Instagram Video Service Ripe For Advertising

After Instagram announced that it would allow users to post 15-second videos, it didn’t take long for advertisers to hop aboard. Lululemon, Burberry, and Charity: Water all posted advert-instagrams as soon as the program went live. There is incredible potential for advertisers to use Instagram’s video service to post short, bite sized advertisements to followers. The 15-second time limit may even be ideal for advertisers.

In an interview with Mashable, Rachel Tipograph, director of global, digital, and social media for Gap, said, “The timing of 15 seconds is very interesting. They know advertisers have a historical comfort level with purchasing 15-second spots. I don’t think that number was random.”

Tipograph is right, it’s not likely Instagram picked 15 seconds at random since it’s a number advertisers are well versed in. Moreover, many advertisers already have a stock of 15 second spots, creating instant inventory usable on Instagram.

The connection between Instagram and its owner Facebook also leaves a lot of opportunity for companies to create these Instagram videos and cross-promote them on Facebook as well. Up to this point, most advertisers have been using micro-video service Vine. We may see a big shift to Instagram in the near future.

Game marketers are also beneficiaries of the 15-second length, creating a little more time to show gameplay or cool features. It will be interesting to see how the 15-second length is used creatively to get across key game selling points. Will mobile games make use of this channel first, or will we see console or PC games heading to Instagram more quickly?

Source: Mashable


Sony Online Entertainment Announces 2013 G.I.R.L. Scholarship Winner

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced yesterday that Esther Wu of Brooklyn, New York has been named the winner of the 2013 Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Scholarship. Now in its sixth year, the scholarship program was established to encourage women to pursue careers in the video game industry in the areas of development and design.

Wu, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to use for her college tuition and other educational expenses. In addition, she will spend 10 weeks on a paid internship at SOE’s headquarters in San Diego. Following graduation, Wu aspires to work as a concept artist on AAA video games.

“It’s exhilarating to be selected for this amazing opportunity to work alongside some of the industry’s best game artists at SOE in California,” said Wu. “I think this competition is important because it represents a stepping stone for artists and helps build awareness about gender in the work environment.”

As part of the competition, finalists were asked to submit two pieces of original concept art inspired by either PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest II, and an essay discussing their views on women in the gaming industry. The submission was reviewed by a panel of judges from Sony Online Entertainment. Wu’s winning art entry was inspired by the vehicles and characters in PlanetSide 2. Her goal with the piece was to transform the general design and add new perspective.

“As public conversation on gender issues evolves, SOE is committed to leading by example and providing talented women with relevant experience in the games industry,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “We urge more organizations to consider similar scholarship programs focused on encouraging these talented artists and designers – we need more women in this industry.”

“Esther’s entry exhibited both creativity and an impressive level of concept skills,” said Joe Shoopack, Director of Artist Development, Sony Online Entertainment. “Every year the entries continue to impress us more, showcasing the incredible talent of student artists and designers across the country.”

For the 2013 internship and scholarship, Sony Online Entertainment received applications from students at universities across the country. The G.I.R.L. submission phase closed on March 29, 2013. Scholarship America, SOE’s scholarship administrator, narrowed down the submissions to a pool of semi-finalists based on certain eligibility criteria.

For more information about G.I.R.L., please visit {link no longer active}. To follow G.I.R.L. on Twitter, go to {link no longer active} or to join G.I.R.L. on Facebook, go to {link no longer active}.


YouTube’s Partner’s Program Extends To Advertisers

YouTube has announced that they are extending their partners program to advertisers at the Cannes Lions advertising convention. The partners program extends currently to content providers on YouTube, helping them improve their production and distribution to gain more viewers and help with monetization.

This new branch of the partners program will work like the current program, except instead of independent content producers it will be advertisers getting help with their YouTube marketing. This partners program is aimed at getting companies to start producing content for the video site instead of just taking TV ads and re-purposing them for the Internet.

A lot of gamers use YouTube as a means of showing off their gameplay or games-based content already, and games have become one of the main pillars of content on the site. With so many YouTube channels out there dedicated to video games, will YouTube be extending this program to game advertisers If so, then game companies could begin utilizing this partners program to reach gamers who spend their free time on YouTube looking at original content. We may soon be seeing YouTubers like Two Best Friends Play teaming up with game companies to bring out brand new original content.

Source: TechCrunch

Instagram Releases Video, Challenges Vine

Facebook-owned photo sharing social network Instagram has implemented a change to the program today that allows users to take video on their phone and share it with their followers. The new functionality allows users to take up to 15 seconds of video and apply Instagram’s trademark filters.

The move makes Instagram a direct competitor to micro-videoblogging site Vine, which allows users to share short 6 second videos. Vine returned fire after Instagram’s release today by announcing several changes to their own software, like saving drafts for later.

Brands have already begun to utilize the new Instagram feature for marketing purposes, wasting no time in exploring this new marketing possibility. Yoga gear maker Lululemon has already uploaded a 15 second video, “Every mat has a story to tell.” Reportedly, Burberry will also be releasing an Instagram ad in the next couple of days.

Video game companies have been using Vine to market their products, and it’s not hard to imagine them making the quick jump to Instagram Video too. Bethesda made a couple of Vines teasing their games The Evil Within and Wolfenstein before they were announced. The addition of another nine seconds to Vine’s six second limit opens up options to communicate more about a game and its universe, and for the talents of advertisers accustomed to creating narratives for 15-second spots.

Source: CNN

Chartboost Adds Group Functionality To Ad Network

Chartboost, a platform that helps independent game developers cross-promote games has added a new Groups feature to let indie devs come together to deal directly with each other. Chartboost began as a network for developers to trade game advertisements in each others’ games, and has grown rapidly to include over 16,000 games in its network generating 8 billion ad impressions per month.

ChartBoost’s new functionality comes from the demand for groups of more than two developers that want to promote for each other. CEO Maria Alegre said developers sought to put together groups of four or five developers, particularly when they are friends or are from a particular geographic region. Alegre noted that direct deals perform better than the usual ad campaigns, citing a click-through rate of about 10.7 percent from a direct deal versus 8.1 percent on a regular network deal. Cross-promoting your own games is the most effective of all, resulting in a 12.7 percent click-through rate.

Source: TechCrunch

Forza 5 Trailer Shows Impressive Visuals

The Forza racing game series has a pedigree of stellar graphics, and Forza 5 is no exception. Forza 5 will be one of the launch titles for the Xbox One, and is meant to show off the graphical capabilities the system offers. All of the footage in this trailer is in-game, gameplay footage, and it displays the impressive graphics of the Xbox One to full effect.


Red Bull Video Shows Imaginative Stunt Cycling

Red Bull has garnered tremendous numbers of views with past videos it sponsored, such as Felix Baumgartner’s space dive. Now the company uses the skills of Scottish cyclist Danny MacAskill to show an imaginative journey into the mind of a child… Danny’s mind.

Red Bull’s brand presence is confined mostly to Danny’s helmet, but the urge to pass this video along will be high. One can imagine an EA Sports video along the same lines to build the company’s brand while showing astonishing sporting prowess. This was not an easy video to create; shooting took 68 weeks over a two-year period. Watch for the cameo by Danny MacAskill’s real-life mother, Anne, at the end.


The ‘Creepy-Rapey-E3’

While the console war battled on between Sony and Microsoft at last week’s E3, some of the aftershock is about a different war, the one sounding off about women and sexism in the games industry. Yes, still.  Recently Kotaku writer Tina Amini revealed five women’s unfortunate encounters with harassment at the expo. These women were not booth babes, nor were they decked out in cosplay.  And no, they were not part of the “Just Dance” battle on stage — they were journalists, PR professionals and developers attempting to do their job for the love of video games.

“After speaking to a few female journalists and PR reps who attended E3 this year, I learned that, in the midst of all the excitement, they were unhappy to admit a more offensive common theme of this year’s show: They called it the —creepy-rapey-E3′,” writes Amini.

Amini outlines encounters from her female colleagues in the industry, “You might not have heard about the security guard that groped a journalist at this year’s E3. Or the writer who gave a PR woman his business card by slipping it in her dress. Or the women presumed to be booth babes simply because of the way they looked.”

The first uncomfortable anecdote comes from a female games reporter who asked to go unnamed. She recounted her encounter with one of the security guards at the expo.

Amini paints the scenario, “She waved to a friend. A security guard who was covering the back rooms where these interviews took place mistakenly thought that wave was meant for him. He approached her. She responded to his small talk casually — in a friendly manner, she said,” her eyes darting to the flashy big screen that showcased new trailers for upcoming games. She wasn’t invested in the conversation, she told me. It showed. Suddenly, he was standing over her. Looming, she told me. He wrapped his hands around her shoulders in such a way that ‘he could have easily moved’ her.”

“I was physically compromised,” she told Amini. “I wasn’t in a position I could’ve slipped out of. I had to shake him off.”

As if his touching and aggressive behavior wasn’t enough to shake up the young reporter, he proceeded to tell her, “It’s just that it’s funny, because I’m here and there are all these hot girls here and then you find out they’re gamers. I didn’t know girls like this existed, and I’m basically getting paid to stand here all day and look at them.”

The journalist’s account gives a picture of what it can be like for women at game conferences.  For anyone needing a visual reference, it’s captured by this GIF making the rounds that caught an expo staffer’s creepy behavior.

Amini talked to other women professionals who experienced moments at E3 bordering on harassment. Booth babes have become an area of controversy for the industry. Whether you agree with the marketing ploy or not, this next woman’s story shows the issue with scantily clad women at industry events and the assumptions it can provoke.

In one instance, two female PR reps were mistaken for booth babes and approached by an onlooker.  When they refused to take a picture with him, he blurted out, “If you’re a booth babe, isn’t it your job to take pictures with me?”

In another, a female journalist said she was exploited in a photo when she is taking a break at the Donkey Kong display at the Nintendo booth and noticed attendees were taking photos of her.

“A male onlooker snapped a photo at the same time. Nothing too strange about that — I’ve taken photos of displays with people in them before, just to get a snapshot of the moment.”

But soon afterwards, she told Amini, someone came up and told her something chilling: the onlooker had zoomed in and taken a photo of her breasts.  The man was confronted by PR representatives and forced to delete the photo.

The E3 show floor wasn’t the only place with displays of sexism gone wild. The same PR representative who mistaken for a booth babe earlier had another situation at an industry party, where a visibly drunk man pulled out his business card and slowly moved it into her cleavage. She was left frozen and recalled to Amini that she was left feeling “completely helpless.”

Another account comes from Amini’s writing colleague Jenn Frank, who has written for Kotaku. Frank tells the story of two employees at a noted AAA studios who thought they would charm her by calling her unattractive and joking about her glasses.  Their intentions?

“If you can make a woman feel bad about herself you can sleep with her, but it just isn’t working tonight,” the developer was overheard saying afterwards.

Amini writes, “I’ve never written a story like this before. I’ve admittedly been afraid to in the past. These confessions are always met with skepticism and hatred and accusations. The bravery to step up is rarely celebrated. It’s seen as whiny and entitled. That reaction is baffling. And I’m glad that the women who spoke with me for this story shared their experiences. They’re why I know I can’t be afraid anymore. I don’t have that choice.”

Source: Kotaku