyed Within the messaging itself, so X million people listen to this category, you should too, or just even just being really data led and hyper targeted when you're looking at your immediate application of both. So finding a suburb in Mumbai that is particularly contextualised to a playlist and then hyper targeting it there, they're very, very finessed and finite in the way that they use data in their marketing that's been consistent, their twitch and more recently, you know, the data that we're using at Activision, I think it's implicit that probably with all the marketers you speak to, it permeates everything you do, you know, the, the key areas, and I speak with a marketing, specifically less so on the product side, but it's multifaceted. So the last year, I think we've done a really good place with our mmm modelling. So being able to ascertain, you know, when you're spending x amount of media on these certain channels, to what degree they push the needle, one on return on adspend. So I think we're much better informed this year in terms of where to start our media plan. And then once we do launches, we're getting closer to, to the game dropping, we have the most optimal approach there. We have a very, very stringent approach now to create a testing. So there is certainly a higher degree I think, within Activision, you look back at that some of the ads from the last 20 years. It's really iconic, these blockbuster live actions with celebrities littered throughout and incredibly impactful. But we're certainly using current capabilities around how do you take territories for instance, and be able to give greater confidence that you're landing at the right territory? Depending on the audience? It's I think that's something we're looking at. And yeah, I guess throughout that, you know, digital first and we're applying Yes, we do have those big live action moments. But if you're looking across the globe, and all those different touch points within marketing, and 95% plus of those are digitally orientated, social CRM or web so iteratively, we can week out month in month out, we have forms whereby we're taking those learnings applying to other channels to other regions to make sure that we're consistently informed and applying that and ongoing basis. So long answer but every single touch point that I think you can imagine, and I would say that, you know, the final piece is less quant, more qual orientated. Activision has got an amazing player Insights Team. Fascinated by the work they do there. And really, quite soon, I think you had a chance to meet some of them. Actually, Eric, so great to get your perspective. But the work that they do the deep interviews we have with a community that will then form not just the upcoming game, but subsequent games multiple years out, just I think is a credit to how that each time we are trying to be as player centric as possible.

Eric: It's interesting, going back to what you said, kind of at the beginning of that answer, that data permeates everything we all do. I think that's true in the sense that it is there, it permeates but I think you'd be you know, and I think one of the benefits of being on the consulting side is you get to talk to so many different organisations, obviously, the ones that we work with, but even beyond that, the conversations that you have, and conversations like this, as well, though, with Scratch, I'm lucky enough to, you know, talk to some of the people who are really, really at the leading edge of the industry. But I would say you know, it's a put it in a positive spin on it, I think there is a huge opportunity for the vast majority of marketers to be doing a lot more with data. So just because it's there doesn't necessarily mean that they are taking full advantage of it. And so I think that if you are not in an organisation that is like an Amazon that is like the Spotify that is like it sounds like an Activision, that is, you know, data driven. And we always talk about finding this balance between being idea led and data driven, because of course it is both it is the art and the science, but for most organisations because it's more tactical. Maybe for a lot of people, it's harder doesn't come as naturally dialling up the data side. And doing more there is where a lot of the opportunity lies as a related questions that because this came up recently on a punchy, punchy episode, we were trying to answer this question or really, or Jenna was, but when it comes to marketing technology, there's, you know, a lot of it doesn't necessarily apply to data, but a lot of it does. And there's a lot of technology out there that can help companies stay on top of make the most out of the customer data that they have, whether you're an Activision or whether you're a startup. What are the ways that you've found to try to stay on top of all the change that's happening in the MAR tech ecosystem if you found any because I think even Jenna said the way she's answered the question was I dealt, nobody really does. But I just be curious, you know, with how much how much Bay? How much mental bandwidth data, what can we do with it? How much that's taken up? I just be curious how you approach the mahr tech side of things as well.

Matt: You'll point prior to that of you being able to speak to all these different leaders across industries is so, so interesting and almost like I would rather slip this conversation start interviewing you on that perspective, you will often get great views on some of these, these tough topics, I think you're right. Yeah, something maybe there has been a sort of take for granted in some instances, because these big organisations have the capabilities to be able to use data in a meaningful way. So take for granted that that's the case across the board and are always there to answer question on how you reconcile those data points and use martech really challenging to cut that out too, as well, in the sense that there is so many different touch points there that you should be inclined to incorporate within your work, the new products and merging new vendors and so one that it's almost impossible, I think, from my perspective to to have a clear view on that, unless you're a Mar tech expert, to have a clear perspective on what you know, where the industry is going and how you can use the current best tools, where I've, you know, leverage that historically has been martec, dedicated teams, we had that at Twitch, and often there actually would be building a lot of those tools in house to be able to use require to doterra and, and have that ownership, or more often than not, I think due to the speed at which most of the companies that I've worked with have been operating under the luxury of being larger scale and budgets and so on. It is often working with people such as yourself, trusted partners, agencies, of vendors, experts within that space, and being as transparent as possible with the current challenges who have the opportunity that learnings in prior years, and allowing those experts to help inform that work, rather than spending your time desperately trying to stay at the forefront of the industry. Because just the realities of that, whilst you're reconciling internal alignment, executive pressures, deadlines, and so on, and making the best work creatively and then you go to market planning. It's a it's an almost impossible food. So I'm gonna typical about answer there.

Eric: Fair enough. I think that, but I think that's actually a helpful answer in a way because you Jenna, you know, people who are really experts in this field, like, there is no way to stay on top of all of it. And that's okay. But also doesn't mean that you shouldn't try. So I think in a way, it's probably reassuring for some people listening, but you still do need to find a way to make sure that you're out there listening, reading, talking, you know, you know, at least at least at least trying to keep some pulse, even though there's no way to stay on top of it. So, Matt, I want to focus in on for the rest of the time that we have this Call of Duty launch from last year. So the most successful video game franchise launch ever, you gave couple stats earlier that I jotted down, because it's just insane a billion dollars of revenue in just 10 days. So now what where do you go from here? And you alluded to it earlier, it's like, you know, success only begets success, and the bar just continues to be raised. So, you know, what's, what's next? You have to, for the next one do now the next biggest and most successful video game launch ever? Where do you take things from here?

Matt: Good question. Just something about stats as well. The other one that blows me away is that billion matches, I think in the first weekend, last week, it just, it's almost incomprehensible to wrangle. Where do you go from here? I mean, it's it's tricky. Growing from that, you know, I sort of alluded to it previously that, you know, fortunately, when you have an amazing launch site that the process year to year iteratively, does become minor plus ops, ultimately, you can't be the only one coming into this role, I was really, really mindful not to try and rewrite the playbook, there's a tendency isn't that when you've gone to a new position with a new company that you want to make your stamp as soon as possible and demonstrate the value you can add in all of your expertise and so on. But I think here and in a couple of the prior roles that have one of the biggest learnings has been to sit tight, adapt, absorb, build that trust in those relationships with key partners internally before you can really quite implement to the work and did that to a reasonable degree last year. So I would say, you know that the main thing we're focusing about on this year is that consistently pushing boundaries on the higher degree of our we've got amazing creative production partners, and actually, I will say, works for some of the biggest brands in the world. But with regards to the fidelity of creative production, it's almost unparalleled, really the work there Activision are doing deep within the game itself within the product, capturing some of that content, being able to work with creative directors to manifest stories out of it and these amazing ways. We're consistently trying to push the boundaries there and even apply learnings prior years of when did we see trail off one trailer reviews? And where did we see engagement pot to further inform that work to make it better and better year in year out? The other pieces around regionalization that I think I've already touched on, but, you know, one of the most exciting things I think I found for my Spotify days and that I've carried forward is how do you reconcile your budgets, your investment, your resources with your audience opportunity globally? So there is a tendency with some companies to you know, you look at the investment plan you have for the year ahead. You'll tie that directly to historical revenue because you know that you know, 70% of our revenue comes from x marketing, let's apply the same media investment, there are marketing investment to sustain that over the time. The challenge with that is that naturally, then you under index on some of your growth markets or growth areas, and this could be on a global footprint or maybe even local Geo, for instance. So with that thinking there, I think what we're trying to apply as modelling related to, again, is our focus on investment resources, OPEX, all of those things, against those existing revenue drivers that we know where we're gonna get sales through, we know where our community are, whenever we can celebrate them, and so on. But also make sure that we're being really thoughtful with those new growth areas, so that we're setting ourselves up for sustained growth in the years for so coming from the coils that had their big part of our resource planning, and long term planning will be related to that. regionalization. And then, the other thing that I think a couple of things actually, diversity, equity inclusion, I think it's, you know, the topic, probably in most of the calls that you have, and will continue to be over ever important and prevalent historically. Yeah, I think within in terms of broadly, how can we find ways to better show diversification not only like content, in the ways that we're showing up for different communities as well within gaming is something that is ever present, I think, on any entertainment industry panel that you go to currently, so that keeping that front of mind is certainly of extreme value. And finally, we have the benefit of being part of ADK, this enormous organisation, Blizzard and King. So working closely with those other gaming groups and partners there with amazing franchises like World of Warcraft, or Diablo or Overwatch, how can we work with partners there to understand what they're doing as well and better inform the work. So it's a long way of saying, this playbook is so well oiled or the game is so incredible, the community is enormous and very passionate, you just try and find that white space where you can iteratively improve that model, year in year out. And I think we're on track to do that this year.

Eric: So taking it down a level and taking it towards, you know, obviously, there's so many challenges, and I'm sure a lot of pressure that come with what you have to deliver for a franchise a property that says big as Call of Duty, but for a lot of people listening that might not have that, you know, scale and that IP to build on top of with what they're doing. What are some of the takeaways or lessons either good or bad that you've learned from this launch? That could be relevant to really any marketer out there?

Matt: Great question. I think, you know, the, the main thing that's been front of mind, and this is probably consistent across multiple industries is the player first the audience first approach, which sounds a little bit cliched, but it's all too easy. I think once you start to see success, to start to pivot away from that call, and the best companies that I've worked for, I've been the ones that have retained that consistently throughout. I've never deviated you know, Amazon's probably the most well known case study of that of creating the most user friendly and cheapest user flow available at the time. So keeping that consistently throughout, I think, is of utmost importance, and that both Intricity and the other thing that I find quite fascinating as well, and it will depend on the different industries you're working in, is the multi sided marketplace. And then the flywheel associated. So again, Amazon did not famously, I think, a twitch there we had a multifaceted community, from streamers, student managers, to the viewers themselves to brands coming in and sponsoring that space. So finding ways that that you can retain that place interest, your audience Centricity for other for other industries, but consistently try and galvanise those different stakeholders within that firewall to be able to drive success. And I think when you have that perfect formula of all of those different stakeholders concurrently, that's when you see exponential growth. And when you continue to strive people would

Eric: Actually think that that's a great prompt for people to think about. What's my flywheel? What is the flywheel on my business, even if you're in a marketing, I just think it's an interesting thing to explore. Because we tend to think of flywheel everybody associates with Amazon or E commerce businesses or, you know, I really think that anybody just thinking about what is going to get what is going to bring people value? And then how is that going to bring value to the business in a cyclical way, in a way that kind of builds on top of each other of the components? I think that's actually a really interesting insight and takeaway, you're totally Well, I think the one that

Matt: I found really fascinating when I was at Twitch was vicious multi sided marketplace. Again, creators at the core and the viewers and the tenuously. We were launching AMEA. And then a few months later, we launched a pack there are two very, very different approaches there as to being viewer centric and our marketing and our go to market planning in a male and Crete centric in a pack. And all that being said, in varying degrees of success across the board, but it does sort of show a case study there whereby you can always play off but prioritise and focus on these different stakeholders at different times. And understand at which point within your business growth you should be indexing on the supply and the demand went up business.

Eric: Alright, Matt, are you good for a quick lightning round before I let you go?

Matt: You too does that mean last minute but let's let's try

Eric: dead No, totally dead no Appreciate you being up for it. All right, what is one of the biggest wins that you've had recently?

Matt: I would say the one I'm most excited about is we've talked to the scale of the games that we're working with at the moment. Very, very close to working out the visual identity for the biggest game in the world this year with Amanda in recent weeks, through detail, painstaking alignment and creative finessing, and we're in a wonderful place about the recent one.

Eric: All right, the biggest struggle that you're dealing with right now.

Matt: Great question. I imagine, you know, most your listeners will be that it's the landscape, I would say that it's a very, very different world to be operating as marketers than it was two years ago. So being as astute and diligent as possible, and how you go to market and how you build campaigns and how you're frugal and using those finite resources is probably the biggest challenge that we've got this year.

Eric: The best marketing resource that you've come across recently.

Matt: Governor, have you set me up for this, Eric, but I am an avid listener. And I would say of the ones that most consistently, contemporary marketing information would be your joyous podcast. So thank you, to you.

Eric: I really appreciate that. Any others? I mean, at first, for people who are already listening, what's the what's your second favourite

Matt: been going through a me and the team, actually, we have a quarterly on site and off site that we do on site to sort of break down barriers and build trust amongst each other. And then beyond sight to sort of strategic planning, but to the future, within that we've reached and bringing historical marketing textbooks, you know, I think couple of weeks ago with Patrick Lencioni. And focusing on on on his videos, amazing, isn't that, in particular. So within that format, to then bring in sort of more academic text, the marketing on a periodic basis has been really fun.

Eric: Yeah, it's a great call, the biggest lesson that you've learned in your career so far,

Matt: it's incredibly obvious one, but it's being genuine, authentic, every single step of the way, I think. I've seen so many people, people struggle with not being true to their perspective, whether it's talking about creative development, not being sincere with new colleagues, or old colleagues alike. And the people that I think prevailed most with industry, are those that have consistently showed up in authentic and positive way.

Eric: Love that. And as you know, this one, I did not spring on you, because you know that we end every episode like this, what is one thing that people should do differently? After listening to this conversation?

Matt: I didn't actually have a clear answer for this. So this is this is off the bat. But um, it's related to my last point there, I think one of the areas that I hold myself accountable for probably more than anything else is that reconciliation of opportunity with resources. But you know, whether you're talking about startup here with very, very finite amount of cash and equity to some of the biggest brands in the world, and the geo expansion opportunities there being once you have the fundamentals in place, being dug it with applying your focus, your resources, your investment, where your head is out where you're looking for the to the future growth, with the those audience opportunities, and what the equity you have available, I would say that's probably my biggest focus. And the one thing that I would lobby for others to think about to

Eric: Such a good one, and again, you know, the way I think of it sometimes can come across as cliche, but oftentimes, there's a reason things are cliches, because they're true, but everybody wants to, you know, a more shortcut answer, knowing what matters most. And then being able to consistently execute it on execute on it, to the full extent that you like that, that really is so much of it, so much of everything, marketing, but you could also extrapolate that to other areas. So I think that is a fantastic place to leave it. Matt, thank you so much for your time in a fascinating conversation. And I'm thinking that we need to we need to see who else is out there listening that we need to get on the show, because maybe there's a lot, a lot more value that we can be bringing to people by putting the mic on the other side.

Eric: Thank you for joining us, Matt.

Scratch is a production of rival. We are a marketing innovation consultancy that helps businesses develop strategies and capabilities to grow faster. If you want to learn more about us check out we are rivals.com If you want to connect with me, email me at eric@wearerival.com or find me on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, share with anyone you think might enjoy it. And please do leave us a review. Thanks for listening and see you next week.

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