How Will “News” of a Nintendo Switch Hardware Update Affect Its Launch Day Sales?

When asked about the length of the Nintendo Switch’s life cycle when speaking to Time in an interview last week Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s General Manager of their Software Planning & Development Division said that they might “switch it up” with the Switch. Before expanding,

Certainly, we’ve designed Nintendo Switch in a way that it can be used by consumers in the way that best suits them. I think we may see that people who have bought a Nintendo home console in the past traditionally, they may treat Switch like a home console and buy it and use it for a long period of time.

Whereas people who have been traditionally Nintendo handheld gamers, they may buy Nintendo Switch and then for example, if a new version were to come out later, then maybe they would decide to upgrade to that. Or, for example, because you can take the Joy-Con off the system, then I guess that leaves open the possibility of something else that might get attached. There’s obviously a lot of different developments that we could look at from that perspective as well.

Although not explicitly saying anything, the Deputy GM of their Planning department is insinuating something. Nintendo has never been one to go for the latest and greatest tech, and with this newest announcement it was clear that they wanted to get it out of the door with the current generation chip it rather than wait for something like a customized Tegra X1, projected to come out within the next quarter. With what some people may see as the Nintendo Switch’s “modularity,” it is not beyond imagination that the screen itself could be replaced with one containing a more powerful chipset. Or, although it would tie them down as a home console, they could turn their dock into an eGPU with a desktop sized graphics card powerful enough to push their tech up to modern gaming standards.

For a company that holds things so close to the vest, I was astonished that someone in such a high position would ‘leak’ something of this magnitude. It might not seem like a big deal initially, but once you consider that companies usually stay silent following a console release and don’t utter a word about a “slim” variant until at least a year and a half has passed – this interview seems groundbreaking. 

This announcement is comparable to Sony telling their customers, before they release the Playstation 5, that they’re going to shrink it down 16 months later and sell it to them again for $100 less. Yes, this is a beneficial snafu for the consumer, and people knowledgeable about its project cycle might have seen it coming even without this remark, but with so many seemingly harmless questions customers want to be answered, why decide to respond to this one? What was gained out of revealing potential development plans; conceivably putting the sales of its initial release at risk?  Now anyone on the fence about purchasing it on release date might roll the dice and wait – albeit for a day that might never come – for this “upgraded version.” potentially costing Nintendo in the long run. 


Why Nintendo’s New Marketing Tactic Works 

The YouTube comment section on any video that mentions the Nintendo Wii U is filled with confusion and a litany of questions, but it wasn’t until I got a job at GameStop that I realized how badly Nintendo communicated the function of their new device to their customers. Kids knew they wanted it, but didn’t know how to explain to their parents what is was; only die-hard Nintendo fans that watched their “Nintendo Direct” press conferences understood the concept. The question I was greeted with the most was “How much does the Wii U cost?” with parent’s hands outstretched as if they were holding an invisible Etch A Sketch. Parents wanted the new tablet that synced with their Wii at home so their kids could play their games on the go. The most informed question I had was if they could buy an additional Wii U tablet [for the Wii U they already owned] because they knew their kids would end up fighting over who got to use the tablet and who was stuck with a regular controller.

The 2014-2015 release of the New Nintendo 3DS was evidence that Nintendo had not learned from their previous mistakes. Why anyone in Nintendo America’s marketing department thought adding the qualifier “new” to the name of ANY item is beyond me. “New” signifies nothing aside from the recent introduction or creation of something, it does not communicate to the buyer that it is a console upgrade – an entirely different system with additional processing power and access to a wider variety of games. People had no idea that the games made for this system would not work with the “Nintendo 3DS” and that the two were not interchangeable.

Kids asking for the “New Nintendo 3DS” would return to GameStop after Christmas with disappointment and disbelief strewn across their faces; all ultimately expressing the same thing: they’d asked for the New Nintendo 3DS, and as they unwrapped their present they were greeted with the old one. Because, when walking into a store parents didn’t know that “New” was part of the device’s title, so they left it off – returning home with a device that was released over 4 years prior. Even looking up the two devices on Google gives you the same results unless “Nintendo” is inserted between New and 3DS. If the world’s most prominent search engine can’t tell the difference unless you use the exact wording, how should they expect parents to?

With the Switch, it seems like Nintendo learned their lesson. Before it was even announced, Nintendo’s new device codenamed “NX”  was widely rumored as a console that could be used both at home on your couch and standalone away from a television. Speculated as a hybrid between the 3DS and the Wii U, news outlets and gamers had more than an implication of what the system would be. And this time, when Nintendo was ready to unveil their project, they used no words. Their initial trailer showed adults playing their system at home on their couches before picking it up and going outside. It showed them using the device on the train and in a park, even one woman toting it to a rooftop party before returning home, docking the device and continuing gameplay on her television. Without uttering a word, their cleared up any confusion and instantly provided their consumer base with the information they needed to understand that the Nintendo Switch was a brand new device with before unseen capabilities.

Who they hired to make this change, I don’t know – but it was worth the risk. Nintendo might be slipping into a niche market, but that should come as a result of the market, not due to their own missteps. Hopefully, this will keep them in the mainstream for a bit longer.

tldr; After Nintendo’s history of using confusing nomenclature to market their devices, they may have finally learned from their mistakes – welcome: the Nintendo Switch. 

RE: The Death of Advertising

What do companies do when their primary revenue stream, advertising, is interrupted by users’ desire to use adblocking software?
Are we unintentionally bringing about the end of a free internet and if we are, what other revenue streams are likely to replace traditional ads?

These were the questions I had sitting in a post at the top of my drafts for the last four days after watching a lecture by Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing and founder of L2

Last week’s Redcode Media podcast featured Joe Marchese, who became Fox Network Group’s (FMG) President of Advanced Advertising Products after FMG purchased his “engagement advertising” company in 2014. Known for making provocative statements about the future of the industry, Marchese was invited onto the podcast to provide further insight on his unusual views regarding the use of adblocking software and the disruption it creates in his industry.

Marchese surprised the host of the podcast, Peter Kafka, by repeatedly playing devil’s advocate and arguing for both sides. As president of FMG, the umbrella that houses 20th Century Fox, he’s cognizant of the fact that their business model does not live or die by the consumption of advertisements. The majority of their profit is through the production and airing of television shows and movies, unlike Google and Facebook where more than 90% of their revenue comes from ads. He can tell when consumers are using ad block software and decide whether or not he wants to give them access to the content but if Google or Facebook asked people whether or not they wanted to view ads, they would see an immediate decline in their profits. Some content providers make it so that an ad has to be watched at least partially before the show begins, while others allow it to be skipped entirely. While the most controlling companies believe that if they’re not gaining revenue from the consumer, the consumer should have no access to the content they came to see – telling them unless Adblock is disabled they will be unable to see the content. FMG can and has done that in the past, with episodes of Family Guy being unable to watch unless you whitelisted them in your Adblock settings.

Maybe Marchese’s view is this way because the eradication of ads would not heavily affect his company’s income, but Marchese feels that consumers should be given the decision. Pay for the content with their time by being forced to watch the advertisement or, come to an agreement on how else to pay for their entertainment. He believes for the future of advertising to work producers and consumers are going to have to work together to figure it out. Some companies are already turning to subscriptions. Hulu is trying something new by offering an ad-free experience alongside their regularly priced subscription plan. For $12 viewers can choose whether or not they want to see ads on their shows. That leaves it up to the customer to decide whether an ad free experience is worth $4 extra to them or not. (And at the time of this posting, the majority of viewers have decided that on Hulu an ad free experience is not worth their $4 and have stuck with the standard $8 plan.) In this case, viewers would rather pay with their time than their money.

This is only my first semester as a public relations / marketing student, so I will not even begin to make predictions, but I think Marchese is correct when he says that advertising has to become a compromise. People will avoid websites entirely if they can find their content ad-free somewhere else and companies will have to decide how important those viewers are to them. The question is, what are some of the alternatives? Should we resort to the old tried and true method of quiet product placement? An Apple computer in the corner of an office sitcom? Staffers on Scandal using Windows Surface Tablets as they walk through the halls instead of brandless tablets or laptops? Maybe Coke will have their products placed in your favorite VR game or layered over your coffee table in AR.

What are some of the options you think are available and how readily do you think companies will adjust to this changing field? Which companies will fall behind and which one will realize that consumers are no longer paying attention and decide to pivot to a new marketing device?

A lot of pontificating but I will do a rewrite once I learn more about this transforming / “transformative”  industry. 

tldr; Fox Network Group’s new president of advertising believes companies and content producers will have to work with customers and consumers to decide how, if not through advertising, the content they ingest will be paid for. 

How YouTube Content Creators Can Help Save Your Ad Budget

Although CES 2017 was open to news organizations two and a half days ago, their public floor opened today January 5th. With a lot of interesting things on the horizon, one thing, in particular, stood out to me, and it was the sudden implementation of YouTubers as disseminators of information.

Along with various other YouTubers Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), one of the site’s most prominent tech bloggers, has taken to documenting and reviewing his new Tesla. Sharing not only general information, which can easily be shared through advertisements or marketing campaigns, these YouTubers also become an avenue for consumer to consumer opinion sharing. There is no pressure to buy because you’re not being sold anything. There’s no transaction, just a casual sharing of views.

Somewhere along the line Mercedes’s marketing team took notice and decided to put their new self-driving car into Marques’ hands. Now, a lot of people might not find this enlightening – it is far from a revolutionary idea – but the fact that Mercedes came down from their ivory tower to talk to us “little people” is a stark change from the norm. Most companies spend millions on promotions and advertising only to reach a fraction of their target audience. But by using a prominent YouTuber, whose niche is tech, Mercedes is marketing to a pre-made audience whose demographic and interests they already know. It provides an opportunity for consumer opinion to be heard, without a dime on advertising being spent. It cost them absolutely nothing to bring him into a parking lot and give him a few hours with their prototype, and they’ve instantly reached a consumer base that they may have missed if advertising on TV.

As David Scott reminded us in The New Rules of Marketing and PR, a lot of buyers search a car company’s website looking for useful information on a car they’re considering, but the manufacturer assumes they’re already ready to buy, providing none of the information the shopper is looking for. They advertise TO them, instead of sharing pertinent information about their product offerings. By giving YouTubers early access to the product, they’ve provided consumers with another avenue to receive information, one that allows education about a product in a way that the company’s website couldn’t provide.

Using YouTube and the platform’s most prominent and up and coming content creators is an insightful choice on Mercedes’s part, and I hope many other companies take note – or risk falling behind.

– You (companies) need to start getting your products into the hands of top YouTubers that vblog about / voice interest in your industry.
– You get free targeted advertising rather than having to spend money blanketing a general demographic.
– Presenting you with an opportunity to target people, at no cost, who are passionate about your industry and expressing information to potential customers that an advertisement could never communicate.