Day 1: February 15th
The Anthropology of Play
In the Content Driven, Tech Enabled, Digital Age – Could it be true? The more things change…. the more they stay the same.
Over the past five years, parents and child development experts have expressed angst over the proliferation of touch screen technology and the “gamification” of everything.
Many fear that smart connected devices and 24/7 access to content are putting traditional play at risk. Yet toy industry results from the past two years seem to indicate that just the opposite may be true. Traditional play patterns are not only surviving in this tech-enabled play environment, but actually seem to be thriving quite nicely.
Consider these examples:
- Construction play category has enjoyed double digit year over year growth the past few years, and is forecast to continue at that pace growing this super category from approximately $13 billion to more than $16 billion by 2018.
- There’s evidence of age range expansion, with more years than ever playing with Lego and other construction toys.
- Girls have been successfully recruited into the construction isle.
- Spin Master breathes new life into an old world classic, Meccano, that looked like a remnant from the industrial revolution.
- Classic pre-school toy brands enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past two years: Brio wooden toys up 10% in 2015, and Melissa & Doug, (the no-battery operated toys please company) estimated to have achieved ½ $billion in sales in 2015.
So…. What’s going on? Perhaps digital tech enhancements have actually enhanced traditional play?
Michael Cohen, Founder, Michael Cohen Group LLC (moderator)
Marketing to Moms and Her Digital Family
The unveiling of the first-of-its-kind look at the decisions, behaviors and engagement of mom and her digitally native kids. New research from BSM Media & Digital Kids™ Media exploring key drivers that motivate mothers to say “yes” to buying certain brands. The research will uncover the types of apps, games and connected digital content and products that appeal most to children in 2016 (and beyond).
Keynote: Paul Berberian, CEO, Sphero – Creator of BB-8 Droid
Sphero was founded with the goal to put a robot into every home. They are one step closer with the massive launch of the BB-8 by Sphero droid. As a leader in Connected Play, Sphero is changing the way the industry thinks about toys. Sphero robots push kids to connect, play, learn and explore all through the help of a smart device.
Mr. Berberian is an experience chief executive and entrepreneur who has founded and run several high-tech companies over the last 18 years, leading six start-ups through successful sales.
Mr. Berberian currently serves as the CEO of Sphero, the app-enabled robotics company and leader in connected play. Berberian joined Sphero as CEO after mentoring the start-up in the 2010 TechStars program and shortly thereafter, closed a Series A investment lead by Brad Feld of the Foundry Group.
Join Sphero CEO Paul Berberian in a fireside chat moderated by Michael Nunez, Technology Editor at Gizmodo to discuss the journey of Sphero. We will open it up to the audience for Q&A after the fireside chat.
Building Brands to Engage Today’s Digital Kids
Moderated by toy-trend researcher and early childhood development expert Dr. Amanda Gummer, this panel features members of WIT (Women in Toys, Entertainment & Licensing) who hail from leading digital brands including LeapFrog, HER Interactive (Nancy Drew Games), Shopkins, and Angry Birds. The panelists will share their experiences on how to successfully cross from digital to toy (or vice versa), how to stretch a brand to grow with the child, how digital products influence the product development process of physical products, and ultimately, how to succeed in an environment where the boundaries between physical and digital toys are disintegrating.
Jesse Schell and His Happy Atoms
Jesse Schell, founder and CEO of Schell Games that created “Happy Atoms,” was recently awarded a $1 million, two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. One of only eight awards given, “Happy Atoms” is looking to change the way molecular chemistry is being taught in high schools.
This session will be about the understanding of future classroom engagement as we discuss Schell’s work and current efforts. “Happy Atoms” pairs a physical molecular modeling set with a mobile digital app, and allows students to get specific information on what they’ve built. The app is able to identify the physical model through a proprietary vision recognition algorithm and is expected to revolutionize the way students engage with and understand molecular chemistry.
The Tesla of Toys
The brains behind Wonder Workshop, CEO and Co-Founder Vikas Gupta, noticed a trend in early education that supports robots – and the concept of state-machine programming – as a mechanism to drive high impact STEM engagement for young children, facilitating learning by doing. By thinking about programming in a very modular, intuitive, robotic-centric way via picture-based challenges, his team developed a new language specific to kids to make learning to code as easy as finger painting.
This session will explore the path of a former Amazon programmer who ditched the corporate world to become a kid robot entrepreneur, in an effort to enhance coding education for kids after being disappointed in his own daughter’s schooling. Wonder Workshop is integrating innovative technology used in the Apple’s and Tesla’s of the world into its coding language apps to create an educational toy for young minds, igniting curiosity, confidence and critical reasoning skills through play while teaching essential 21st century skills. Vikas will discuss the possibilities programming creates for Gen. Z, and the methodology behind their quick rise to success. After releasing their product just 10 months ago after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wonder Workshop is already in more than 1,000 schools across the country and one of the most awarded toys of 2015.
Case Study: Bringing your Whole Body into Digital Play
Children love to be active, move around, and play. That’s never changed. So, how can we incorporate movement into the ever-expanding digital landscape? Join Sara DeWitt as she delves into the ways in which mimicking a child’s natural play patterns allows for a deeper and richer digital play experience; allowing kids to bring their whole body into digital play. Akinori Takahagi, entrepreneur behind the break-out toy Moff Band, will explore the software and hardware extension and how to keep the magic of play alive while intertwined with physical and digital smart toys.
Building Digital Experiences that Families Can Value
Children are drawn so powerfully to their phones and tablets that many parents develop adversarial relationships with screen time. Many parents feel they have to fight for their children’s attention. Determining what makes sense for different children and families is a challenge all of us with kids face. In this session, we ask what qualities experts look for when recommending apps to parents, and how developers can build these qualities into products and brands that become trusted leaders in the field. We’ll discuss the importance of safety and community as a child grows into a digital citizen, learning to navigate the space between their on- and off-line worlds. Safety is key, and true engagement and educational value top the list when designing for this growth period. Christine Elgersma will take a leap into the minds of family time with these leading app, web, and content developers.
Newsworthy or Not: A Conversation with Top Digital & Toy Journalists
As citizen journalists and video influencers grow in editorial importance and the stable of top-tier media we follow each day narrows, we’re gathering a roundtable of the most respected journalists from every medium to explore how the news business is dramatically changing. Explore the nuances of each medium to understand how to better market your product or service as “newsworthy.” Anticipate how the editorial world is morphing and the trends that impact coverage in 2016 and beyond. Last, explore the daily challenges the media faces in vetting and reporting vast quantities of news from a roundtable of journalists keenly focused on the digital native and their connected families.
Kelli Horner, Principal, Zebra Partners (moderator)
Day 2: February 16th
Welcome given by Tonda Bunge Sellers, President, Digital Kids™ Media
Keynote: Samsung Kids – Helping Parents Give Their Kids A Head Start
Samsung and Fingerprint have partnered together to create a powerful new platform for mobile developers of children’s learning games and books. Launched last year, the Samsung Kids’ business model is uniquely set up to succeed for developers, and has been designed to deliver best-in-class options for parents that provide fun experiences for their kids. Both speakers will detail key aspects of the Samsung Kids platform, why it is important for developers, insights from the service, and a glimpse of what to expect coming soon.
Imagination Play: How Digital Led Us Back To A Golden Age For Toys
For centuries, toys were the pinnacle of interactive imagination play – then came the joystick. As game mechanics became more sophisticated and accessible to kids through digital, so did the ability to quickly imagine and create. This session looks at how the ease of digital and the advent of exciting new technologies is now returning to the physical toy world, retrofitting our greatest toys with amazing new capabilities that have kids creating in ways they’d never imagined.
Kids & Digital: Understanding the use of the Digital World by the Next Generation
This year’s discussion will be a continuation of the great conversation started last year featuring updated results from North American and International Markets.
Ever wonder what is guiding the behavior and usage of kids, families and their digital devices? We thought so! This year we’ll share findings and insights fielded in November 2015. We gathered data from North American and International Families, measuring the digital device usage landscape with a focus on purchasing habits, behavior and trends and changes from the previous year. We have amazing insights to share ranging from the ownership of devices, to the mastery of digital play patterns and most importantly, what “connected play” means to consumers. You’ll have the opportunity first hand to see many of the new toys and devices that are shaping the connected and digital toybox.
Global Brands: How do they get that way?
In this session, we’ll be discussing global branding, marketing strategies and evolving the ways in which we communicate. We have 3 special guests: Tom Buyckx, the CCO of Dr. Panda, a gaming app for kids; Verena Pausder, CEO of Fox & Sheep games; and Kimi Navai, head of content at PlayKids.
Tom Buyckx, CCO of Dr. Panda, will tell us about the many marketing challenges that you may encounter when creating apps for a global market, including how to market to both Western and Asian countries simultaneously, as well as the differences in media usage between countries. We’ll also learn how to deal with fragmented distribution channels while building a consistent brand in markets with such different expectations. While traditionally marketing principles still stand, Tom will remind us that sometimes they just need a new interpretation.
Verena Pausder, Founder and CEO of Fox & Sheep mobile games, will be teaching us about the ways in which Appstore Optimization plays a role in ROI and where Data-driven App development guides you towards success.
Eldad Ben Tora, founder and Chief of Revenue at KIDOZ, will share with us how do top kids applications, monetize their traffic in a kid-friendly (and also not-so-friendly) way, and how brands can reach and engage kids with their content.
Lastly, we’ll be wrapping up the session with Kimi Navai, the Head of Content at PlayKids (the current top grossing app for kids). She’ll discuss her companies strategy in regards to content and licensing efforts and ways in which her company is growing their services, deepening engagement with users and localizing apps to meet market needs.
Distraction and Attraction – Brand Marketing to Digital Natives
The global media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, with digital technology at the forefront of this change. Just a decade ago TV was king, there was no iPhone or tablet technology, whilst YouTube and Facebook were in their infancy. Fast forwards 10 years and these technologies and the platforms they support are intrinsic to the lives of children and young people worldwide. This makes them essential to youth marketing. Is TV advertising suffering an ‘Attention Apocalypse’ at the hands of digital technology, and what should brands be doing to keep their message visible?
This session is essential to any brand looking to communicate effectively with digital kids.
Cybersecurity and Connected Play: What’s all the Hype About?
Recent data breaches and security fears affecting children’s data have been making news headlines around the world. Connected toys, tablets, wearables, even teddy bears have been the subject of much conversation as to whether the industry is doing enough to protect children’s information captured via these new devices. But are these concerns justified? Do they pose Internet security risks that are new or heightened? And what steps can toy makers and app developers take now to mitigate these risks?
In this first-of-its-kind session which is open to all ToyFair attendees, Shai Samet of kidSAFE (the leading certifier of children’s online technologies) will talk with Neill Feather of SiteLock (the global leader in business website security solutions) to address these questions, as well as highlight: (i) the most critical security threats affecting connected play devices today, (ii) the regulatory landscape dealing with these issues, and (iii) what security measures should be implemented at a minimum to help protect children and their families.
Virtual Reality in the world of Virtual
David is the Senior VP of Global Trends for Dubit, a research and strategy company dedicated to digital kids entertainment. He’ll be speaking about the rise and fall of virtual reality. We’re thrilled to have David share his insight and experience about the future of VR and lead a panel of experts in an exciting and educational discussion. Topics range from Google Cardboard, to the newest version of Mattel’s classic View-Master toy, the current state of virtual and augmented reality, and building partnerships that work for the consumer.
Badges, Virtual Currency, and Digital Money In The Next Generation
There’s no doubt that the currency and money our kids will grow up with will be very different then as ours. How do video games and apps with badges, rewards and virtual currencies prepare our kids for a new economy?
Robin Raskin, Founder, Living in Digital Times (moderator)
3D Printing: Get in on the Next Technology Gold Rush
From the customization of dolls, publicly downloadable toys, creating in stores, community institutions and making toys at home there are opportunities are plentiful and it is just beginning. How do you get in on how to drive customers and make money? Explore the journey into the next phase of play with a rich discussion on the investment necessary, successful business models and ultimate the RIO on this new wave of change. Together, they’ll be sharing their insight on the future of 3D printing and the potential of the sharing economy as well as what home made play might look like. We will explore how the change in future play patterns can grow the bottom line of new and established brands.
Maria Bailey, CEO, BSM Media (moderator)
Redefining Retail – When you have a hit on your hands and no shelf to put it on:
As digital toys evolve, retail must follow suit. With companies like Intel working closely with Toys ‘r’ Us, Target, and Barnes and Noble, the competition for prime shelf space will only increase. Displays will turn digital and interactive and traditional aisles will become experiences. In this session we’ll talk about the future of retail, including brick and mortar stores like b8ta and e-commerce flash sale sites like the groummet.com and even Amazon. After you have a successful crowdfunding campaign, how do you turn your hit into a sustainable business?
Town Hall Meeting – Community Meeting
What worked, what didn’t, and what you would like to see at the next Digital Kids in San Francisco!