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Conan O’Brien Will Pitch Mobile Games Under Turner’s One-Year Deal With Google Play

Conan O’Brien, self-styled as an incompetent video-game player, will promote multiple mobile-game titles under a one-year pact between Turner’s TBS and Google Play.

Under the branded-content deal, TBS’s late-night show “Conan” and its red-headed host will engage in a variety of stunts in partnership with Google Play and mobile-game publishers. Those include a 24-hour mobile-gaming marathon and in-show brand integrations running through the third quarter of 2018.

On Twitter, O’Brien has 26.8 million followers, making him one of the most-followed late-night hosts. However, the Google Play-branded content with “Conan” will be distributed through the show’s Team Coco social handles, which have a smaller footprint (3.4 million followers on Facebook and 725,000 on Twitter).

Notably, the deal between TBS and Google Play does not include traditional TV commercials. But there will be on-air promotion of Google Play segments on “Conan,” which airs on TBS four nights per week (Monday-Thursday) at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

The deal makes Google Play the exclusive mobile-gaming partner of “Conan,” but the show is able to engage in promos for console games. The partnership keys off O’Brien’s “Clueless Gamer” segments, in which he and his guests artlessly attempt to play video games.

“The story about mobile gaming doesn’t get told very much,” said Google’s Chris Connelly, content and influencer marketing lead for Google Play, Android and Chrome. “Part of the appeal for Conan is that he’s built a very credible brand in gaming… For mobile games, he has the ability for us to reach this broader audience of people who may not consider themselves gamers — but really are.”

The Google Play partnership with “Conan” kicked off Nov. 9 with an in-show brand integration during the show’s week-long run at the Apollo Theater in New York City. Bored silly by associate producer Jordan Schlansky on a cab ride up to the theater, O’Brien distracts himself by playing Rovio’s “Angry Birds Match” and Niantic’s “Pokemon Go.” The video was shared and optimized across Team Coco’s social accounts, so far generating 1.3 million views on Facebook and more than 580,000 on YouTube.

In the next promo, slated for December, Team Coco gamer Aaron Bleyaert (aka “Bley”) will dive into Google Play’s 2017 “Best of Play” list, reviewing the year’s top-trending mobile games in a special edition of “Stream Coco.”

On tap for 2018: In the first quarter, Bley will attempt the show’s first-ever 24-hour live mobile-gaming marathon. That will be followed in Q2 by the first “Clueless Gamer” segment on mobile games. And in July 2018, Google Play will road-trip with “Conan” for the show’s fourth-annual appearance at San Diego Comic-Con International.

Turner’s branded-content deals historically have been more focused on television, but Google wanted to focus on digital to drive “Conan” fans to Google Play. “We want the flexibility to feature as many games as we can, and digital provides more flexibility than traditional TV ads allow,” Connelly said.

Under the deal, Turner is measuring audience reach based on guaranteed views of at least 30 seconds of the branded segments. Turner Ignite’s Launchpad social-analytics team is tasked with optimizing distribution of the content. “What makes it different from other partnerships we’ve done is there are no 30-second ads. It’s all social, digital and integration into the TV show,” said Jenn Cohen, SVP of entertainment content partnerships for Turner Ignite, which is the programmer’s branded-content unit.

Separately, in another “Conan” extension into mobile, TBS premiered the first animated Snapchat Show, “Team Coco’s Comedy Club,” on Nov. 12. The new weekly series, with new episodes posted on Sundays, combines live-action and animated stand-up routines featuring up-and-coming comedy talent.

Watch the first Google Play-branded sponsored promotion on “Conan”:

Pictured above: “Conan” associate producer Jordan Schlansky (l.) and Conan O’Brien.

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